1) You've said the House will be "very cooperative" with the administration during the crisis in Ukraine. What should the U.S. do if Crimea votes to join the Russian Federation Sunday?
Unfortunately, the Obama Administration’s repeated foreign policy mistakes have emboldened Russia in the short term. However, Vladimir Putin is playing a long game, and so should we. Long-term diplomatic and economic isolation are our best tools to show that the world will not tolerate this sort of aggression, regardless of how the vote in Crimea ultimately goes. To start, kick Russia out of the G-8, institute visa bans on the plutocrats that keep him in power, and implement a strategy that will allow the US to eventually counter Russia’s energy monopoly in Europe. Additionally, we need to move forward with NATO enlargement by finally making Georgia an official member and ally.
2) President Obama said Wednesday the international community would "apply a cost," if Russia continues on the path it's on in Ukraine. What costs should those be?
Simply put, we need to make the cost of aggression greater than any benefits Putin hopes to achieve through these actions. When the cost of aggression is cheap, bullies will push the limits every time. Unlike 40 years ago, Russia is not an economic powerhouse and has serious demographic challenges that undermine its strength as a nation. If the West unites to isolate Russia both in the near and long term, they simply won’t be able to prosper, and Putin knows this. The expansion of NATO to include Georgia would also severely limit Russia’s ability to unduly influence its neighbors.
3) Do you consider Russia an enemy of the United States?
Not yet, but they are doing their best to convince me otherwise. Strategic competitor and regional bully, sure. However, only time will tell how far Putin is willing to go, which is why we cannot afford another misstep here.
4) If reports are true that the CIA hacked in to Senate Intelligence Committee computers during an investigation in to the agency's interrogation tactics, what kind of repercussions should there be?
That’s a very big “if” in a very serious situation. Congress has every right to engage in its constitutionally mandated oversight duties, and lately we have seen an executive branch that is far too reluctant to cooperate on a wide range of issues. If, there’s that word again, there is definitive proof that the CIA has engaged in these alleged activities, the CIA and the executive branch need to be fully prepared to cooperate with the inquiries from both Congress and the media that will inevitably follow. It will also be very important to hold the people directly involved accountable for their actions.
5) This week, the top coalition commander in Afghanistan said if the U.S. leaves at the end of 2014, Afghan security forces would deteriorate. What do you think is the U.S. responsibility in 2014 and beyond there?
First, let me say I completely agree. We are making significant progress in Afghanistan, but you just have to look to Iraq to see how quickly a precipitous American withdrawal can erase years of hard-won progress. I can’t stress enough how important Afghanistan remains, and we must ensure that the US does not move forward with the “Zero Option.” Allowing Afghanistan to devolve back into extremism and violence would be an insult to our men and women in uniform who have sacrificed so much there. I believe we need to commit however many troops our generals think are necessary to train Afghan forces and provide the intelligence and special operations capacity necessary to maintain stability in the near term.
6) You've served in both Afghanistan and Iraq. What's your reaction to the resurgence of Al-Qaeda in Iraq and what should the U.S. be doing about it?
My gut reaction to seeing a resurgent Al-Qaeda is anger and mourning. Our men and women in uniform fought incredibly hard to push back Al-Qaeda throughout Iraq, and the Marines fought their bloodiest battle since Vietnam to secure Fallujah. Now the terrorist group’s black flag flies over that very city. I’ve heard some folks imply that the struggle in Iraq is a civil war and we have no business there. They could not be more wrong. Al-Qaeda is a worldwide terrorist network and America’s number one enemy, and they have just taken over a strategically significant city just miles from Baghdad. These evil men should never, ever feel safe, and we should assist the Iraqis, with air support if necessary, to ensure Al-Qaeda cannot flourish in Iraq.
7) What do you make of Republican David Jolly's win in the Special House Election in Florida on Tuesday? Do you think this race was a bellwether for how Republicans will fare in this year's midterms?
The Republican win this week shows how tough of a time Democrats will have defending a law that’s unpopular and simply doesn’t work. The pain everyday people are feeling because of Obamacare is real. It’s being felt by families who’ve lost insurance and parents who’ve lost jobs, and no delay the President can muster short of repeal will change that. I do think we will see Democrats, especially those who voted for it, struggling to explain away that pain in competitive districts across the country.
8) You've said that proposed Pentagon cuts remind you of a pre-9/11 mentality about the military. Do you think America would be less safe under the proposal?
Without a doubt, our country is less safe when we impair our ability to defend ourselves and stand by our allies abroad. It would be naive to believe we will never be in a symmetric, also known as a land war, again. Unfortunately, war fatigue causes us to make the same mistakes over and over. I hope we finally learn our lesson, but, based on the proposed cuts, I am not overly optimistic.
9) Thinking about 2016 and the future of the GOP - what's your take on some of the names being mentioned as the Republican nominee. Are you more of a Rand Paul Republican or a Chris Christie Republican?
The first and most important job of the President of the United States is to protect our country and project strength to our allies and enemies alike. Chris Christie and Jeb Bush have shown that they understand the importance of strong and steady foreign policy, and these are the guys I think could be very good stewards of the Republican Party heading into 2016.
10) You've called Edward Snowden a traitor to his country. Without his leaks, do you think the public would still be in the dark about NSA surveillance?
Snowden should have brought his concerns to Congress, where we could have given them full consideration and taken appropriate action on behalf of the American people. Instead, he chose to take US national security secrets first to a foreign newspaper, then to China and Russia. He’s no hero, and Americans are less safe because of his actions. When the full extent of his betrayal is eventually made public, I am confident that those who supported him will be very embarrassed.