Sen. Flake visits Afghanistan and Israel

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Sen. Flake visits Afghanistan and Israel

CREATED Jan 14, 2013

Reporter: Craig Smith

AVIANO, Italy (KGUN9-TV) - Arizona's newest United States Senator is headed back to the U.S. after a first hand look at some of the world's danger zones.
KGUN 9 On Your Side's Craig Smith talked by phone with Senator Jeff Flake as the Senator passed through Aviano Air Force Base, Italy returning from Israel and Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, Senator Flake heard from US and Afghan commanders---and had the chance to meet with troops from Arizona. 

Now he says the Afghans are ready to take over their own security in part because the U.S. set a firm withdrawal date.

Smith asked Senator Flake: "Would it be fair to say that where people in the past said, bad idea to set a fixed exit date, this ended up being a good incentive for the Afghan forces?"

Sen. Flake: "Obviously those who are steeped in military history and tactics understand the challenges that are posed when you give a date, that does give the opposition, in this case, the insurgency an advantage so that they can wait you out."
But Senator Flake says knowing U.S. troops would not be there forever made Afghan troops step up to the challenge.
In Israel, Senator Flake met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They discussed Iran and its nuclear program. 

Senator Flake says Iran is feeling more pressure because European Countries are joining the U.S. in financial sanctions.  He says if Iran does not back off, no one wants military action but it must be an option.

"Nobody's talking about ground troops but what people have talked about is military strikes to try to disable or put back their nuclear capability."
On the President's push for gun control, Senator Flake feels background checks can be addressed without infringing on the right to bear arms.

"Obviously, background checks we want to be sure people lawfully carry arms." 

Craig Smith asked: "And the standards would be, what, criminal history, mental health problems?"

Sen. Flake: Yes.

In a Monday morning news conference, President Obama discussed the showdown with Congress over whether Congress will raise the debt limit. Senator Flake says the New Year's deal to step back from the fiscal cliff didn't cut enough spending, so the debt limit offers some leverage.

Craig Smith asked: "Frequently the President just says, 'Hey, These are bills Congress ran up, Congress needs to pay them. What do you say to that argument?"

Sen. Flake: "Well, the President hasn't exactly been sitting back and telling us not to spend that money.  He's actually argued for more money than has been spent; so it's a little disingenuous, or more than a little to take that position."
The Senator thinks Congress and the President will reach an agreement but it needs to cut long term spending.