U.S. Senate hopeful Maurice Ferre on Afghanistan
A recent poll showed Democrat Kendrick Meek in third place behind both Republican Marco Rubio and Republican Charlie Crist in a three-way matchup for the U.S. Senate, if Crist were running as an independent.
That same poll showed that if one of Meek's little-known Democratic opponents, former Miami mayor Maurice Ferre, were running, he'd also finish third. But the poll showed Ferre only 7 points behind Meek, despite the fact that Ferre is raising less money than his opponents and is little-known outside Miami.
Recently, Creative Loafingâs Mitch Perry spoke with Ferre in Tampa.
Maurice Ferre is 77 tears old, and last held any kind of elective office back in 1976. The odds are extremely low of him making any noise against the more heavily financed and union-supported Kendrick Meek. But Ferre says if he gets enough votes in conservative North Florida in his August 24 primary, he can have a chance against Meek.
Interestingly, in our interview, Ferre criticized Meek for being too liberal for Florida votersâyet one important issue that Ferre differs with Meek on is on Afghanistan, where the Miami congressman supports the surge of troops in Afghanistan, but Ferre opposes it.
âAnd there are several reasons for that. Reason number one is, you donât go into a war admitting that youâre not going to win it. If you go into a war, youâve got to say, âIâm going to go into the war, and Iâm going to win it.â Now, if you donât win it, you know, you donât win it. But you never go into a war saying, âWell, I know this is not a winnable war,â number one.
âNumber two, all the military people, including Gen. Petraeus, including McChrystal, have all said that the war is not winnable militarily. Okay?
âNumber three, and perhaps most important, is who is the enemy? The enemy is Al Qaeda. Well, whoâs Al Qaeda? Well, Al Qaeda is a cell group of very sophisticated, very well-financed terrorists, who are on a mission of destruction based on a fundamental, on a religious fundamentalism. Which is a world unto itself neither you or I, and one I donât think very many people in the Western world understand. I donât.
âBut hereâs the point: Who are we fighting? Well, weâre fighting the Taliban. Well, whoâs the Taliban? Well, the Taliban are a bunch of tribal people, mostly Pashtuns, OK, mostly Pashkuns, who donât give a damn about the United States. They donât know where the United States is. If you gave themâ85% of them canât even write. And if you say, âWell, who are the Americans? Or âWhat is the United States?â they donât know. Something they see on television, and they see it here and there.
âBut the point is, these Taliban people, they have this horrible thing called the Sharia lore, OK? Yes, itâs horrible. But guess what, you know? Thatâs their problem. I canât impose my religion, or my will, or my knowledge, or my democracy, American democracy, on them.â
So should we get out of Afghanistan completely?
âNo, noâno, no. Hereâs why not, and hereâs the point. The point is this, the real problem is Pakistan, OK? Itâs not Afghanistan. And the real enemy is Al Qaeda; it isnât the Taliban. So why are we fighting the Taliban? And the Taliban is mainly made up of Pashtuns. Now, are we bringing in Pashtuns, and educating them, or putting them into the Afghan army? No; weâre getting all the other guys, but not the Pashtuns. You know, where does this make sense? I mean, whatâs the logic of it? Explain the logic of it.
âNow, all of a sudden, in my positionâand obviously, you read my position paperâMcChrystal and the others are now coming around in the last two or three weeks and saying exactly the same thing. Theyâre saying, âThis is not winnable militarily; we have to really bring these people over; we have to negotiate with them; weâve got to bring the Taliban.â Now youâve got Karzai bringing in the Taliban, the Pashtun, saying, âHeâs a Pashtun; letâs cut a deal; letâs see what we can do.â Of course.
âNow, do we abandon Afghanistan? Of course not; weâve already done that once. With the Soviets, we helped these guys get armed, trained, and all this. These are the guys who are fighting us. And we abandoned them. And you know, weâve all seen the Charlie picture, and â â
OK, so we donât abandon them; but we donât ... What do we ultimately do?
âI think we have to concentrate our efforts on the enemyâand the enemy, in my opinion, is the fundamentalist, jihadist, Al Qaeda group. Now, where are they now? I donât know; theyâre in Somalia one day, then they go over to Yemen the next day. Then they goâyou knowâ¦ â
âBy the way: their number one target is not America. Their number one target is Saudi Arabia. They want all that money, and all that oil, and they donât want that king there. And they donât want these guys that are our friends. So weâre number two. But [unintelligible], because then Israel really has problems. And we have problems. And the world has problems.
âSo itâs again, prioritize. First things first. Who is our enemy, and where are we, and where are we going, and how do we best use our strength? How do we leverage strength for its most effective use? Itâs not by sending 30,000 more soldiers into Afghanistan. That doesnât do it.â
Letâs talkâback to you. One thing at least about Kendrick Meek and the other guys, Charlie Crist, Marco Rubio: Theyâve all currently been in politics, or in the case of Marco Rubio (heâs) just been out the last year or so. You, itâs been a couple of decades since youâve last held elective office. So â
So I guess the first thing people would say when they find out who you are is, he was mayor of Miami, but whatâs he been doing the last 13, 14 years?
âWell, Iâve [unintelligible] investments [unintelligible); I was a professor at Princeton University for a semester; and then I went to Washington; I went to the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, and I was a visiting policy wonk there. And Iâve been reading and writing. And Iâve been involved, andâyou know, I decided to get into this thing because I donât see any leadership. I donât see any people, you know, coming up with sensible things that square. You know?
âAnd, Iâm sorryâlook at whatâs happening over the country. It isnât that Massachusetts is against Democrats. I donât think itâs Democrats. Theyâre against incumbents. Itâs the guys that are in that are screwinâ âem. All of us, all of them. Iâm an outsider, of course, and I can say, âHey, andââyou know, Bill Nostrum is really ticked off with me, because I say, âWhere is our leadership? Whoâs defending my interests?â Itâs certainly not Bill Nostrum, with all due respect to the Democrats, but heâs not defending me.â
Thatâs Florida Democratic U.S. Senate Democratic Maurice Ferre, speaking earlier this month in Ybor City. Stay tuned for the second part of this interview on the WMNF Evening News later this week.comments powered by Disqus