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2012 Presidential Candidates on Wars


By davidswanson - Posted on 21 June 2011

The following chart is organized alphabetically by wars, and then by candidates' last names. Please add more quotations in the comments below, ideally with links to sources.

AFGHANISTAN

Herman Cain: It seems to be yet another foggy foreign policy coming from this administration. Instead of providing the American people with clarity, President Obama proposes an abrupt withdrawal of our troops that could potentially compromise the legitimate gains we have made in Afghanistan. Sadly, I fear President Obama's decision could embolden our enemy and endanger our troops.  President Obama is correct on one account: it is time for nation-building at home and high time the Afghan people take more responsibility in bringing peace and stability to their own country. -June 22, 2011.

Jon Huntsman: We've been at this for nine years and 50 days. We put Karzai in power, we've had democratic elections. . . . We've routed the Taliban, we've dismantled Al-Qaeda. . . . What we need now is a healthy dose of nation-building here at home. -June 22, 2011, NBC. -- "With America mired in three expensive conflicts, we have a generational opportunity to reset our position in the world in a way that makes sense for our security as well as our budget.  The war in Afghanistan is an asymmetrical war, and our approach ought to adjust accordingly. Our troops have done everything we've asked them to. They've routed the Taliban, dismantled Al Qaeda, and facilitated democratic elections.  Now it is time we move to a focused counter-terror effort which requires significantly fewer boots on the ground than the President discussed tonight. We need a safe but rapid withdrawal which encourages Afghans to assume responsibility, while leaving in place a strong counter intelligence and special forces effort proportionate to the threat. The War on Terror is being fought against a global enemy, and it is critical that we have the resources to fight them wherever they're found. -June 22, 2011.

Gary Johnson: While bringing any of our troops home from Afghanistan is a good thing, the President's plan is not much more than lip-service to his pledge to begin withdrawing by this summer. Only reducing troop numbers to pre-surge levels, and taking a year to do it, is not acceptable to the growing number of Americans, like me, who get the reality that there is no compelling reason to risk another life or another dollar in a conflict that has no end -- and no remaining national security justification. Thanks to our quick and totally justified action in 2001, al Qaeda essentially left Afghanistan nine years ago. We should have done the same. -June 22, 2011.

Barack Obama: After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home … [O]ur troop commitment in Afghanistan cannot be open-ended – because the nation that I'm most interested in building is our own. -December 1, 2009.  -- I'm confident that the withdrawal will be significant. People will say this is a real process of transition; this is not just a token gesture. -April 15, 2011.  --As a result, starting next month, we will be able to remove 10,000 of our troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, and we will bring home a total of 33,000 troops by next summer, fully recovering the surge I announced at West Point. After this initial reduction, our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace as Afghan Security forces move into the lead.  Our mission will change from combat to support. By 2014, this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security. -June 22, 2011.

Ron Paul: I wouldn't wait for my generals. I'm the commander in chief.  I make the decisions. I tell the generals what to do. I'd bring them home as quickly as possible. And I would get them out of Iraq as well. And I wouldn't start a war in Libya. I'd quit bombing Yemen. And I'd quit bombing Pakistan.  I'd start taking care of people here at home because we could save hundreds of billions of dollars.  Our national security is not enhanced by our presence over there. We have no purpose there. We should learn the lessons of history. The longer we're there, the worse things are and the more danger we're in as well, because our presence there is not making friends let me tell you. -June 13, 2011, Debate.

Tim Pawlenty: He said we need to end the war 'responsibly.' When America goes to war, America needs to win. We need to close out the war successfully. And what that means now is not nation building. What it means is to follow General Petraeus' advice and to get those security forces built up to the point where they can pick up the slack as we draw down. . . . This decision should be based on conditions on the ground and success, not some vague notions of a responsible wind down and then jumping over what the real mission is now which is stabilizing the security of the country. -June 22, 2011.

Mitt Romney: It's time for us to bring our troops home as soon as we possibly can, consistent with the word that comes to our generals that we can hand the country over to the Taliban military in a way that they're able to defend themselves. Excuse me, the Afghan military to defend themselves from the Taliban. That's an important distinction. . . . That is I think we've learned some important lessons in our experience in Afghanistan. I want those troops to come home based upon not politics, not based upon economics, but instead based upon the conditions on the ground determined by the generals.  But I also think we've learned that our troops shouldn't go off and try and fight a war of independence for another nation. Only the Afghanis can win Afghanistan's independence from the Taliban. -June 13, 2011, Debate. -- We all want our troops to come home as soon as possible, but we shouldn't adhere to an arbitrary timetable on the withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan. This decision should not be based on politics or economics. America's brave men and women in uniform have fought to achieve significant progress in Afghanistan, some having paid the ultimate price. I look forward to hearing the testimony of our military commanders in the days ahead. -June 22, 2011.

Rick Santorum: Every American wants our brave men and women home safely, but we cannot let those who've given the last full measure die in vain by abandoning the gains we've made thus far. We must be squarely focused on succeeding in Afghanistan rather than on politically motivated troop withdrawals. Sadly, President Obama doesn't seem to share that commitment. -June 22, 2011.

IRAQ

Ron Paul: I wouldn't wait for my generals. I'm the commander in chief.  I make the decisions. I tell the generals what to do. I'd bring them home as quickly as possible. And I would get them out of Iraq as well. And I wouldn't start a war in Libya. I'd quit bombing Yemen. And I'd quit bombing Pakistan.  I'd start taking care of people here at home because we could save hundreds of billions of dollars.  Our national security is not enhanced by our presence over there. We have no purpose there. We should learn the lessons of history. The longer we're there, the worse things are and the more danger we're in as well, because our presence there is not making friends let me tell you. -June 13, 2011, Debate.


LIBYA

Michelle Bachmann: No, I don't believe so it is. That isn't just my opinion. That was the opinion of our defense secretary, Gates, when he came before the United States Congress. He could not identify a vital national American interest in Libya.  Our policy in Libya is substantially flawed. It's interesting. President Obama's own people said that he was leading from behind. The United States doesn't lead from behind. As commander in chief, I would not lead from behind.  We are the head. We are not the tail. The president was wrong. All we have to know is the president deferred leadership in Libya to France. That's all we need to know. The president was not leading when it came to Libya.  First of all, we were not attacked. We were not threatened with attack. There was no vital national interest. I sit on the House Select Committee on Intelligence. We deal with the nation's vital classified secrets.  We to this day don't yet know who the rebel forces are that we're helping. There are some reports that they may contain al Qaeda of North Africa. What possible vital American interests could we have to empower al Qaeda of North Africa and Libya? The president was absolutely wrong in his decision on Libya. -June 13, 2011, Debate.

Herman Cain: It starts with making sure we understand the problem, which I don't think we did. We didn't have the intelligence. Number two, is it in the vital interest of the United States of America? If the answer is no, then we don't go any further. If it's not in the vital interest of America, To paraphrase my grandmother, with the situation in Libya and many of these other situations, they're not simple situations. It's a mess. It's just an absolute mess.  And there's more that we don't know than we do know, so it will be very difficult to know exactly what we do until, like others have said, we learn from the commanders in the field. -June 13, 2011, Debate.

Newt Gingrich: Sure. The price tag is always a factor, because, as General Eisenhower once he was president pointed out, as Abraham Lincoln understood, as George Washington understood, that's part of the decision.  But I think what Congresswoman Bachmann just said ought to really sober everybody about how much trouble we're in. Ten years after 9/11, our intelligence is so inadequate that we have no idea what percent of the Libyan rebels are, in fact, al Qaeda. Libya was the second largest producer of people who wanted to kill Americans in Iraq.  I think that we need to think fundamentally about reassessing our entire strategy in the region. I think that we should say to the generals we would like to figure out to get out as rapid as possible with the safety of the troops involved. And we had better find new and very different strategies because this is too big a problem for us to deal with the American ground forces in direct combat.  We have got to have a totally new strategy for the region, because we don't today have the kind of intelligence we need to know even what we're doing. -June 13, 2011, Debate.

Barack Obama: Days, not weeks. -March 18, 2011. -- Given the important U.S. interests served by U.S. military operations in Libya and the limited nature, scope and duration of the anticipated actions, the President had constitutional authority, as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive and pursuant to his foreign affairs powers, to direct such limited military operations abroad. The President is of the view that the current U.S. military operations in Libya are consistent with the War Powers Resolution and do not under that law require further congressional authorization, because U.S. military operations are distinct from the kind of 'hostilities' contemplated by the Resolution's 60 day termination provision. U.S. forces are playing a constrained and supporting role in a multinational coalition, whose operations are both legitimated by and limited to the terms of a United Nations Security Council Resolution that authorizes the use of force solely to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under attack or threat of attack and to enforce a no-fly zone and an arms embargo. U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve the presence of U.S. ground troops, U.S. casualties or a serious threat thereof, or any significant chance of escalation into a conflict characterized by those factors. -June 15, 2011, report to Congress.

Ron Paul: I wouldn't wait for my generals. I'm the commander in chief.  I make the decisions. I tell the generals what to do. I'd bring them home as quickly as possible. And I would get them out of Iraq as well. And I wouldn't start a war in Libya. I'd quit bombing Yemen. And I'd quit bombing Pakistan.  I'd start taking care of people here at home because we could save hundreds of billions of dollars.  Our national security is not enhanced by our presence over there. We have no purpose there. We should learn the lessons of history. The longer we're there, the worse things are and the more danger we're in as well, because our presence there is not making friends let me tell you. -June 13, 2011, Debate.


PAKISTAN

Ron Paul: I wouldn't wait for my generals. I'm the commander in chief.  I make the decisions. I tell the generals what to do. I'd bring them home as quickly as possible. And I would get them out of Iraq as well. And I wouldn't start a war in Libya. I'd quit bombing Yemen. And I'd quit bombing Pakistan.  I'd start taking care of people here at home because we could save hundreds of billions of dollars.  Our national security is not enhanced by our presence over there. We have no purpose there. We should learn the lessons of history. The longer we're there, the worse things are and the more danger we're in as well, because our presence there is not making friends let me tell you. -June 13, 2011, Debate.


YEMEN

Ron Paul: I wouldn't wait for my generals. I'm the commander in chief.  I make the decisions. I tell the generals what to do. I'd bring them home as quickly as possible. And I would get them out of Iraq as well. And I wouldn't start a war in Libya. I'd quit bombing Yemen. And I'd quit bombing Pakistan.  I'd start taking care of people here at home because we could save hundreds of billions of dollars.  Our national security is not enhanced by our presence over there. We have no purpose there. We should learn the lessons of history. The longer we're there, the worse things are and the more danger we're in as well, because our presence there is not making friends let me tell you. -June 13, 2011, Debate.

Tim Pawlenty: You bet. If there are individuals I have intelligence on, or groups in Yemen that present a threat to our security interests in that region or the United States of America, you can bet they will hear from me and we'll continue the bombings. -June 13, 2011, Debate.

THE EMPIRE OF BASES

Rick Santorum: We have actually closed down a lot of bases overseas. Look, what we're dealing with is a failure of leadership on this administration's part to actually put together a strategy where we can confront our enemies. And our enemies are asymmetric threats: terrorism.  That means that they are not just the positioned in the Middle East, but around the world. That means we have to have the ability to confront those threats from around the world, which means we need basing around the world.  So number one, we do need that basing. We do need to be able to be nimble and to be able to attack where we're attacked because it's not just a threat. We don't need to build bases in Germany for a threat from the Soviet Union.  Its much broader threat, number one. So we have to engage our allies and have our allies know that we have their back. The president has not done that. He's done everything he can, whether it's Israel or Honduras or whether it's Colombia or whether it's Czechs, the Poles -- he has turned his back on American allies and he has embraced our enemies.  Our enemies no longer respect us. Our friends no longer trust us. And we have a foreign policy that unfortunately now we're probably going to need more of a presence, because we've created such a vacuum. Thus, all the contingency operations you're seeing here as a result of America's fecklessness in dealing with the threats that confront us.

 

THE BASE MILITARY BUDGET

 


 

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