Listen as Larry spoke with Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland about North Korea, our national security and more.
During the interview, McFarland discussed President Trump’s military buildup:
O’Connor: In your estimation, the military requirements to fulfill President Trump’s commitment to defeat ISIS, as well as, the military requirements to keep North Korea intact – I know it’s not your wheel house necessarily as the National Security Adviser, you don’t work at the Pentagon – but are defense department budgetary needs being met right now? Because it seems to me like the Pentagon is being asked to do a lot more than what they were asked to do under the Obama administration.
McFarland: Yeah, and well President Trump is going to have a defense buildup. And we’re hoping that Congress passes the defense supplemental that President Trump has asked for in order to do that. You know, I worked in the Reagan administration and it’s a bit similar to today. Reagan understood that if you were going to really have a strong military and keep the peace, you needed to have a military buildup, at the same time you needed to improve the economy, because the economy – as it improves it has growth, it pays for everything else. But while you do that and while you rebuild the military, your goal is not to go to war. Your goal is to have that stronger, tougher military than everybody else has so that they don’t go to war with you. And that’s where Trump is headed. Yesterday he rolled out the new tax proposal, which a lot of economist feel it’s going to lead to maybe 3% economic growth, which means [inaudible]. It will be better for jobs in the United States, it will be better for economic growth. And when that happens, that is going to help pay for the Trump military buildup. And as Trump gets a stronger military – that is more capable in dealing with what you said with Egypt to North Korea – the objective is not to go to war with them but we want them to understand, if we have to go to war we will beat them. And to do that you need to have the strongest military.
McFarland continued saying:
McFarland: Well I knew President Reagan. In some ways they are similar and in some ways they are different. They have different styles and different ways of saying things. But here is how they are the same. They both command the room. When Ronald Reagan would walk into a room, you knew Ronald Reagan was the guy in charge of that room. And he was the guy who was going to solve the economic problem, he was going to restore America’s place in the world and ultimately won the Cold War without firing a shot. He really inspired you and you had confidence in him. Trump is the same way. He walks into a room, and he owns the room. He’s the guy that is making the decisions. When President Trump attacked the Syrian airfield, where the planes were used to attack using chemical weapons against the Syrians, President Trump made that decision himself. He didn’t look around to the generals and say, ‘Gee, what should I do’. He didn’t look around to Secretary of State and say, ‘Do you think I ought to risk doing this’. He owned the decision. And he said it was his idea to say we have to do something about this. The Syrians are using chemical weapons, they used them two weeks before, we’re worried that they are going to continue to use them more and more – nothing is stopping them. So we’ve got to do something, not to get in war with Syria, but something that is going to have the Syrians stop short and not use chemical weapons. So then he went to Secretary Mattis and said, ‘Come up with some options’. He went to the Secretary of the Treasury and said, ‘What are my economic options’? He said to the Secretary of State, ‘What are my diplomatic options’? And they all came back within a few hours with some ideas. And then President Trump convened the group and said, ‘Okay tell me what the risk are, if we take this action, what could go wrong? What are the risks?’ He was explained what the risks were. Then he talked to the Secretary of Treasury and said, ‘If we impose these sanctions, how effective will they be? Well they will be effective but not any time soon?’ And then he talked to the Secretary of State and said, ‘If we take military action, what is the fallout going to be? What are our allies going to say in the region? What are our adversaries going to say?’ And then the President made the decision. He said we’re going to attack an airfield. It’s going to be a proportional response and it’s going to stop the Syrians. And then you know what the President did? He then went on to dinner with the Chinese President in Mar-a-lago. So in the middle of a major U.S. Chinese [inaudible], one of the most important relationships America is going to have, President Trump made the decision to also stand firm against nuclear weapons with the Syrians. To me, that was an extraordinary 12 hour period, where the President managed to deal with two of the major issues of our time and he dealt with them one right after another and they were both very successful.
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