Skip to comments.Exclusive: Freeper Interview with Duncan Hunter - Part 1
Posted on 03/19/2009 8:03:56 PM PDT by pissant
(Part 1 of my phone interview with former Congressman Hunter took place the morning of March 18, 2009, as he was in transit with his lovely wife Lynne to the San Diego airport)
PA: First, Id like to know what your immediate plans are. Sounds like you are writing a book and more or less taking it easy for a little bit?
Hunter: Yes, well, Im writing a book and doing a little land development out here. And time with the Grandkids. And doing a little business and free enterprise.
PA: Now the book that your writing, is it going to be autobiographical, or is..
Hunter: No, Im writing a number of recommendations for national security.
PA: Oh, OK. Good.
Hunter: Yeah, with respect to China, Iran and Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. Were not trying to make a bunch of money on it, just coming up with some recommendations that I think will be useful to the country. And the way Im going to get those out is simply send them to the administration and to the Congress as advice which they can find use for or not find use for.
PA: Im afraid it is pretty darn useful, especially since I see now whats going on. Which relates to my next question, which is: what do you think of the Obama administration, which from my viewpoint and that of many of my cohorts, seems like a redo of Jimmy Carter, at least in the first 60 days here in terms of foreign policy? What do you think about that?
Hunter: I think it is really too early to get a handle on what they intend to do. I think they are having a difficult time right now, I dont think they fully planned out what the direction their foreign policy is going to be. But weve won the war in Iraq. So it is theirs to mess up. But at this point it is won. Youve got a higher chance of becoming a casualty in Mr. Obamas hometown of Chicago than you do in Iraq right now.
PA: Have you seen the statistics on the number of high school student that have been shot, I believe in the last two years, in Chicago.
PA: It was astronomical. Way more than the casualties in the same time period in Iraq.
Hunter: Well, we won the war in Iraq. And weve done it with the blood, sweat and tears of the American fighting forces. And they should be congratulated, not just on serving, but on WINNING. Because they have clearly won in Iraq. And in the most dangerous province, Anbar province, our Marines turned that situation around totally. Theyve run races, 10K races, through Ramadi and Fallujah, which were the toughest towns in Iraq, which weve taken lots of Marine casualties in the old days. They turned it around and got the population on their side, and in fact, the discussions Ive had with the senior military folks, is that the most reliable institution in the minds of the Iraqi people in Anbar province is the United States Marines.
PA: Well, Id agree with that without ever even being there. They are a pretty reliable group. Speaking of Iraq, do you think that the time it took to get to this point, where basically in the last year its been won, after the surge started showing success, - do you think if we had followed the original plan, Rumsfelds plan, to leave General Garner in charge instead of putting Bremer and the State Department in charge, these results would have come quicker?
Hunter: You know, I think it is hard to speculate. But here is what I know about occupations. Occupations wear on two countries. The country being occupied, and the country doing the occupying. Occupation is always a political problem, and certainly a problem for the occupying country when it is a democracy like ours, where people get tired of the expenditure and get tired of the exposure to their soldiers. The occupied country, and the people therein come to resist the presence of foreign troops; that always happens. If you look at the history of World War II, the same villages that cheered American Servicemen when they arrived to liberate them from the Nazi occupation, months later were upset with us. When you had deuce and a halfs running over livestock and damages to the local taverns because of a fight that broke out, it just happens, as we all know, when you have folks move into your neighborhood who are occupiers. Even in the best of circumstances you always have some problems.
Hunter: So my point is, for people to have looked for the smooth road in Iraq, there never was a smooth road. Thats the real lesson. And to the people that said, well, we should have thrown a lot more soldiers in I mean I heard Joe Biden in the same discussion say that, #1, we had to put an Iraqi face on the occupation, which means having a light footprint; and then in the same discussion he would say we needed to put more troops in. Well you dont put an Iraqi face on the security apparatus by having an American GI on every street corner. So the light footprint, I think was just as effective as a heavier footprint, and when you have a heavier footprint, you have massive logistics increases, you have much more exposure on the roads, and the roads are where we were taking the heaviest IED casualties. So having the convoys that would be attendant to a very large troop presence would not necessarily have been helpful in my estimation. I just think occupations are always tough, there is no smooth road, we worked through it, and in the end, the tenacity of the American fighting forces, while Harry Reid was announcing defeat (laughs) .Seeing emails coming back from senior commanders saying they are crushing Al Qaeda in Anbar province. In those days, the only good news that the Al Qaeda leadership was seeing was coming from the US Senate.
PA: Mainly Harry Reid.
Hunter: There it is (laughs).
PA: If you had been president, would you have put the State Department in charge for those two years or would you have kept them underneath the Pentagon?
Hunter: Well, with respect to Military operations, you have to allow the Military to lead. And one good example was 1st and 2nd battle of Falluja. My son was in the first battle of Falluja, and he called me up as Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and said what are you politicians doing?? He said we are driving through Falluja this was after the contractors were hung from the bridge. The American Marines were sent in at the insistence of the political leadership that said we wanna get those guys. So they insisted on the American Marines going in. The Marines actually had a different approach. But the Marines were ¾ of their way through the city, THEN the political leadership decided they were going to stop the attack and pull the Marines back. Which we did. And after that, Falluja became the center point, the staging grounds for terrorist operations around Iraq. And when we finally went back in with full force in November, several months after Falluja 1, we took substantial casualties. We took approximately 78 Marines KIA, where previously we were ¾ of the way through the city before and had only taken 4 KIA.
Hunter: So the political decisions to stop the attack and pull back did a couple of things. First, it filled Al Qaeda recruiting offices because they portrayed that as a US defeat. And then when we did go back in they were prepared to fight. While we took Falluja down, absolutely took it down and killed every terrorist who stayed, it cost us a fairly large number of US Marine and Army casualties. So that was an example of a situation which we should have deferred, the President should have insisted, on the military position being followed, with respect to a policy concerning Falluja. And he allowed the political leadership, the diplomats to call that one. And that resulted in a larger number of casualties than we should have taken.
Hunter: But all in all, I dont think this (Iraq) is a situation that needs a lot of 2nd guessing. Because we have been successful in Iraq. And every military operation is followed by debriefings, which you go over lessons learned. And every force in a military conflict, makes, from the tactical level up, makes dozens and dozens of mistakes each day, which are taken advantage of by the other side. A single patrol with 7 people, will make mistakes. And they go back and they, they debrief and they go over lessons learned, and they try to improve their operations.
Hunter: So this entire operation was a very unique operation in Iraq, and it required our military people to really have a diplomatic dimension, which they handled very well.
Hunter: I think the best diplomats in Iraq were the military leaders who brought about the alliance and the friendship and support of the local populations, while at the same time separating out the terrorists and killing them. Thats pretty tough to do. And you always have some degree of collateral damage, which works against your diplomatic efforts. And yet our military people were able to handle that. So I see Iraq, overall, as an example of success that resulted from the perseverance, and the innovative capability, of the American fighting forces.
PA: I agree with that, and I want to take a moment to thank YOU, for your statement on the floor and in the press, which I recall and we recorded, in support of continuing the operation, supporting the surge. I mean President Bush was a pretty lonely guy there for awhile, when things werent looking so good in 2006 or at least the medias version of Iraq and President Bush stood up tall, and he needed some support. And if my recollection is correct, I dont think he got any more support from anyone that was greater than the support you gave him.
Hunter: I supported the surge from the start. One reason I did speak out was because you had some democrats, who before the additional American forces had even crossed the line from Kuwait, they announced that the surge had failed. And they sited casualties that were emanating from Baghdad before the additional American forces even arrived, to try to prove a point that somehow the surge had failed. But in Anbar province, I think its important to note, there really wasnt a surge. The Marines were already there. The Marines brought about the turnaround in Anbar province by convincing the population that they were going to win, that they were the persistent force that was going to dominate the landscape. And by the miscalculations of the Al Qaeda leadership, who tried to impose their ruthless discipline on the tribes of Anbar, whereas you know they tried to enforce a strict Al Qaeda regime and they ended up killing a number of the tribal leaders and their family members. The Marines worked hard to maintain a friendship, develop a friendship with the tribal leadership in the province at the same time. And ultimately the tribes and the tribal leadership gravitated towards the US Marine Core. And again, today, if you ask or take a poll in Anbar province, in what was the most deadly part of Iraq - Falluja, Ramadi, etc, and you asked them who they most respect and most rely upon , theyll tell you that high on that list will be the United States Marine Corps.
Hunter: So that was a turnaround that was undertaken by the US Marines. It really wasnt a function of extra personnel; it was a function of extra perseverance.
PA: And correct me if Im wrong, Congressman, but wasnt that already well underway even before Petraeus got the approval to bring the surge troops in?
Hunter: Well it was underway in this sense: the Al Qaeda were brutalizing the tribes at that point, and I dont have the exact date when the first meetings were made. But let me give you a couple of examples. General Kelly was asked by one of the tribes to which we had one of their leaders incarcerated by the Marines, appropriately, and he died of natural causes while incarcerated and they asked to have the body be returned so they could give him an appropriate muslim burial or ritual. General Kelly, General John Kelly, returned that body personally to the tribe. And this was a tribe which strongly resisted the American presence from day one. But that activity of personally returning the body brought about a great deal of respect and helped to bring a turnaround on that particular tribe. We also continued to undertake these civil projects. Of doing everything up to and including restocking their lakes with fish, and providing livestock for farmers, along with all the small programs. The Marines had a special program, as did the Army in their AOs, for purifying water, trying to ensure that Iraqi mothers with infants utilized purified water, because that was the major cause of childrens deaths, infant deaths. So the US military had a major humanitarian dimension to its operation. And that contributed to the turnaround in Iraq. The people of Iraq appreciated the fact that Americans continued their humanitarian operations. And I think that, and the American Military leadership, right down to the squad level, had a mission that wasnt simply fighting but also a rebuilding of the country, making friends, working with the population. That humanitarian slash diplomatic dimension to the American Military operation contributed to the turnaround.
PA: Very good. Now the comments coming from people like Hillary, Harry Reid, and many others like Pelosi, all basically saying its over, we need to withdraw, how do you as a sitting congressman deal with that? Because that to me is seditious.
Hunter: Im a former congressman.
PA: Yes, yes, you are now, but at the time .
Hunter: Well heres the words I want to hear them say: Not that its over, not that Im going to stop the war .thats like Obama going out to the decks of the Missouri right before the surrender is getting ready to take place and announcing that the war is over. The war IS over, no thanks to him. And he was told by major military commanders, if we had retreated at the time that he wanted when the war was going badly it would have been a major disaster for us.
Hunter: So we managed to avoid the Obama disaster and we won the war, now he strides to the deck of the Missouri, as Truman, or rather the Military leaders are getting ready to ink the documents and announces the war is over. But what the democrats will not do, what the liberals will not do, but what they should do, and what they owe to the American fighting forces is to use the word Victory. We won Iraq. And we won despite Mr. Obamas attempt to stop the operation when things were going badly. We won it despite Hillarys attempts .I mean in the democrats debates, in every forum, it quickly devolved into a contest as to who would leave the quickest. I think Bill Richardson trumped everybody by saying Ill start them packing tonight. That was when things were not going well in the war and it was hanging in the balance and they were fighting with each other over who would retreat the fastest.
PA: I remember that. So what do you think explains it seems inexplicable to me how elected representatives, especially senators who represent a whole state how do they justify being so I want to say seditious, because they are knowingly lying at the same time they are making these statements?
Hunter: Well, they are trying to finesse this issue. They are trying to imply, that somehow they are responsible for leaving Iraq. They are NOT responsible for us leaving Iraq. We are leaving Iraq because we have won. Weve got Marine units that are coming back grousing because they dont have any combat action ribbons. Because they did not have any combat. And because it is peaceful over there now. Youve got the same problem with respect to the Army. So, weve won in Iraq, and thats the point. Because you dont have the formality, these manifestations of decisive victory that attend a full blown war, where you declare war on a country, as we did in WWII, and then you ultimately have a surrender, you give an opening, an opportunity, for the folks that were wrong on Iraq to attempt to finesse the issue by claiming that they are quote ending the war. Giving the impression that but for them, the war would not be over, and troops would not be coming home. And actually they are coming home .the only thing right now we are doing in Iraq is mopping up and packing up, in a real sense. Weve won the war. Our troops in the vast majority of the areas of operation cant find an Al-qaeda left to kill.
PA: Well thats good news.
Hunter: The only firefights we have now are the imaginary ones that Hillary talked about on her Codel (congressional delegation). laughs-
PA: Hey, I gotta ask you about
Hunter: We need her to stir things up a little bit over there. - (laughs)
PA: Absolutely. China has announced they are going to increase their defense spending by 15%, and Russia 25%. Yet we have an administration that has vowed to, or is looking at cutting out the F-22 altogether, delaying the fuel tanker program which is overdue by a shot, AND vowing not to weaponize space. Can I get your comments on that?
Hunter: Clearly, the democrat party is being pulled to the left by the people that gave it success.
Hunter: And thats a left of center majority in the democrat party. And they are moving back, just as a moth is drawn to a flame, they are moving right back to their leftwing positions on defense. Which is to cut defense, even at a time when government spending is going crazy. They are cutting national security. And these long range systems for example, a key to Americas ability to project power, is our air projection, which requires a couple of things. It requires aircraft which can penetrate enemy airspace, which is becoming increasingly deadly. That is with new species, new types of surface to air missiles...
PA: That the Russians and the chicoms sell em .
Hunter: That therefore requires that we continue to evolve American aircraft, that can penetrate enemy airspace, deliver their payload in a precise manner, and return unscathed. That requires aircraft like the F-22. Now the F-22 is expensive, but stealth is always expensive, stealth capabilities are expensive, as is high speed, as is the type of firepower that the F-22 carries.
Hunter: So the second aspect of power projection in the air is the ability to move aircraft great distances. And that ability in the United States is founded on the American tanker force. The fight over the American tanker force is whether or not we should buy French tankers, or buy American. I think you buy American, for a couple of reasons. First, the average American pays more than $1000 per month out of his paycheck for the defense function of government. And for all practical purposes we defend the entire free world. And just as most of the French in Afghanistan will not leave the fort, and Americans, by far, have taken more casualties than all the rest of the NATO allies combined, its now being proposed that we move this massive tanker contract to France. And that makes no sense whatsoever. So for that reason, in terms of the equity reason, American taxpayers who pay for the defense of the free world should be able to build that equipment protecting the free world. The 2nd thing is, we make an aircraft which is tried and true, is reliable, has a history of operational performance. And we should go with that and get those tankers into the air as soon as possible. That also would employ hundreds of thousands of Americans.
PA: If not hundreds of thousands, at least 10s of thousands.
Hunter: Job years. Over a hundred thousand job years, if you are talking about the total buyout of the tanker force.
PA: Yes, thats probably true. What about Obamas vow not to weaponize space? That to me is probably THE most dangerous decision we could make right now.
Hunter: The problem with Obama not wanting to weaponize space is that we are now in a real struggle. The Chinese, several years ago, shot down a satellite. I believe that was in January of 07. That shot heralded a new competition with China in space whether we want it or not.
PA: And the Russians have not given up space. They fully intend to weaponize space.
Hunter: Our economy and our military capability is largely embedded in space based assets. We have to be able to defend them and repel those who would try to destroy them. You have to be able to protect your space assets.
PA: Are you going to be writing about that in your book?
Hunter: Well, Im doing a series of papers and I want to put them out as papers and if we get enough of them, well compile them into a book.
PA: OK. Now Im guessing you are running short on time.
Hunter: Yeah, Im getting close to the old airport.
PA: I have a series of questions on the economy. Can we do a second part to this interview. We touched on National Security today, but I would like to touch on some economic and political/philosophical issues for moving forward in this country.
Hunter: Sure, when I come back from this thing (trip), Ill be happy to do that.
PA: OK, that sounds great.
Hunter: Heres what Ill say briefly on the economy. We have got to maintain the industrial base in this country. Right now, our tax and tariff laws are motivating companies that are left in the United States, that produce manufactured goods, to move those manufacturing lines to foreign countries; principally China. That exodus, over the long term, will have a devastating effect on Americas security. For jobs reasons, for economic reasons, and for security reasons, we need to retrieve the American manufacturing base, including the high tech manufacturing base which is going overseas right now.
PA: Well, we have the 2nd or 3rd highest corporate tax rate in this country, which is unbelievable.
Hunter: We should take manufacturing taxes to zero in this country. But even if you took that corporate tax rate away, the tariff agreement we made with the rest of the world is that they can subsidize their companies by refunding and rebating their 15 to 20% Value Added Tax. Which is a major portion of their tax burden. And they are exporting countries, which export to us, and when we export to them, they charge us that tax burden. That means in China, if that phone you are talking through right now costs a $100 made in China. They paid $17 in Value Added Tax. When they take that phone down to the docks to ship the United States, the government of China rebates that $17 to you, so you get all your tax money back. The American is already paying his income tax and his corporate tax. And when his phone which costs $100 reaches Chinas shores, he gets charged 17%. So your item has gone from $100 to $83, and the American item has gone from $100 to $117, so now theres a 34 point difference between the two which started out at the same cost. And youve yet to engage in the competition of selling, involving sale of the product. My point is, weve agreed to a trade regimen which condemns American manufacturers to what amounts to a playing field that involves a massive subsidy for foreign goods and a corresponding penalty for American goods.
Hunter: And I gotta jump on the plane.
PA: So I will call you in a few days and schedule a 2nd round .
Hunter: Now wait a minute, lets not make this a never ending quest here. (laughs) Weve talked of 40 minutes and you want to do another one? (laughs)
PA: Well, you got through 4 of my questions (laughs)
Hunter: OK, no problem. Give me another call and well do a couple more of these.
PA: OK. Fantastic.
Hunter: Hey, (Pissant), thanks.
PA: Well talk soon. Goodbye.
(Part 2 coming soon. Congressman Hunter called me back while cooling his heels in the hotel waiting to go onto Sean Hannity's show tonight. Part 2 we discuss the Republican party and if he has any political plans for the future).
Duncan Hunter? Who?
Just kidding, pissant. Good interview. Thanks for posting.
Thanks for the ping.
I was thrilled to see him on Hannity tonight.
Maybe he’ll be ready to mop it up in 2012.
He’s about the only one that doesn’t make me want to hurl.
He’ll have “to mop it up” without me.
I saw him on Hannity too, he always does very well, no matter the topic.
Without a teleprompter no less!
I’d like to know what he thinks of the “tea parties” and how much longer Congress thinks they can get away with shenanigans-as-usual before the angry mobs show up and drag them by the ears from their offices and kick their fannies down the steps into forced retirement.
Thanks for the ping, pissant! Nice interview! skimmed it quickly but need to reread it more intently! Looking forward to the rest of the interview! Well done! :)
WOw...was on my way to bed and quickly looked this over...wow. I loved Hunter on Hannity!!! Hubby and I were glued to the set. Oh how I wish America would have chosen our guy! Woooow, pissant!!! Thank you so much for sharing. I can’t wait to read it in full tomorrow morning. Gotta put my kidz to bed....wowowowow.
No problem! :)
Will give it careful analysis first thing in the AM and then look forward to Part II.
Thanks for the ping!
This is a great, in depth interview. I got through half of it, and will read the other half tomorrow. BTW, I was VERY surprised to find out that the Congressman was going to be on Hannity. I missed it, so I’ll look for it on YouTube.
This is the Man I sent money to in support of his race to the Presidency. If he runs again, I’ll double my effort! BTW, a most Excellent interview my FR correspondent!
Woo Hoo!! Good show!
Good job. How I would love to hear that kind of interview on nat’l television programs!
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