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LBBJ: Where do you assess the U.S.'s foreign relations of these last years, dealing with the Arab Spring, obviously dealing with China and Russia and all kinds of other issues? Are we on the right track with our foreign relations?
DeLong: No, I don't think we are.
LBBJ: And what specific areas have we run off course?
DeLong: I think we haven't figured out what our vision of the future is. We are still operating, to a certain extent, as if we are the world's policemen. It was probably an appropriate role for us to take at some point in our history, but clearly it's not today. I think you also have to look at our foreign aid programs. Does it really make sense for us to borrow money from China to give to a country that hates our guts? How does that make sense? I'm not an isolationist. I want to be clear on that. But I think we should reevaluate every relationship we have. Those that serve our country's issues well we should continue to invest in. Those that don't we should reevaluate.
LBBJ: Along those lines, you won't be calling for, as John McCain has, for military intervention in Syria?
DeLong: It's extraordinarily unlikely. . . . One thing I would like to say, and this is as good a time as any, is that I am opposed to going to war on a credit card like we did in this last decade.
LBBJ: Would you support something like a war tax?
DeLong: I would absolutely support going to the people and saying, "This is what we want to do, and it's going to cost you. Do you still want to do it?" I think, absolutely, you should ask that question.
LBBJ: And finding a specific funding mechanism for . . .
DeLong: Sure. You bet. Because it's easy to say, "Sure, let's do that," but when it's going to cost you, then they say, "Well, maybe not. Let me think about it and get back to you." I think people ought to know what it will cost.
LBBJ: The Obama relationship with the Netanyahu government in Israel has been described as "testy." Give us your take on that.
DeLong: You know, I can't speak to their relationship. What I can tell you is that I am and will continue to be a strong supporter of Israel. I think they are our strongest ally in the Middle East.
LBBJ: Are you concerned at all that they may be directing policy, in some ways, in regards to what to do about Iran?
DeLong: I think Israel should do what is in Israel's best interest, and respect the fact that we will do the same. But I will also tell you that most of the time our interests are aligned.
LBBJ: Would you support military intervention in Iran if whatever administration is in office said we had to do it to prevent them from acquiring a nuke?
DeLong: I think we'd like to see some pretty firm evidence of that statement.
LBBJ: Along those lines, do you think, perhaps then, that containment would be a better strategy?
DeLong: I think containment is a better strategy than proactive involvement.
LBBJ: Than military intervention?
DeLong: Correct. . . . But on the other hand, maybe what we really ought to be spending our energies on is developing alternative fuels so that we reduce our reliance on foreign oil. I think that's probably the best position we could take.
LBBJ: That's interesting. Perhaps that has been a long-standing platform of Republicans, getting energy independence.
DeLong: I don't think that's just Republicans. I think Democrats as well would like to see more use of our natural resources, particularly alternative energy. I think we would all like that. Who would say, "No, we don't want to develop solar power and these other alternative fuels. We're much better off with fossil fuels and being reliant on the Middle East." I don't know how anybody would think that's a good idea, but yet we continue to do so.
LBBJ: The Republican nominee for president said the other day said that our most serious foreign concern should be Russia. Did you hear him say that?
DeLong: I did not. But I believe you.
LBBJ: Do you agree with that?
DeLong: Let me just say that Russia would not be my most serious concern.
LBBJ: But he did say that, and he surprised a lot of people when he said that.
DeLong: It might be his. It wouldn't be mine.
LBBJ: What's your number one concern?
DeLong: Oh, I think concern about the volatility in the Middle East and what negative impacts that could have on our country.
LBBJ: Given all of this volatility, do you think Palestinian-Israeli relations have hit the backburner in regards to U.S. foreign policy?
DeLong: No, I don't think so.
LBBJ: You think this administration is giving as much emphasis as past administrations in trying to find some tenable solution?
DeLong: I think they worry about it as much as past administrations.
LBBJ: But that's not quite the same, is it?
LBBJ: Finally, in terms of foreign policy, are there any significant changes you would like to see, just broad based, in terms of our approach to the world?
DeLong: As I mentioned earlier, I do believe we should reduce our dependence on foreign oil and I think we should reevaluate all of our relationships around the world. We should invest in those that serve our country well, and we should limit or eliminate investments in those that don't.
LBBJ: Do you think Obama has been hawkish in his foreign policy?
DeLong: I don't think he's been hawkish, but I don't think that's a criticism.
LBBJ: That's not what I meant.
DeLong: No, I don't think that he's been hawkish, but I don't necessarily believe you should be hawkish, either. It depends on the time. I don't have a list of things he should and shouldn't have done.
LBBJ: Isn't Obama sort of a surprise on foreign affairs, that he's done better than most people have expected him to do?
DeLong: Did they have a low bar? What has he done better?
LBBJ: The criticism was that he had no foreign policy experience. That's why he picked Joe Biden, right?
DeLong: I thought that's why he picked Hillary.
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