• Obama’s Nominee For Joint Chiefs Sides With Romney On Foreign Policy

    President Barack Obama’s nominee for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Thursday at his confirmation hearing before the Senate that Russia presents the greatest threat to the United States.

    Gen. Joseph Dunford’s comments closely match the foreign policy platform of Mitt Romney, who unsuccessfully challenged Obama for the presidency in 2012, The Guardian reports.

    “If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I’d have to point to Russia,” Dunford told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday. “If you look at their behavior, it’s nothing short of alarming.”

    During the campaign, Obama brutally mocked Romney’s stance on Russia.

    “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the cold war’s been over for 20 years,” Obama stated at the time.

    But given Russia’s resurgence in the last several years, in addition to its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, Moscow has again come to the forefront of the international scene by challenging liberal democracy and the West. For Dunford, Russia’s status as a nuclear power and cloaked interventions in Ukraine make the country a serious threat. Following Russia are China and North Korea, with the Islamic State in fourth place.

    Dunford quickly clarified when it came to China, saying he doesn’t view it as an active threat or an enemy, but certainly an obstacle to U.S. interests.

    Ahead of the hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Dunford, currently the Marine Corps commandant, prepared a 75-page document answering questions posed by the committee in advance. Included is a question on whether sanctions against Russia are effective.

    “Sanctions alone are unlikely to deter future Russian aggression; deterring combined Russian-separatists actions against Ukraine requires a whole of government approach that is aligned with our NATO allies and friends in Europe,” Dunford wrote. “However, U.S. and EU sanctions have had an impact on Russia’s economy and send a clear signal to Moscow that aggression against Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity entails costs.”

    Those costs include bolstering the European Reassurance Initiative, which provides funds for military exercises and training to key allies throughout Europe.

    After questioning from Chairman John McCain, Dunford also said he would consider sending heavy weapons to Ukraine.

    “Frankly, without that kind of support, they are not going to be able to defend themselves against Russian aggression,” Dunford said, according to the New York Post.

    McCain has consistently blasted the administration for not providing Ukraine with more assistance.

    White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest almost immediately clarified that Dunford’s take on Russia isn’t necessarily held by the president’s national security team. Instead, Earnest firmly stated, Dunford’s views on Russia are his own, though he admitted that a lot has changed between the two countries since 2012.

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