How do you think the Obama admin­is­tration has handled the Middle East?

The administration’s policy in the Middle East is in shambles. The reason there is so much con­fusion is because Obama made the argument that most of the problems in the Middle East started with [George W.] Bush and would end with Bush. He was going to appeal directly to the Muslims and win their affec­tions.

But Obama didn’t realize that they’re not angry about any par­ticular thing we do. They’re angry at who we are and what we rep­resent. To the radical Muslim mind, we are wealthy and pros­perous, and we do not deserve it because we are godless and decadent. They have a much more illus­trious history, they think, and yet they’re poor and remain in misery. Rather than look inward and examine the reasons why, they find scape­goats: Jews, Israel, the United States, impe­ri­alism, and colo­nialism.

It’s a mess, and I’m afraid that we look weak. What’s on the horizon is probably an Islamic takeover of most of North Africa and Syria. And then Iran will probably get the bomb. There will probably be some kind of war with Israel and Iran, and I don’t know what we’re going to do.

Do you think the Arab Spring revolts accom­plished any­thing mean­ingful?

There were people within the Arab Spring that were gen­uinely inter­ested in con­sti­tu­tional gov­ernment and were pro-Western, but I think they were always a minority.

[The U.S. was] passive. Obama never made a speech saying, “I want to advise everyone that we support con­sti­tu­tional gov­ern­ments, and if we’re going to get rid of these pro-American author­i­tarians, we want to insist that the oppo­sition is con­sti­tu­tional.” Instead, he said just the opposite. We didn’t really inves­tigate who was against Gadhafi or who was against Mubarak. Now, we’re in sort of an Iranian syn­drome, where what gets rid of an author­i­tarian is worse for the people and worse for us.

How do you think the chaos in the Middle East will change the election, if at all?

Orig­i­nally, it was thought that, because the Middle East has been in the news, it would dis­tract attention from the dismal eco­nomic news and that would help Obama. It has. With the bump that he got from the con­vention, Obama is still one or two points ahead in swing states.

If it goes on another two weeks and there’s vio­lence and people will say, “Oh my gosh. The pres­ident can’t control the events. He doesn’t know how to react to them.” Voters will start to see a common theme here. He can’t handle the economy. He can’t handle foreign policy. Rather than deflect the news, it enhances the news.

How do you respond to stu­dents or pro­fessors who call the United State’s policy in the Iran and Afghanistan impe­ri­al­istic?

If they believe it is impe­ri­al­istic or colonial, they have to ask them­selves if it fits the tra­di­tional def­i­n­ition. The answer is, we took nobody’s land.

We went in and did what? We took out a dic­tator. We estab­lished a con­sti­tu­tional gov­ernment. We allowed other foreign coun­tries that were hostile to us to get their oil. We didn’t take any of their land. We gave them a half a trillion dollars of foreign aid in recon­struction. And then we left.

That doesn’t fit the colonial model. You can argue that it wasn’t smart or in our best interests. But you can’t argue that it was impe­ri­al­istic.

Do you have any advice for Hillsdale stu­dents?

Whether they like it or not, the atmos­phere in aca­d­emics here is the exception, not the rule. The values here are very dif­ferent. I would urge them to go out, after they leave here, and be emis­saries. They shouldn’t just find someone, get married, have five kids, and lead the tra­di­tional life without thinking that need to con­vince other people that the Hillsdale model is not only viable but that it used to be the norm.

There has to be a zeal. Stu­dents should redis­cover what America used to be like. They can make little Hillsdale com­mu­nities every­where.

Are you going to come back after next fall?

I had a ten year con­tract. I came at 50. Now I’m 59. After my ten years, I’m going to have to sit down with the pres­ident and talk about it. I like it here. But do I have the time at my age? If I do come back, do I come back for two weeks rather than a whole month?