05 February 2007

An Interview with Duncan Hunter

His credentials are impressive, especially so when considering the country is at war. The question is - can he be elected.

Last October, soon-to-be-former House Armed Services Committee Chairman, Congressman Duncan Hunter of California announced his candidacy for the 2008 presidential election. If elected, he would be the first baby-boomer, Vietnam veteran elected president.

Will his distinguished service in Vietnam matter?

Thus far Americans have elected two baby-boomer Presidents. One, Bill Clinton, evaded military service in Vietnam and engaged in anti-war protests. The other, George W. Bush, served in the Air National Guard. Both Clinton and Bush were opposed for election by military veterans - Bush by Al Gore and John Kerry (albeit Kerry later claimed that American soldiers committed war crimes). Clinton by George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole, both World War II veterans.

One of the most frequent criticisms by anti-war protesters of those who advocate the war in Iraq has been that they never served in combat. Liberals and Democrats, such as N.J. Senator Frank Lautenberg, have called President Bush and members of the administration "chickenhawks." This is a derisive term meaning a coward who sends others to war while he would not. These same critics also like to point out that neither of President Bush's daughters is in the military.

Forgetting for a moment the blatant hypocrisy of these critics (after all Lautenberg never called Clinton a chickenhawk when he sent troops into combat that resulted in casualties), one wonders if Hunter's credentials will silence people like Lautenberg.
Hunter favors the war in Iraq and unlike Clinton or Bush or Kerry or Gore or any of the other candidates for President except John McCain - not only is Hunter a decorated veteran of Vietnam who served with the 173rd Airborne Division and the 75th Army Rangers - his son is a veteran of Iraq.

So the Democratic Party smear campaign cannot use the chickenhawk ad hominem. They will try something else.

Hunter is already being labeled "far right."
Presumably by those who think Hugo Chavez is a moderate South American political leader. However, the best thing is for people to decide for themselves.

MPT: You are relatively unknown in the Republican Party and, for that matter, by the American public.
How do you intend to correct that?

Hunter: I have appeared on a lot of national news shows stating my positions on foreign policy especially Iraq and Afghanistan.
I am campaigning in the early primary states of New Hampshire, Iowa and I am running TV commercials in South Carolina.

MPT: You are in favor of the increasingly unpopular Iraq war. How would you proceed in Iraq?

Hunter: I have recommended to the President as early as October 2006 to take the 27 Iraqi battalions that we have trained, and assign them from the more docile provinces to Baghdad before we have a surge of more troops.
Currently, these Iraqi battalions were assigned to the nine most passive provinces where there is less than one attack per day. They were assigned there initially by the command before they knew where the most troublesome provinces were. They are still there and need to be reassigned to the most active provinces.

This will give these battalions the experience they need and it will validate them. It will also establish a link between the civilian government and the military which is needed before the military can adequately protect the Iraqi citizens.

MPT: President Bush has not done much to rally the morale of the American people about this controversial war. What would you do?

Hunter: I think the American people need to be continually reminded of the stakes in regard to Iran and the continuing vulnerability of all free societies to the threat these nations pose.

There has been a history of resistance by the left in this country to using the military for foreign policy purposes while negotiating and they have always been incorrect. During the 1980s, the liberal media condemned President Reagan for deploying Pershing missiles saying he would start World War III. The left organized demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of people.
Reagan deployed them and the result was the Soviet Union wanted to negotiate. The same thing happened in El Salvador where we helped build their military and eliminate the communist threat. Today El Salvador is a democratic nation.

It is important for the American people to know that this will not be easy. We need to develop democracy in this part of the world that was excluded from the Cold War.

I believe in lots of communication with the American people.

MPT: What are your beliefs about abortion?
Partial-birth abortion? Parental notification laws?

Hunter: I am strongly Pro-Life. A nation that spends millions trying to recognize life on other planets should be able to recognize life here on Earth. I voted against partial birth abortion and in favor of parental notification laws.

MPT: What changes would you propose to US trade policy and why?

Hunter: Currently, we are at a disadvantage. If we were to make our trade policy with China, for example, analogous to a football game then China would begin the game with a 74-point advantage.

Chinese businesses exporting to the US receive a 17 percent refund of their taxes. They essentially receive a subsidy of 17 percent. Then any imports from the US are a taxed with a 17 percent. So that is a 34-point advantage.
Then the Chinese devalue their currency 40 percent.
This makes their goods cheaper. That is another 40 points.

So before we even begin the game the Chinese have 34 points plus 40 points for a total of 74 points or a price advantage of 74 percent.

This devaluation of the currency was called illegal by Mr. Bernanhke, who at the time was part of the trade mission. This was before he became Federal Reserve Bank Chairman. Unfortunately, the administration redacted that term.
We can either provide the same subsidies and tariffs for our businesses or the Chinese can eliminate their subsidies and tariffs. Either way before we continue trade with China we have to make it equitable.

Do you realize that our production is much more efficient than China?
We have a steel company in South Carolina, Nucor that has a 20 to 1 labor efficiency advantage compare with China. Nucor can produce the same amount of steel using 800 workers that China can produce using 17,000.
If American companies could receive the trade benefits, the Chinese companies are getting there is no question we could sell more American products.

MPT: What steps would you take to reduce illegal immigration?

Hunter: I was responsible for building the border fence in San Diego and one of my assistance wrote the legislation that made it the law that a 700 mile fence across the Mexican border must be built.

If you control illegal immigration you not only solve illegal workers you solve a crime problem and a terrorism problem.

MPT: What are your feelings about capital punishment?
Gun ownership? School vouchers?

Hunter: I am in favor of all of these.

MPT: During a hearing about Iraq WMD's you asked Iraq Survey Group Director David Kaye if statements made by Democrats in Congress such as "there were no WMDs in Iraq" were accurate. He replied they were not. Yet you never publicized this. Why not?

Hunter: We did publicize it. I was on national television shows talking about the WMD's that were found in Iraq. That is why I asked Kaye if the statement by some Congressional Democrats that were no WMD's in Iraq was correct. He said that it was not correct.

MPT: You stated during an interview that you helped streamline the procurement process for armoring Humvees by working with unions and manufacturers to eliminate a lot of the rules that were impeding the process. Yet, you never publicized this when Secretary Rumsfeld was being excoriated about armoring Humvees.

Hunter: I did. We have done a lot of work with the unions and the companies to streamline the procurement process and eliminate this big bulky bureaucracy that causes delays.

MPT: Your tangential involvement with Brent Wilkes will probably be used to discredit you. What are you doing to ensure that does not happen?

Hunter: When you have a fund raiser you do not know what one who attends will do in the future. When we learned of what occurred we returned the donation.

MPT: Congressman Hunter, thanks for taking the time for this interview
Hunter: Thanks for asking me.

Michael P. Tremoglie is the author of A Sense Of Duty, available on Amazon.com ©The Evening Bulletin 2007

No comments: