Kentucky Senator and Presidential candidate Rand Paul stands for scaling back military spending and advocating against taking the battle overseas. After the terror attacks in Paris this week, his focus has been less about American boots on Syrian ground, and more about air strikes and methods to involve local religious forces in Syria, in an effort to obliterate ISIS and other terrorist groups. “We wiped out Al Qaeda...and then ISIS sprung up a few years later,” Paul said in an interview with Boston Public Radio. “Ultimately, Muslim soldiers are going to have to stamp this out. We could go in, we could put 100,000 troops in there tomorrow, and we could wipe them out in six months. But do they resurrect themselves, if it’s not Muslim troops on the ground keeping the peace?”
Specifically, the “Muslim troops” Paul is referring to are the Kurds, the largest ethnic minority in Syria. “The first thing you have to do is quit arming your enemies, quit arming the allies of your enemies, and then there are some good people in the region who I think are fighting for their homeland, they’re good fighters, and that’s the Kurds. I would arm the Kurds directly, I wouldn’t send it to the Baghdad government.”
Currently, the majority of Muslims in Syria are Sunnis, and ISIS is categorized as a Sunni group, but traditionally, the strongest allies of the United States in the region have been Sunni powers, like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. According to Paul, the most effective way for the United States to help is to amplify our allies, including both Sunnis and Shiites Muslims. “Americans, the French, England… we just aren’t going to have a lasting peace if we are the troops on the ground there,” Paul said. “Turkey needs to have soldiers in there, Saudi Arabia needs to have soldiers in there, and when we look at where the refugees go, Saudi Arabia needs to take them until the country is completely full, they don’t need to be sending them to the West. Saudi Arabia has been an arsonist in that area, they have thrown gasoline on the fire, but they have not done a good job of absorbing refugees or anything constructive.”
Throughout the country, a controversy over allowing Syrian refugees into the United States has emerged, with more than half the nation's governors opposing the immigration of any refugees. According to Paul, the key is a stricter screening process. “No refugees until we have a handle on the ones who are here,” Paul said. “We have 11 million people here who came here illegally, 40 percent of them are overstays on Visas. If you extrapolate that to Middle-Eastern students and visitors, that means we have a significant amount of people among us who we don’t know where they are, they’ve been breaking the law and we haven’t sent them home. In Boston, you guys ought to be particularly wary of this, because the two Boston bombers came here on refugee status.”
In response to the attacks, presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz called for a religious test to confirm only Christian Syrian immigrants and refugees could come to America. Paul disagreed with that plan, on the basis that separating people based on religion would just be too difficult. “Lets say you’re in Saudi Arabia and you’re a businessman or woman, and you come five times a year, you have a legitimate business and you’ve been doing it for ten years, I’d put you into global entry,” Paul said. “At that point, I think we would consider you to be safe, even though everybody in Saudi Arabia is obviously Muslim, but you’re someone who doesn’t appear to be a terrorist. But if you’re a brand new person who applies to come over here, and you’re a French citizen of Moroccan descent, and there’s some evidence that you’ve been radicalized, we need to be very careful about bringing you a visa to come over here. I think there’s going to have to be more scrutiny, and we’re crazy if we think oh, we’re going to go fight a war and destroy all these people, but we’re going to let them come to our country anytime they want.”
To hear more from Senator and presidential candidate Rand Paul, click on the audio link above.