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To defeat ISIS, we need to retake Iraq & cut the Caliphate in half. (My radio interview with Hugh Hewitt on Apocalyptic Islam)

In Uncategorized on February 5, 2016 at 1:04 pm

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(Washington, D.C.) — Over the course of the last month, as I’ve been traveling across the country on The First Hostage book tour, people have been consistently asking me a series of excellent questions:

  1. How do we defeat ISIS?
  2. What should the Obama administration be doing that it isn’t?
  3. If this administration can’t or won’t get the job done, what should the next President do?
  4. Should we send a ground force into Syria?
  5. What about the ancient Islamic prophecies that the West will get slaughtered in the Syrian town of Dabiq?

On Wednesday afternoon, I was interviewed by Hugh Hewitt on his nationally syndicated talk show host. I have grown to respect Hugh as a serious thinker as well as an excellent interviewer, both on radio and in his role helping to moderate the CNN presidential debates. Hugh, a devout Christian and a skilled lawyer, reads voraciously and has an insatiable hunger to learn. Often when I’m in Israel, I enjoy listening to the podcast of his interviews not only with the presidential candidates but with key experts on foreign policy and national security matters.

During our conversation about The First Hostage — my last interview on this book tour — we discussed each of these questions, as well as how I write novels and do my research. You can listen to the podcast of the full interview by clicking here.

That said, here’s a slightly more detailed explanation of my view on how to defeat ISIS:

  1. Yes, a coalition of U.S., Iraqi, Kurdish, Jordanian, Egyptian, and other Sunni Arab military forces can and must crush the Islamic State. This is a winnable war, but not with the current strategy of half-measures, pinprick bombings, and political tough talk not backed up by a serious military approach to win.
  2. What the Obama administration should be doing is pursuing a “Take Back Iraq First” approach. Since the first Gulf war in 1991, and then with the war to liberate Iraq in 2003, followed by the surge strategy in 2006-2008, the American people have identified Iraq has a strategically important country to us. Getting Iraq right matters. We have invested heavily in liberating Iraq from Saddam Hussein and from the clutches of al Qaeda and other Radical Islamic terror groups. Withdrawing all our forces in December 2011 was a terrible and foreseeable error. It created a vacuum that ISIS exploited. Now we’re seeing genocide against Christians and Yazidis by the Islamic State, the wicked fruit of Apocalyptic Islam. Thus, the goal now must be to re-take Iraq — and cut the Caliphate in half — using decisive military force. We likely need 20,000 to 40,000 U.S. boots on the ground, primarily special forces. We need to heavily arm the Kurdish Peshmerga forces. We need to strengthen the Iraqi military. We need to increase arms (and humanitarian aid and other economic assistance) to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, our most faithful Sunni Arab ally in the region. We also need to work closely with Egypt, the Saudis and the Gulf States and get their active participation. The mission: to storm across northern Iraq, crush ISIS wherever they are found, liberate Mosul — Iraq’s second largest city — set the captives free, crush ISIS once and for all, and drive whatever remains of the terror group back into Syria. This could likely be done by the end of 2016 if the U.S. took the lead and was fully committed to victory. By cutting the Caliphate in half, it would deal a serious blow to ISIS morale and their sense that they are invincible.
  3. If President Obama won’t pursue such a strategy, then we need to elect an American President who understands the threat of Radical and Apocalyptic Islam and has the courage and wisdom to fight to win, beginning with re-taking Iraq.
  4. No, I don’t believe we should send U.S. ground forces into Syria. That Arab nation is imploding. It’s engaged in a Hellish civil war. Now the Russians and Iranians are fighting there on behalf of Bashar al-Assad and his evil regime. There are no good options. There are no rationale leaders that we can identify at this point who could truly govern the country in a civilized way, even if we could defeat ISIS, remove Assad, and pacify the civil war. Syria is a hornets’ nest. My heart breaks for the people of Syria. The U.S. and other world powers need to help Jordan and Lebanon care for the millions of Syrian refugees that have flooded their borders. We should not take Syrian refugees into the U.S. because we cannot vet them and determine who is a terrorist and who is not. We should use air power to consistently degrade ISIS forces, infrastructure, oil reserves, and so forth. But we should not launch a ground force into a country that we have no plan — or ability — at this point to truly rescue.
  5. While there are many reasons at this point not to launch a ground war into Syria, fear of ancient Islamic prophecies about an end of the world battle in Dabiq is not on the list. Those are false prophecies. ISIS is driven by them. But they are not Biblical prophecies. They are not based on truth. They are based on false teaching. We needn’t fear false teaching and false prophecy. Since we can degrade ISIS in Dabiq (and Raqqa, and elsewhere) from the air, that’s what we should do for now. Once we have worked with our Sunni Arab allies in the region to re-take Iraq, and degrade ISIS forces in Syria from the air, then we can re-evaluate and develop the next phase of our strategy. But while we need to understand how Apocalyptic, genocidal, Islamic eschatology motivates ISIS leaders, we need not hesitate confronting them because of their apocalypse-addled thinking.

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32 reasons a Trump presidency would be a catastrophe for America.

In Uncategorized on January 31, 2016 at 9:31 pm

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UPDATE: I ask my readers who are devout Christians to be praying (even fasting) all day today. Gather with family and friends to pray for God to show mercy on America, to sovereignly guide the outcome of the Iowa caucuses, and to raise up a humble, strong, wise, Christ-centered leader who has the vision and courage to help turn America around and get us going in the right direction. Above all, this is a spiritual battle for the soul of America. Please be engaged in faithful prayer. The future of the country hangs in the balance.

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(Washington, D.C.) — The voting starts Monday, and the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Two out of three Americans know we are on the wrong track, going in the wrong direction. We are heading steadily towards implosion. We’ve murdered some 58 million babies. We have five Justices on the Supreme Court who have decided that the Bible is wrong and they know better than God how to define marriage. We have taken on $18 trillion in debt and there’s no end in sight. We are surrendering to Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and ISIS. Our tax code is corruptingly complex and killing jobs and opportunity. We can’t — or won’t — control our sovereign borders. Our schools are a mess. Violence, drugs and pornography are epidemic. The list goes on and on.

Americans are hurting, frustrated, and many are angry. The question is: Who can get us turned around and heading in the right direction? Can anyone?

As I wrote on this blog last August, I’ve been praying about this and studying the Scriptures for many months, asking the Lord for clarity, and here is what I have concluded — America needs a Josiah. A President cannot save America from all our troubles, but leadership matters. Above all, we need a sweeping spiritual revival throughout the Church, based on the principles found in 2 Chronicles 7:14. We need a Great Awakening among those who don’t know Christ personally. We need God to wake up a lost nation from their spiritual slumber to earnestly seek the Lord for individual and national forgiveness and restoration. I’m praying for such sovereign moves of God.

At the same time, I’m praying God raises up a President like Josiah, the one-time King of Judah whom the Bible describes as one of the most humble, strong, wise and impressive leaders of all-time. Obviously, we don’t want a theocracy. So I don’t literally mean America needs a king. And I’m not saying America needs a Pastor-in-Chief or a Theologian-In-Chief. We’re not looking for someone perfect. That will have to await the Second Coming. But before you vote, I strongly encourage you to read the Biblical accounts of Josiah. I believe you will find qualities in his life, his faith, his leadership and his passion for and commitment to making bold, sweeping, transformational change that are benchmarks of the kind of leader we need right now.

Will the Lord have mercy on our nation and raise up a Josiah? I honestly don’t know. We don’t deserve one. The Lord would be justified in turning us over to those who are corrupt and/or those who could lead us to tyranny. That said, I do see several possible candidates who — even with their weaknesses and flaws — could emerge as such a leader, especially with much prayer and wise counselors around them. They include (in alphabetical order) Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum. In a previous column, I described them as the “Final Four” that I was watching closely. Will one of them emerge over the next few weeks as the leading candidate in the presidential race? We will see.

That said, I have to be honest with my readers that there is one candidate on the Republican side who is definitely not a Josiah. Donald J. Trump is currently the national front-runner in the GOP, and is leading the pack in Iowa. But he would be a catastrophe for America should he be elected President.

Mr. Trump is trying to convince the GOP and the country that he is a deeply committed conservative. But all the evidence says he has been a liberal all of his adult life. Even if he has recently changed his views, all we have is his word. There is very little fruit in his life that would indicate that he has had a true change of heart on matters of faith or policy. Indeed, he has said openly that he does not need to repent or ask God for forgiveness.

It would be a mistake to entrust the entire pro-life, pro-marriage movement to a man who has blown up two marriages of his own, boasts of his infidelities, runs gambling an strip clubs, has supported abortion on demand and Planned Parenthood for decades, and talks of appointing his own pro-choice sister to the Supreme Court. It would be a disaster to entrust the economy to a man who has proposed both the biggest tax cut in history (with no plan to pay for it) and the biggest tax increase in history. Further, it would be a catastrophe to entrust the security of our nation and our allies to a man who has no foreign policy and national security experience, who clearly doesn’t understand the threat of Radical and Apocalyptic Islam, and who says he gets his military advice from watching Sunday TV talk show.

In some ways, Mr. Trump reminds me of the Biblical figure, Sampson — blind and ready to bring the house down. But perhaps the analogy to Saul, Israel’s first king, is more apt. Read the account in I Samuel chapter eight through fifteen. The people demanded that the Hebrew prophet Samuel “appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations.” (I Samuel 8:5) The rebellious people didn’t want God to lead them. They wanted a king of their own choosing, someone that would make Israel seem like all the pagan nations around them, someone to “go out before us and fight our battles.” (I Samuel 8:20). In short order, the people made a man named Saul their king. They didn’t study his character or his track record or his statements or his views on how to lead them. They chose “a choice and handsome man” who was “taller than any of the people” and was the son of a “mighty man of valor.” (I Samuel 9:1-2). Why? Because Saul looked the part.

Samuel, the Hebrew prophet, was horrified. But in the end, the Lord said, “Listen to the voice of the people…for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.” (I Samuel 8:7) The Lord then explained how much this foolish decision would cost His people, but He let them make their choice anyway. And it did not go well.

Is this where America is heading?

I realize some — maybe many — of my readers will be angry at what I’m writing. But I have to be honest with my readers about the enormous threat Mr. Trump poses to all that we hold dear. His arrogance, narcissism, greed and lack of respect for women, minorities, and anyone who disagrees with him disqualifies him to be President of the United States. I do pray for Mr. Trump that he will either truly come to personal relationship with Christ through repentance and faith, or — if he has already made that decision — will humbly seek discipleship and grow in his new faith. But even if he’s a new convert, he is not ready to be president.

Thus, I am deeply concerned that so many professed Evangelical Christians are supporting Mr. Trump. Perhaps they haven’t looked carefully at his life, his statements, his record, his leadership, his allies, and his flip-flops.

Here are 32 reasons a Trump presidency would be a catastrophe for America. Each is a direct headline, based on specific statements by Mr. Trump. (There are many more. But this is plenty for reasonable people to consider.) Please carefully review this, and please share it with family, friends and others on social media.

  1. Trump: I could “shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters” (CNN) — “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot people and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
  2. Trump on God: ‘I don’t like to have to ask for forgiveness’
  3. Trump: I’ve Never Asked God For Forgiveness For Anything [VIDEO] 
  4. Donald Trump Would Not Rip Up The Iran Deal
  5. Trump: Don’t Just Kill ISIS — Kill Their Wives and Children
  6. Trump: I Get My Military Advice from Watching TV Talk Shows
  7. Donald Trump Doesn’t Quite Know the Difference Between the ‘Kurds’ and the ‘Quds’
  8. Putin endorses Trump
  9. Donald Trump lavishes praise on ‘leader’ Putin — Trump on Putin’s alleged killing of journalists: ‘At least he’s a leader’
  10. Trump Tax Plan Would Increase Deficit By Over $10 Trillion
  11. TRUMP: Let’s slap a 45% tariff on Chinese imports
  12. Trump proposes massive one-time tax on the rich (in 1999)Donald Trump Once Proposed the Biggest Tax Hike Ever
  13. Trump Pushes Single Payer Healthcare, Tax Increase on Wealthy
  14. On Meet The Press in 1999, Trump said “I’m pro-choice in every respect” and supported partial birth abortion
  15. Trump says his pro-abortion sister would make ‘phenomenal’ Supreme Court justice
  16. Donald Trump Defends Planned Parenthood
  17. Donald Trump waffles on totally defunding Planned Parenthood
  18. Anti-Abortion Leaders To Iowa Republicans: ‘Anyone But Trump’
  19. Of Course Donald Trump Is the Most Pro-Gay Republican Presidential Candidate (Slate)
  20. Trump gave at least $100K to Clinton Foundation
  21. Donald Trump Donated Heavily To Democrats, Especially During Election Which Put Reid And Pelosi In Power
  22. Trump: If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, I’d be dating her (The View)
  23. Trump says his own personal ‘indiscretions’ – including cheating on his first wife – are fair game in politics (UK Daily Mail)
  24. GOP senator: ‘Weird’ that Trump brags about affairs (CNN)
  25. Trump casino in Atlantic City to open strip club
  26. 18 Real Things Donald Trump Has Said About Women
  27. The Real Donald: Excerpts from Trump’s books on women, marriage, sex and more. (Huffington Post)
  28. Donald Trump: Ban all Muslim travel to U.S. [NOTE: What about peaceful Muslims? What about our Muslim allies like Jordan’s King Abdullah II or Egypt’s President el-Sisi? What about Muslims who are providing the U.S. with intelligence on our enemies?]
  29. Rick Perry: Donald Trump Is Disrespectful To Mexicans & Mexican Americans.
  30. Glenn Beck Slams Donald Trump For Joking About Killing Journalists
God have mercy on each of us, and on this great country of ours.
[This column is based on my personal beliefs and opinions. I share them in my personal capacity as an American citizen and an author. They do not reflect the views of The Joshua Fund, which is a non-profit organization and takes no political or legislative positions.]

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Debate Analysis: This is fast becoming a three-way race between Trump, Cruz & Rubio. Here’s why. (Fascinating to see “apocalyptic” Islam mentioned repeatedly during the debate.)

In Uncategorized on January 29, 2016 at 7:23 pm

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(Ft. Myers, Florida) — Who is ready to lead us in 2017 and beyond?

That’s the central question, and last night I watched the presidential debates very carefully, trying to determine which of the candidates truly understand the nature and magnitude of the threats we face and who is best prepared to handle such threats.

Last November, I wrote that for me the field had narrowed to a “Final Four” — the two young Cuban conservatives (Cruz and Rubio), and the two previous Iowa caucus winners (Huckabee and Santorum). Thus, last night I watched these four most closely.

Here are my observations:

  • First, the debates were so much better — more spirited, more engaging, more substantive and policy-focused — without the presence of Mr. Trump.
  • Neither front-runner in the race — Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton — will protect unborn children, promote and defend Biblical marriage, appoint conservative jurists to the Supreme Court, or protect us from Radical Islam and Apocalyptic Islam. Clinton is openly opposed to such objectives. Mr. Trump says he’s a recent convert to conservatism, but there’s little if any evidence to substantiate the change.
  • Mrs. Clinton fully supports President Obama’s failed policies towards Iran and ISIS.
  • Mr. Trump says that he will not rip up the Iran deal.
  • Now, on to the Final Four….
  • In the first debate, Santorum continued to show that he has a strong grasp of the threats posed by Iran and ISIS and has two decades of experience preparing him to neutralize those threats. His answers on these matters were clear, convincing and I have no doubt he would make an excellent Commander-in-Chief were the country to give him the responsibility.
  • Huckabee was solid on life, marriage, religious freedom and the importance of reforming the tax code to help Blue Collar Americans and create millions of new jobs, as was Santorum. Huckabee made the case for a national sales tax. Santorum made the case for his 20% flat tax.
  • At one point, one of the Fox anchors tried to imply that Santorum’s pro-life credentials were in question because he didn’t attend the March For Life in Washington. That was ridiculous, and Carly Fiorina was classy in her defense of Santorum’s unimpeachable pro-life record. Good for her.
  • I am deeply grateful for Santorum and Huckabee for their faithfulness to the cause. They have always been there for Evangelicals and Catholics to fight for the things that matter most. They both love Israel deeply. They aren’t afraid to speak out against Islamic extremism and other threats at home and abroad. They have both been unfairly treated by the media, and relegated to the back of the pack. But they acquitted themselves well at the debate, as they always do.
  • That said, I was disappointed that both men chose to go to Mr. Trump’s event.
  • Mr. Trump is a lifelong liberal. He has no national security or foreign policy experience. He promotes all kinds of flawed and crazy ideas. He would be dangerous for the country if he was elected. No one should be standing with him. No one should be supporting him, or legitimizing him, especially two former caucus winners.
  • Sen. Cruz put in a solid performance at the second debate. He made an aggressive case for the flat tax and economic growth. He was clear in his opposition to Radical Islam and argued that as Commander-in-Chief he would be strong in dealing with the ISIS and Iran threats. He argued that the U.S. military is being hollowed out by President Obama and must be rebuilt, which is all too true. However, he was challenged by several who say Cruz has repeatedly against the U.S. defense budgets. Unfortunately, Cruz didn’t give a clear answer as to why he has cast such votes.
  • Overall, Cruz was well prepared on the issues and didn’t make any major mistakes.
  • However, given that Cruz is such a highly accomplished debater, he did not dominate or deliver the knock out punch I expected. Indeed, overall he seemed a bit quieter and less commanding than he has in previous debates.
  • Rubio, by comparison, had an exceptional night. He demonstrated a seriousness on all the issues across the board, including life and faith and religious liberty.
  • Rubio was particularly impressive when it came to the issues of Iran and ISIS. Repeatedly, in fact, Rubio warned that Iran and ISIS are not typical threats but are driven by “Apocalyptic Islam” and thus more dangerous than most people realize.
  • “I believe only with a strong America will we defeat this radical group, this apocalyptic group called ISIS,” Rubio said early in the debate.
  • “ISIS is the most dangerous jihadist group in the history of mankind,” Rubio said later. “ISIS is now found in affiliates in over a dozen countries. ISIS is a group that burns people alive in cages; that sells off little girls as brides. ISIS is a group that wants to trigger an apocalyptic showdown in the city of Dabiq…in Syria. They want to trigger an apocalyptic Armageddon showdown.”
  • Still later in the debate, Rubio said, “let me first describe Iran because they’re not just a normal nation state. And we have no quarrel with the Iranian people. But the Iranian leader, their supreme leader is a radical Shia cleric who has an apocalyptic vision of the future.”
  • He’s absolutely right. I was impressed by Rubio’s command of these issues and his willingness to use describe this brand of Islam as “apocalyptic” to help the American people more precisely understand the nature of the threats we face.
  • So, where does that leave us?
  • Iowans vote in the caucuses on Monday night. The stakes are high and the drama is mounting. At this point, polls indicate that Mr. Trump is well out in front, and that Sen. Cruz has slipped out of the lead and is currently in second place. The polls also show Sen. Rubio is a distant third, though his numbers have been slowly inching up in recent months.
  • Trump and Cruz claim we now have a two-man race. Perhaps, but I’m not convinced that’s accurate. Not yet. I suspect we could see some dramatic surprises in the days and weeks ahead. Indeed, I have a sense that Rubio could surge in the final days.
  • Is it possible that Santorum or Huckabee will gain last minute traction? Yes, it’s possible one or the other will outperform the polls, and if that happens, that would be fascinating and highly unexpected given that the media has written them off.
  • If neither Huckabee nor Santorum surges, then neither likely has a path forward to the nomination and would most likely have to drop out soon.
  • If Trump wins Iowa, he could very well win New Hampshire. If he wins both, he becomes almost an unstoppable train and could theoretically wrap up the nomination very quickly.
  • If Cruz wins in Iowa, this would be a real blow to Trump who is convinced the entire country loves him and talks about his dominant position in the polls all the time. Cruz might then surge to a second place finish in New Hampshire and would be well positioned to win South Carolina. Cruz winning two of the first three states would give him a real head of steam going into the SEC primaries, though the establishment will try to do everything to crush him.
  • The X Factor is Rubio. If the Florida Senator continues to click upward in Iowa — and especially if he surges in these final days and hours going into the caucuses — he could surprise us.
  • This could rapidly become a three-man race: Trump (the liberal masquerading as a conservative) vs. Cruz vs. Rubio. Now that would be a fascinating race. Both Cruz and Rubio have flaws. But they also have real strengths and it would be healthy for two young, brilliant, conservative, Hispanic, Evangelical leaders compete to win the confidence of their party. It would be fascinating to see one of them then compete against Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders to lead the country after Mr. Obama’s second term is complete.
  • How will all this play out? I have no idea. But I believe every Evangelical Christian across the country and around the world should be praying faithfully for the Lord to raise up the leader who can turn this country around and get us heading in the right direction (i.e., a “Josiah.”) We need to pray, but we also need to act. We need to mobilize our family and friends to turn out to vote. If Christians stay home and cede the battlefield, then those who don’t share our values are going to win, and we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

Here are key excerpts from the Thursday’s debate on the issue of Radical and Apocalyptic Islam:

SEN. MARCO RUBIO: I want to be frank about what I stand for. I believe the world is a safer and a better place when America is the strongest power in the world. And I believe only with a strong America will we defeat this radical group, this apocalyptic group called ISIS. That’s why when I’m president we are going to rebuild our intelligence capabilities. And they’re going to tell us where the terrorists are. And a rebuilt U.S. military is going to destroy these terrorists. And if we capture any of these ISIS killers alive, they are going to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and we’re going to find out everything they know, because when I’m president, unlike Barack Obama, we will keep this country safe….

————

FOX NEWS ANCHOR CHRIS WALLACE: Gentlemen, we’re now going to start to drill down into specific issues that are on voters’ minds. I’m going to start with one of the biggest ones, which is foreign terror. According to Google, ISIS was by far the most searched foreign policy topic over the last year. Senator Cruz, you talk tough about fighting terrorism. You talk about carpet bombing into oblivion. You talk about seeing if the sand will glow at night. But critics say that your record does not match up to that. You opposed giving President Obama authority to enforce his red line in Syria. Three years in a row now, you have voted against the Defense Authorization Act. How do you square your rhetoric with your record, sir?

SEN. TED CRUZ: Well, Chris, I will apologize to nobody for the vigorousness with which I will fight terrorism, go after ISIS, hunt them down wherever they are, and utterly and completely destroy ISIS. (APPLAUSE) You know, you claim it is tough talk to discuss carpet bombing. It is not tough talk. It is a different, fundamental military strategy than what we’ve seen from Barack Obama. Barack Obama right now, number one, over seven years, has dramatically degraded our military. You know, just two weeks ago was the 25th anniversary of the first Persian Gulf war. When that war began, we had 8,000 planes. Today, we have about 4,000. When that war began, we had 529 ships. Today, we have 272.

You want to know what carpet bombing is? It’s what we did in the first Persian Gulf war; 1,100 air attacks a day, saturation bombing that utterly destroyed the enemy. Right now, Barack Obama is launching between 15 and 30 air attacks a day. He’s not arming the Kurds. We need to define the enemy. We need to rebuild the military to defeat the enemy. And we need to be focused and lift the rules of engagement so we’re not sending our fighting men and women into combat with their arms tied behind their backs. (APPLAUSE)

WALLACE: Senator Rubio, does Senator Cruz’s record match his rhetoric?

RUBIO: Well, again, I mean, obviously, as already has been pointed out, the only budget that Ted has ever voted for is a budget that Rand Paul sponsored that brags about cutting defense spending. And I think that’s a bad idea for the following reason.

ISIS is the most dangerous jihadist group in the history of mankind. ISIS is now found in affiliates in over a dozen countries. ISIS is a group that burns people alive in cages; that sells off little girls as brides. ISIS is a group that wants to trigger an apocalyptic showdown in the city of Dabiq — not the city of Dubuque; I mis-said — mis-said that wrong once — the city of Dabiq in Syria. They want to trigger an apocalyptic Armageddon showdown.

This group needs to be confronted and defeated. They are not going to go away on their own. They’re not going to turn into stockbrokers overnight or open up a chain of car washes. They need to be defeated militarily, and that will take overwhelming U.S. force.

Today, we are on pace to have the smallest Army since the end of World War II, the smallest Navy in 100 years, the smallest Air Force in our history. You cannot destroy ISIS with a military that’s being diminished. When I’m president, we are rebuilding the U.S. military because the world is a safer and a better place when America is the strongest military in the world.

WALLACE: Senator Cruz, you’ve got 30 seconds. You were mentioned.

CRUZ: Chris, in 1981, when Ronald Reagan came to the Oval Office, he encountered a military that had been debilitated just as the current military has, just like Jimmy Carter weakened our readiness, undermined our ability to defend this country, so too has Barack Obama. Just as morale in the military has plummeted in the last seven, so it had then.

What Reagan did is he began with tax reform and regulatory reform, unleashing the engine of the American free enterprise system. It brought booming economic growth and that growth fueled rebuilding the military. I intend to do the exact same thing to defeat radical Islamic terrorism and to devote the resources from the booming economy to rebuilding our Navy, rebuilding our Air Force, rebuilding our Army and ensuring we have the capacity to keep this country safe.

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FOX NEWS ANCHOR BRET BAIER: Gentlemen, you’ve all said that the Iran nuclear deal is a bad one. Senator Rubio, you were among the candidates who’ve said you would tear it up on day one. But as you know, Iran has already received tens of millions of dollars — tens of billions of dollars in this deal and has quickly reestablished ties economically with Europe. The major concessions, in other words, are up front in this deal. So should you win by the time you take office, the remaining parts of the deal would be the constraints on Iran. So why blow up those constraints on day one, letting Iran off the hook?

RUBIO: Well, let me first describe Iran because they’re not just a normal nation state. And we have no quarrel with the Iranian people. But the Iranian leader, their supreme leader is a radical Shia cleric who has an apocalyptic vision of the future. He views himself not simply as the leader of Iran, but as the leader of all Muslims — all Shia Muslims on the planet. And they have a desire not simply to conquer the Middle East and to become the dominant power in that region, but ultimately to be able to hold America hostage.

That is why they’re building an — right now, developing long- range missiles capable of reaching the United States, and that is why there’s going — they’re going to use those $100 billion to expand their conventional capabilities and to one day buy or build a nuclear weapon.

We will — when I am president of the United States, on my first day in office, we are canceling the deal with Iran, and nations will have to make a choice. They can do business with Iran, or they can do business with America, and I am very confident they’re going to choose America before they choose the Iranian economy.

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