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Gary Johnson proposes 43% reduction in defense spending

4 Sep

“Gov. Gary Johnson’s Plan for Restoring Fiscal Discipline in Military Spending”


  1. David Baucom, The Objective Standard,
  2. CJ Ciaramella, Daily Caller,
  3. Eileen Connors, The Environmental Educator,
  4. Joshua Fisher, Rantings of a Long Haired Poet,
  5. Ciaran Freeman, The Petroc (student newspaper of St. Peters Prep),
  6. William Godfrey, The Fix,
  7. Ben Johnson, The Right’s Writer,
  8. Tyler Kingkade, Huffington Post,
  9. John Vaught LaBeaume, The Washington Examiner,
  10. Rebecca McFarland, Misbehaved Woman,
  11. Bruce Majors, Tea Party — One Lump or Two?
  12. Rob Nikolewski, Capitol Report New Mexico,
  13. Morgan Parmet, NBC,
  14. Amy Peikoff, Don’t Let It Go,
  15. Craig Schlesinger, Spatial Orientation,

JOSIAH SCHMIDT, MODERATOR: So, did you guys all see the CNN poll that came out yesterday?

PARTICIPANT: Absolutely.

PARTICIPANT: Gary led or tied, or…?

JOSIAH SCHMIDT: He’s tied with Herman Cain, and he has twice the support of Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum, all three of whom are going to be in the next NBC debate.

GARY JOHNSON: And, of course, the overwhelming takeaway from the poll results yesterday by CNN is that they’re really insignificant!  Period.  You know, it’s an aberration that I’m probably at two percent, but it was an aberration that I was at one percent, and when you throw everybody in the mix, I mean—this is our point—is, at a certain point, you shouldn’t be excluded, and I have been.

CRAIG SCHLESINGER, SPATIAL ORIENTATION: Governor?  This is Craig from Spatial Orientation.  I was wondering, have they made it final, or are they going to take a look at this poll now that it’s come out and re-evaluate things?

GARY JOHNSON: No, what they—my understanding of what they did is that they invoked the “Gary Johnson Rule,” I say that tongue in cheek, which is just to exclude me.  And so, in this case, the rule is, for the Ronald Reagan debate, a four percent showing in any national poll.  Well, in any national poll, my best showing is three percent, not four percent, so a poll released yesterday: I’m ahead of Santorum, Huntsman, I’m tied with Cain.  Well, those three will be in the debate, because, at one point, they have shown four percent in a national poll.  I just think the overwhelming takeaway is, is that this is just plain arbitrary, and it’s pretty darn insignificant—the notion that there’s anybody ahead of anybody else.  But, in the case of the debates, obviously they’ve drawn that conclusion.



PARTICIPANT: The other irony is that, at least to me it seems that, where you could argue maybe Iowa, South Carolina, where it’s very socially conservative and you might not do well there, in California there’s a lot of people who are going to accept a lot of your positions on social issues, and also it’s an NBC sponsored debate and their viewers would be more likely to be inclined to agree with a lot of your stances on social issues, and yet they’ve excluded you from a debate where you would probably do pretty well.
GARY JOHNSON: Well, the other thing, I hope it’s obvious, is that, arguably, I’m the only candidate running for President that is not running on a social agenda—is not leading with being socially conservative.  I’m not socially conservative, but all the others are.  

PARTICIPANT: Well, I think that has something to do with it.

GARY JOHNSON: It might, it might.  I mean, I’m not a conspiracy theorist.  But, you can’t help but think… [laughter]

PARTICIPANT: Yeah, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that that equation doesn’t equal fairness, that’s for sure.

PARTICIPANT: Yeah, yeah.


JOSIAH SCHMIDT: The topic today is a topic that virtually no other candidates are talking about, which is cutting military spending, which is kind of the third rail in American politics, but it’s quite possibly one of the most needed topics, in terms of discussion.  So I’ll let Governor Johnson say a few words on the topic and then we’ll go right into questions, and when we go to questions, we’ll go in alphabetical order by last name.  So, when I call out your name, you can go ahead.  Governor Johnson?

GARY JOHNSON: Well, my fundamental belief is that the biggest threat to our national security is the fact that we’re bankrupt.  The fact that forty three cents out of every dollar we’re spending is, for the most part, being printed.  There is some borrowing in that forty three cents, but for the most part, it’s being printed currently.  So we need to balance the federal budget.  And to balance the federal budget, that means cutting 43% from what it is that we spend.  And included in that, I do not know how you can have a discussion on cutting what we spend nationally without talking about military spending.  I think the pertinent question to be asked is: Can we provide a strong national defense for this country, and still cut military spending by 43%?  My answer is: Yes.  And the operative word would be “defense,” as opposed to offense—as opposed to nation building.

I would like all of you to know that we’re not operating in a vacuum here.  We’ve consulted with a whole bunch of people that do this for a living.  Included in that group is the Cato Institute, which we had a conference call on the other day, really, to start talking about the nuts and bolts of “what is a 43% reduction in military spending?”  And when you look at that, it really is across the board.  It’s personnel, it’s procurement, it’s intelligence, it’s our nuclear capability, it’s research and development going forward, it’s personnel—both active military and civilian support.  And the overwhelming takeaway from the analysis that we’ve done is that, “Yes, we can do this.”
I think it’s important for everyone in the country to understand that we’re spending more money on military spending than all the other nations in the world combined, and we’re only 5% of the world’s population.  In contrast, China is spending 9 cents out of that dollar, so when we reduce our military spending by 43%, I think the takeaway from our meeting the other day is that it’s really safe to say that we’re still going to be outspending China by almost a 2 to 1 margin.  I think it’s important to also point out that we need other nations in the world to take up this slack—that this is something that others need to partake in.

Take Europe for an example.  We’ve been subsidizing their infrastructure projects there for decades.  So when we hear about transportation infrastructure projects in Europe like trains, hey—we’ve really subsidized that.  We’ve really subsidized health care—universal health care in Europe—because they haven’t had to spend money on their military.  We have.  And that extends to other countries also.

So, bottom line: if we don’t balance the federal budget, I maintain we’re going to have a monetary collapse.  So, to balance the federal budget, that means talking specifically about each area of government.  I like to start off by talking about Medicaid, Medicare, and military spending.  And the bottom-line takeaway when it comes to military spending—what we’re maintaining—is that we can provide a strong national defense for this country—“defense” being the operative word, as opposed to “offense” and “nation building” and the current wars that we’re engaged in.  Talking about the current wars that we’re engaged in, on top of everything else we’re engaged in, is that those current wars have run up to $200 billion a year, which, even after we pull out, supposedly puts us at an expense of $100 billion a year.

I am advocating getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan immediately.  When we found ourselves intervening in Libya, I issued a paper immediately, opposed to that action from an A to Z standpoint.  Who are the rebels that have apparently taken over in Libya?  I don’t think anybody really knows.  We certainly don’t.  Why do I think that the United States is going to step in and back a winner in Libya, with the consequences of that backing many, many years out, with regard to whether it works out or not?  Will it be a better regime than Qaddafi?  You’d like to think so, but it’s amazing how our interventions always seem to have unintended consequence, that, in my lifetime, at best, I think that’s been a mixed bag.

So, how’s that for an opener?

PARTICIPANT: Pretty good.

PARTICIPANT: Outstanding.

JOSIAH SCHMIDT: Let’s go right into questions.  David Baucom, with The Objective Standard?

DAVID BAUCOM, THE OBJECTIVE STANDARD: Hi, Governor Johnson.  Good to talk to you again.


DAVID BAUCOM: Did I understand you correctly, that you want a 43% reduction in spending, in addition to the wars.  Correct?

GARY JOHNSON: Right, well the overall number—I am promising to submit a balanced budget to Congress in 2013, if I’m elected.  To do that, we’re going to have to reduce our military spending by 43%.  So, if you take the whole mix, we need to come down with a 43% reduction.  I just want to stress here that that mix is more than possible.  That overseas involvement will be more than 43%, but maybe that gives a little leeway with regard to 43% somewhere else.  But the promise is a balanced budget in the year 2013.  The promise is specifics in the area of military spending.

DAVID BAUCOM: Okay, well a lot of your core supporters like those in the Tea Party may—well, they see the popular view—well the problem with government, to them, is they see the government taking care of everyone like a nanny state and that we’re voting to our own little groups all this money we can’t afford.  Entitlements are trillion dollar Ponzi schemes.  How do you respond to the view that a lot of your core supporters might have, that military spending is not on par with the problem with entitlements—not symptomatic of the core problem that infects Washington’s fiscal responsibility?

GARY JOHNSON: Well, first of all, you’re stating a premise that I don’t know if I buy into.  Core supporters for me would understand that reductions in spending need to come across the board.  And if there’s a misunderstanding by someone who would call themselves a core Johnson supporter, maybe this will clarify that.  You can’t cut government spending by 43% and not include the military.  I will tell you from my observation that the Tea Party is a real mixed bag.  I think for the most part, the Tea Party recognizes that you need to cut spending by 43%, but I always find it amazing that the person at the Tea Party Rally chanting “reduce government spending,” “balance the budget,” might also be holding a sign that says “but not the military,” or might also be holding a sign that says “don’t touch my Medicare.”  That’s not possible.  So, core Johnson supporter, if you’re a core Johnson supporter because you think I’m not going to take a balanced approach at all of this, um—maybe I’m going to lower  those poll numbers from what were posted yesterday [laughs].  Hopefully that won’t be the case.  Hopefully my poll numbers continue to go up, because in fact this is a balanced approach to everything that needs to take place.

DAVID BAUCOM: Thank you.

JOSIAH SCHMIDT: Great question, David.  Has CJ from the Daily Caller come on?


JOSIAH SCHMIDT: Go ahead with your question.

CJ CIARAMELLA: Oh, I didn’t actually have a question.  I was just listening in.

JOSIAH SCHIDT: Oh, okay, no problem.  Eileen Connors, from the Environmental Educator?

EILEEN CONNORS, THE ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATOR: Yeah, hi.  Well, first of all, I’d like to say that I used to build sonar, and you could cut forty three percent of the military budget just by getting rid of waste in contractors and people who can’t even produce good work.  It’s just incredible what goes on there in contracting, but my question is: Do you think that just reducing oil demand would help us significantly reduce the military budget?  Because, we seem to spend a lot of time protecting areas that have oil.  And the thing is, is I can significantly reduce oil demand right now simply by getting the public not to use disposable plastic, whose main ingredient is oil.  And then all the plastic garbage bags we throw them into.  Our whole disposable society is the worst environmental thing we do, and it creates a huge oil demand, and people don’t even correlate that, because no one’s telling them that.  I mean, I have the light years-better environmental agenda that the Barack White House will not allow.  They are absolutely adamant.  I will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of federal law if I call Steven Chu’s office again [ed: Steven Chu is the current United States Secretary of Energy].  I mean, Al Gore was impressed with my work in the nineties, just not interested in solutions, which is why our oil demand for disposable products continues to increase, and, you know, the environment isn’t getting any better.  Environmental Educator dot org: week one to eight are kind of building blocks, week twelve is what the White House won’t do, week fifteen is the environmental future that we need, that hopefully Gary will lead us to, with my direction, and week sixteen is oil.  So, what do you think, Gary?

GARY JOHNSON: Well, I don’t know if you could have stated that any better, and I wouldn’t attempt to state it any better: the notion that the biggest threat to our national security is the fact that we’re bankrupt, and if we reduce military spending by 43%, I would have to think that that would have a 43% impact on subsidizing oil, if you will.

EILEEN CONNORS: Right, right.  Yes, yes.

GARY JOHNSON: Whatever that embedded cost ends up working out to.

EILEEN CONNORS: Right.  So, yeah, take a look at my agenda, and get back to me, because we can lead the world environmentally, and I am going to have to check out of this call in about 10 or 15 minutes to start a paid job, because all of my website and act right now is for free until I get my global break, and, yeah Gary, you should check that out and get back to me, because we could get light years better work done than allowed by anybody else but that is definitely needed.  And, yeah, oil subsidies, I mean, yeah, that’s—

GARY JOHNSON: And, by oil subsidies—that hidden cost of oil—and, yeah, I appreciate your activism.

JOSIAH SCHMIDT: Great question, Eileen.  Joshua Fisher?

JOSHUA FISHER, LONG HAIRED POET: Yes, I’m with my own blog, it’s The Rantings of a Long-Haired Poet.  And my question is: military spending is currently at a conservative estimate of 21% of our spending.  Education, however, with K-12 and financial aid and loans to undergraduates and graduate students, is at 14%.  Do you believe that spending money in foreign nations and giving blank checks to foreign nations is appropriate, considering the domestic economy and its effect on students?

GARY JOHNSON: Well, no.  And one of the things that I am advocating is the abolishment of the federal Department of Education, believing that—recognizing that eleven cents out of every school dollar that every state is spending is coming from the federal government.  But it’s my contention that that eleven cents actually comes with about sixteen cents worth of strings attached.  The point being is that it’s really a negative.  It costs money for the states to take money from the federal government in education.  So if you abolish the federal Department of Education, if you return education to the states—fifty laboratories of best practice, fifty laboratories of innovation—in my opinion, we’re going to dramatically improve education in this country, because we’re really competitive, and if we’ve got fifty states competing for best practices when it comes to education, it’s my belief we’ll actually see some best practices that will get emulated by the other states.  I think you’ll also see some spectacular failure, which will get avoided.  But the notion of “Washington knows best,” the notion of “Top-down knows best,” that doesn’t work.  And you point out the obvious.  We’re building—in the name of nation building—we’re building roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and highways in other countries in the world, really, having a basis in military spending—security.  That’s crazy, when we have those same needs here.

JOSHUA FISHER: Yeah, I just wish it was obvious to everybody.

GARY JOHNSON: I think it is.  I think it is.

JOSIAH SCHMIDT: Thanks for your question, Josh.  Ciaran Freeman from The Petroc?  Do we have Ciaran Freeman still on the line?  How about William Godfrey from The Fix?

WILLIAM GODFREY, THEFIX.COM: Yes, hello, I’m from  Our question is: We’ve been hearing about increasing US military involvement in the War on Drugs in Mexico, for example.  And we wonder, to what extent can you see your drug policies having a knock-on effect of reducing military spending in some areas?

GARY JOHNSON: So, homeland security figures into this.   Yes, we are continuing to battle a War on Drugs that, in my opinion, has a basis in prohibition.  I am advocating legalizing marijuana.  In my opinion, legalizing marijuana would lead to 75% less border violence with Mexico—that being the drug cartels’ activities that revolve around marijuana.  And if we want to argue that point, I’ll just say that by legalizing marijuana, we’re going to bring about a rational approach to drugs by starting that way, that will have a basis in looking at the drug problem first as a health issue rather than a criminal justice issue.  If we can’t connect the dots between prohibition and violence—28,000 deaths south of the border over the last four years, this is a prohibition phenomenon—I don’t know if we ever will.  So, yes, military spending will be aided with the notion of getting out of the Drug War.


JOSIAH SCHMIDT: Did Andrew Griffin with Red Dirt Report ever come on?  How about Ben Johnson, with The Right’s Writer?

BEN JOHNSON, THE RIGHT’S WRITER: Yes.  Two questions, if I may.  First of all, we’re at a fairly extraordinary moment.  For all of our lifetimes, conservatism has stood for increased military spending, throughout the Cold War, and then 9/11 was the booster shot for military spending as well.  From at least 2006 onward, Americans have seen that the wars we’ve gotten involved in, in the name of the War on Terror have gone badly.  With our financial state laid bare in front of almost everyone now, people understand that we need to cut military spending.  Even people on the Right understand that we need to cut military spending.  There’d be strong bipartisan support for this.  How is it, do you think, would be the most effective way to speak to that mixed bag that you spoke of earlier—the Tea Party—for the residual elements who still see increased military spending as the sign of a true dyed-in-the-wool patriot?

GARY JOHNSON: Well, I think—first of all, I agree completely with your analysis, and I think that the presidential campaign can act as that catalyst.  That, “all right, you know, we’ve got to talk about—we need to reduce the cost of the military, we have a presidential contest going on here, who’s advocating what and who’s actually going to bring this to bear?”  My promise, which I can promise, is that I am going to submit a balanced budget to Congress in the year 2013.  Submitting a balanced budget to Congress in the year 2013 will encompass military spending reductions to the tune of 43%.  So, I think that may be the catalyst.  It certainly brings about the dialogue, and I’m hopeful that the Tea Party contingent recognizes just exactly what they’re saying, which is: Yes, we need to cut government spending, yes we need to balance the budget, and no you can’t do it without reducing military spending, and no you can’t do it without reducing Medicare.

BEN JOHNSON: Outstanding.  That’s certainly correct.  If I may follow up: You touched on Libya a little bit.  You wrote an outstanding analysis of that the instant that Obama announced he was going to do this, and I believe we ran it on all our websites as well.  In that, you touched more or less on the practical aspect that all our interventions have unintended consequences, we have no idea who the rebels are, certainly al Qaeda is a contingent in this rebel group, so we may have gone from the frying pan into the fire, or, who knows?  But in terms of the constitutional order of this, Obama did all of this outside of the normal, constitutional strictures of introducing troops into harm’s way.  Some say that he violated the War Powers Resolution as well.  How would you deal with a constitutional resolution of Libya—that is, in terms of, certainly, other than, if the United States were attacked, a President Johnson would not have gone about things the way that this president did: going to the United Nations, the Arab League, and NATO, but not Congress?  Could you touch on that?

GARY JOHNSON: Just a promise that President Johnson, in the case of going to war, in the case of military involvement anywhere, this to me has to involve Congress.  So, the promise that if there is any intervention contemplated by a Johnson administration, a promise that that will involve Congress and getting authorization to do that.  It’s too important—way too important—to not involve Congress, and fundamentally, constitutional.

BEN JOHNSON: Thank you, thank you.

JOSIAH SCHMIDT: Thanks, Ben.  Tyler Kingkade with the Huffington Post?

TYLER KINGKADE, HUFFINGTON POST: Yeah, Governor, you were talking about the nation building going on in other countries, building roads and bridges, and you touched a little bit about how we should be doing that here.  But you’re also talking about how we need to be cutting back on spending.  So, I’m just wondering under what circumstances would you support investing more, such as, in infrastructure projects?  That’s one of the things that has been talked about a lot, as part of a stimulus or jobs plan that could get ground, or at least get brought up, in Congress.  Is that something you would support?

GARY JOHNSON: So, I am advocating the Fair Tax.  If you haven’t checked out the Fair Tax, check out, which is scrapping the entire federal tax system that now exists and replacing it with the Fair Tax.  And a caveat, very simply, and I can go into this in depth, if anyone cares, or answer specifics, but the Fair Tax is—I’m not operating in a vacuum here, a lot of free market economists I have advising me also—the complete consensus on the Fair Tax is, as the name implies, it’s fair.  Everybody is going to pay tax.  You’re going to pay more tax the more money you make, because the more money you’re going to consume.  So the Fair Tax does away with the income tax, does away with the IRS, does away with corporate tax, re-establishes this country, really, as the only place to grow, nurture, develop jobs.  In my opinion, implementation of the Fair Tax brings tens of millions of jobs into the United States.  Also, with the Fair Tax is the fact that savings would increase.  You’re not going to be taxed from income from savings.  It will promote savings.  So, when you have that much more available money to loan, where does that money end up getting applied, if not for infrastructure projects that municipalities, that states, would be borrowing to do that?  So, that much more availability to loan, finding places in infrastructure, I think the Fair Tax is the basis for everything it is that you just mentioned.  I do think it’s the basis for rebooting the American economy for real growth going forward.



JOSIAH SCHMIDT: Thanks, Tyler.  John, from the Washington Examiner?

JOHN VAUGHT LABEAUME, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Yeah, Governor, I just wanted you to repeat the one line where you said that cuts would be across the board in military spending?  You mentioned procurement, intelligence, and maybe two other areas?

GARY JOHNSON: Procurement, personnel, and—I’m not an “across the board” guy meaning…

JOHN VAUGHT LABEAUME: Right, I guess there were four sub-categories.  So, procurement, personnel, intelligence…

GARY JOHNSON: Well, yeah, you’ve got intelligence, you have personnel—and that’s not only military but that’s civilian and support that goes along with that—it’s hardware, it’s development, it’s our nuclear capability that we’re proposing to shrink warheads down to 500 as opposed to the current plus 2000.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard it—and I’m speaking tongue in cheek here—but do we need to blow up the world 23 times over, or would maybe 8 times be sufficient?

JOHN VAUGHT LABEAUME: [laughs] Mm hmm.  Okay, thank you.

JOSIAH SCHMIDT: Great, did we just have someone else come on the line?

BRUCE MAJORS: Yeah, hi, it’s Bruce Majors from Washington, except I’m not in Washington today.

JOSIAH SCHMIDT: Oh, great.  Actually, since we’re going in order of alphabetical by last name, that puts you next.

BRUCE MAJOR: Ah, and I haven’t heard anything anybody’s said, so I don’t really have a lot to say.

JOSIAH SCHMIDT: Did you want to go ahead with a question, or pass this time?

BRUCE MAJOR: Just go to the next person.

JOSIAH SCHMIDT: Okay.  Let’s see.  Rob with Capitol Report New Mexico?


GARY JOHNSON: Good.  Rob, for all you people on the call, he’s from New Mexico, and he’s really got the scoop.


GARY JOHNSON: [laughs]

ROB NIKOLEWSKI: I’ve got two questions for you.  First of all, you’ve got some good news about the polls.  You lead Santorum and Huntsman, and you’re tied with Cain in the latest CNN poll.  Yet, you’re still not on the call for the next debate that’s coming up in California.  So, my question is, in the last presidential election, a lot of people that supported a libertarian candidate, Ron Paul, felt that their candidate was being ignored.  Do you feel that, in some way, the media are ignoring or are looking past Republican candidates that don’t quite fit into that conservative niche?

GARY JOHNSON: Yeah, I think this pretty well bears that out, and I said at the very start that, here it is, a poll comes out yesterday that basically has me ahead of these folks for the first time ever, and I’ll just say: You know what?  It’s probably just as arbitrary as me being behind them a little bit that I’m ahead of them by a little bit.  The point is that I should be included.  And, for whatever reason, and it’s not becoming so tongue in cheek for me anymore, it appears as though they all get together and invoke the “Gary Johnson Rule,” which is: How do we exclude Gary Johnson from the debate?  We’ll make him the guy on the bubble, which I’ve been for the last two debates from which I’ve been excluded.  And now, number three debate, me on the bubble—I’m the one that gets…I’m the next one in line.  Well, I’m just getting this sense that they actually sit down ahead of time and come up with the rule after they take a look at me, and I can’t help but think that.

ROB NIKOLEWSKI: Having said that, what is your strategy then for the campaign to get some traction?  Double down in New Hampshire?

GARY JOHNSON: Well, yeah, and how do you pare the fact that I should be at 2% in the polls when these other guys, equal to me, have outspent me by a factor of 30 to 1?  How is that even possible?  So, you know, what’s “traction”?  I’ll just say: I just think it’s as arbitrary that I’m at 2% as it would be arbitrary that I’m at 0.9%.  Look, we’re all in the same category, and isn’t the debate process supposed to be about giving people a chance to decide, as opposed to the media deciding who gets to present and who doesn’t get to present?

ROB NIKOLEWSKI: So, do you just…?

GARY JOHNSON: Keep plugging away.  Just keep plugging away.


GARY JOHNSON: And I’m out on the stump, believing that I’ve got momentum.  I’m not expecting anybody to know that, but I’m putting my chips on the table in New Hampshire.  We’re putting the resources that we have, in New Hampshire.  We’re, historically, you can go from obscurity in a campaign to being very relevant and noticed and wanting to be listened to .  Hey, New Hampshire’s one thing, one primary, and then California’s another thing, coming at the end, so I’ve always thought there’s a real possibility here to win California.



JOSIAH SCHMIDT: And, this is Josiah.  Just to give you some more nuts and bolts on our campaign strategy, we do have a lot of stuff coming up in the next month or so.  We’ve got some endorsements that we’ve been holding back that are going to be pretty cool when we’re able to release them; we’ve got some fundraising initiatives that we’re going to be doing pretty soon; we’ve got a volunteer section on the website that we haven’t completed yet, but when that’s published, it’s going to allow some of the supporters to get active in getting the word out about Gary and building up some support.  So, we’ve got a lot of cool stuff coming up, and that will shake things up a little bit.

And, did we have Greg Newburn with Families Against Mandatory Minimums?  Um, Amy Peikoff? 

AMY PEIKOFF, DON’T LET IT GO: Yes, I’m here.  Can I go ahead with a question?


AMY PEIKOFF: Can you hear me?  Okay, I very much like the positions that I’ve seen you take, with one exception.  This sort of ties into the idea of, yes, I think we could cut the military budget by 43% and still have a very strong national defense.  I’m totally on board with you there.  But I think sometimes people see that if you just announce that you don’t take very firm positions with respect to national defense, then people might get a little bit concerned, so, for example, I think it was during the last debate that you were Tweeting, and you said you didn’t see Iran as a military threat.  Is that right?

GARY JOHNSON: Right.  Yes.

AMY PEIKOFF: That concerned me, because I definitely see them as a military threat.  So I was wondering… Do you see what I mean?  So if you say, “Yeah, I want to cut 43%,” I think that’s fine, but then do you go ahead and emphasize things like what you just said about the statistic: we could have 500 warheads and blow up the world 8 times as opposed to—I know it’s tongue in cheek and some people think it’s silly to talk that way, but I agree, you know, if you have 500 really good warheads, that’s probably enough to defend us, right?  So that’s fine.


AMY PEIKOFF: But, I think that the Iran comment did worry some people, so…

GARY JOHNSON: Well, so, let’s use Iran as an example.  What was Iran… So our military action in Iraq.  We go into—

AMY PEIKOFF: I, I agree.  I disagree with that war, by the way, so I’m on board with you, with respect to Afghanistan—there may have been a reason in the beginning, but we don’t need to be building their infrastructure, and we probably don’t need to be there now—and Iraq I don’t think we really had a reason to go there, and Libya I’m on board, but I’ve seen Iran as an actual threat to us, and funding a lot of these terrorist groups, as have apparently the people in Washington who know a lot more about this than I do.

GARY JOHNSON: Well, so, the corollary between Iraq and Iran is completely similar.  Look, we had the same—we were told the same thing about Iraq—that they were a military threat against the United States.  What I said, at the time, was: “Hey, I don’t think they’re a military threat.  They might be, but we have the military surveillance capability to watch this, and if it really is, then we can go in and deal with it.”  I think it’s important to point out that the unintended consequence of ousting Saddam Hussein was Iran.  They had one—Iran had one—military concern, and that was Iraq.  We took that out—


GARY JOHNSON: We eliminated that threat from them, so now here it is.  They’re raising their head.  I would maintain that they are not a military threat, but should we be vigilant to the fact that they might be?  Absolutely, we should.  We have that capability, and we should, but currently they’re not.

AMY PEIKOFF: Well, what about them getting nuclear weapons, because if you’ve go
t an Ahmadinejad who’s on board with calling us the Great Satan and saying us and Israel should be destroyed, I’m concerned about them getting nuclear weapons.  Would you be in favor of preventing them from getting those weapons, or not?

GARY JOHNSON: Well, so, you know, a very complex question, but it’s my understanding that they are a decade now away from having the technology to do this, and they’re even further away when it comes to the delivery of a nuclear device, meaning the missiles that go along with being able to deliver that.  So, this is another one of those, in my opinion, this is the fear that we get fed and because we get fed this fear, we end up spending the amount of money that we spend on our military, when in fact, those threats really, bottom line, just don’t exist.

AMY PEIKOFF: Well, I mean—

GARY JOHNSON: I’m not, I’m not—

AMY PEIKOFF: I was going to say, you probably don’t have to spend a lot to eliminate that particular threat if you spent it wisely.  I just think that—would you be vigilant about watching for the development of that, like maybe not cutting so much in intelligence so we can find out when that becomes a real threat, and eliminate it?  Because I do think an Ahmadinejad, if he had nuclear weapons right now, from what I hear him say, and what his ideology tells him he should say, he would go for New York City or where ever immediately.  I don’t—it—
GARY JOHNSON: Well, yes, I agree with everything that you’re saying, but I—from my understanding—his ability to do that is 15 or 20 years away.

AMY PEIKOFF: Okay, well, then that would seem fine, as long as we could know for sure, because obviously we’re dealing with limited knowledge.  They hide whatever they can.  I know Israel helps us sometimes in that regard.

GARY JOHNSON: Yep, and in my opinion, their first target is not going to be—and this is just based on, I do not want to misspeak in this press conference—but, just my second hand knowledge of all this, is, hey, it’s not going to be New York that’s their first target, it’s going to be Israel, but I don’t—

AMY PEIKOFF: Right, but I don’t want to see that either.

GARY JOHNSON: No, no, but for us to naively think that we’re going to have to step into that to prevent that is, in my opinion, naivety on our part.  Israel’s going to step in and deal with that.

AMY PEIKOFF: And a President Johnson would put moral support behind it?  Not, perhaps, financial support, but at least certainly not hold Israel back in any way—


AMY PEIKOFF: —and state that you’re behind them in this?

GARY JOHNSON: This is the notion, also, that to reduce our military spending by 43%, we need to rely on military alliances—military alliances, in my opinion, being key to the notion that we can reduce our spending by 43% and still have a worldwide vigilance against the War on Terror.  The notion there, being: other countries taking up the slack that we have foot the bill for, for decades and decades.

AMY PEIKOFF: Okay, excellent.  Because, you know, I do see—any country that is motivated by Islam, you know, very consistently interpreted, is a threat.  So, I appreciate that.  Thank you.

GARY JOHNSON: Thank you.

GARY JOHNSON: Josiah, are you still there?


CRAIG SCHLESINGER: This is Craig from Spatial Orientation.  I don’t know if anyone else is on the call or where I was, alphabetically, but, did we lose Josiah?

JOSIAH SCHMIDT: Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I had my phone on mute there [laughs].  Go ahead, Craig.


JOSIAH SCHMIDT: Yeah, go ahead.

CRAIG SCHLESINGER: Okay, um, can I quickly follow up on a previous questioner, and then get to my specific question?


CRAIG SCHLESINGER: Thanks.  I know that you’ve mentioned previously that the United States shouldn’t be going around the world telling foreign leaders and foreign nations how to govern themselves—what’s best for them—in that context, there are many countries around the world that have nuclear weapons.  Some, we’re allies with.  Some, we’re not.  Yet, they have nuclear weapons.  Should Iran be able to pursue nuclear technology, given the fact that Israel has nuclear technology, Pakistan has nuclear technology, Russia has nuclear technology?  We had a whole Cold War where nobody even launched one missile.  Should we be telling Iran what they can or can’t do, given their own energy policy or military policy?  I mean, once they start becoming hostile, then we can deal with it, but up until that point, should we be telling them they can’t pursue nuclear technology?

GARY JOHNSON: No, we shouldn’t be.

GARY JOHNSON: And you make the key point there, and that key point is, talking about the history of nuclear development by other countries, and the key point being at what point does the hostile line get stepped over, and when it gets stepped over, that’s what we should be vigilant to.

CRAIG SCHLESINGER: Thank you.  I just wanted to give you an opportunity to clarify, because I felt that some of the previous question was a little skewed away from the notion of sovereign nations being able to do what they want, up until the point of hostilities against other sovereign nations.
GARY JOHNSON: The notion of military threat.

CRAIG SCHLESINGER: Yes, that’s what I—thanks for your answer.  Thanks for that.

CRAIG SCHLESINGER: You’ve talked about ending the wars.  Obviously, making sure that we cut defense by 43%.  There are some wars that are lesser known to the American public, for instance: our military presence in South America, especially in countries like Columbia, we continue to fight radical splinter groups like the FARC, which is the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia, a military wing of their Columbian Communist Party…are you in favor of scrapping that war as well?

GARY JOHNSON: Yeah, well, I think when you engage in reducing military spending by 43%, in my opinion, you flush out, if you will, questionable activities on the part of our military.

CRAIG SCHLESINGER: Right.  So, it’s safe to say that the Columbian Communist Party doesn’t pose a threat to the national security of the United States, right?

GARY JOHNSON: I don’t have the sense that it poses a risk to our national security.  And how much of our South American operations have, at its basis, the War on Drugs?

CRAIG SCHLESINGER: Right.  I was going to say that this kind of plays into the whole Drug War thing as well, but I just wanted to get your thoughts on the actual wars that we fight in South America.  I have another quick question, if I might?


CRAIG SCHLESINGER: Back to the notion of our defense budget and our foreign policy, utilizing those monies that we appropriate—drone strikes.  It’s a generally accepted fact that they act as a force multiplier for terrorist recruiting, wind up often killing civilians… Do you think that they’re a good idea?  Bad idea?  Would you selectively apply them?  And do you even think that they’re legal?

GARY JOHNSON: Well, I don’t want to misspeak.  I’ve said that before.  I would have to think that they’re a viable tool in the whole notion of addressing military threat.  To what extent we go over the line when it comes to drones, I think it’s easy to say that these drones kill civilians.  And that if this were a situation where we in this country were subject to drone attacks from other countries, I don’t think there would be any end to the revenge that we would seek against those countries that were conducting drone attacks in this country.

CRAIG SCHLESINGER: Okay, specifically, we’ve been trying to kill an American citizen who lives in Yemen, I believe.  Anwar al-Awlaki.  We’ve used drone strikes, we’ve killed civilians, we haven’t killed him.  Does the President, in your mind, have the ability to order extrajudicial assassinations of American citizens on foreign soil without due process?

GARY JOHNSON: No.  Period.

CRAIG SCHLESINGER: Thank you.  Thank you very much, and one more very quick question, if I might, Governor?


CRAIG SCHLESINGER: I think this plays into your whole policy about the economy and the defense budget?  Someone brought up the demand for oil previously?  What I was wondering: What do you think the impact would be on oil markets as a whole, given the uncertainty that would be removed if we end foreign wars with oil producing nations?  Obviously there’s still a cartel that can control the price of oil arbitrarily, but given the inelasticity of demand for oil, wouldn’t creating certainty be a boon to the oil markets for consumers and producers?

GARY JOHNSON: I think that that’s an absolutely valid argument.



JOSIAH SCHMIDT: Great, thanks.  Rebecca MacFarland?

REBECCA MACFARLAND, MISBEHAVED WOMAN: Yes, I was wondering what you would say to people who are already claiming that any military cuts are going to equal putting our troops in harm’s way?  I’ve seen people already commenting that any military cuts are equal to sending our troops into war without armor, without equipment.  What would you say to them to counter that hysteria?

GARY JOHNSON: Well, that getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan tomorrow would definitely take troops out of harm’s way, and that a President Johnson, as the gold star for serving as President of the United States, that there would not be any men and servicewomen losing their lives, that men and servicewomen would not be coming back from Afghanistan with loss of limbs.


GARY JOHNSON: So, that criticism, I think it’s safe to say that the reality would be just the opposite.

REBECCA MACFARLAND: Okay, thank you.

GARY JOHNSON: Thank you.

JOSIAH SCHMIDT: Great.  Is there anyone on the line who has not yet gotten the chance to ask Governor Johnson a question?  If not I think we have time for one last question for anyone who just wants to jump in?

PARTICIPANT: Governor Johnson, I have one more question?


PARTICIPANT: On your website, you mentioned that you would let the Patriot Act expire, or that it should be allowed to expire, but I was curious how you would feel about moving to repeal it on Day One?
GARY JOHNSON: Yeah, that’s a notion that I push forward.  I think that the Patriot Act is a continued loss of civil liberties, and it’s just going unchecked.  So, I would like to abolish [the Department of] Homeland Security, I’d like to abolish the TSA.  I would have never established Homeland Security in the first place, believing that it’s duplicative, and I just think that the TSA, at best, well, there isn’t an “at best.”  For four times a week, running for President of the United States, I enter into the “Constitution free zone” of a public airport, and I don’t like it one bit.


JOSIAH SCHMIDT: Great questions, everyone.  There will be a transcript of the call made available within the next couple days, at some time.  So, everybody who’s on the call—I believe I have all of your email addresses—so you should all be receiving that in a couple of days.  Just email me if you don’t receive it by Thursday or Friday.  I believe that everyone here has asked a question.  If not, feel free to give me an email, and we’ll try to make sure that you get a question asked on the next conference call.  Thank you all for attending, and thanks for your excellent questions, and we’ll see you on the next one.

For any questions or issues, please email Josiah Schmidt at