Liberal Kirsten Gillibrand and Conservative Rand Paul Agree: Get U.S. Troops out of Syria

By Susan Jones | January 17, 2019 | 9:57am EST
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) walks on stage to deliver remarks on the first day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 25, 2016 in Philadelphia (File photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

( - One of the most liberal members of the U.S. Senate happens to agree with one of the most conservative members that it's time to pull U.S. troops out of Syria, as President Trump has said he will do.

On the same day an ISIS suicide bomber killed two American troops and two American contractors in northern Syria, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a newly minted presidential contender on the Democrat side, told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow we shouldn't have troops in Syria to begin with because Congress hasn't authorized their mission.

Likewise, Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, has long argued against U.S. intervention without congressional authorization in places such as Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, where the people have been killing each other for thousands of years -- with no end of the fighting in sight.

One month ago, President Trump surprised and upset some members of his own party when he announced he was ordering U.S. troops out of Syria.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks to guests at a campaign event on April 25, 2015 in Atkins, Iowa. (File photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Paul told "Fox & Friends" on Thursday he talked to the president yesterday, "and his first concern is over the loss of life."

"He talked very passionately yesterday about the deaths of the soldiers and how he wants to be different than most presidents who say that we're going to go to war but we're never going to win -- we're never going to come home."

Paul noted that Muslims in the Middle East have been killing each other for ages:

"They still celebrate the battle of Karbala from 680 A.D.," Paul said.

What I would say is, they've been killing each other for a thousand years. There's always going to be radical Islam over there. What has to happen, we have helped these people to the tune of trillions of dollars. They need to stand up and fight. We killed 99 percent of ISIS. Is there a remnant over there? Yes. Can they not kill 1 percent? Can they not do their job?

What I would say is that when Islam begins to police Islam is when I think it will happen. America can't always be the one that pays for it.

Paul rejected arguments that keeping U.S. troops in Syria and Afghanistan will prevent the next 9/11 attack. He noted that the U.S. has been in Afghanistan for 17 years, but even so, some people would call a U.S. troop withdrawal "precipitous."

"You will say the same thing in 17 more years -- oh, it's too soon to leave," Paul said. "In a thousand years you will say it -- these people are going to be killing each other in a thousand years."

Paul said some of the troops Trump is withdrawing from northern Syria will move to a base 50 miles away in Iraq.

Paul followed up his appearance on "Fox & Friends" with a tweet: "We’ve won the war in Afghanistan! We need to learn how to declare victory and come home. We shouldn’t be there nation building. @realDonaldTrump gets this, but so many in Washington are lost and confused!"

Get an AUMF

In a rare case of "where the circle meets," the liberal Gillibrand agrees with Paul that it's time for U.S. troops to leave Syria.

"I don't believe the president has the authority to have the troops there," she told Maddow Wednesday night.

We don't have an AUMF (Authorization for the Use of Military Force) to have combat operations in Syria. And I know the president will say, oh, well they're not in combat operations, but people are dying.

I think we should be drawing down our troops, not only in Afghanistan but the remainder in Iraq and in Syria, and then give Congress the opportunity that if they believe we should be in combat missions in any of these countries that we actually file a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force.

What President Trump has done is just create disarray because he's not working in combination with our allies and making a plan for how we're going to create more stability in the region. Because he is unwilling to hold Russia accountable, because he is unwilling to even engage in Middle East peace, in a process that can make sense, we have massive instability.

And the world community is looking at us. Where is America? And so one of the reasons I'm running for president is I want to restore that leadership in the world. We have to restore the integrity. We have to restore the stability. We have to make sure that America continues to be that beacon of light and hope for the world...

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