Congressman and Presidential candidate Duncan Hunter addresses the CLC this morning. The first order of business is endorsing his son for his seat in Congress. Duncan Hunter Jr is currently serving in Afghanistan as a Marine, called back to active duty, and his father has been campaigning almost as hard for his son as he has for himself here at the CLC.
Hunter talks about the "arsenal of democracy," which he can see when he flies in and out of San Diego, and reminds us that Americans make things. The retreat of the manufacturing sector puts American security at risk. He tells the story of how the Swiss cut off production of a critical component of our smart bombs because of our policy in Iraq, and we had to scramble to find a replacement. Had we retained that capability in the US, it never would have been a problem.
The move of production to China is the most worrisome aspect of this dynamic to Hunter. The manufacturing base is what won us the great world wars, and if it disappears, the security of the nation will be at serious risk. We simply don't have that kind of total-warfare capacity any longer, and he blames the free-trade policies of this and past administrations for the shortfall.
We need to inspire the coming generations. We can't do that if our industrial base keeps shrinking. It will necessarily result in fewer opportunities, and in shrinking national wealth. In order to compete, we need to put tariffs on imports from companies who cheat on trade. Hunter rejects the notion that free trade trumps American interests, quoting Ronald Reagan that "when one party cheats on trade, there is no free trade".
Hunter will bring the jobs back. That's his bottom line on trade and national security.
On Iraq, Hunter says that it's in the best interest of America to expand freedom. We learned on 9/11 that if we don't change the world and make it free, the world will eventually change us. In WWII, we liberated millions of people. In Vietnam, we failed to protect freedom. In Iraq, it hangs in the balance. Hunter believes that we are now making solid progress in Iraq, and we now need to season the Iraqi Army in combat situations so that they can stand on their own.
Hunter says that the Iraqi central government "bumbles along, incompetent, as most governments are." However, it was freely elected, and Hunter believes it will stand. He says that Iraqi Army will wind up being the best institution it has, and it has a professionalism never before seen in the personal rule of Saddam Hussein and his predecessors. And on Iran, he says flat-out that he will not allow the mullahs to have a nuclear weapon -- period.
Hunter is an impressive speaker. If he had run from the Senate, or especially from a governor's seat, he would have probably been the flat-out frontrunner. He is the rare case of a Representative who should be taken seriously as a presidential candidate. It doesn't appear that will be in the cards in this race, but Hunter would make an excellent VP candidate for any of the frontrunners, if he can't get to the top of the ticket himself. I don't completely agree with his trade perspective -- I think we have more serious concerns about defense-industry consolidation than free trade -- but he deserves a higher office with more responsibility.