Exclusive — Duncan Hunter on Trump’s ISIS Plan: ‘We’re Going to Kill You’

Donald and Duncan Hunter AP Photos
AP Photos
Washington, DC

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), the first Congressman to endorse presumptive GOP presidential nominee billionaire Donald Trump and one of the leaders rallying support to his side on Capitol Hill, is specifically calling on his defense-minded colleagues to get on the Trump Train. In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News, Hunter also outlined a very specific yet simple plan Trump has for defeating the Islamic State. 

Hunter called for House Armed Services Committee (HASC) chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) among others to endorse Trump so they can start advising him on critical matters of national defense.

“Specifically, the defense guys,” Hunter, a member of HASC, said when asked about his call as reported in Politico for GOP members to “toughen up” behind Trump.

Hunter’s argument is twofold: First off, these chairmen and subcommittee chairmen on Armed Services and Appropriations are the best of the best when it comes to defense policy specifics and as such they should be advising Trump. Secondly, Trump has offered a wise and likely-to-be-effective foreign and defense strategy policy so far—and these guys should seek to enhance it. Hunter said:

The guys that know the very bottom level acquisition stuff—the guys on the House Armed Services Committee and appropriators on defense—because we do everything from the bottom line buying of bullets and missiles to the top line strategy stuff on Guantanamo and asking for the reforms from the president on the plans for ISIS. It’s time for those guys who have big military or foreign policy bona fides to step up and get behind Trump, because here’s one of the things that I think is pretty striking. You’ve had a bunch of people now put down Donald Trump for his ‘lack of foreign policy experience,’ or just say ‘he doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to Afghanistan or ISIS or Al Qaeda.’ I would disagree vehemently in the fact of this: If you look at Iraq and Afghanistan, that was done by a bunch of smart people—PhDs—the Afghanistan government right now, their constitution that we gave them, does not work at all. Iraq, you had a military victory with the surge totally squandered by the political craft and the State Department and the intellectual and elite foreign policy class squandered the victory that we had in Iraq. The end state of that was Obama leaving.

Hunter believes Trump’s plan to deal with the Islamic State is likely to be more effective than plans offered by professional politicians in Washington. He went on:

My point is Trump’s offer to kick ass and then leave in places like the Middle East—it doesn’t work with Russia, it doesn’t work with China, that’s a lot more complicated—but ISIS and Al Qaeda, we know how to handle them now. You kill them. That’s the Trump doctrine, kind of, it goes with my Hunter doctrine—we kind of see eye to eye almost. On Islamic radicals, you have to kill them. You can’t be too discriminatory. You just have to kill them. If you worry about not hurting one civilian, you’re not going to kill any of the bad guys because they know how to use human shields and that’s just what they do. So the point is my colleagues that know defense need to get on board with Donald Trump and they need to know one really big thing: the way that we’ve worked Iraq strategy wise since President Obama got elected is utterly failing. In fact, it’s failed.

Hunter said this is not just an argument that has been offered by many Republicans, but that Trump is simply better than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton because he’s not a Democrat. He said:

It’s beyond that. It’s not just ‘we’re going to do Trump because we have to get behind him.’ What I’m saying is his foreign policy and his military policy is good when it comes to radical jihadists. Kill them. I think he’s more direct with what he’s said than any of the other ‘smart guys’ who ran for president. They try to make it very complex and say things like ‘what America has to do is make a pathway over to the Middle East and give them love and Democracy.’ We don’t care about that anymore. It does not work. It totally failed. Shit, I did three tours over there. I know for a fact that it failed.

Hunter said Trump understands how to use brute force to destroy ISIS:

All they understand is power. As opposed to going with the argument that Trump is the lesser of two evils and less horrible, Trump is right on defense stuff when it comes to the Middle East. You have to kill them. It’s the Hunter doctrine. You have to kill them, and then leave. Not set up a forward operating base to try to make them vote for the right person. Kill them and leave, and then say if you screw with us again we’re going to kill you worse until there’s none of you left. And then those of you left over, we’ll see if you want to be friends with America or not. It’s up to you—if you’re friends with us, we’ll put a core factory in Iraq. If you’re not friends with us, we’ll keep killing you when you do dumb things.

Hunter has, despite his defense colleagues’ unwillingness to back Trump so far, seen an enormous improvement in Trump’s standing party-wide since becoming the presumptive GOP nominee—so much so it is now “standing room only” in his weekly pro-Trump caucus meetings in Congress, meetings at which he was once one of but a handful of members. He went on to say:

Across the spectrum, I’ve seen a lot more people get behind him. It’s standing room only in our little congressional meeting once a week with the Trump folks. But what I have not seen is my defense colleagues get behind him—and that’s what we’re trying to do. Jeff Miller, the chairman of VA [Veterans Affairs], has endorsed enthusiastically. He’s probably the only high profile defense guy who has—I don’t think Chairman Thornberry has. These guys need to get behind him because they know how to do what we need to do. They know how to do this stuff, and they know how to explain it and articulate it to the American people, they know about the War Powers act and they know the top level strategy of here’s what’s been happening since Obama got into office and here’s what’s been failing since he got into office. So if you want to fix things we know how to do it. So I want Trump to learn from the guys on the Armed Services Committee who I know know a lot about everything. Whether it’s space or intel or cyber or buying bullets, ships and planes, they’re the guys who know how to do it. And they need to get behind him, and so far I have not seen those guys get behind him.

One of the most interesting qualities about Trump as a politician is that he knows what he doesn’t know—and often relies on the most qualified, and loyal, experts for advice on policy matters. As such, Hunter said, this presents a massive opportunity for defense policy experts in Congress to brief Trump on the issues that matter in much the same way Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has on immigration and trade or Senate Foreign Relations chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) has on foreign policy. Hunter elaborated:

They have an opportunity to influence policy right now. He’ll sit down with the chairman of the Armed Services Committee and say ‘alright, what are our priorities, what are we working on, what needs to be done?’ He’ll listen to them. He’ll listen to Mac Thornberry, right? I would hate for those guys to miss their opportunity to be able to [influence policy with Trump] because they’re the ones that know more than anybody, way more than the think tank guys, because we actually appropriate and authorize. We aren’t the think tanks, and we have to go out and get re-elected and articulate what we vote on. Think tank guys don’t. So I would hate to see think tank guys take the place in advising Donald Trump on defense policy issues and not my colleagues on the Armed Services Committee and not my colleagues on Defense Appropriations that deal with this stuff day in, day out on every different level from policy to politics.

Hunter noted that he has been aiming to get his father, the one-time presidential candidate and former House Armed Services chairman himself, in front of Trump to brief him on matters. And he thinks if leaders in Congress like Thornberry and Armed Services subcommittee chairmen start playing ball with the Trump campaign they will likely get there too. Hunter told Breitbart News:

I’ve been trying to put my dad in front of Trump. My dad was chair of HASC [House Armed Services Committee] and he’s real smart on this stuff too. It depends on who gets in front of Trump first: Who becomes his major military guy? And if it’s Jack Keane, that’s fine. Jack Keane kind of orchestrated the surge in Iraq with Petraeus and knows it really well, but the guys on HASC [House Armed Services Committee] and the subcommittee chairs on the Armed Services Committee and the chairman, they know everything literally from bullets to tanks to training to tanks to ships to our nuclear strategy and arsenals to our cybersecurity. I mean, they know everything. So he could get the whole roundtable of, no shit, entire defense posture and policy at every level if the guys on the Armed Services Committee would get behind him and start briefing him on these things.

Hunter said that he while he thinks Trump is trustworthy on defeating radical Islamic jihad, he will be similarly effective in more complex foreign policy arenas like dealing with Russia’s Vladimir Putin or dealing with China or North Korea. He said:

The only hard and fast answers Trump has given are on ISIS and Al Qaeda and other Islamic entities—and those are the only answers where he’s been like ‘kill them.’ That’s what you do with them. When it comes to Russia and China and North Korea, that does not work with those countries—with our pure competitors. I think he’s dead on there. What he’s not done is he’s not laid his cards on the table. When it comes to working with Putin, that’s working with the head of a state. Whether you’re opposed to him or whatever it is Donald Trump is trying to do—whether it’s putting our missile defense systems back in Poland, putting our tanks, troops in Soviet-style like states in Eastern Europe—that’s stuff that’s going to be with him, Putin and our NATO allies talking. That’s different than killing ISIS. Two totally different things. I think it’s good for Donald Trump to say ‘hey, I’m not going to tell you how I’m going to do it with Putin but I’m telling you when we knock heads, I’m going to have the upper hand.’ I believe it. It’s one of the reasons I like him.

Hunter, who was again the first member of Congress to endorse Trump and did so before most in the party took him seriously, added that he thinks it’s important for this all to start happening now because he thinks Trump is going to beat Clinton in November.

“I’ll say he’s going to win handily,” Hunter said.