Q: On Iraq: How should the US combat the success of ISIS?
Portman: Special operations and building coalitions. No to major US ground troops.
Strickland: Increased special forces, air strikes, and cyber warfare, but no major ground troop additions.
A. I think that phrase taps into a legitimate concern about how far we should go and how long we should be involved. But itís not a new mission. The Marshall Plan was about nation-building. And the generation that won World War II, having seen the catastrophe of the interwar period in the 20ís and 30ís, wisely decided that nation-building was a preferable alternative to World War III. And it was a stunning success.
A. No, Iím a hardliner on Castro. I still find it incomprehensible that he would release mentally ill criminals, prone to violence, onto an innocent population here in the US. I find his whole penchant for repression and his whole style abhorrent. We have been asking Castro to have elections for a long time [with no response]. Cuba has been moving headlong in the wrong direction. I do not favor any openings to the Castro government.
A. Incredibly enough, we have seen a positive response to initiatives there. The strategy for getting North Korea off its nuclear bent has yielded some tentative positive results. Of course, the jury is still out. We have seen a very emotional beginning of rapprochement on the peninsula. There is clearly a desire to explore the changes that would make it possible for them to have a more normal relationship with the rest of the world.
A. I am very troubled by his apparent backtracking on press freedom for Russia in the postcommunist era. I am very troubled obviously by their conduct in Chechnya. We have to put first things first, and recognize that the US has an abiding interest in continuing to manage the nuclear threat, and we should not ever forget that Russia has thousands of nuclear warheads and the delivery systems capable of targeting them on the US.
[But we have] all kinds of leverage. We are very deeply involved in helping them construct the institutions of a free society, helping them write their basic contract law, helping them put in place basic accounting standards. We just completed an effort on disaster assistance. The space station, of course, is one of the flagship cooperative efforts. So we certainly have leverage with them, thereís no question about that. And they do listen. They do listen to us. There are limits to the use of leverage.
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