Sen. Ted CRUZ: Both Donald and Senator Rubio have agreed with both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama: in Libya, they agreed with the Obama/Clinton policy of toppling the government in Libya. That was a disaster. TRUMP: I was in favor of Libya? I never discussed that subject. We would be so much better off if Gadhafi were in charge right now. If these politicians went to the beach and didn't do a thing, and we had Saddam Hussein and if we had Gadhafi in charge, instead of having terrorism all over the place, at least they killed terrorists, all right? And I'm not saying they were good--because they were bad, they were really bad--but we don't know what we're getting. You look at Libya right now, ISIS, as we speak, is taking over their oil. As we speak, it's a total mess. We would have been better off if the politicians took a day off instead of going into war.
We would be better off if Gadhafi were in charge right now
Q: Do you support the ceasefire in Syria? CRUZ: We're hopeful that the violence will cease, but there's reason to be highly skeptical. Russia has enhanced its position because of Obama's weakness in the Middle East, weakness in Syria.
Cease-fire in Syria only if all parties involved
TRUMP: I don't because it not working and the countries aren't agreeing to it and the rebels aren't agreeing and Syria is not agreeing. It's a meaningless ceasefire. I would love it, but all parties have to be part of it.
Trump has claimed that he opposed the Iraq War before the invasion began--as an example of his great judgment. But in a 2002 interview with Howard Stern, Donald Trump said he supported an Iraq invasion. In an interview on Sept. 11, 2002, Stern asked Trump directly if he was for invading Iraq. "Yeah I guess so," Trump responded. "I wish the first time it was done correctly."Trump has repeatedly claimed that he was against the Iraq War before it began, despite no evidence of him publicly stating this position. Trump's comments on Stern's show are more in line with what he wrote in his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, where he advocated for a "principled and tough" policy toward "outlaw" states like Iraq.
FactCheck: Supported Iraq invasion in 2002; opposed in 2003
Asked at the CNN town hall about the Stern interview, Trump said, "I could have said that. I wasn't a politician. It was probably the first time anyone has asked me that question. By the time the war started, I was against it, and shortly thereafter, I was really against."
Gov. Jeb BUSH: Donald Trump wants to accommodate Russia. Russia is not taking out ISIS. They're attacking our team, the team that we've been training and the team that we've been supporting. It is absolutely ludicrous to suggest that Russia could be a positive partner in this. I would restore the military; the sequester needs to be reversed.Q [to Trump]: You said that you could get along very well with Vladimir Putin. You did say let Russia take care of ISIS.
We've spent $5T in the Mideast and gotten nothing
TRUMP: Jeb is so wrong. You fight ISIS first. You have to knock 'em out. You decide what to do after, you can't fight two wars at one time. If you listen to him, that's why we've been in the Middle East for 15 years, and we haven't won anything. We've spent $5 trillion dollars in the Middle East with thinking like that. We've spent $5 trillion dollars; we have to rebuild our country. We have to rebuild our infrastructure. you listen to that you're going to be there for another 15 years. You'll end up with world war three.
Q: You've said, "we've got to get rid of ISIS, quickly, quickly." How?TRUMP: Well, four years ago, I said, bomb the oil and take the oil. And if we did that, they wouldn't have the wealth they have right now. Now, we're doing little pinpricks. If somebody's driving a truck, they give notice to the person driving the truck, "we're going to bomb." If they don't get out of the truck, the truck sails away with the oil. We don't want to bomb the oil, because we don't want to pollute the atmosphere. Can you imagine General Douglas MacArthur or General Patton saying we can't bomb because we're gonna hurt the atmosphere? You have to knock the hell out of the oil. And you have also back channels of banking. You have people that you think are our great allies in the Middle East, that are paying tremendous amounts of money to ISIS. So we have to stop those circuits. So between the oil and the banking, you will dry them up. But it should have been done four years ago, not now.
Get rid of ISIS, quickly: dry up their oil & their money
Gov. Jeb BUSH: We should have a no fly zone in Syria.TRUMP: Assad is a bad guy, but we have no idea who the so-called rebels--nobody even knows who they are.
Assad is a bad guy, but his replacement could be worse
Carly FIORINA: Governor Bush is correct. We must have a no fly zone in Syria.
TRUMP: So, I don't like Assad. Who's going to like Assad? But, we have no idea who these people, and what they're going to be, and what they're going to represent. They may be far worse than Assad. Look at Libya. Look at Iraq. Look at the mess we have after spending $2 trillion dollars, thousands of lives, wounded warriors all over the place--we have nothing. And, I said, keep the oil. And we should have kept the oil, believe me. We should have kept the oil. And, you know what? We should have given big chunks of the oil to the people that lost their arms, their legs, and their families, and their sons, and daughters, because right now, you know who has a lot of that oil? Iran, and ISIS.
Q: Let's turn to ISIS and what should the United States do about it?TRUMP: But we're going to have to do something very strong over there. We're going to have to take away the energy, the fuel, the money from ISIS, because, in the case of ISIS-- I've been saying this for years. We have to stop the source of money. And the source of money is oil.
Let Russia make moves in Syria; it's a quagmire
Q: So you'd step up the campaign against ISIS even though you believe that Vladimir Putin is getting stuck in a quagmire by going in?
TRUMP: Well, I'm not looking to quagmire, I'm looking to take the oil. The Middle East is one big, fat quagmire. If you look at the Soviet Union, it used to be the Soviet Union. They essentially went bust and it became Russia, a much smaller version, because of Afghanistan. They spent all their money. Now they're going into Syria. I'm all for Russia going in and knocking and dropping bombs on ISIS. As far as I'm concerned, we don't have to have exclusivity on that.
When Kuwait was attacked by Saddam Hussein, all the wealthy Kuwaitis ran to Paris. They didn't just rent suites--they took up whole buildings, entire hotels. They lived like kings while their country was occupied. Who did they turn to for help? Who else? Uncle Sucker. That's us. We spent billions of dollars sending our army to win back Kuwait. Our people were killed and wounded, but the Iraqis went back to their country.
We should have demanded a deal with Kuwait to liberate them
About two months after the war, several Kuwaitis came up to my office. They told me, "We want to invest outside the United States." We had just handed them back their country! They were watching TV in the best hotel rooms in Paris while our kids were fighting for them. And they didn't want to invest in this country?
How stupid are we? Why didn't the United States make a deal with them that outlined that how they would pay for us to get their country back for them? They would have paid anything if just asked.
Unfortunately, it may require boots on the ground to fight the Islamic State. I don't think it's necessary to broadcast our strategy. (In fact, one of the most ridiculous policy blunders President Obama has committed was to announce our timetable for withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan.) If military advisers recommend it, we should commit a limited--but sufficient--number of troops to fight on the ground.
Blunder to announce withdrawal timetable from Afghanistan
Trump said the US was right to invade Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks--a reversal of his position earlier this month when he called the war a "mistake.""We made a mistake going into Iraq. I've never said we made a mistake going into Afghanistan," Trump told CNN. Trump said on October 6 that he believed entering Afghanistan was a mistake and worried about U.S. forces getting stuck there.
Afghanistan war made a mess, but troops need to stay
"At some point, are they going to be there for the next 200 years? It's going to be a long time," Trump said, when asked about Afghanistan. "We made a terrible mistake getting involved there in the first place. We had real brilliant thinkers that didn't know what the hell they were doing. And it's a mess. And at this point, you probably have to stay because that thing will collapse about two seconds after they leave."
Trump first signaled his backtrack when he said Afghanistan is "where we should have gone," meaning the US should have focused its attention on Afghanistan over Iraq.
Q: You say, in personal relations, you're a counterpuncher. You don't hit until you are hit. Is that a good way to think about the way you would use military force as a president?TRUMP: I'm the most militaristic person on your show. I want to have a much stronger military. I want it to be so strong that nobody is going to mess with us. I want to take care of our vets, who are treated terribly, like third-class citizens.
Strengthen military, but act defensively
Q: Well, let's take an example of some case where you may or may not use military force. It turns out Assad apparently used chemical weapons on his own people.
TRUMP: Well, you know, the time to have done it would have been when he drew the line in the sand.
Q: So, you would have done it in that case?
TRUMP: I might have gone in. Now it's such a mess over there, with everybody involved, and the airspace is very limited. It's not that big of an area. The airspace is very limited. So are we going to start World War III over Syria?
Q: We've seen Russia go heavily into Syria this week. Yesterday, Hillary Clinton; today, John Kasich; both say we should establish a no-fly zone in Syria. Would you do that?TRUMP: I don't think so. I think what I want to do is I want to sit back and I want to see what happens. You know, Russia got bogged down, when it was the Soviet Union, in Afghanistan. They thought that would be quick and easy and they'll go in and they'll clean it up...
Good that Russia has entered Syrian conflict
Q: You think Putin's falling into a trap?
TRUMP: I think it's not going to be great for them, there are so many traps. There are so many problems. When I heard they were going in to fight ISIS, I said, "Great."
Q: But they're not bombing ISIS.
TRUMP: Well, not yet. But they don't want ISIS going into Russia, either. So they're not bombing them yet.
I feel strongly that Muslims are excellent. I know so many Muslims that are such fabulous people. But there is a problem. I mean, there's no question about it. And, you know, we can be politically correct, and we can say there is no problem whatsoever. But the fact is, there is a problem with some. And it's a very severe problem. And it's a problem that's taking place all over the world. But I have such great respect and love for so many of the people. I mean, they are great people.
Radical violent Islam that must be feared, not Islam itself
TRUMP: I am the only person on this dais that fought very, very hard against us going into Iraq, because I said going into Iraq--that was in 2003, you can check it out--I'll give you 25 different stories. In fact, a delegation was sent to my office to see me because I was so vocal about it. I'm a very militaristic person, but you have to know when to use the military. I'm the only person up here that fought against going into Iraq. Sen. Rand PAUL: I've made my career as being an opponent of the Iraq War. We have to learn sometimes the interventions backfire. The Iraq War backfired and did not help us. We're still paying the repercussions of a bad decision.
I'm pro-military but I opposed invading Iraq in 2003
Dr. Ben CARSON: When the issue occurred in 2003, I suggested to President Bush that he not go to war. So I just want that on the record.
Somehow, [President Obama] just doesn't have courage. There is something missing from our president. Had he crossed the line and really gone in with force, done something to Assad--if he had gone in with tremendous force, you wouldn't have millions of people displaced all over the world.
If Obama had attacked Syria, we wouldn't have refugees now
In July of 2004, I came out strongly against the war with Iraq, because it was going to destabilize the Middle East. And I'm the only one on this stage that knew that and had the vision to say it. And that's exactly what happened. And the Middle East became totally destabilized.
Opposed Iraq war in 2004 & predicted Mideast destabilization
Q: On Obama's Iranian nuclear deal?TRUMP: I would be so different from what you have right now. Like, the polar opposite. We have a president who doesn't have a clue. I would say he's incompetent, but I don't want to do that because that's not nice. But if you look at the deals we make, whether it's the nuclear deal with 24 hour periods--and by the way, before you get to the 24 hours, you have to go through a system. You look at Sgt. Bergdahl, we get Bergdahl, a traitor, and they get 5 of the big, great killer leaders that they want. We have people in Washington that don't know what they're doing. Now, with Iran, we're making a deal, you would say, we want out our prisoners. We want all these things, and we don't get anything. We're giving them $150 billion dollars plus. I'll tell you what, if Iran was a stock, you folks should go out and buy it right now because you'll quadruple--this, what's happening in Iran, is a disgrace, and it's going to lead to destruction in large portions of the world
Disgraceful deal gives Iran a lot & gets nothing for us
Q: You said you want to bomb the oil fields in Iraq to take on ISIS?A: The only way you're going to beat them is that. You know why they're rich? Because they have the oil.
Bomb the oil fields in Iraq to take on ISIS
Q: But I don't think the government of Iraq would want us to bomb their oil fields.
A: There is no government in Iraq. The so-called government in Iraq went to Iran to meet with Iran. Iran is going to take over Iraq. That's as simple as that. I don't care about the government of Iraq. They're totally corrupt. Who cares?
What does Donald Trump believe? Islamic State and Iraq: Send a limited number of combat troops on the ground.In early 2015, Trump told CPAC that he felt the U.S. may need "boots on the ground" to fight the Islamic State. Soon after, he clarified to Fox News that he would send limited numbers of troops if all of his military advisers recommended it.
Boots on the ground to fight ISIS
I said it very strongly, years ago, I love the military, and I want to have the strongest military that we've ever had, and we need it more now than ever. But I said, "Don't hit Iraq," because you're going to totally destabilize the Middle East. Iran is going to take over the Middle East, Iran and somebody else will get the oil, and it turned out that Iran is now taking over Iraq. Think of it. Iran is taking over Iraq, and they're taking it over big league. We spent $2 trillion in Iraq, $2 trillion. We lost thousands of lives, thousands in Iraq. We have wounded soldiers all over the place, thousands and thousands of wounded soldiers. And we have nothing. We can't even go there. We have nothing. And every time we give Iraq equipment, the first time a bullet goes off in the air, they leave it.
I said "don't hit Iraq," because it destabilized Middle East
Last week, I read 2,300 Humvees--these are big vehicles--were left behind for the enemy. 2,300 sophisticated vehicles, they ran, and the enemy took them.
From the dispute over funding the Department of Homeland Security ("the answer is 'we're going to fund, we're going to keep doing it"), to repealing ObamaCare ("which is a total lie"), Trump just wants to see a more aggressive approach.When asked about ISIS, Trump said he "would hit them so hard and so fast that they wouldn't know what happened." He later claimed his approach would be one that historical military figures General Douglas McArthur and General George Patton would approve of.
Hit ISIS hard and fast
Mr. Trump said that the United States should "take" $1.5 trillion worth of oil from Iraq to pay for the cost of the war and give $1 million to each of the families that lost someone in the effort-- sparking applause from the thousands gathered for the American Conservative Union's 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
Take $1.5T in oil from Iraq to pay for US victims
When you do someone a favor, they say thank you. When you give someone a loan, they pay you back. And when a nation like the US sacrifices thousands of lives of its own young servicemen and women and more than a trillion dollars to bring freedom to the people of Iraq, the least the Iraqis should do is pick up the tab for their own liberation.How much is it worth to them to be rid of the bloodthirsty dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and to have gained a democracy? In reality, that's a priceless gift. When I say they should pay us back, I'm not even talking about cash out of their pockets. All I'm asking is that they give us, temporarily, a few flows of oil--enough to help pay us back and help take care of the tens of thousands of families and children whose brave loved ones died or were injured while securing Iraqi freedom.
Iraq should pick up the tab for their own liberation
But does Iraq do that? No. In fact, they've made it clear they have no intention of ever doing so. Ever. The ingratitude of Iraq's leadership is breathtaking.
America's primary goal with Iran must be to destroy its nuclear ambitions. Let me put them as plainly as I know how: Iran's nuclear program must be stopped--by any and all means necessary. Period. We cannot allow this radical regime to acquire a nuclear weapon that they will either use or hand off to terrorists. Better now than later!Pres. Bush authorized a covert program to "undermine the electrical and computer systems" at Natanz, Iran's uranium enrichment facility. What came out of that initiative was the Stuxnet cyber worm. It was unleashed against Iran's nuclear centrifuges and made them spin so fast they destroyed themselves. The operation was very successful and destroyed roughly 1/5 of Iran's centrifuges. No one knows for sure how many months or years we put back on Iran's nuclear clock. Some analysts say 6 months, others 1 or 2 years, But that's the point: the clock is still ticking.
Stop Iran's nuclear programs by any & all means necessary
In a televised interview, Donald Trump--in his assessment of the candidates--wondered aloud about McCain's war record. Reading the McCain story, Trump opined, one might hesitate to call McCain's experience "heroic." Of course, McCain never pointed to his own experience as heroic--quite the contrary. "Incidents of surpassing courage and defiance were commonplace.and they made my own attempts at rebellion seem minor in comparison." Throughout Faith of My Fathers, McCain referred to the heroism of his comrades, whose actions and bravery, McCain suggests, far exceeded his. He was fortunate to serve in the company of heroes, who lifted up and improved McCain, and the others, by their selfless example.
John McCain's actions in Vietnam were not "heroic"
[In a Trump presidency], North Korea would suddenly discover that its worthless promises of civilized behavior would cut no ice. I would let Pyongyang know in no uncertain terms that it can either get out of the nuclear arms race or expect a rebuke similar to the one Ronald Reagan delivered to Ghadhafi in 1986. I don’t think anybody is going to accuse me of tiptoeing through the issues or tap-dancing around them either. Who else in public life has called for a pre-emptive strike on North Korea?
Use force to stop North Korean nuke development
The U.S. must continue to nurture and safeguard our special relationship with the state of Israel. This relationship must remain the cornerstone of our policy tactics through the entire Middle-East region, as it has been for administrations of both parties for more than half a century.Why do we have this special relationship? It is not out of charity, guilt, or what some call “ethnic lobbies.” We have been there for Israel because Israel is there for us. Israel is a stable democracy in a region filled with dictatorship.
Support Israel, our unsinkable Mideast aircraft carrier
As Israel has matured, our close ties also bring America a fair trading partner and a fellow pioneer on the high-tech frontier of medicine and communications that will enrich Americans’ lives in the coming century. Our two countries must continue to stand strong together as pillars of freedom and progress.