Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. (Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0)

In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Sen. Ted Cruz said that if he is elected president, he would seek to destroy Islamic State, oppose what he describes as aggression from Russia, China and Iran, and ensure that militants hostile to the United States don’t infiltrate the homeland.

But in a break with his neoconservative fellow Republicans on a number of issues, he added that he would not support the removal of Syrian president Bashar Assad or torture by Americans, or commit the United States to further “nation building” in the Middle East with “troops on the ground.”

“If and when we have to use military power, there should be a clearly defined objective at the outset,” he said. “We should use overwhelming power. … When we’re done, we should get the heck out. I don’t believe in nation building.”

AP reports:

While Syrian president Bashar Assad is undoubtedly a “bad man,” removing him from power would be “materially worse for U.S. national security interests.” He is unwilling to send more U.S. ground forces into the Middle East and rejects the idea that torture can serve as an appropriate interrogation tool.

“We can defend our nation and be strong and uphold our values,” he says. “There is a reason the bad guys engage in torture. ISIS engages in torture. Iran engages in torture. America does not need to torture to protect ourselves.” […]

The Middle East and the United States are better off with Assad in place, Cruz says.

“If President Obama and Hillary Clinton and Sen. Rubio succeed in toppling Assad, the result will be the radical Islamic terrorists will take over Syria, that Syria will be controlled by [Islamic State], and that is materially worse for U.S. national security interests,” he says.

He doesn’t stop there. In another example of limits he would follow as president, Cruz argues the U.S. should not have supported the ouster of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

“If you topple a stable ruler, throw a Middle Eastern country into chaos and hand it over to radical Islamic terrorists, that hurts America,” he said, arguing that the U.S. has no place litigating civil wars abroad — especially those rooted in religious disputes among Muslims.

“It is not the job of America to cause the Sunnis and Shiites to suddenly get along,” he says. “It is the job of America to prevent jihadists from murdering innocent Americans.”

Read more here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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