Cruz says we need to stand up to Russia and seek a greater alliance with them on fighting ISIS.
“Bullies and tyrants don’t respect weakness and appeasement. I don’t think Putin is a complicated man. I think Putin is essentially a KGB thug. And he has been very candid about what he desires. He has said he considers the demise of the Soviet Union to be the greatest geopolitical disaster in the 20th century. And I think Putin desires to reassemble as much of the old Soviet Union as possible. As a consequence what you see Putin doing is dramatically expanding his presence in Syria, getting far closer to Iran, getting in bed with really bad people.”
“The Soviet Union is like a burglar that walks down the hallway of a motel jiggling the door knobs to try to find an open door to go in and steal. In that I think Putin and Syria are just being opportunistic. America’s so weak that he’s stepping in to expand access to a seaport and to expand their influence in the region.”
“No one wants a shooting war between the world’s two leading nuclear super powers. But Reagan understood there’s all sorts of ways to press back short of sending in the tanks. If we stand up to Russia and operate in areas where we both have aligned interests yes I think Russia can be a partner for example in going after ISIS. But only if they think we are strong enough that it’s more attractive to partner with us then it is with Iran. We’ve got to do that first.”
JAKE TAPPER: Republican Presidential candidate and senator from Texas Ted Cruz. Senator welcome back to The Lead.
TED CRUZ: Thank you Jake good to be with you.
TAPPER: So if you were in the oval office and this intelligence were confirmed and obviously it’s not 100% right now but if it were confirmed that this were an ISIS bomb that brought down the plane what then? What would you do immediately?
CRUZ: Well listen this is an opportunity for the United States to focus Russia’s energy on ISIS. ISIS is the face of evil and if they’re responsible for this horrific terrorist attack that’s all the more reason for a concerted effort and a concerted commitment to destroy them. I mean if you look right now part of the problem is Putin I think has taken the measure of the man in Barack Obama and he doesn’t respect him and it has limited…once Putin determines that Obama’s not credible, that he won’t do what he says, that makes the prospect of our working together seriously to target ISIS a lot less plausible.
TAPPER: Well let me ask you then. If we were to go down that route as a nation and seek a greater alliance with Russia on fighting ISIS which seems to be what you’re suggesting how would that affect American protests against Russian incursions into Ukraine? Should those become secondary concerns because the truth of the matter is ISIS poses more of a threat to us then Russia going into Ukraine.
CRUZ: Well listen you can do both and that’s one of the things American foreign policy has long recognized is that you can pursue more than one objective at one time. So for example when Russia invaded Ukraine, at the time I called on President Obama to do two things: number one to install the anti-ballistic missile batteries that had been scheduled to go into Poland and the Czech Republic. Obama and Secretary Clinton had cancelled that in 2009 in an effort to appease Putin.
TAPPER: Right during the reset.
CRUZ: Yeah and the appeasement didn’t work. That would have been a powerful statement of America standing with our allies. You know I met with a number of conservative EU members who were in town yesterday. And we were talking about exactly this issue and it was striking that all across Europe the members who were here were nodding and saying that would have had a powerful impact on underscoring that America stands with our allies. And then the second thing that we should have done at that time there were then twenty-two applications pending in the federal government to export liquid natural gas. President Obama should have held a national TV conference and said “I’m approving every one of them right now today”. Now it would have taken some time for those to process through and flow out but the affect of that would have been three fold. Number one it would have helped the people of Ukraine and Europe stand free from Putin’s economic blackmail that he uses energy to blackmail them. Number two it would have hit Putin where it hurts in the pocketbook and number three it would have created jobs and economic growth here. Now that’s an example where we can press back against Russian aggression but doing that is not inconsistent at the same time when you have a malevolent force like ISIS working with them where our interests coincide.