WASHINGTON (JTA) — Making NATO a policing organization would play a role in transmitting what John Kasich has described as Judeo-Christian values, the Republican presidential candidate said.
“With Europe, I said that NATO needed to be transformed into a policing and intelligence organization,” Kasich, the governor of Ohio, said in an extensive interview with the New York Daily News editorial board posted Tuesday.
Kasich was referring – unprompted by his interviewers – to controversy he stirred last year when he proposed a U.S. Department of Judeo-Christian values that would promote Western ideas in the same way that U.S. State Department bodies have in the past promoted U.S. culture and values.
“I mean, this is a battle between the civilized world and barbarians at the gate,” he told the Daily News, which is publishing a series of interviews with presidential candidates ahead of next week’s primaries in New York state. “I mentioned something … You guys probably mocked me for it. You guys said, ‘Well, he wants to create, what do you call it, a ‘Jesus bureau’ or whatever. I said, our Judeo-Christian values are ones of respect for women, equality for women, right to protest, civilization, all this other stuff, and that we need to engage the whole world in this.”
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a defense alliance that for decades has protected Western interests, includes as a major member Turkey, a Muslim majority nation.
Kasich said NATO’s reach could help break down the “political correctness” that now inhibits the defense of Western values.
“Europe, they need to get over all their hangups over there, which is all the political correctness, the bureaucracies and everything else,” he said. “NATO can be an organization that currently exists that goes across boundaries and borders.”
Kasich appeared eager during the interview to discuss his support for Israel, saying that preserving its stability would be more important than advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace. He implicitly jabbed both at the Republican front-runner, real estate magnate Donald Trump, and the Democratic candidates, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who all have said they would make advancing peace talks a priority.
“I’m for Israel. Period. End of story,” he said. “Give them the superiority they need. And I think every single day, try to get through the day. I don’t think there’s any silver bullet for peace. A two-state solution, if they can work it out amongst themselves, fine. But I’m not an optimist on permanent peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis.”
The 2013-14 peace talks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict spurred by the Obama administration collapsed in recriminations and tensions between the United States and Israel.
Kasich, like Clinton, said he would keep private any disagreements with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over settlement building.
“If I had something to say to Netanyahu about settlements, I would say it where there was no cameras or tape recorders,” he said. “OK?
President Barack Obama has said that airing such disagreements can be healthy. Obama and Netanyahu sparred publicly over the peace talks and the Iran nuclear deal.