Gary Johnson on War & Peace
Libertarian presidential nominee; former Republican NM Governor
Johnson: "Skeptic," but "wouldn't get rid of treaty."
Stein: Yes. Create nuclear-free zone in the entire Middle East.
Q: On Iraq: Did you support the Iraq war? Should the US commit significant additional ground troops to Iraq to combat ISIS?
Clinton: Voted to give Bush authority for war; then said "made a mistake." Supported Obama draw-down. Opposes adding more combat troops, but wants more support for Arab & Kurdish ground forces.
Trump: Says opposed war but made no public opposition statements at time, & some indicating support. Later supported troop withdrawal. Now supports 20,000-30,000 additional US troops.
Johnson: Opposed war. Boots on ground, bombs, & drones "make things worse." ISIS has been "largely contained geographically."
Stein: End Iraq and Afghan wars, withdraw troops & military contractors. Weapons embargo in Middle East.
JOHNSON: I would get the troops out--the consequence of getting the troops out, as horrible as that's going to be in 2017, it's going to be the same situation 20 years from now.
Q: So you're prepared to have the Taliban regain power in Afghanistan?
JOHNSON: Just like happens 20 years from now. Just like happens whenever we get out of Afghanistan.
WELD: I agree.
Q: If the Islamic State--you're prepared to have them consolidate power rather than leave U.S. troops there?
JOHNSON: Let me ask you: How long should we be in Iraq & Syria? Forever? I reject the fact that libertarians are isolationist. We're just noninterventionist. The fact that when you get involved in other countries' affairs, you end up with the unintended consequence--without exception--you have the unintended consequence of making things worse, not better.
JOHNSON: When you get involved in other countries' affairs, you end up with the unintended consequence--without exception, and please point out an exception--you have the unintended consequence of making things worse, not better.
Q: South Korea.
JOHNSON: South Korea, right now we've got 40,000 troops in South Korea. Imagine if we had 40,000 Chinese troops in Central America. I think the biggest threat in the world right now is North Korea, and that at some point these intercontinental ballistic missiles are going to work. And so, we're not isolationists, we're noninterventionists, so diplomacy to the hilt. Let's join in hands with China to deal with North Korea, and as part of that, maybe we can get our troops out of South Korea. There is absolutely no threat from North Korea invading South Korea conventionally. There is nuclear, but we've got them covered with that umbrella and that's the issue that we're facing.
JOHNSON: If we are attacked, we're going to attack back. And you can certainly argue that we have been attacked by ISIS, but let's involve Congress also in this process. Congress has abdicated to the president and to the military--we find ourselves in these conflicts without an open debate and discussion on how we should move forward. We're obligated to defend borders in other countries that have not been negotiated through Congress, either.
Q: But if we have been attacked by ISIS, then how can you not be involved in Syria, which is obviously a big swath of the Levant, where ISIS has its stronghold? How do you stay out of there?
JOHNSON: Well, because of our intervention, ISIS has grown as a result. I mean, you had Assad against ISIS, and now you take out--you know, we decided to go against Assad, and that's ISIS. So, you know, is that now our new ally?
JOHNSON: No. There should not have been military intervention in Syria. And it has had the unintended consequence of actually growing ISIS. The Pentagon itself says that we could reduce bases in the US by 20%. But you don't have Congress going along with that, because that's bases in home states, and that's what Congress does, is protect their own interests.
A: No, cut all support and aid.
Q: Should the U.S. intervene in the affairs of other countries?
A: Yes, but only in matters of national security.
Q: How should the U.S. deal with Iran?
A: Iran does not threaten our national security and there is no proof they are building a nuclear weapon.
Q: Should the U.S. maintain a presence at the United Nations?
A: Yes, but scale back our current involvement.
A: I do. In all three cases, I don't see a military threat. I initially thought the intervention in Afghanistan was warranted--we were attacked and we attacked back--but we've wiped out Al Qaeda and here we are; we're still there.
Q: Isn't there evidence that we merely drove Al Qaeda from Afghanistan into Pakistan?
A: I would point to past realities that have unintended consequences. For example, by taking out [the secular regime in] Iraq, we removed a threat to [the religious totalitarian regime] Iran. I don't think Iran's a military threat, though it might prove to be, but we [have the military capacity to] deal with that threat.
Q: Iran in several instances has stated its intention to destroy the US, which Iran calls "the Great Satan." If you had information that Iran was preparing an attack--either through sponsorship of terrorism or by nuclear strike against one of our military bases or cities--how would you respond?
A: I'd meet with the military experts and ask a lot of questions. We have airborne lasers that can knock out incoming missiles in the launch phase.
A: I think Israel is an important military ally and I support that alliance. I think Iran gets dealt with by Israel, which is likely to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. I think it's wrong for our government to presume to tell Israel what to do.
Johnson: Absolutely not.
McCotter: The Administration shouldn't have commenced its ill-defined Libya mission; however once committed, we can't abruptly withdraw & further harm our diminishing credibility in the world. Now, in solely a support role to prevent further involvement--no US boots on ground.
Johnson: Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya--Get out now!
A: I would get out of both Iraq and Afghanistan tomorrow. Six months after we engaged in Afghanistan we'd wiped out al-Qaeda effectively--that was 10 years ago. Now we're building roads, schools, bridges, highways and hospitals--we have those needs here in this country.
A: I went on record immediately saying, "Let's not do this." There was no congressional authorization, no military threat. Where in the constitution does it say that because we don't like a foreign country's leader we should go in and topple the dictator?
A: Well, initially, Afghanistan was totally warranted. We were attacked. We attacked back. That's what our military is for. We should remain vigilant to the terrorist threat. But after being in Afghanistan for six months I think we effectively wiped out al Qaeda. And here it is, we are there 10 years later. We're building roads, schools, bridges, highways and hospitals and borrowing 43 cents out of every dollar to do that.
A: What we don't argue about is the need for a strong national defense. We don't argue that at all. What we might argue about is the actual threat to our national security. When it came to Iraq, I would have argued at that time this isn't a threat to our national security. But if they do have weapons of mass destruction, we have the military surveillance capability to see that happen and we could go in and strike at that point.
Q: We knew he used weapons of mass destruction. We had images of dead children, Kurds in the north because chemical weapons were used. The way he was acting made everybody, including most Democrats, conclude that he had them.
A: Well, and under the umbrella of a no-fly zone, did this occur?
JOHNSON: Well, first of all, I'm not in favor of a timetable. I believe that that timetable should be tomorrow and I realize that tomorrow may involve several months. I was opposed to us going into Iraq from the beginning. Afghanistan originally, I was completely supportive of that, we were attacked, we attacked back, that's what our military is for and after six months, I think we pretty effectively taken care of Al Qaeda.
But that was 10 years ago, we're building roads, schools, bridges and highways in Iraq and Afghanistan and we're borrowing 43 cents out of every dollar to do that. In my opinion, this is crazy.
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