Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, said President Barack Obama "didn't quite convince me" on the need to launch a military strike on Syria in his Tuesday night speech.
But, Paul said, Obama did make a compelling case that Syrian President Bashar Assad is guilty of killing almost 1,500 civilians with poison gas last month.
"If Assad is responsible he deserves death for this," Paul told Fox News Channel after the Tuesday night speech. "But the president's plan is to leave Assad alone," Paul said on a later CNN appearance.
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Moreover, he said, the president is asking Americans to be on the same side as al-Qaida.
“Twelve years after we were attacked by al-Qaida, 12 years after 3,000 Americans were killed by al-Qaida, President Obama now asks us to be allies with al-Qaida.”
Paul said he thinks Assad will not be held accountable for the chemical weapons attack. And even if the diplomatic solution Russia is trying to broker goes through, Assad still will be left in office, he added.
Though the video images of children dead and dying showed a clear atrocity, Paul said he couldn't support U.S. action unless there was a compelling American interest. On CNN he listed some of those interests: "American soldiers, American business, American citizens, a direct threat to an ally, NATO ally, Israel."
Paul said he initially thought a congressional vote to authorize the use of force would pass the Senate and be close in the House. Now, he thinks it doesn't have a chance.
"The calls are 100-1" against, he said. "I think rather than risk defeat, there won't be vote."
Paul said he doesn't know whether to trust Russia with its proposal to get Syria's chemical weapons into the hands of international officials, but he hopes Russia is being an honest broker.
"If they're serious its' a good step forward," he said, "and I'm more than happy to even give the president credit if it actually happens."
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