Host Mark Levin welcomed Dr. Sebastian Gorka, former Breitbart News national security editor and current deputy assistant to President Trump, to his radio show on Tuesday evening.
Gorka said that current American policy in trouble spots such as Syria and North Korea was consistent with President Trump’s positions during the 2016 campaign.
“Very simply put, the man that was Donald Trump before January the 20th is the same man who is the president today,” he said. “He has re-instigated American leadership around the world. We’re not going to perpetuate the vacuum created by President Obama that was exploited by people like Assad, like Putin, like the crazy regime in North Korea.”
“We are reasserting the values that made America great and will make America great again,” he said, alluding to Trump’s campaign slogan. “It’s leadership from the front, and it’s standing up to the founding principles of the Republic. It’s that simple, Mark.”
“For all the people who supported Donald Trump on November the 8th, I’d like them to think about one thing: what we did on Thursday is not 2003 nor is it the first Gulf War in 1991,” Gorka said.
The president is clear. He’s not about invading other people’s countries and occupying them, but he is not going to let dictators use weapons of mass destruction against unarmed women and children. If you have a problem with us launching a cruise missile strike on an airfield used to execute such an attack, you need to look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, what is the problem with taking that action and making a red line a real red line?
Levin said some disappointed Trump supporters feel he has “embraced the McCain wing of the Republican Party” with his Syrian intervention.
“I say they really need to look at the facts,” Gorka countered. “The idea that deploying 150,000 troops into the Middle East is the same as one of our ships sitting in safety, in the middle of the Med, launching unmanned vehicles to take out this airfield — the two can not be compared.”
“Also, there’s a very important point here: statecraft, leadership is nothing if it doesn’t understand that diplomacy must be backed up by force,” he continued. “We had eight years of just words — words that were exploited by our enemies and, on top of that, the support of our enemies when you look at the JCPOA, the Iran deal, the ransoms and everything else.” He said:
We understand, and the president understands this implicitly, diplomacy is nothing if you’re not prepared to back it up with force. Everyone who needs to understand what we did in Syria on Thursday understands it. Look at the nations that have an issue with it and you will see just how morally sound our actions were — and also how they overlapped with our national security as well.
Gorka noted that Russia’s response to the strike on the Sharyat airbase in Syria has been thus far limited to “some very predictable statements that they have to make for domestic, internal purposes, but I think they are drawing the necessary conclusions.”
“There is a point at which your satrapy, your client state maintaining a state like Assad’s state is no longer in the interest of even the Kremlin,” he said, making one of those necessary conclusions explicit. “I think they’re starting to understand that as well.”
Levin proposed that Russia’s weak economy would hinder them in a conflict with the United States.
“This is one of the things that Ronald Reagan understood,” Gorka agreed:
In one of his first meetings in the NSC, he asked, “What is the GDP of the Soviet Union?” He was told it was roughly on par with California. Then he understood how much of a paper tiger the Soviet Union was. So yes, if you look at the GDP, if you look at their resource-intensive economy, if you look at their demographics — 600,000 people die a year in Russia, more than are born. That’s a demographic reality. So yes, we look at the world as it is, not as we would wish it to be, which was the last White House.
Levin asked for an update on North Korea, which Gorka said he could deliver only with caution because, “unlike the Clinton administration and unlike the Obama administration, we do not give our game plan away — we do not tell our adversaries what to expect from us, as Clinton did in the Balkans, and as the last president did in Iraq.”
“I think people understand, and that the movement of our vessels, the action we took on Thursday, they’re all part of the same kind of deck of cards,” Gorka said. “We are reinforcing the statements made by the president, by Secretary Tillerson, with actions that fill the vacuum created by the Obama administration.”
Levin observed that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is “a very dangerous man.”
“The problem with that nation, in particular, is that unlike other countries, including I would say even the Russian Federation, you simply cannot model them on the rational-actor models that we use,” Gorka said. “When ideology overtakes reasoned cost/benefit analysis, nations like North Korea are very difficult to model. That’s why other messages are needed.”
“That’s the similarity between Iran and North Korea. We are not looking at your standard, rational actors in either case,” he said.
“It’s very important that everybody, whether you voted for him or not, is clear on this issue that there is no desire, and no intent, inside the White House, inside the Oval Office — the president does not wish to be some kind of global policeman,” Gorka stressed. “That is not what we’re talking about.”
However, he agreed with Levin’s point that “we have inherited a global firestorm” from the Obama administration.
“If you look at any cardinal point on the compass — north, south, east or west — the world is on fire,” he said. “Just one thing: if you listen to the United Nations, we have 65 million refugees in the world today. That’s more than we had in 1945, after the death camps and the destruction of World War II.”
“That is, in part, a direct function of the feckless foreign policy and a lack of leadership under the Obama administration,” Gorka contended. “We can’t ignore that because sooner or later that will have a national security impact on every American living in the United States as well.”
Levin feared that even Trump’s request for increased military funding was not enough and that Congress was not moving quickly enough to provide the funds requested.
Gorka said that “certain individuals” in Congress saw the urgency of rebuilding the military, although it was not a “groundswell” yet.
“There’s a lot of freshmen congressmen, many of them, who are actually Iraq veterans. Some of them are my friends,” he said:
They fully understand it. When you look at the U.S. Marine Corps, in the last eight years, ended up having to cannibalize active aircraft they were using so they could use those spare parts for other aircraft. That is the dire situation that we inherited. The president is serious about fixing that as well. But it’s separation of powers, so as you rightly note, we have to have that requisite support on the Hill to make things happen. The purse strings are there. The intent exists in the White House. We’ve already set with the increase in the budget the direction we need to go in, but it’s not just up to the president.
Levin concluded the interview by asking Gorka what it was like to “be under constant attack, in ways that really are quite vicious,” and if he was still glad to be at the White House after dealing with such abuse.
“Look, Mark, I’m living the dream,” Gorka replied. “I was an immigrant. I chose this country because I truly believe it’s the last great hope. I came here nine years ago, and I’m walking around the West Wing every day. God has smiled on me, and I’m thankful for that.”
“With all of these fake news attacks — there’s going to be another one in USA Today tomorrow — I just smile and I laugh. Why? Because I’m not in the cellar of the secret police headquarters in Budapest being tortured, like my father in 1950. So bring it on. Colin Kahl, Ben Rhodes, Politico — I laugh in your face because it is pathetic and it’s only words,” he declared.