Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, said Tuesday the U.S. military strike that hit a hospital in Afghanistan raises questions over the U.S.’s continued involvement in that country, 14 years after the U.S. first deployed troops there.
Paul argued the U.S. should no longer be fighting the war in Afghanistan and that “the Afghans need to step it up and defend themselves.”
“I think this goes to a bigger question and this is the question President Obama should have to answer: Why are we still at war in Afghanistan? What is the U.S. objective, what’s the U.S. mission and why are we bombing anybody in Afghanistan?” Paul, a GOP presidential candidate, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
Paul argued that while the U.S. “had a clear cut mission” in Afghanistan following the attacks of September 11, 2001, “that’s been long gone for many years now.”
Paul, whose non-interventionist foreign policy views are largely out of step with his party’s hawkish majority, said the U.S. should avoid a “perpetual war” in Afghanistan and said Afghans “should be able to defend themselves” as the U.S. has poured billions of dollars in aid into Afghanistan.
The Kentucky senator, who is also an ophthalmologist, called the U.S.’s unintended strike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital “completely unacceptable” and said he wouldn’t “mind” the impartial, third-party investigation the non-profit organization is calling for in the aftermath of the bombing.
“Tragic accidents will happen when you’re involved with war but I don’t see why we’re still involved in Afghanistan,” Paul said.
Firing at Fiorina
Paul also used part of the interview Tuesday to knock Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina – who has been surging recently in the polls – over her approach to dealing with Russia.
“Man are we lucky she wasn’t president during the Cold War,” Paul said, jabbing at the fact that Fiorina has said she would cut lines of communication with Russian President Vladimir Putin and said the U.S. should be “prepared” to shoot down Russian jets in Syria.
Paul said he is “very worried” about the potential for an accidental confrontation or collision between U.S. and Russian jets flying over Syria and stressed the need for communication between the U.S. and Russia.
“I’m very worried about an accident happening over there and I’m also worried about some republicans who want to have no dialogue because that’s a recipe for disaster,” Paul said. “We did keep open lines of communication throughout the Cold War.”
Paul stressed that he is in favor of increased diplomatic engagement with other countries, including Russia.