Duncan Hunter on War & Peace
Republican Representative (CA-52)
A: My son came back from his third tour as a US Marine on Thanksgiving, having served in Iraq twice and Afghanistan. And, you know, if you check with the Hispanics of the 1st Marine Division or the 10th Army Division of the 1st Cavalry, you’ll get a lot different poll than the poll that you’re telling me right now, because the young men and women who are serving over there know we can win in Iraq. And let me tell you what they’ve done. With blood, sweat and tears they have brought down the attack rate in Anbar province by 80%. They brought it down over the entire nation. The Iraqi army is now standing up, all 131 battalions. That government’s going to hold and the army’s going to hold, and we are going to leave Iraq in victory, and we’re going to leave an Iraq that will be a friend, not an enemy of the US. So we’re going to be victorious in Iraq, and Hispanic Americans who serve there know that.
A: It depends on one thing: the president does not need that if the target is fleeting. We live in this age of terrorists with high technology, and if you have a very narrow window to hit a target, if the president’s going to have to take that on his shoulders, he’s going to have to do it. He has the right to do that under the Constitution as the commander in chief of the military forces. If he has time, then certainly you want to go to Congress, as we did in Iraq, and get the approval of Congress. So it’s a matter of whether or not the target is fleeting. And with respect to Iran, Iran is walking down the path to build a nuclear device. They’ve got now about a thousand centrifuges; they claim they’ve got 3,000. At some point, we may have to pre-empt that target. If we do, it should be done hopefully with allies but perhaps by the U.S. alone.
We can leave Iraq, and under my leadership, we will leave Iraq in victory. The key to handing off the security apparatus in Iraq, now that we’ve stood up a free government, is to have a reliable Iraqi army.
Right now, we’ve got 131 battalions in the Iraqi army. When they are battle-hardened, we can rotate them into the battle zone, rotate our troops out.
HUNTER: Let me just tell you what they’ve done. In Anbar Province, we were having 1,350 attacks a month last October. By the blood, sweat and tears of the US Marines out there, we pulled it down 80%. They’ve pulled down civilian casualties 74%. We’ve got 129 battalions in the Iraqi army that we’re training up. That’s the right way to win. It’s called victory. That’s how we leave Iraq.
Q: No matter how long it takes?
HUNTER: If you think we’re going to be there for a long time, you don’t understand the determination of the US Marines and the US Army. We’re going to turn it over.
A: Well, I hate to answer a hypothetical. I think you don’t want a president who’s going to answer this question in 60 seconds, but here’s a few considerations. First, you need to use precision systems--very accurate weapons, some of them with earth-penetrating capability. You need to be able to isolate, if you have to strike. If you get close to a 90% refinement of weapons-grade fuel, uranium, at that point, the danger is, if you don’t eliminate it, then it could be passed to a terrorist group or to another nation, which at some point might make a nuclear device. The reaction force would be coming, obviously, from the Iraqi side. You would look, probably, at the pattern of what the Israelis did with the Osirak reactor that Saddam Hussein built back in the 1980s, when eight F-16s came over the horizon & took care of that problem. And some ground forces to do a battle damage assessment after a strike.
A: I’ve been here before. I was here when we stood up to the Russians in Central Europe when they were ringing our allies with SS-20 missiles. We stood up them and we finally brought that wall down. I was here when we did Central America, when the liberals were raging that we had to get out of Salvador. Today, Salvadoran troops are standing side-by-side with Americans in Iraq.
I watched the Democrat debate. I watched them say, as [Rep. Ron Paul] has said, “Just bring them home.” And it was a race to see who could stampede for the exit the quickest. None said, “Good job.” But the Marines in Anbar province have turned that situation around. They brought the communities there on our side, fighting back against Al Qaida.
We are standing up the Iraq military. When the 129 battalions are stood up, when they’re reliable & battle-ready, they can displace American heavy combat forces. That’s the right way to leave, not a stampede for the exit
ROMNEY: It’s wrong for a person running for the president to get on TV and say that. America always maintains our option to do whatever we think is in our best interests. But we keep our options quiet.
HUNTER: I disagree with that. Barack Obama didn’t understand, there are now 100,000 Pakistani troops who have been moved to the border. You right now have operations that are being taken in cooperation with American forces in Afghanistan. The problem is that you have the tribal chiefs in that strip in Pakistan accommodating the Taliban and Al Qaida. When you have a country which is cooperating, you don’t tell them you are going to unilaterally move against them, or you are somehow going to undertake this by yourself. We need the Pakistani army to work that with American support. That’s the right way.
BROWNBACK: I don’t remember that report. I had a number of briefings.
McCAIN: I did not read that particular document. I received hundreds of briefings and background and information on it.
Q: Gov. Gilmore, you chaired the commission on Iraq. Do you think it was appropriate that members of Congress would authorize the president to go to war without reading that NIE?
GILMORE: I think the people who are in Congress who are responsible for sending this country to war, with the enormous dangers that it has geopolitically and strategically, ought to read at least that kind of material. I know they get a lot of stuff and they can’t read everything.
HUNTER: I read that NIE report, and I held the briefings before we made the vote to go in. I invited everybody, Democrat and Republican, to get the classified information.
A: With two conditions. I think that you do have a dialogue with everybody, whether they’re adversaries or friends. 1) They are moving deadly equipment across the border that is killing Americans in Iraq. We have license to utilize anything that we want to use--special operations, intelligence, whatever it takes--to stop that, & we don’t give that up with these talks. 2) They’ve got about 1,000 centrifuges now working, enriching the materials that can make at some point a nuclear device. The US reserves the right to preempt that nuclear weapons program. We cannot allow them to have a nuclear device. With those two caveats, talk to your enemies.
Q: If it came down to a preemptive US strike against Iran’s nuclear facility, if necessary would you authorize the use of tactical nuclear weapons?
A: I would authorize the use of tactical nuclear weapons if there was no other way to preempt those particular centrifuges.
A: First, I want you to know that it’s worth it. And if we can achieve a country in Iraq that will not be a state sponsor of terrorism for the next five to 20 years; that will be a friend, not an enemy of the US; that will have a modicum of freedom, that is in the national interest of the US. What we need to do right now and we are doing is standing up the Iraqi army. There’s 129 battalions of Iraqis that we’ve trained and equipped. We need to start moving them into the combat zones, where they displace the heavy American combat forces. Then we can pull our forces out, we can bring them home or send them wherever Uncle Sam needs them again. That’s how we leave Iraq the right way.
A: Because the Iraqi forces that were running a couple of years ago are standing and fighting. We’ve got to get all 129 Iraqi battalions into military operations--most of them have been in there by now.
A: The key to winning in Iraq is standing up the Iraqi military. There are 129 battalions in the Iraqi army. We need to make sure that every one of those battalions moves into an operational setting, gets a 3- or 4-month military operation in a contentious zone. At that point, they can move into the combat field. They can start displacing American units. And America’s heavy combat units can rotate out. That’s the right way to leave Iraq.
We should not get to the edge of the cliff on this enrichment of uranium, and plutonium to be used for a nuclear weapon in Iran. The United States needs to move very quickly
A: The number of troops that we’re sending in will take us up from about 138,000 to a little less than 160,000. That’s still less troops than we had in Dec. 2005. So the so-called big surge actually takes us up to fewer folks than Dec. 2005.
A: That’s totally consistent with what I’ve said in the past. They’re going to have to take this handoff of the security responsibility and carry it out themselves.
Q: But do you have confidence in the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki?
A: We’ll see as the Baghdad plan goes into effect, if the Iraqi forces move into their positions. And when we’ve handed that security burden off to the Iraqis, they’re going to have as much violence as they’re willing to politically tolerate. But self-determination is self-determination
Proponents support voting YES because:
This war is a terrible tragedy, and it is time to bring it to an end. This is a straightforward bill to redeploy our military forces from Iraq and to end the war in Iraq. This bill does not walk away from the Iraqi people. It specifically continues diplomatic, social, economic, and reconstruction aid. Finally, this bill leaves all the decisions on the locations outside of Iraq to which our troops will be redeployed wholly in the hands of our military commanders.
Opponents support voting NO because:
This legislation embraces surrender and defeat. This legislation undermines our troops and the authority of the President as commander in chief. Opponents express concern about the effects of an ill-conceived military withdrawal, and about any legislation that places military decisions in the hands of politicians rather than the military commanders in the field. The enemy we face in Iraq view this bill as a sign of weakness. Now is not the time to signal retreat and surrender. It is absolutely essential that America, the last remaining superpower on earth, continue to be a voice for peace and a beacon for freedom in our shrinking world.
A bill to strengthen sanctions against the Government of Syria, to enhance multilateral commitment to address the Government of Syria's threatening policies, to establish a program to support a transition to a democratically-elected government in Syria.
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