Duncan Hunter: in his own words

Republican Duncan Hunter was online today fielding questions from Washington Post, Concord Monitor and Cedar Rapids Gazette readers. The full transcript is here. Excerpts:

On the relationship between government and the people:

"I think that the greatest quality of Americans is their spirit of independence, their rugged individualism, and I'd like to see an America more independent of government the day I leave the White House than the day I enter it. I'm reminded that when the Republicans reformed welfare in the 1990s, we found that the average welfare recipient had been on the rolls for 13 years. Today those rolls have been cut by 40 percent. Many of those former wards of the government are now productive citizens. The tragedy of this century would be the sliding of this great nation, full of energy and optimism, into the morass of socialism and dependence."

Do you favor strong military action against the terrorist government of Iran?

"We've all been hopeful that sanctions would compel Iran to abandon its weapons development. However, to date, it would be fair to say that Iran is not strongly inconvenienced by existing sanctions. Indeed, China and Russia -- both with an appetite for Iranian oil and money -- probably will blunt any effective sanctions recommended to international bodies by the United States. This leaves us with the prospect that preemptive action may be necessary. As president my commitment would be to deny Iran nuclear weapons capability. Preemptive military action has been used in the past to disrupt weapons programs. If necessary, I would use it.

"Besides Iran's nuclear program, their missile program and its Shahab 3 missile is capable of reaching Israel and other U.S. allies. This development compels us more than ever to continue, with substantial resources, America's missile defense program. Currently, we continue to develop theater ballistic missile defense systems that can handle the emerging theater threat such as that represented by the Shahab 3. Additionally we should continue to work with Israel to increase the effectiveness and wide deployment of their own missile defense program, known as Arrow. In the U.S. we presently have the start of a missile defense system with the deployment of a few interceptors in Alaska and on the Pacific Coast. This program should be continued with substantial resources. Lastly, the U.S. should take advantage of the Russian offer to cooperate on missile defense by pursuing a program to station Aegis missile defense warships in the Black Sea. This would place U.S. interceptors in the corridor that must be traveled by Iranian missiles that might be targeted at Western Europe."