The war in Afghanistan has gone on too long.
Congress spends too much money.
Things aren’t as bad as they seem.
Those are just three of the familiar themes U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) touched on Tuesday during a tight, breezy speech at the Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce monthly membership luncheon Tuesday in Corbin.
Paul was the featured speaker at the event, held at The Corbin Center.
Using the 17th anniversary of the events of 9/11 as a jumping off point, Paul posed challenging questions to the audience about the nature of the war in Afghanistan … a response to the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, and the Pentagon.
“Is it time to declare victory? We are going to send kids to war in Afghanistan next year who weren’t even born at the time of 9/11. Have we achieved our mission?” Paul asked. “I don’t think it makes you less patriotic. I’m as patriotic as the next person … at the same time, after 18 years, what is our purpose? What is our mission?”
Paul said he’s asked military leaders during U.S. Senate hearings about the efficacy of military conflict in the region, and has been told there really is “no military solution to this problem.”
“We have to rethink these things,” he said. “Do we not know how to figure out how to get to peace? Our young men and women are precious. When does it end? When does it stop?”
Making the economic argument for ending foreign conflict, Paul noted the war is costing about $50 billion a year, much of it being spent on fruitless “nation building” efforts. He pointed to a $90 million project to build a luxury hotel in downtown Kabul, the capital of the country, near the U.S. Embassy. It was never finished, the leader of the project has absconded with the money and it is now a “platform for snipers” that’s set to be demolished.
Paul also gave the example of a natural gas station built in Afghanistan that cost $45 million and is inaccessible because it is in a dangerous, unsecure area.
Switching to domestic affairs, Paul said he feels that television news leaves a false impression that the country is “going to hell in a hand basket.”
“Our country is doing better than it’s ever done,” he noted, pointing out in the late 1880s 85 percent of the world lived in “extreme poverty.” Today, only 9 percent of the world does.
“We are doing incredible things,” Paul said. “We live in the best time it has ever been to live in the world.”
Paul said he plans to vote in favor of Supreme Court judicial nominee Brett Kavanaugh. One of the principal reasons for his decision is that he thinks when on the court, Kavanaugh will overturn what is termed the “Chevron Deference” case — the idea that deference should be given to administrative actions on the part of the government — and offer strict scrutiny of administrative regulations.
Paul, long an advocate of cutting federal spending, said that Congress is “spending too much money,” and noted this year’s budget deficit will be nearly $1 trillion.
“Republicans control all three branches. There’s no excuse for it,” he said. “I’m the first to call out my own party and say we’ve got to do a better job.”
In response to an audience member question, Paul said that he has no plans to run for U.S. President in 2020.
Tuesday’s luncheon was sponsored by Baptist Health Corbin.
Following Paul’s speech, Dr. Francie Masters, a radiologist at Baptist Health, spoke about the importance of breast cancer awareness, and encouraged all women to start getting annual mammograms at age 40, unless they have a family history of breast cancer.
Masters said new 3D imaging technology has helped tremendously with early detection of cancer.
She added that “breast self awareness” on the part of women is important as well.