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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 - Resumed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PAUL. Madam President, the amendment before us requires that the President submit a plan for a no-fly zone for Syria. I want to compliment the authors for including in this amendment a clause that says nothing in this amendment shall be construed as a declaration of war or an authorization for the use of force. I think it is very important in our Nation today that we are not saying we are starting, beginning, or getting involved in a new war.

However, I do think this amendment is ill-advised for two reasons. No. 1, I don't think I know with certainty whether the Syrian rebels will be freedom-loving, tolerant, constitution-toting believers in a republican form of government or whether they will institute an Islamic republic that will have no tolerance for Christians and no tolerance for people of any other faith.

It still remains to be seen whether a secular government will be established in Libya, Tunisia, or Egypt. There is the question of whether al-Qaida is more or less of a threat in Libya today since the rebels have won the civil war. I don't think we know for certain what a rebel government in Syria will do with the 1 million Christians who live in Syria.

Since the Iraq war, hundreds of thousands of Christians have fled Iraq and gone to Syria. Even after the war, apparently Syria was seen as more of a tolerant nation than Iraq. Will a rebel Islamic government in Syria tolerate or persecute Christians? Will a rebel Islamic government institute the death penalty for blasphemy, for conversion, or for apostasy? Will they have a true democracy, a secular government, or will they have a Syrian rebel government that is less tolerant than what they currently have? In many ways the Arab spring has become the Arab winter.

In Egypt we have a leader from the Muslim Brotherhood who recited amen when a radical cleric stood up and said: Death to Israel. As a radical cleric said: Death to Israel and anyone who supports them, this Muslim Brotherhood leader of Egypt that came out of the Arab spring is nodding his head in assent and seemed to be chanting amen.

Will they seek peace with Israel or war? Will the Syrian rebels seek a secular government or one ruled by Shari'a? I think there are many unknowns we need to be asking ourselves before we involve ourselves in a civil war.

Secondly, I think it is a bad idea to discuss contingency plans for war. While I am in favor of the Senate retaining our prerogative to declare war, I believe that the details of the execution of war are in the purview of the Executive. In other words, we do have the power to begin or to not begin a war. That is the power the Constitution gave us, but I don't think the Constitution intended to have 535 generals. I don't think it intended to have us explicitly talking about every contingency plan for every possible war in every corner of the globe.

Our Defense Department, no doubt, has contingency plans for a ballistic missile attack on the United States, a conventional land invasion, naval or air encounters throughout the world, but we don't necessarily openly discuss them or encourage them. I don't think it is best to openly discuss these plans for defending against an attack and especially not for involving ourselves in a civil war.

Our Nation and our soldiers are weary of war. Our Nation yearns for leaders who will strive to keep us out of war. Our Nation yearns for leaders who are reluctant to begin a new war or get involved in a new war. I hope my colleagues today will not encourage a rush to war by publicly clamoring for a plan to become involved in Syria's civil war.

I yield the floor.


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