From Congressman Hunter’s office…
“Look for Politico’s story on the Hunter Doctrine in tomorrow’s print edition.”
The Hunter Doctrine: ‘You kick a–, and you leave’
Step aside, James Monroe. Duncan Hunter is developing his own “Hunter Doctrine.”
“You go in, you kick a–, and you leave,” the Republican congressman from California explained.
The 38-year-old former Marine who in 2008 won the congressional seat being vacated by his namesake father says his experiences fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan led him to conclude it makes no sense for the U.S. military to get bogged down for years trying to rebuild nations. In fact, he says, that might be exactly what our enemies want us to do.
And Hunter, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee and has aspirations of following his father as the panel’s chairman, doesn’t mince words in describing a doctrine he says could be applied now to Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, several countries in Africa — and possibly even Iran.
At some point, he might formally release his strategy — which he calls the “Hunter Doctrine” only half jokingly — in a white paper or detail it in a speech. But for now he will just use it to inform his decisions as he deals with defense issues in Congress and seeks to move up in seniority on the Armed Services panel.
“We’re not coming to fix your mosques and make life happy for you,” he said in an interview in his Capitol Hill office. “We’re going to kill the people that are disrupting the world order and then leave, and you’re going to be stuck with the aftermath. So either take care of your own problems, or we’re going to do it for you.”
Under the Hunter Doctrine, he made clear, there’s a long list of things the United States would not do. “We’re not going to set up camps. We’re not going to get IED-ed,” he said. “We’re not going to drive around on the roads for five or 10 years. We’re not going to fix your schools.”
What he would do, he said, is send about 20,000 Marines to global hotspots for two-to-three-month deployments to kill as many “bad guys” as possible and then get out. The strategy would be far cheaper than the U.S. wars of the past decade, he said, and also safer for the troops involved. “We’re not going to have our military do these years, years, years campaigns where we open ourselves up to get hit over and over again.”
The San Diego native — who did two tours in Iraq, fighting in Fallujah in 2004 — said it’s extremely upsetting to him that the country is now back in the same state of chaos it was when he was there more than a decade ago. Under his doctrine, he said, the U.S. would have done things very differently, deposing Saddam Hussein in 2003 and then leaving — without dismantling the Iraqi military or taking other steps that destabilized the country.
He said he would use the same strategy now to deal with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. And after taking out ISIL, he’d depose Syrian President Bashar Assad. He’d also consider sending U.S. troops into Ukraine to help the country battle the pro-Russian rebels who’ve occupied parts of its South and East.
The doctrine, he assured, would be a “huge deterrent.”
“The president’s doing this anyway,” Hunter said. “He’s just not fully committing to it. He’s using the military all over, in all of these spots. But he’s not slapping them around. He’s kind of slapping them on the wrist.”
Asked for historical precedents to support his doctrine, Hunter pointed to the 1991 Gulf War in Iraq, when U.S. and coalition forces halted the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and then left. He also cited the 2011 raid in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden as a small-scale example of his strategy.
But there’s at least one place his doctrine would not apply: Afghanistan. Hunter said the country has become too important as a strategic hub that allows the U.S. military to keep better tabs on Pakistan and Iran. “Afghanistan’s different because you’ve got to be able to do intel and stuff,” he explained. “I think, geographically, Afghanistan’s one of those places where we should be forever.”
He acknowledged he still has to “flesh this out more,” but said the U.S. must “have some strategy that at least encompasses the majority of the bad things that are happening — terrorists popping up all over.”
“What do you do?” he asked. “You’re not going to occupy Africa, not going to stay in the Middle East forever. You just can’t do it. The American people, they don’t want to be bogged down, but they want to kill the bad guys. OK, so let’s give them that.
“The point is,” Hunter concluded, “there is no doctrine right now of anything.”
At the end of the interview, he motioned to a wall-mounted TV tuned to Fox News. On the screen was a graphic showing ISIL’s rapid spread across the globe, with the terrorist group now believed to have some presence from Africa to Asia.
“Hunter Doctrine that,” he declared.