Chuck DeVore: What's Next?
What are you looking to do when your term ends?
Chuck DeVore: I’m looking to continue to be involved in public policy in one way or another, whether that be through elected office, working in a think tank such as the Claremont Institute, some talk radio or some combination thereof.
What that looks like after November 30th when I formally leave office, I don’t know yet.
You served in the Army Reserve and lived in Egypt for a time during your service. What is your opinion of President Obama trying to get America out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?
CD: In Afghanistan you have very little infrastructure, very high illiteracy and the US commitment in Afghanistan is actually more costly for us than the entire Afghan Gross Domestic Product. You have endemic corruption, rampant xenophobia and a very fractious tribal culture that frankly makes Iraq look like a unified monolith by comparison.
The key for the sustainability of our strategy against Islamic fundamentalists is to not get involved in costly high-end occupations, but rather allow the U.S. military to go in and kill our enemies in as low a profile and cost effective manner as possible.
Jed Babbin, former Undersecretary of Defense under George H. W. Bush, said that we couldn’t win the war on terror by fighting these proxy wars. Do you think we should be fighting those who are funding terrorism instead of the terrorists themselves?
CD: The challenge in that is in actually executing it. There are two main sources for encouragement - money and training - for these terrorists.
There’s one source in the Shiite world in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Well, part of the challenge that we’ve worked ourselves into with the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq is somehow our defense planners have gotten it into their minds and the minds of the civilian defense establishment that if you attack the leadership of a country that has been threatening America and killing Americans that somehow you’re obliged to then occupy the country.
I don’t ascribe to that view. My view of it is that you go after the people who are doing this. They’re at war with us. You kill them. Then there’s no obligation on America to afterwards go in and clean up Iran and set it on the path to a modern nation state. Let the Iranians deal with that. I think that’s a large reason why we haven’t stepped up to the plate to deal with Iran because there’s this feeling that if you deal with them, you somehow have to occupy them.
Now, the other half of terrorism comes within the Sunni world. Most of that originates from the Arabian Peninsula. And of that, most of that comes from Saudi Arabia.
The challenge for American policy then is that clearly Saudi Arabia sits on some pretty large oil and natural gas reserves. Any sort of disruption of that flow of hydro chemicals out of Saudi Arabia would be a major disruption to the world economy and to the U.S. Even if we had other suppliers the fact is there’s a global market for energy. If you reduce the supply out of one country due to unrest, it’s going to impact the rest of the world.
So I view the problem of going after Saudi funding as actually more problematic from a diplomatic and economic standpoint than going after the funding on the Shiite end of the Islamic terror equation in Iran. So the observation you quoted is correct, the difficulty is in its execution.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the United States right now?
CD: We’re seeing a rapid erosion of the spirit of capitalism and the free market, and an expansion of this entitlement mentality, fueled with money largely borrowed from China, which my kids and grandkids will have to pay back for the rest of their lives.
If you look at the current Federal Budget Deficit, or the current debt of roughly $13.4 trillion, and then you add to that the unfunded liabilities for Social Security and Medicare, which by some accounts are over $100 trillion, you’re now beginning to talk about real money. Those things need to be confronted and dealt with. They should have been dealt with a long time ago, but unfortunately our political establishment is far too eager to merely get reelected than to do the right thing. I view that as our biggest issue because the economic issue actually has a pretty big impact on foreign policy and defense.
As I like to point out, what is the penalty for having one extra aircraft carrier more than what you need? Well, maybe a billion and a half a year in outlays that you could have saved.
What’s the penalty for having one less aircraft than what you needed? A lost war and tens of thousands of Americans dead. So that’s the equation with the National Security end of things that I find increasingly alarming given the financial condition of our country.
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