WHEN: Today, Thursday, January 9, 2020
WHERE: CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street”
The following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC EXCLUSIVE interview with U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” (M-F 9AM – 11AM) today, Thursday, January 9th. The following is a link to video of the interview on CNBC.com: https://www.cnbc.com/video/2020/01/09/trump-wants-our-allies-to-work-with-us-in-iraq-says-us-nato-ambassador.html.
All references must be sourced to CNBC.
CARL QUINTANILLA: The President and NATO Secretary General agreeing that NATO could contribute more to regional stability and the fight against terrorism during a call yesterday afternoon, as the President called on NATO to step up its involvement in the Middle East process. But just what does that process entail? For more we’re joined exclusively this morning by the U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison. Madam Ambassador, it’s great to talk to you again. We carried the President’s comments yesterday when he said: I’m going to ask NATO to become much more involved in the Middle East process. What, specifically, does the President want?
KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON: Yes, Carl. It’s great to be with you. And I think what the President is looking for is more of our allies working with us in Iraq. We do have a mission in Iraq now to train and advise the Iraqi Armed Forces to try to help them help themselves to defeat ISIS. But we also can do more in that area. And that is something that our NATO Council will have to discuss and decide that we would do more. But it is important that we not walk away from the Defeat ISIS Coalition that we have put together. Because that is what’s holding the terrorists where they are, so that they don’t come back and attack Americans or any of our allies in the NATO Alliance.
CARL QUINTANILLA: It’s no surprise, obviously, the President has had his issues with NATO when it comes to various countries and their commitments. But how does the White House balance their request to be able to act unilaterally as the U.S. sees fit and, yet, also balance that with a consensus forming ability of getting NATO to help out? How do we have that both ways?
KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON: Well, thank you, Carl. Because really that is the value of NATO. Because we do different things when we act unilaterally, and we certainly have the right to do that. But when we act with NATO, it is with 28 other allies, and we speak with one voice, and it is our unity that is our strength. And, of course, NATO is in Afghanistan, working side by side with America in our two area missions. America does a lot of the work with the Afghan Army, but, also, so does NATO, all throughout the provinces. In Iraq, we train and advise the Iraqi forces. But our goal is to stop ISIS from resurging. Because that is a terrorist organization that could be exported to America or any place in Europe or Canada. So, we can do, unilaterally, side by side with NATO, and then, as the President has now asked, he would like for NATO to step up even more to work with us in Iraq, as well as throughout the Middle East.
MORGAN BRENNAN: Ambassador Hutchison, if NATO get more involved, what does this actually mean for the longer-term strategy for the U.S. in the region? Does it make it less or more likely that we actually see some sort of entity so-called endless wars?
KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON: Well, I think that we are all committed to countering terrorism. That’s why we came to the Middle East in the first place. It’s why we’re in Afghanistan, of course. And why NATO stepped up with us. This was the only time NATO had invoked Article 5, which is if one of us is attacked, we’re all attacked. So, counterterrorism is one of our major NATO missions. And, of course, it is very important for the safety of the people of America and Canada, as well as Europe. So, I think that it is something that we’ve all agreed is a major common threat that our NATO allies have with us. And that’s why we work together. Sometimes side by side and sometimes within the same framework.
MORGAN BRENNAN: We’ve already seen demand for missile defense growing in recent years among our allies, presumably these recent strikes are only going to fuel that type of demand. How big is the risk that more allies would consider Russia’s antimissile systems especially given the fact that Turkey, a NATO member, already purchased that S-400 last year?
KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON: Well, we are still trying to stop that Russian missile system from being deployed in Turkey. That is going to stop the interoperability of all of our air defense systems in NATO. And we have said many times to Turkey, you just can’t do this. And we’ve tried to work with Turkey for a way to assure their protection, that they feel their protection by NATO, but having that S-400 is a nonstarter for America and for NATO. These are some of the issues that we have to deal with that are very delicate. A NATO ally which Turkey has been and been a good one, but they’re doing something that is very much against our common security needs and we are still working to try to show them that this can’t work and we cannot operate our NATO systems with a Russian missile defense system, because Russia is the main adversary that we are facing right now, in addition to counterterrorism.
CARL QUINTANILLA: Madam Ambassador, it’s good to talk to you again. It’s been a while. But obviously, this is a story we’ll watch closely with your help. Thank you very much. Kay Bailey Hutchison, U.S. Ambassador to NATO in Brussels.
KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON: Absolutely. Thank you, Carl.
For more information contact: