Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, who is currently weighing a 2016 presidential bid from the Democratic wing, traveled to the University of Nebraska at Omaha on Wednesday to speak with military students, alumni and staff.
Over a one-hour luncheon, Webb shared his service experiences and discussed veterans’ issues with a group of UNO’s prospective, current, and veteran service members. Prior to the presentation, The Gateway’s newly appointed editor-in-chief Nithya Rajagopalan engaged in a brief, exclusive question-and-answer session with Webb regarding his political platform and presidential candidacy.
Here’s what Webb had to say:
NR: You are often described as being deliberate and cautious of U.S. military force despite your extensive involvement in the Vietnam War, Marine Corps, Navy, and as an assistant secretary of defense. How would you say those experiences since have shaped your current views?
JW: I don’t think “cautious” is necessarily the right word. I’ve been around the military all my life: I grew up in it, served in it, covered it as a journalist, worked as a military planner, and I’ve got five years in the Pentagon—one as a Marine and four as a defense executive.
If you look at my record on national security policy, I’ve been very strong on the need for us to energize our commitments in East and Southeast Asia—particularly, that whole area from Strait of Malacca up to China.
I’ve also said for a very long time we should not be an occupying power in the Middle East; in fact, five months before the invasion of Iraq, I warned that it was a strategic mistake. So I like to think I’m a realist rather than simply cautious.
NR: In Florida earlier this week, you emphasized the need for an enunciable foreign policy doctrine. In your eyes, what specifics should such a doctrine entail?
JW: In terms of how we use military force [and] the decisions that we make, we need a doctrine. We haven’t had a clear doctrine on how we address our national security since the end of the Cold War. We’ve sort of been bouncing around from one crisis to another.
People need to understand the circumstances under which we use military power. I don’t have time to go through it all, but we need a clearly announced set of principles that govern our relationships around the world—and we don’t have that right now.
NR: Is there a time frame during which we should expect to hear a decision on your candidacy?
JW: There’s no set date, but I’ll probably decide over the next month or so whether or not to formally announce [my candidacy].