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Mike Huckabee on War & Peace

Former Republican AR Governor; possible draft candidate


Apply Powell Doctrine to Iraq: overwhelming force

The Powell Doctrine has always made sense to me. If you're going to engage in a military action, do it with overwhelming force so that failure simply isn't an option. The notion of an "occupation with a light footprint," which was our original paradigm for Iraq, always struck me as a contradiction in terms. Liberating a country and occupying it are two different missions. Occupying a country, to me, inevitably demands a lot of boots on the ground. Instead of marginalizing former Army chief of staff Gen. Eric Shinseki when he said we needed several hundred thousand troops for Iraq, I would have met privately with him and carefully weighed his advice and his underlying analysis.

We had a military strategy in place to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein, but we did not have a realistic political strategy of how to turn the culture of a totalitarian nation like Iraq into a democracy overnight. Our original armed forces weren't large enough, and we have worn out our National Guard and our reserves

Source: Do The Right Thing, by Mike Huckabee, p. 12 , Nov 18, 2008

Islamofascism must disappear from the face of the earth

It is right for us to be on the offense against Islamofascism, and not wait until they attack us on our soil. Unlike any war we have ever fought in this nation, this is not a war for soil. It is a war for our soul. We will either win it or we will lose it. This nation must rally to the point where we recognize there is no compromise. There is no alternative. We must win; they must lose. Islamofascism must disappear from the face of the earth, or we will.
Source: Speeches to 2008 Conservative Political Action Conference , Feb 7, 2008

Leave Iraq with victory and honor, however long it takes

We need to leave with victory, and we need to leave with honor. The reason we need to is because, if we leave a bigger mess in Iraq than is there now, it is not just going to affect Iraq. It’s going to affect the rest of the Middle East. It will erupt in a completely destabilized environment into which that vacuum is exactly the kind of situation that al Qaeda can build a strong base. Iran would love to be able to see a destabilized Iraq, because they’ve been fighting in Iraq and for Iraq for a long time. If we leave it vulnerable, all we’ve done is create a situation that the rest of the world is going to have to be back into sooner or later for all of our interests. We don’t want to be there for 100 years, but however long it takes to get out of there with victory and with honor, we owe it to those who have gone to make sure that they did not go in vain. We need to make sure that future sons and daughters of the US don’t have to go back and do it over.
Source: 2008 Republican debate at Reagan Library in Simi Valley , Jan 30, 2008

We are making progress in Iraq, Afghanistan, & war on terror

Difficult as it has been, we are making progress in Iraq and Afghanistan. All Americans should take pride in the accomplishments of our warriors, under the superb leadership of General Petraeus. We need--and must provide for--the strongest and most effective military in the world, to protect ourselves and our key allies. In addition, here on the homefront, we must continue our vigilance in the war on terror--and insist on the best possible care for veterans, their spouses and their dependents.
Source: Response to 2008 State of the Union address , Jan 28, 2008

Saddam might have had WMD and got them to Syria before 2003

Q: At the last debate you said that Saddam Hussein may, in fact, have had weapons of mass destruction when the US invaded in 2003. You said, “Now, everybody can look back and say, ‘Oh, well, we didn’t find the weapons.’ It doesn’t mean they weren’t there Just because you didn’t find every Easter egg didn’t mean that it wasn’t planted.” Governor, the Iraq Survey Group looked around Iraq for months after the invasion, could find no evidence that Saddam Hussein had an active WMD program when he was ousted, nor any active stockpile of weapons. Do you have any evidence for that contention?

Q: Oh, I don’t have any evidence. But he was the one who announced openly that he did have weapons of mass destruction. My point was that, no, we didn’t find them. Did they get into Syria? Did they get into some remote area of Jordan? Did they go to some other place? We don’t know. They may not have existed. But simply saying, “We didn’t find them, so therefore they didn’t exist,” is a bit of an overreach.

Source: 2008 Fox News interview: “Choosing the President” series , Jan 27, 2008

Don’t second-guess Iraq; pullout would be bigger mistake

Q: Nearly 4,000 US men & women killed, hundreds of billions of dollars spent. Was this war, with hindsight, worth it?

A: That question is impossible to answer because you are saying, is it worth it in light of what we know but what we didn’t know then. And that’s the whole issue of making tough decisions. As a governor, I often made tough decisions based on the information that I had. Later, when the information was clearer, you know, maybe you would have made a different decision. If we had it to do all over again, would we do it differently? We probably would. But you’re never going to elect somebody to make perfect decisions. But to second guess the president now, I think, is really not a very prudent thing to do. It doesn’t mak us feel any better. And what we’ve got to do is to say, let’s make the best of what we have in Iraq. Let’s make sure that we don’t make a bigger mistake by a premature pullout that does leave Iraq vulnerable to an Al Qaida long-term training facility.

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2008 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer , Jan 27, 2008

Failing to find the WMDs doesn’t mean they weren’t there

Q: Was the war worth the price in blood & treasure?

A: I supported Bush when he led us into this. We owe him our thanks that he had the courage to recognize a potential of weapons of mass destruction, and whether than wait until we had another attack, he went and made sure that it wasn’t going to happen from Saddam Hussein. Everybody can say we didn’t find the weapons. It doesn’t mean they weren’t there. Just because you didn’t find every Easter egg didn’t mean that it wasn’t planted.

Source: 2008 GOP debate in Boca Raton Florida , Jan 24, 2008

Never questioned the surge; never supported timed withdrawal

Q: What is the fundamental difference between what you would do as president in Iraq, versus what Romney would do?

A: I’m not sure that there’s a big difference on what we would do going into the future. There is a big difference on how we looked at it in the past. I supported the surge. He had questions about it. There were times when he believed that there should be a timed withdrawal. He denied that last night [in the televised debate] and said that he had never taken that position.

Q: Here’s a clip of what he said:

ROMNEY: My policy is, I have never talked about a timed withdrawal with a date certain for us to leave. That’s not the case. Simply wrong.

Q: So he’s flatly denying what you and other news organizations are now insisting is true.

A: Well, I’m just reporting what two different credible news sources, ABC News and The Hill, clearly reported and quoting him. And I will let him try to explain why what he is saying now isn’t what he said then.

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2008 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer , Jan 6, 2008

FactCheck: Correct that Romney did support timed withdrawal

Huckabee charged that Romney had supported a timed withdrawal, and Romney countered, “I do not support and have never support a timed withdrawal. So that’s wrong, Governor. My policy is I’ve never talked about a time withdrawal with a date certain for us to leave.” Huckabee wins this one. It’s true that Romney has never cited a date certain for pulling out the troops. But he has said that “there’s no question” there would have to be a timetable, it would just be kept hush-hush. Here’s what he told ABC’s “Good Morning America” in April 2007:

Q: Do you believe that there should be a, a timetable in withdrawing the troops?

ROMNEY: Well, there’s no question but that the president and Prime Minister al Maliki have to have a series of timetables and milestones that they speak about. But those shouldn’t be for public pronouncement. You don’t want the enemy to understand how long they have to wait in the weeds until you’re gonna be gone.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Republican debate , Jan 5, 2008

Iraq War: we invaded an imaginary country based on poor info

Since we overthrew Saddam, we have learned that we invaded an imaginary country, because we relied at the time on information that was out of date and on longtime exiles who exaggerated the good condition of Iraq’s infrastructure, the strength of its middle class, and the secular nature of its society. We would have received better information if we had had our own ambassador in Baghdad. Before we put boots on the ground elsewhere, we had better have wingtips there first.
Source: America’s Priorities in the War on Terror: Foreign Affairs , Jan 1, 2008

Know your enemy: jihadists would destroy civilization

A more successful U.S. foreign policy needs to better explain Islamic jihadism to the American people. Given how Americans have thrived on diversity--religious, ethnic, racial--it takes an enormous leap of imagination to understand what Islamic terrorists are about, that they really do want to kill every last one of us and destroy civilization as we know it. If they are willing to kill their own children by letting them detonate suicide bombs, then they will also be willing to kill our children for their misguided cause.

The first rule of war is “know your enemy,” and most Americans do not know theirs. To grasp the magnitude of the threat, we first have to understand what makes Islamic terrorists tick. [Jihadists] see nothing decadent or sinful in murdering in order to achieve their ends. America’s culture of life stands in stark contrast to the jihadists’ culture of death.

Source: America’s Priorities in the War on Terror: Foreign Affairs , Jan 1, 2008

Supports Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force

If I ever have to undertake a large invasion, I will follow the Powell Doctrine and use overwhelming force. The notion of an occupation with a “light footprint,” which was our model for Iraq, is a contradiction in terms. Liberating a country and occupying it are two different missions. Our invasion of Iraq went well militarily, but the occupation has destroyed the country politically, economically, and socially. In the former Yugoslavia, we sent 20 peacekeeping soldiers for every thousand civilians. In Iraq, an equivalent ratio would have meant sending a force of 450,000 U.S. troops. Unlike President George W. Bush, who marginalized General Eric Shinseki, the former army chief of staff, when he recommended sending several hundred thousand troops to Iraq, I would have met with Shinseki privately and carefully weighed his advice. Our generals must be independent advisers, always free to speak without fear of retribution or dismissal.
Source: America’s Priorities in the War on Terror: Foreign Affairs , Jan 1, 2008

Re-establish diplomatic ties to Iran, so we can move forward

Sun-tzu’s ancient wisdom is relevant today: “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Yet we have not had diplomatic relations with Iran in almost 30 years; the U.S. government usually communicates with the Iranian government through the Swiss embassy in Tehran. When one stops talking to a parent or a friend, differences cannot be resolved and relationships cannot move forward. The same is true for countries. The reestablishment of diplomatic ties will not occur automatically or without the Iranians’ making concessions that serve to create a less hostile relationship.

Whereas there can be no rational dealings with al Qaeda, Iran is a nation-state seeking regional clout and playing the game of power politics we understand and can skillfully pursue. We cannot live with al Qaeda, but we might be able to live with a contained Iran. Iran will not acquire nuclear weapons on my watch. But I want to do everything possible to avoid conflict.

Source: America’s Priorities in the War on Terror: Foreign Affairs , Jan 1, 2008

Go after al Qaeda’s safe havens in Pakistan

Iraq may be the hot war, but Pakistan is where the cold, calculating planning is going on. If al Qaeda strikes us tomorrow, the attack will be postmarked “Pakistan.” And the American people, not understanding why a supposed U.S. ally refused to help and our government put up with it, will justifiably be outraged that bin Laden and his top people got away. In fact, we almost did suffer that next attack: the plot to blow up ten airliners over the Atlantic that the British government foiled in 2006 was hatched in Pakistan.

Rather than wait for the next strike, I prefer to cut to the chase by going after al Qaeda’s safe havens in Pakistan. As commander in chief, the U.S. president must balance threats and risks in calculating how best to protect the American people. We are living on borrowed time. The threat of an attack on us is far graver than the risk that a quick and limited strike against al Qaeda would bring extremists to power in Pakistan.

Source: America’s Priorities in the War on Terror: Foreign Affairs , Jan 1, 2008

Stay in Iraq because we’re winning; we lose if we walk away

Q: Why not withdraw the troops from Iraq?

A: Because we are winning. Civilians deaths are down 76% since the surge. Even the military deaths are down over 60%. And that’s not the only way we know we’re winning. We’re winning because we see in the spirit of our own soldiers a sense of duty and honor that they are being able to carry out a mission that they were sent there to do. To take them out of it not only means we lose, but it means we totally destroy their sense of morale, and it may take a generation to get it back. But there’s more at stake than just their morale. It’s the safety and the security of the Middle East and the rest of the world. This is about every one of us being able to be free, to have a future, and to be able to know that we’re not going to allow a vacuum there, which happens if we lose--and we lose when we walk away--to create an opening so that terrorists can build even greater cells of training there. That’s why we have to stay. And it’s why we have to win.

Source: 2007 Republican primary debate on Univision , Dec 9, 2007

Train & arm Kurds to prevent cross-border PKK incursions

Q: What would you do about the cross-border incursions by the PKK?

A: We need to put American troops not to do military action but to train and arm the Kurds. They are capable of taking care of those terrorist cells along the Kurdish territory. They’ve proven that. And we should provide some assistance both in arming them & training them, to try to resolve this crisis. It’s not an exciting thing to see Turkey move across that border, but the more we can do to bolster the Kurds, that’s our best strategy

Source: FOX News Sunday, 2007 presidential interviews , Oct 21, 2007

Attack Iran’s nukes even if Congress says no

Q: If you were president, would you need to go to Congress to get authorization to take military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities?

: A president has to do whatever is necessary to protect the American people. If we think Iran is building nuclear capacity that could be used against us in any way, including selling some of the nuclear capacity to some other terrorist group, then yes, we have a right to do it. And I would do it in a heartbeat.

Q: Without going to Congress?

A: Well, if it’s necessary to get it done because it’s actionable right now, yes. If you have the time and the luxury of going to Congress, that’s always better.

Q: And if Congress says no, what do you do?

A: You do what’s best for the American people, and you suffer the consequences. What you never do is let the American people one day get hit with a nuclear device because you had politics going on in Washington instead of the protection of the American people first.

Source: 2007 Republican debate in Dearborn, Michigan , Oct 9, 2007

Many don’t comprehend the threat: they want our obliteration

Q: What’s your strategy to protect our American way of life from the designs of radical Islam?

A: The threat we face is one a lot of Americans don’t fully comprehend or understand. This isn’t a typical geo-political war. It’s a war against an enemy tha has no national borders or boundaries. It’s a theological war. It’s not politically correct to say that. It’s just the truth. We are fighting people whose religious fanaticism will not be satisfied until every last one of us is dead, until our culture, our society, is completely obliterated from the face of the earth. It is the perfect marriage of religion & state, and that’s why it is so incredibly dangerous, more so than any enemy we face. And here’s the reality. War is about will. Whoever chooses to leave loses. We can’t afford to lose, because this is not a war about Iraq, it’s not a war about Afghanistan, it’s a war about our survival as a civilization and as a people, and every effort must be made to defend this great country against it.

Source: 2007 GOP Values Voter Presidential Debate , Sep 17, 2007

We bought Iraq because we broke it; responsibility to honor

Q: Should we continue the troop surge, even though it will take at least a year for minimal improvement?

A: We have to continue the surge, and let me explain why. When I was a little kid, if I went into a store with my mother, she had a simple rule for me: If I picked something off the shelf at the store and I broke it, I bought it. I learned I don’t pick something off the shelf I can’t afford to buy. Well, what we did in Iraq, we essentially broke it. It’s our responsibility to do the best we can to try to fix it before we just turn away. I 100% agree that we can’t leave until we’ve left with honor because, whether or not we should have gone to Iraq is a discussion the historians can have, but we’re there. We bought it because we broke it. We’ve got a responsibility to the honor of this country and to the honor of every man and woman who has served in Iraq and ever served in our military to not leave them with anything less than the honor that they deserve

Source: 2007 GOP debate at UNH, sponsored by Fox News , Sep 5, 2007

We made Saudis rich; pressure them to help win with honor

Q: Rep. Paul says, “Come home.” Rep. Hunter says, “We’ve got to stay.” Is there a middle ground in this debate?

A: Certainly. The middle ground is that we win this war & we do it with honor. We don’t just stay indefinitely. We put some pressure on the Saudis. Look, we’ve made them rich. Every time somebody in this room goes to the gas pump, you’ve helped make the Saudi royal family a little wealthier. And the money that has been used against us in terrorism has largely come from the Middle East. There’s two things we’ve got to do. Number one, we’ve got to insist that the people in that neighborhood take a far greater role militarily and financially in solving the problem. It’s their neighborhood. But the second thing we’d do, for our own national security, is end our dependence on foreign oil. And let’s not play around and say “30 years,” let’s get it done. Let’s get it done now. And let’s make sure that we don’t have to depend upon their oil for our future energy needs.

Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate , Aug 5, 2007

Iraqi government disappointing, but we can’t up & pull out

Q: So much of what the new US military strategy depends on the behavior of the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Are you confident in this government?

A: We’re all frustrated with the Iraqi government. I think that given the extraordinary sacrifices that Americans have made to help them be strong and to be free, their internal squabbles are a great disappointment.

But at the same time, it does not lessen the fact that if we just up and pull out and chaos breaks loose and refugees run to the borders by the millions and destabilize the region, the ultimate effect of that will come back to haunt the US.

So, have we made huge mistakes there? Oh my heavens, yes. We certainly have. But we can’t look backwards in the rearview That’s a tiny piece of glass. We’ve got to look forward in the windshield. That’s a much bigger piece of glass. We’d better be asking ourselves, “What happens if we ultimately fail here?” Those are the implications we’ve got to put on the table first.

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2007 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer , Jun 10, 2007

Insist that Iraq’s neighbors assist military & financially

Q: The United Nations says there already have been two million refugees who have fled Iraq, mostly to Jordan and to Syria. Isn’t this a huge refugee crisis already?

A: It is a huge problem. But imagine if millions and millions more go to these countries, whose infrastructure simply can’t absorb them. Then you have a destabilized region. One of the things that the US must do is to more strongly insist to the Saudis, the Jordanians, the Turks, the Kuwaitis that their involvement militarily, their involvement financially, their involvement even theologically with the more radical wings of the Islamic faith are critical for us to solve this issue.

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2007 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer , Jun 10, 2007

We needed 300,000 troops to win Iraq; must finish the job

Q: Would you have fired Don Rumsfeld before last November?

A: I would’ve done that before the election. I certainly wouldn’t have said that we are not going to do it and then, right after the election, done so. But that’s the president’s call. Clearly there was a real error in judgment, and that primarily had to do with listening to a lot of civilians in suits & silk ties and not listening enough to the generals with mud and blood on their boots. Those generals told us, early on, it would take 300,000 troops to successfully go in and stabilize Iraq. Instead we gave them a limited number of troops and a budget and said, you have to do it with this. I think that’s something, now, we understand was a mistake. But rather than simply walking away and leaving the Middle East in a complete disastrous chaos that will spread to the region and to the rest of the world, it’s important that we finish the job, that we do it right, rather than have to go back and some day do it over.

Source: 2007 GOP primary debate, at Reagan library, hosted by MSNBC , May 3, 2007

Don’t judge Iraq war while we’re in the middle of the war

Q: On the letter grade scale, A through F, how would you rate the Bush administration’s handling of the Iraq war?

A: I think it’s too early to give them the grade. You don’t give a student a grade in the middle of the exam. We’re still in the middle of the exam. Let’s wait and see how it turns out, then we can give the president a grade.

Q: But a teacher will usually give you a heads-up, maybe midway through that semester.

A: In Arkansas, we didn’t get a grade until it was over.

Source: 2007 GOP primary debate, at Reagan library, hosted by MSNBC , May 3, 2007

Iraq war has made us overlook domestic agenda

Q: You said, “I think the president has done a magnificent job. And generally, I don’t find that many areas where I would disagree with him.” You still hold that view?

A: I think he’s had a lot of struggles, particularly in managing the war in Iraq. We did a great job of going in and toppling Saddam Hussein. The tough part has been bringing some sense of stability there. I think the domestic agenda has also almost been ignored and overlooked because we have spent so much of a time on Iraq.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , Jan 28, 2007

Opposing Bush’s troop surge is a dangerous position

Q: If you were in the Senate or the House, would you vote to oppose the president sending more troops to Iraq?

A: I think that’s a dangerous position to take, to oppose a sitting commander in chief while we’ve got people being shot at on the ground. I think it’s one thing to have a debate and a discussion about this strategy, but to openly oppose, in essence, the strategy, I think that can be a very risky thing for our troops.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , Jan 28, 2007

Make sure we finish the job in Iraq and finish it right

There has been plenty of second-guessing as to whether the US should have invaded Iraq. Regardless of where members of Congress now stand, in the days leading to our invasion of Iraq, there was a consensus from both Democrats & Republicans that Saddam di have weapons of mass destruction. There was a wholesale belief that he would unhesitatingly use them against the US if he had the opportunity, and would gladly assist terrorists who sought to repeat the horrific attacks of Sep. 11.

It may well be that the intelligence on which the decision was made was incomplete or flawed, but had we failed to topple Saddam’s empire and he had utilized WMDs against us, there would have been an even greater anger that we failed to act.

Now that we have gone to Iraq, one thing is certain--we need to make sure that we finish the job and finish it right. If we were to pull out prematurely and allow tyranny to be restored to that nation, the ripple effect throughout the Middle East and the world would be profound.

Source: From Hope to Higher Ground, by Mike Huckabee, p.134-136 , Jan 4, 2007

Strength is more effective deterrent to war than weakness

A true leader shares his power rather than shows his power. True greatness is revealed by humility rather than hubris. Fear can be obtained by a gun, but true respect can only be earned by using one’s strength for unselfish service. Jesus reminded us that if we really want to be great, we must be willing to serve rather than to be served, and that the spirit of our actions is as important as the actions themselves.

I would never want to sacrifice one particle of America’s power. Ronald Reagan had it right when he led this country to unprecedented military strength. Our best defense is a military so well equipped and so well trained that no one wants to challenge it. Strength is a far more effective deterrent to war than is weakness, and the US should never be apologetic for the development of the strongest military forces on the face of the earth. But with the development of strength and unprecedented power there must also be unprecedented restraint.

Source: [X-ref Homeland Sec.] From Hope to Higher Ground, p.133 , Jan 4, 2007

We should go to war with the army that we need

There were times when the arrogance was reflected, for example, in the former defense secretary who, despite getting advice from the Defense Department that we would need 400,000 troops to be able to successfully bring stability to Iraq, insisted that we would only use 180,000 troops and we would go in with a light footprint. There was one particular statement that he made that I found especially troubling. He said, “We don’t go to war with the army that we want; we go to war with the army that we have.“ I felt that the proper way for us to approach this is we don’t go to war with the army we have, we go to war with the army that we need, and we make sure that we have what we need before we go to war, including a clear definition of what we’re going to do, irresistible force when we do it, and once we do it, we don’t let the politicians interfere or interrupt the battlefield decisions of the commanders with blood on their boots and medals on their chest.
Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Republican primary debate , Jan 5, 2006

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