Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Tuesday railed against President Donald Trump’s killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, calling it the “death of diplomacy” and declaring that the U.S. was safer before the president pulled out of the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal.
The libertarian-leaning senator, who has long been opposed to military intervention abroad, was asked by Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer on Tuesday morning how he could be opposed to the airstrikes following National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien’s new claim that American diplomats were saved because of it.
“I think you have to ask yourself the general question, are attacks more or less likely now that Soleimani is gone?” Paul responded. “The person who has replaced them has been his assistant general for 22 years, is a hard-liner, and now the whole country of Iran is consumed with revenge.”
The Kentucky lawmaker went on to say that Soleimani’s assassination has “taken diplomacy off the table” and that the only possibility moving forward will be military escalation. Hemmer, meanwhile, wondered if there was much diplomacy with Iran to begin with.
“There was with the Iran agreement,” Paul pushed back. “The Iran agreement wasn’t perfect, and I was a critic of the Iran agreement, however, I think it was a big mistake to pull out of the agreement. You should have tried to build upon the Iran agreement.”
The Republican senator, who has become one of Trump’s biggest supporters on Capitol Hill, further criticized the administration for placing an embargo on Iran, saying an “act of an embargo is like an act of war.”
“I think it is the death of diplomacy, and I see no way to get it back started again until, sort of, the revenge of the Iranian people is somehow sated,” Paul noted. “I hate this. I hate that this is where we are going.”
“I have been someone who has been for engagement, but there was much less killing, there was much less violence after the Iran agreement,” he continued. “In fact, there was a lull, a period in which I think we were headed towards a much more stable situation in Iran, and now I think that’s gone. And I think it may be gone for a lifetime.”
Hemmer, meanwhile, pointed out that Trump recently told right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh that Soleimani “should have been taken out a long time ago,” asking Paul if he took exception to that.
“Is Soleimani a bad guy? Yes. Is the guy who replaces him a bad guy? Yes,” the Kentucky senator replied, adding, “Saddam Hussein was a bad guy but taking him out destabilized the region. It is about the broader implications of killing someone, not whether they’re evil or not.”
In a Monday interview with CNN, Paul said that one would have to be “brain dead” to think that Soleimani’s death will lead to diplomatic negotiations, calling the death of the Iranian military commander “the death of diplomacy.”