Democratic Debate: Jim Webb Talks Tough on China, Iran

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

When his Democratic opponents were ranting about how the United States should not have gone to Iraq, recycling talking points from the first few years of the last decade, Jim Webb, the former U.S. Senator from Virginia, articulated a vision for the future of America’s role in the world.

Sen. Webb stressed the necessity of combating China’s cyber intrusions. He blasted the Iran deal negotiated by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He stood firmly with America’s allies in the Middle East. And he was the only man or woman on the stage who still held firm to the belief that America should be the leader of the free world, representing an era long gone from Democratic Party politics.

A Vietnam war veteran, Jim Webb served under President Reagan as secretary of the Navy and as assistant secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs. His heroism earned him the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts.

When Hillary Clinton was talking tough about how she got China to agree to start thinking about what Beijing may or may not do about “climate change,” Webb called out the Chinese for their cyber thievery–real, malicious acts sponsored by the government, which have compromised the identities of millions of Americans.

When most of his opponents said that the greatest threat to America is climate change, Webb again reminded viewers that China is waging a cyber warfare campaign on a “day-to-day” basis against the United States.

“To the unelected, authoritarian government of China: You do not own the South China Sea,” Webb announced. “You do not have the right to conduct cyber warfare against tens of millions of American citizens. And in a Webb administration, we will do something about that,” he proclaimed.

He criticized President Obama’s Iran deal, which Webb said will let the regime in Tehran “eventually acquire a nuclear weapon.” The administration negotiated with Iran from “a position of weakness and I think it encouraged” its ally in Russia to engross itself in the region over “the past several weeks,” he added.

Webb described Israel as “our greatest ally,” a notion that is becoming deeply unpopular within some segments of the far-left voting bloc Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are fighting over.

In the end, Webb’s foreign and domestic policy visions were interpreted as so radically different from his Democrat opponents that CNN commentator Michael Smerconish suggested he run for the Republican nomination.


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