Kasich: ‘I Don’t Want to Go Back and Redo’ Iraq War Debate

Ohio Governor and prospective presidential candidate John Kasich (R) stated “I don’t want to go back and redo that” when asked if he thought the Iraq War was a mistake in an interview set to broadcast on Tuesday’s “Hugh Hewitt Show.”

Kasich began by talking about his foreign policy, stating “I think I was the first Republican to say in regard — leading, major Republican, if I could call myself that — to argue that a coalition between Europe and our friends in the Middle East ought to go after ISIS, and that we, America — including America, ought to have boots on the ground. I mean, there are actions that we need to take. Now I have a long record on this. I did not support U.S. troops in Lebanon in the middle of the Civil War. I was never in favor of the kind of activity we did in any civil wars, including Bosnia. But I supported the Gulf War, obviously. I support the war in Afghanistan. So I think we have to be very careful to stay away from civil wars. I think we have to be very careful that when we see something that is in our direct interest that we can go and take care of business and not involve ourselves in this whole process of nation building.”

He later added, “I don’t think we should, I don’t think we should run out of Afghanistan. But you know, getting in the middle of civil wars, I don’t think is a good idea.”

Hewitt then asked, “you’re not saying Iraq when you say the first Gulf War and Afghanistan. Did President Bush make a mistake in invading Iraq?” Kasich responded, “I don’t want to go back and redo that. I mean, it was there, and I don’t want to disparage anybody who served our country. I’m just going to reserve my comment on that.” He earlier argued “I think it was a terrible tragedy that we left basing rights in Iraq. That is just a huge mistake. No way we should have ever left our bases over there. We should have said we’re going to keep a base here. If you don’t like it, that’s your problem. That was our right, and we walked away from it, a terrible mistake.” And later added that he endorses the foreign policy doctrine of “go places, mean business, in your interest, take care of business, and don’t hang around…you know the problem with civil wars? You know the problem with nation building? You go in and then when do you ever get out?”

Kasich also stated, “maybe in a place like Libya, just like I was in the early days of Syria, we’ve got people we can support. It doesn’t mean we have to be there. But there’s clearly things that we can do. We don’t have to have troops in the Ukraine, but we can clearly provide them the military equipment that they need to be able to defend themselves. They’re our allies, okay? We believe in the Ukrainians. Let me also tell you when it comes to — like I say, the early days of Syria and even now, Assad has to go. But that doesn’t mean we have to put boots on the ground. But I think it is important that we’re engaged. And I’m sure that the same exists in Libya. I mean, we’ve got to find the forces, if we can, the clear forces that can help us to support the foreign policy that we think is going to be the best for stabilizing that region.”

Earlier, when asked if the Corker-Menendez bill “doesn’t stop the President from doing a bad deal” with Iran whether he would revoke it, Kasich said the question is “another hypothetical, okay? And I’m not trying to dodge your question. I don’t like hypotheticals.”

He added, “here’s what I will say. This is not an agreement that should be followed at this point. We shouldn’t go along with this. What we’re basically doing is leaving in place the infrastructure for the capability of producing, not only a nuclear weapon, but additional nuclear material. That can in fact be spread to places like the groups that are non-state groups like Hamas, Hezbollah. This is a very, very, very dangerous situation. I think that the administration has fallen in love with trying to get an agreement. And when I saw the other day that our president said that well, maybe we can lift these sanctions sooner than what we originally thought, you can’t just fall in love with any deal. And the idea that we would leave this all in place, that we would not have inspections throughout the entire country on demand, that we would be unlimited in terms of where we could go. Those are the kind of things, and they have to stop all this terrorist activity, and it’s not much different than what Netanyahu said. When they change their way, we can talk. And we don’t change their way, and we rely on trust, no thanks.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett