Jon Huntsman on War & Peace
Republican UT Governor
HUNTSMAN: We've heard this music before. For anyone who's watched the region, the North Koreans have a way of manipulating not just the regional headlines, but indeed, global headlines and then asking for concessions. And sadly, people step up and give concessions and that just continues the cycle.
Q: The truth is we don't know very much about this new leader, do we?
HUNTSMAN: Nobody knows much about this new leader.
Q: So, we don't know what he's capable of.
HUNTSMAN: You don't know what he's capable of. You know what his father did historically, the same kind of provocative cycles. But I think what we do know for sure is that these external provocations that we have witnessed are pretty much indicative of internal political challenges, which is to say that young 29-year-old Kim Jong- Un is further trying to consolidate his power among the central military commission, among the political elite.
HUNTSMAN: We've been at the war on terror for 10 years now, we've been in Afghanistan. And I say we've got a lot to show for our efforts: The Taliban is no longer in power. We've run out al Qaeda, they're now in sanctuaries. We've had free elections. Osama bin Laden is no longer around. We have strengthened civil society. We've helped the military. We've helped the police. I believe it's time to come home. And I would say within the first year of my administration, which is to say the end of 2013, I would want to draw them down. I don't want to be nation building in Southwest Asia when this nation is in such need of repair. Afghanistan is not a counter insurgency. But we do have a counter-terror mission in Southwest Asia. And that would suppose leaving behind maybe 10,000 troops for intelligence gathering, for Special Forces rapid response capability and training.
HUNTSMAN: The president is the commander-in-chief. Of course you get input and advice from a lot of different corners of Washington, including the commanders on the ground. We also deferred to the commanders on the ground in about 1967, during the Vietnam War, and we didn't get very good advice then. Here's what I think is around the corner in Afghanistan. I think civil war is around the corner in Afghanistan. And I don't want to be the president who invests another penny in a civil war. I don't want to be the president who sends another man or woman into harm's way that we're not able to bring back alive. I say we've got something to show for our mission. Let's recognize that & move on
SANTORUM: I'm not for taking them out of the region. We want victory.
HUNTSMAN: The world is a better place when th US is strong. So guiding anything that we talk about from a foreign policy standpoint needs to be fixing our core. But, second of all, I believe that, you know, after 10 years of fighting the war on terror, people are ready to bring our troops home from Afghanistan. This country has given its all. What remains behind, some element to collect intelligence, special forces capability, and we're going to have to do that in every corner of the world. But we need to fix this core and get serious about what the rest of the 21st century holds for this country.
HUNTSMAN: We are 10 years into this war. America has given its all in Afghanistan. We have families who have given the ultimate sacrifice. And it's to them that we offer our heartfelt salute. But the time has come for us to get out of Afghanistan. We don't need 100,000 troops in Afghanistan nation-building at a time when this nation needs to be built. We are of no value to the rest of the world if our core is crumbling, whic it is in this country. I like those days when Ronald Reagan said that the light of this country would shine brightly for liberty, democracy, human rights, and free markets. We're not shining like we used to shine. We need to shine again. And when we star shining again, it's going to help the women of Afghanistan, along with any other NGO work. We can get it done, but we have to make sure that the Afghan people increasingly take responsibility for their security going forward.
Huntsman also told Esquire that he plans on running a campaign built in part on the parallel platforms of debt reduction and ending the war in Afghanistan.
GINGRICH: Sure. The price tag is always a factor, because that's part of the decision.