Duncan Hunter on War & Peace

Republican Representative (CA-52)


Son serves in Marines, in Iraq & Afghanistan

Q: Surveys show that 2 out of 3 Hispanics think that the US should withdraw its troops from Iraq.

A: My son came back from his third tour as a US Marine on Thanksgiving, having served in Iraq twice and Afghanistan. And, you know, if you check with the Hispanics of the 1st Marine Division or the 10th Army Division of the 1st Cavalry, you’ll get a lot different poll than the poll that you’re telling me right now, because the young men and women who are serving over there know we can win in Iraq. And let me tell you what they’ve done. With blood, sweat and tears they have brought down the attack rate in Anbar province by 80%. They brought it down over the entire nation. The Iraqi army is now standing up, all 131 battalions. That government’s going to hold and the army’s going to hold, and we are going to leave Iraq in victory, and we’re going to leave an Iraq that will be a friend, not an enemy of the US. So we’re going to be victorious in Iraq, and Hispanic Americans who serve there know that.

Source: 2007 Republican primary debate on Univision , Dec 9, 2007

No Congressional authorization needed to attack Iran’s nukes

Q: If you were president, would you need to go to Congress to get authorization to take military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities?

A: It depends on one thing: the president does not need that if the target is fleeting. We live in this age of terrorists with high technology, and if you have a very narrow window to hit a target, if the president’s going to have to take that on his shoulders, he’s going to have to do it. He has the right to do that under the Constitution as the commander in chief of the military forces. If he has time, then certainly you want to go to Congress, as we did in Iraq, and get the approval of Congress. So it’s a matter of whether or not the target is fleeting. And with respect to Iran, Iran is walking down the path to build a nuclear device. They’ve got now about a thousand centrifuges; they claim they’ve got 3,000. At some point, we may have to pre-empt that target. If we do, it should be done hopefully with allies but perhaps by the U.S. alone.

Source: 2007 Republican debate in Dearborn, Michigan , Oct 9, 2007

Son has served two tours as a Marine in Iraq

I want to say I’ve got a son who’s done two tours as a Marine in Iraq. He’s getting to see a new country in Afghanistan right now.

We can leave Iraq, and under my leadership, we will leave Iraq in victory. The key to handing off the security apparatus in Iraq, now that we’ve stood up a free government, is to have a reliable Iraqi army.

Right now, we’ve got 131 battalions in the Iraqi army. When they are battle-hardened, we can rotate them into the battle zone, rotate our troops out.

Source: 2007 GOP Presidential Forum at Morgan State University , Sep 27, 2007

How to leave Iraq: “It’s called victory”

PAUL: [to Hunter]: We have lost over 5,000 Americans killed in Afghanistan & Iraq, plus the civilians killed. How many more you want to lose? How long are you going to be there? What do we have to pay to save face? That’s all we’re doing, is saving face. It’s time we came home.

HUNTER: Let me just tell you what they’ve done. In Anbar Province, we were having 1,350 attacks a month last October. By the blood, sweat and tears of the US Marines out there, we pulled it down 80%. They’ve pulled down civilian casualties 74%. We’ve got 129 battalions in the Iraqi army that we’re training up. That’s the right way to win. It’s called victory. That’s how we leave Iraq.

Q: No matter how long it takes?

HUNTER: If you think we’re going to be there for a long time, you don’t understand the determination of the US Marines and the US Army. We’re going to turn it over.

Source: [X-ref Paul] 2007 GOP debate at UNH, sponsored by Fox News , Sep 5, 2007

Take out Iran nukes with precision systems, Osirak-style

Q: Would you go to war with Iran if they developed nuclear weapons & threatened Israel?

A: Well, I hate to answer a hypothetical. I think you don’t want a president who’s going to answer this question in 60 seconds, but here’s a few considerations. First, you need to use precision systems--very accurate weapons, some of them with earth-penetrating capability. You need to be able to isolate, if you have to strike. If you get close to a 90% refinement of weapons-grade fuel, uranium, at that point, the danger is, if you don’t eliminate it, then it could be passed to a terrorist group or to another nation, which at some point might make a nuclear device. The reaction force would be coming, obviously, from the Iraqi side. You would look, probably, at the pattern of what the Israelis did with the Osirak reactor that Saddam Hussein built back in the 1980s, when eight F-16s came over the horizon & took care of that problem. And some ground forces to do a battle damage assessment after a strike.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at UNH, sponsored by Fox News , Sep 5, 2007

Marines are doing a good job; don’t rush for the exit

Q: What would be your strategy for ending the war in Iraq?

A: I’ve been here before. I was here when we stood up to the Russians in Central Europe when they were ringing our allies with SS-20 missiles. We stood up them and we finally brought that wall down. I was here when we did Central America, when the liberals were raging that we had to get out of Salvador. Today, Salvadoran troops are standing side-by-side with Americans in Iraq.

I watched the Democrat debate. I watched them say, as [Rep. Ron Paul] has said, “Just bring them home.” And it was a race to see who could stampede for the exit the quickest. None said, “Good job.” But the Marines in Anbar province have turned that situation around. They brought the communities there on our side, fighting back against Al Qaida.

We are standing up the Iraq military. When the 129 battalions are stood up, when they’re reliable & battle-ready, they can displace American heavy combat forces. That’s the right way to leave, not a stampede for the exit

Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate , Aug 5, 2007

Work with Pakistan against Taliban and Al Qaida

Q: [to Romney]: Sen. Obama said, “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets, and Pres. Musharraf will not act, we will.” You said you didn’t agree?

ROMNEY: It’s wrong for a person running for the president to get on TV and say that. America always maintains our option to do whatever we think is in our best interests. But we keep our options quiet.

HUNTER: I disagree with that. Barack Obama didn’t understand, there are now 100,000 Pakistani troops who have been moved to the border. You right now have operations that are being taken in cooperation with American forces in Afghanistan. The problem is that you have the tribal chiefs in that strip in Pakistan accommodating the Taliban and Al Qaida. When you have a country which is cooperating, you don’t tell them you are going to unilaterally move against them, or you are somehow going to undertake this by yourself. We need the Pakistani army to work that with American support. That’s the right way.

Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate , Aug 5, 2007

Read NIE before war vote (then voted for war)

Q: Did you read the National Intelligence Estimate, which included all the caveats, on whether or not there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, before the war vote?

BROWNBACK: I don’t remember that report. I had a number of briefings.

McCAIN: I did not read that particular document. I received hundreds of briefings and background and information on it.

Q: Gov. Gilmore, you chaired the commission on Iraq. Do you think it was appropriate that members of Congress would authorize the president to go to war without reading that NIE?

GILMORE: I think the people who are in Congress who are responsible for sending this country to war, with the enormous dangers that it has geopolitically and strategically, ought to read at least that kind of material. I know they get a lot of stuff and they can’t read everything.

HUNTER: I read that NIE report, and I held the briefings before we made the vote to go in. I invited everybody, Democrat and Republican, to get the classified information.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 5, 2007

Pre-emptive tactical nukes OK if Iran keeps centrifuges

Q: Did Pres. Bush make the right call in opening a dialogue with Iran?

A: With two conditions. I think that you do have a dialogue with everybody, whether they’re adversaries or friends. 1) They are moving deadly equipment across the border that is killing Americans in Iraq. We have license to utilize anything that we want to use--special operations, intelligence, whatever it takes--to stop that, & we don’t give that up with these talks. 2) They’ve got about 1,000 centrifuges now working, enriching the materials that can make at some point a nuclear device. The US reserves the right to preempt that nuclear weapons program. We cannot allow them to have a nuclear device. With those two caveats, talk to your enemies.

Q: If it came down to a preemptive US strike against Iran’s nuclear facility, if necessary would you authorize the use of tactical nuclear weapons?

A: I would authorize the use of tactical nuclear weapons if there was no other way to preempt those particular centrifuges.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

Iraq war has been worth it

Q: What would you do to bring this conflict to a point at which we can safely bring our troops home?

A: First, I want you to know that it’s worth it. And if we can achieve a country in Iraq that will not be a state sponsor of terrorism for the next five to 20 years; that will be a friend, not an enemy of the US; that will have a modicum of freedom, that is in the national interest of the US. What we need to do right now and we are doing is standing up the Iraqi army. There’s 129 battalions of Iraqis that we’ve trained and equipped. We need to start moving them into the combat zones, where they displace the heavy American combat forces. Then we can pull our forces out, we can bring them home or send them wherever Uncle Sam needs them again. That’s how we leave Iraq the right way.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

Iraqi forces have stopped running and started fighting

Q: You talk about standing up the Iraqi military and that at some point soon they may be able to replace some American troops. The Bush administration has been saying the same thing for four years. Why should we believe that this replacement is going to start happening any time soon?

A: Because the Iraqi forces that were running a couple of years ago are standing and fighting. We’ve got to get all 129 Iraqi battalions into military operations--most of them have been in there by now.

Source: 2007 Republican Debate in South Carolina , May 15, 2007

Stand up the Iraqi military then rotate US units out

Q: What would you need, as president, to win the war in Iraq?

A: The key to winning in Iraq is standing up the Iraqi military. There are 129 battalions in the Iraqi army. We need to make sure that every one of those battalions moves into an operational setting, gets a 3- or 4-month military operation in a contentious zone. At that point, they can move into the combat field. They can start displacing American units. And America’s heavy combat units can rotate out. That’s the right way to leave Iraq.

Source: 2007 GOP primary debate, at Reagan library, hosted by MSNBC , May 3, 2007

Iran’s behavior gives license to US to take necessary action

Right now, Iran is moving equipment into Iraq that is being used to kill Americans. Iran has crossed the line, and the United States has absolute license at this point to take whatever actions are necessary to stop those deadly instruments from being moved across the line, being used in explosives, roadside bombs, inside Iraq.

We should not get to the edge of the cliff on this enrichment of uranium, and plutonium to be used for a nuclear weapon in Iran. The United States needs to move very quickly

Source: 2007 GOP primary debate, at Reagan library, hosted by MSNBC , May 3, 2007

Sending a fractured message is deleterious in Iraq

The idea that we send a fractured message, which we’re in the process of sending, even as the Baghdad plan is going into effect, but the idea that people for posturing and for political positioning are sending out this fractured message that they don’t back the American mission, as the president has stated there, I think that can only have a deleterious effect on both our allies and our adversaries.
Source: CNN Late Edition: 2007 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer , Feb 11, 2007

Supports surge now, to get back to 2005 troop levels

Q: You said in 2006, “Having more troops in those areas of operation, when we’re trying to put an Iraqi face on this operation, is not necessarily the way to accomplish that.” You were critical of introducing more troops less than a year ago. What happened?

A: The number of troops that we’re sending in will take us up from about 138,000 to a little less than 160,000. That’s still less troops than we had in Dec. 2005. So the so-called big surge actually takes us up to fewer folks than Dec. 2005.

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2007 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer , Feb 11, 2007

Hand off burden of security to Iraqi leadership

Q: A lot of people are skeptical that Bush’s new surge strategy is going to work. You said in April 2004: “At some point, you have got to put some of this burden of running this country on the leadership that we’ve put in place. If they can’t hang on to it now, I don’t think they’re going to be able to do it 3 years from now.” What makes you think they’re any more inclined to take the tough decisions today than the earlier Iraqi governments would have taken in the past 3 years?

A: That’s totally consistent with what I’ve said in the past. They’re going to have to take this handoff of the security responsibility and carry it out themselves.

Q: But do you have confidence in the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki?

A: We’ll see as the Baghdad plan goes into effect, if the Iraqi forces move into their positions. And when we’ve handed that security burden off to the Iraqis, they’re going to have as much violence as they’re willing to politically tolerate. But self-determination is self-determination

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2007 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer , Feb 11, 2007

Voted NO on investigating Bush impeachment for lying about Iraq.

OnTheIssues.org Explanation: This vote is on referring the impeachment resolution to a Congressional Committee to decide further action (not on impeachment itself).

Congressional Summary: Resolved, That President George W. Bush be impeached for committing the following abuses of power:

Proponents' arguments for voting YEA: Rep. Kucinich: Now is the time for this Congress to examine the actions that led us into this war, just as we must work to bring our troops home. This resolution is a very serious matter and I urge the Committee on Judiciary to investigate and carefully consider this resolution.

Rep. Wasserman-Schultz: Impeachment is a lengthy process which would divide Congress and this nation even more deeply than we are divided right now. Referring this resolution to the House Judiciary Committee is the constitutionally appropriate process that should be pursued.

Rep. Ron Paul: I rise, reluctantly, in favor of referring that resolution to the House Judiciary Committee for full consideration, which essentially directs the committee to examine the issue more closely than it has done to this point.

Reference: The Kucinich Privilege Resolution; Bill H.RES.1258 ; vote number 2008-401 on Jun 11, 2008

Voted NO on redeploying US troops out of Iraq starting in 90 days.

To provide for the redeployment of US Armed Forces and defense contractors from Iraq. Requires within 90 days to commence the redeployment; and to complete such redeployment within 180 days after its commencement. Prohibits the use of DOD funds to increase the number of US forces serving in Iraq in excess of the number serving in Iraq as of January 1, 2007, unless specifically authorized by Congress. Authorizes retaining in Iraq US forces for providing security for diplomatic missions; for targeting al-Qaeda; and for training Iraqi Security Forces. Requires the President to transfer to the government of Iraq all interest held by the US in any military facility in Iraq.

Proponents support voting YES because:

This war is a terrible tragedy, and it is time to bring it to an end. This is a straightforward bill to redeploy our military forces from Iraq and to end the war in Iraq. This bill does not walk away from the Iraqi people. It specifically continues diplomatic, social, economic, and reconstruction aid. Finally, this bill leaves all the decisions on the locations outside of Iraq to which our troops will be redeployed wholly in the hands of our military commanders.

Opponents support voting NO because:

This legislation embraces surrender and defeat. This legislation undermines our troops and the authority of the President as commander in chief. Opponents express concern about the effects of an ill-conceived military withdrawal, and about any legislation that places military decisions in the hands of politicians rather than the military commanders in the field. The enemy we face in Iraq view this bill as a sign of weakness. Now is not the time to signal retreat and surrender. It is absolutely essential that America, the last remaining superpower on earth, continue to be a voice for peace and a beacon for freedom in our shrinking world.

Reference: Out of Iraq Caucus bill; Bill H R 2237 ; vote number 2007-330 on May 10, 2007

Voted YES on declaring Iraq part of War on Terror with no exit date.

Reference: Resolution on Prevailing in the Global War on Terror; Bill HRES 861 ; vote number 2006-288 on Jun 12, 2006

Voted YES on approving removal of Saddam & valiant service of US troops.

States that the House of Representatives:
  1. affirms that the United States and the world have been made safer with the removal of Saddam Hussein and his regime from power in Iraq;
  2. commends the Iraqi people for their courage in the face of unspeakable oppression and brutality inflicted on them by Saddam Hussein's regime;
  3. commends the Iraqi people on the adoption of Iraq's interim constitution; and
  4. commends the members of the U.S. Armed Forces and Coalition forces for liberating Iraq and expresses its gratitude for their valiant service.
Reference: War in Iraq Anniversary resolution; Bill H Res 557 ; vote number 2004-64 on Mar 17, 2004

Voted YES on authorizing military force in Iraq.

Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq: Passage of the joint resolution that would authorize President Bush to use the US military as he deems necessary and appropriate to defend U.S. national security against Iraq and enforce UN Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq. It would be required that the president report to Congress, no later than 48 hours after using force, his determination that diplomatic options or other peaceful means would not guarantee US national security against Iraq or allow enforcement of UN resolutions and that using force is consistent with anti-terrorism efforts. The resolution would also give specific statutory authorization under the War Powers Resolution. Every 60 days the president would also be required to report to Congress on actions related to the resolution.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Hastert,R-IL; Bill HJRes114 ; vote number 2002-455 on Oct 10, 2002

Voted NO on disallowing the invasion of Kosovo.

Vote on an amendment to the "Kosovo and Southwest Asia Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act" which would prohibit the use of funds for any invasion of Yugoslavia with U.S. ground forces except in time of war.
Reference: Amendment introduced by Istook, R-OK; Bill HR 1664 ; vote number 1999-119 on May 6, 1999

Strengthen sanctions on Syria & assist democratic transition.

Hunter co-sponsored strengthening sanctions on Syria & assist democratic transition

A bill to strengthen sanctions against the Government of Syria, to enhance multilateral commitment to address the Government of Syria's threatening policies, to establish a program to support a transition to a democratically-elected government in Syria.

Source: Syria Accountability and Liberation Act (S2917/HR2332) 08-S2917 on Apr 24, 2008

Counter Iran's growing presence in Latin America.

Hunter co-sponsored Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act

Congressional Summary:A BILL: To provide for a comprehensive strategy to use all elements of national power to counter Iran's growing presence and hostile activity in the Western Hemisphere.

Rep Jeff Duncan's Sponsor comments:Congress has spent trillions of dollars for military operations in the war on terror, yet we have neglected to protect ourselves from the threat that looms just beyond our own borders. We know that Iran has been building diplomatic, economic, and security relationships with Latin American countries for years. The US possesses vital political, economic, and security interests in the Western Hemisphere. I am concerned that our nation's vulnerability to this growing threat on our Southern border is not being adequately addressed."

Source: H.R.3783 12-H3783 on Jan 18, 2012

Iranian nuclear weapons: prevention instead of containment.

Hunter co-sponsored Resolution on Iran's nuclear program

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives, that Congress--
  1. Reaffirms that the US Government has a vital interest in working together to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability;
  2. warns that time is limited to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability;
  3. urges continued and increasing economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran until a full and sustained suspension of all uranium enrichment-related activities;
  4. expresses that the window for diplomacy is closing;
  5. expresses support for the universal rights and democratic aspirations of the people of Iran;
  6. strongly supports US policy to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability;
  7. rejects any US policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to the Iranian nuclear threat.
Source: HRes568/SR41 12-HJR568 on Mar 1, 2012

Work with Iraqi government to fight ISIL.

Hunter signed Resolution on ISIL

Congressional Summary:

RESOLUTION Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives on the current situation in Iraq and the urgent need to protect religious minorities from persecution from the Sunni Islamist insurgent and terrorist group the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) as it expands its control over areas in northwestern Iraq.

  • Whereas ISIL has a stated mission of establishing an Islamic state and a caliphate across the Levant through violence against Shiites, non-Muslims, and unsupportive Sunnis;
  • Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
  • calls on the US Department of State to work with the Kurdistan Regional Government, the Iraqi central government, neighboring countries, the diaspora community in the US, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to help secure safe havens for those claiming amnesty in Iraq; and
  • requests the addition of a Special Representative for Religious Minorities to [the Iraqi] government.

    Reporting pro & con by Politico.com, Sept. 17, 2014:

    Secretary of State John Kerry said arming the moderate opposition in Syria was the "best counterweight" against ISIL and emphasized to lawmakers: "ISIL must be defeated. Period." However, "US ground troops will not be sent into combat in this conflict," Kerry testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "Instead, they will support Iraq forces on the ground as they fight for their country."

    Protesters from the anti-war group Code Pink stood up, held signs and chanted "No more war!" Kerry turned his attention to the protesters, and told them that while he was sympathetic to their opposition to war, if they believed in the broader mission of Code Pink, "then you ought to care about fighting ISIL." Stressing that the Islamic State was "killing and raping and mutilating women" and "making a mockery of a peaceful religion," Kerry told the protesters: "There is no negotiation with ISIL."

    Source: H.RES.683 14_HRes683 on Jul 24, 2014

    Ground troops plus drone strikes to destroy ISIL.

    Hunter co-sponsored H.R.4869

    Source: Comprehensive Strategy to Destroy ISIL Act 16-HR4869 on Mar 23, 2016

    2017-18 Governor, House and Senate candidates on War & Peace: Duncan Hunter on other issues:
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