Kasich pivots off Paris

November 18, 2015
Ohio Governor John Kasich, trying to break out of a lower tier of candidates in the Republican presidential primary race, is using the Paris attacks as a pivot point to sketch out his approach to rebuilding American military power.
“Let’s get through this period of time. Let’s hear the different suggestions and ideas that people have, and then over time, I think it will be appropriate to talk about what experience means when we’re talking about the commander in chief of the United States of America,” he said Tuesday at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Ohio Governor John Kasich speaks at the 2016 U.S. Republican presidential candidates debate held by CNBC in Boulder, Colorado, October 28, 2015. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

And yet while Kasich warns that White House candidates must be careful not to use this moment of fear to advance their bids, he is making his own case for having the leadership experience to take on ISIS.
Since entering the race, he has argued that he is the most qualified Republican candidate running on national security issues given his 18 years in Congress serving on the House Armed Services Committee, but he explained to his audience that he withdrew a reference to that in his remarks to the Florida Republican Party over the weekend in the wake of the attacks in Paris.
Kasich was first in the field to call for invoking NATO’s Article V, which declares the attacks in Paris were an act of war on all of the countries in the alliance and demands swift action from each. He has been arguing for months that American troops must join with regional forces on the ground in Syria and Iraq to battle ISIS on the ground. 
But he also called on the federal government to accept more Syrian refugees when the global crisis started to swell in September. He has since backtracked.
“Sometimes I’m criticized for having a big heart. I do have a big heart, but I also have a pretty good brain,” he said, explaining to the audience that he explained the conflicting tendencies to one of his daughters the night before. 
“The only thing that I’m saying is for right now, until we get a handle on where we are, we need to stop,” he concluded. “And once we have a rational program, and we can determine who it is that’s coming, then it’s another story,” he added, explaining that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s comments to that effect got his attention.
“Sometimes my sense is that the West would like to look the other way,” he said about the growing fear that violent extremism is spreading globally. “The West would like to believe that this somehow will go away. It will not.”
And yet, he warned that air power alone will not end the threat. “You can bomb them till doomsday. It’s just simply not going to work. You don’t take back territory from the air. The air can be useful in supporting people on the ground, but this coalition needs to include many different countries, not just NATO.”
Kasich spent much of his speech outlining the ways in which the American military needs to build out its capacities in the Pacific to respond to China’s rise and the threat it is posing to U.S. allies in the region, as well as in the areas bordering Russia. 
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