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Cruz on Iraq: "We Stayed Too Long And Got Far Too Involved In Nation-Building"

SEN. TED CRUZ: Now, the president has been advocating arming the so-called moderate Syrian rebels for some time. And throughout the course of the discussion, what I have endeavored to ask, repeatedly, both publicly and in classified situations, is how do you distinguish the good guys from the bad guys?

Last summer, when the president was urging a unilateral attack on Syria, at the time in June of last summer, out of the 9 major rebel groups, 7 of them had significant alliances or connections to al Qaeda or al Nusra or to other radical Islamic groups like ISIS.

Consistently the administration has not been able to give a satisfactory answer to how you distinguish the good guys from the bad guys. And my point is, trying to resolve the Syrian civil war should not be the objective, and in fact arming one side of rebels -- those rebels are fighting literally alongside ISIS on the same side against Assad. It doesn't make any sense.

What the objective should be, I believe, is not trying to resolve the Syrian civil war, nor should the objective be trying to achieve reconciliation between Sunnis and Shiites. Sunnis and Shiites have been engaged in a sectarian civil war since 632 AD.

DAN BALZ, WASHINGTON POST: But does the United States have no role in trying to help produce a functioning government in Iraq.

CRUZ: I don't think it is our job to engage in nation-building, to go and try to turn --

BALZ: So George W. Bush was wrong in that effort?

CRUZ: I think we stayed too long and we got far too involved in nation-building. It is not our job to turn foreign nations into -- we shouldn't be trying to turn Iraq into Switzerland. What we should be doing if there are people who pose a clear and present danger to our national security, and I believe ISIS qualifies as that, then the objective should be taking out that threat.

And the consistent failure I think that the Obama-Clinton foreign policy is that it has failed to focus on U.S. national security interest that gets distracted with political objectives rather than just protecting the interest in this country.

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