Amid ever-escalating tension in the Middle East, East Asia and around the world, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert is at a crossroads: while advocating limited involvement in Syria, he’s also ready for a debate on eliminating the threat of North Korea – starting with dictator Kim Jong Un.
“On one hand, he’s China’s problem,” Gohmert said, “but on the other hand he’s the world’s problem.”
In a far-ranging interview with the Kilgore News Herald this week, the seventh-term representative from Texas’ First Congressional touched on Kim’s instability and what may be necessary to avoid war with the isolated Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and its saber-rattling supreme leader.
Gohmert said he understands President Donald Trump putting pressure on Chinese leaders to rein Kim in.
For real change, though, “I think it’s going to have to come from people inside North Korea,” he added. Meanwhile, “We’ve historically seen that if the United States makes it clear that we have a problem with some leader then that leader uses that to rally people around them.
“It’s a tricky diplomatic thing to demand the ouster of a nation’s leader.”
At the same time, Gohmert said, North Korea has nuclear weapons. The regime has worked with Iran.
“With a lot of leaders a threat that you mean can be effective,” but that’s not necessarily the case in the DPRK, Gohmert added.
A sincere threat might not be enough to control Kim.
“I think that when a foreign leader is a threat to the safety and well-being of another country,” he said, “and the people of the country of the crazy leader are not necessarily our enemy, I would at least like to have the debate on whether or not the best position is to take out the leader or to risk war with the whole country.”
It’s not a popular idea, he allowed, and it would spark a debate encompassing international law.
But, Gohmert said, consider the alternatives.
“Should we go to war with the country or just take out their government? I’ve been of the opinion for a while that the better action to take is to take out the government, the leader or whoever the problem is,” he said, “and explain they’re committing acts of war against us.
Then, to the people of that country, “(now) you’re free to have whatever leader you want but if you choose one or allow one that wants to go to war with the United States we’ll take them out to.”
How that would sit with the United Nations is a separate matter, he said.
“I think it’s time to consider the UN a disaster and get out,” Gohmert continued. Not NATO, but “The UN has been taken over by a majority of thugs.”
Gohmert’s against putting boots on the ground in Syria, advocating instead for a Safe Zone backed with air support by the United States while Turkey or another state actor inserts troops to control the area.
American soldiers don’t belong there, Gohmert insists.
“That would be a huge mistake. It was a huge mistake to put 100,000-plus in Afghanistan after the Taliban was defeated,” he said. “The Afghans loved us in ‘05. The people loved us. In ‘06, you could see a change, and when I was there two years ago it had changed a lot – nobody likes people to occupy their land. They liked us when we got rid of the radicals.”
The Northern Alliance fought viciously and defeated the Taliban with assistance from the United States, he added, with American weapons, air support and a limited number of embedded troops.
“I don’t even want to put 300 in Syria. You’ve got (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad) that hates us. You’ve got ISIS that hates us,” Gohmert said. “Let them duke it out … I do think we ought to have a Safe Zone. We can move through the air and let Turkey or someone else put the troops down.”
Gohmert hasn’t completely ruled out the possibility someone other than Assad was behind the April 4 chemical weapons attack that killed more than 80 people.
It’s been made clear, though: “If you use poison gas, we’re going to blow up your planes,” Gohmert said.
He’s no Assad defender but neither does the congressman want to bomb the regime out of existence (“If we’d done that, ISIS would have taken over the country.”) even though he favors American intervention when called for.
“We’ve had the power for years,” Gohmert said. “We haven’t been willing to use it when people would violate what’s in black-and-white.”
People around the world hope and pray the U.S. Stands firm, he insisted.
“I think we shouldn’t shun or walk away from being the leader of the world.”
Look for more from this week’s interview in Wednesday’s edition of the News Herald.