Mike Huckabee on Foreign Policy
Former Republican AR Governor; possible draft candidate
HUCKABEE: Only if there is a concerted effort to destroy the advance of radical Islamists who are against us. As far as what are we going to make it look like, frankly, I don't know what we can make it look like. You can't create for other people a desire for freedom and democracy. And frankly, that is not the role of the United States. The role of the United States military is not to build schools; it is not to build bridges; it is not to go around and pass out food packets. It is to kill and destroy our enemy and make America safe and that is the purpose we should be there if we're going to be there.
HUCKABEE: Ronald Reagan said "trust, but verify." President Obama is "trust, but vilify." He trusts our enemies and vilifies everyone who disagrees with him. And the reason we disagree with him has nothing to do with party. It has to do with the incredibly dangerous place that this world is gonna be as a result of a deal in which we got nothing. We didn't even get four hostages out. We got nothing, and Iran gets everything they want. We said we would have anywhere, anytime negotiations and inspections, we gave that up. We said that we would make sure that they didn't have any nuclear capacity, we gave that up.
HUCKABEE: Well, a lot of people don't know my first trip to the Middle East was in 1973, 42 years ago, when I was all of 17. I have been to the Middle East several dozen times. Just got back from Israel last month, was there three times just last year. I have been to virtually every country that we talk about, whether it's Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Kuwait, Turkey, Pakistan, India. This is a part of the world with which I am familiar firsthand. And as a governor, I also met with many world leaders, as well as CEOs of multinational corporations. And, frankly, most governors do. I think it's sometimes perceived that governors don't have much of a world view. I would tend to take issue that that is not always the case.
"In China, I felt like they were becoming more like America used to be," he told a crowd of some 900 activists. "But, sadly, America is becoming more like they used to be. Our government is becoming more oppressive; theirs is beginning to ease up. We have a lot of globalists and frankly corporatists instead of having nationalists who put forward the best interests of the United States and working families," he added.
A: The embargo was specifically referenced to the rice industry in my state. As the governor of the number one rice producer in the nation, we wanted to export our rice, including to Cuba. The more I became familiar with the oppression of Cuba, I realized that my position was, frankly, short-sighted, and it was based on my local agricultural concerns rather than the more important concerns of Cubaís oppressive regime. I got to lead the whole country and act in the best interest of how we can best deal with a rogue regime.
Thatís why we need to fight against the Law of the Sea Treaty, and make sure that it gets a good burial at sea. Thatís why we should say ĎNoí to Kyoto, because itís not giving over our sovereignty.
And itís why whenever a judge invokes any international law as the basis for making a decision, he should be summarily impeached for having done so.
A: I look at peopleís actions, because you can look into their eyes and their eyes can lie, but their actions donít. When people take actions that cause us to give concern to human rights violations and oppression, their actions are speaking a whole lot louder than their eyes ever will. We need to be recognizing that our foreign policy needs to reflect an extraordinary strength. Weíre going to have a military that theyíre not wanting to engage for any purpose. Reagan was right, you have peace through strength, not vulnerability. Weíve got to an Army that is well-staffed, well-trained, well-financed, & that is prepared for anything. Hopefully because it is so well-prepared, it never has to be used. We canít continue to have one that is stretched and pulled, and particularly if weíre going to engage them, we have to make sure weíve got enough troop strength that we donít have to have extended deployments out of our guard and reserve units.
American foreign policy needs to change its tone and attitude, open up, and reach out. The Bush administrationís arrogant bunker mentality has been counterproductive at home and abroad. My administration will recognize that the United Statesí main fight today does not pit us against the world but pits the world against the terrorists.
A: I have a number of people from whom I get policy: Frank Gaffney & Richard Haas; I talk to a number of military people, some of whom I canít name because theyíre active in the military. They probably wouldnít appreciate being outed. Iíve got conversations coming up with John Bolton. I try to get views from as many people as possible. I believe that a Colin Powell & Norman Schwarzkopf concept of dealing with foreign aggression is the best one.
In fact, Iíd want to strengthen this country. I think the greatest way to export democracy is not to force it, but rather to build the best possible version of it right here so people are attracted to it.
There is an important role that the United States has as the most powerful nation on earth militarily and economically, to act in such a way that people respect us and that people also realize that we are a great nation, not one that wants to push ourselves on others.
One of the things that I would do as president is clearly try to make sure we get some better intelligence-gathering, and that we have more consistency, and that we have intelligence with greater credibility than we obviously have now.
A: Well, Hugo Chavez is hardly the friend of the US. And even though we get 60% of their oil, I think itís one of the major reasons we need to become increasingly oil-free & energy-independent so that we donít have to worry about Chavez. But thereís a greater issue here, and itís the fact that the people of Venezuela arenít Hugo Chavez and Hugo Chavez is not necessarily the spirit of the people of Venezuela. Even though he was elected, he was not elected to be a dictator as he has become, suspending constitutional law. My mother used to have a statement: If you give somebody enough rope, theyíll hang themselves. I have a feeling that Mr. Chavez, continuing to take power from the people as he has done, will find himself unfortunately out of power, and a democratically elected government there that will give those people back the freedom that he has robbed from them.
A: Well, only to the degree to which he sticks by the constitution. When President Bush said that heís a big believer in democracy, Iíd have to wonder about suspending the constitution and declaring martial law. There are some concerns that I think we need to have about Pakistan. We need to make it very clear that, for the kind of money weíve poured into Pakistan since September 11--some $10 billion--we expect a greater accountability for that money actually going to find, locate, and destroy terrorists.
Q: So what would you do differently than President Bush is doing right now?
A: Well, the main thing I would do is to make sure that we demand greater accountability, not only for the funding that we have put in, but we also get a greater level of cooperation.
A: I would make sure that we demand greater accountability, not only for the funding that we have put in, but we also get a greater level of cooperation and commitment that, when we find actionable targets in Pakistan, dealing with Al Qaida, that we have the green light to go after those targets, that we donít do as we did a couple of years ago, and that is actually have people in the air on their way to take out a target and then to be called back because we had not yet obtained full permission from the Pakistani government.
Q: So you would send US troops directly into Pakistan if there were what you call actionable intelligence?
A: We need to make sure that the Musharraf government recognizes that part of what we have done with that $10 billion is to, sort of, earn the right of passage to take those targets out.
A: I think we have to be very careful about siding with either. Thatís a decision that the people of Pakistan are going to have to make. And it seems that Bhutto and Musharraf are beginning to try to form some type of coalition. But we need to keep our eyes on Pakistan. I think weíve sort of taken a view that everything is OK there, and itís not OK there. Letís not forget, itís somewhere in the caves of Pakistan where Osama bin Laden is hiding. The next missile bomb that maybe comes our way, the next terrorist attack, is probably going to be postmarked Pakistan. And thatís why in a speech that I gave a few weeks ago I spent a lot of time talking about that we really need to keep a much more intense focus there than we have.
A: I think we have some role to play in it, but I guess what disturbs me even more, we have not even addressed the genocide thatís going on and the infanticide in our own country with the slaughter of millions of unborn children. Yes, we ought to be involved in Darfur. But you know something? There are a lot of people in America that donít think the only poverty is in Darfur--understand thereís poverty in the Delta.
A: Well, the problem is, sometimes when you get what you want, you donít want what you get. And this is a great case of that happening. I donít think itís the job of the US to export our form of government. Itís the job of the US to protect our citizens, to make us free and us safe, and to create an enviable kind of government and system that everybody else will want.
Q: So it wouldnít be the core of your foreign policy?
A: Absolutely not, because I donít think we can force people to accept our way of life, our way of government. What we can to is to create the strongest America, freedom internally, secure borders, a safer nation. That makes a whole lot more sense to me than spending billions to try to prop up some government we donít even like when we get it.
A: Iíve been to 41 countries. Iíve been to Iraq & Afghanistan. Iíve been to Israel nine times. Iíve been to Syria, Lebanon, Egypt. Iíve been all over Europe & Asia. Iíve sat down with the heads of state.
Q: But people see a pattern of either not knowing things or getting things wrong.
A: I donít think itís a pattern. When you make lots of speeches, there are going to be times when you have more of a slip. But I donít have a slip of my judgment, or a slip of my character, or a slip of the truth. I know where I stand. I have moral clarity. I have convictions.
HUCKABEE: If you mean coalition of the unwilling, those who refuse to lift a finger to stop this aggression, they should be isolated. And, yes, we should put sanctions on them.ˇ There's no excuse, especially for Middle Eastern nations, especially for Muslim Middle Eastern nations, to simply sit back and do nothing and let America, the United Kingdom, France, NATO countries, to let the rest of the world attack this malignant cancer called Islamic jihadism, and then sit back and protect their own special and well-funded kingdoms.
A: I have been going to Israel for 42 years. My first trip was in 1973. I have been dozens and dozens of times. I have got a lot of friends there. I will be visiting with a number of officials and discussing the Iranian deal, because I think it's the most dangerous situation that we face, not just for the Middle East, but for the rest of the world. This is essentially arming and equipping a terrorist state. The Iranian government is not to be trusted. And for 36 years, they kidnapped Americans. They have killed Americans. They hold Americans hostage right now. And we're being pushed to get into a deal that gives us nothing, but gives the Iranians the capacity to ultimately end up with a nuclear weapon, and that's just insane.
Speaking in New Hampshire in April, Huckabee rejected the idea of a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, saying contested settlement areas in Judea and Samaria belong to Israel.
Huckabee was specifically dismissive of economic inequality as a political issue, telling the crowd that "liberals" would press it in the coming presidential campaign but that "intelligence inequality" was a bigger problem.
A: No, I donít think so. I have been to Israel 9 times. I have been all throughout the Middle East. Anyone who goes to Israel, and just understands the unique geography and the unique tension that surrounds that area, it would be very problematic for Israel to give up the West Bank, from their own standpoint of security. The same thing with the Golan Heights--giving up the Golan Heights makes most of Galilee a sitting target. Now itís their government. Theyíll make that decision, not me. But I certainly could not encourage them to give up the West Bank.
Q: If theyíre not going to give up the West Bank or the Golan Heights, what are they going to negotiate about?
A: There are a lot of options that involve other territory that doesnít have to include the West Bank or the Golan Heights. But letís be honest, there is not going to be some instant kumbaya moment. The best we can hope for is that there will be some level of loosening of the hostilities.
A: Well, I would want to see where that side-by-side exists, because if you do something that puts the Israelis in a position of ultimate vulnerability, that may not be a healthy solution. Youíve got to realize that there are people in that region who have stated that their primary purpose is to annihilate Israel, to do away with them. And if you surround them by hostility and give them very little room in which to maneuver, you may not have created anything other than a very, very temporary peace, but for a long-term disaster.
Q: So I guess youíre not ready to endorse a two-state solution yet?
A: Not until you see where those two states are going to be located and whether or not there is going to be some guarantee of security and concessions on the part of the nations that would surround Israel. And the Israelis would have to be comfortable with it.
The Palestinian was relocated had been told one day that he would be relocated to a Palestinian camp and that his neighborhood would be occupied by Israelis. It was always easy to me to understand why the Jews, having been displaced for thousands of years, would feel a divine right to return to the land promised to their forefathers and previously taken from them. But Palestinians are still human beings who deserve to be treated respectfully since they personally have not done wrong and now are being forced from what has been their home.
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