Mark Langfan
Mark LangfanPrivate photo

I had the pleasure of interviewing Byron Gatewood, a candidate for Congress in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District. Byron is a conservative Republican and career U.S. Army officer, and we had a great conversation about his campaign and his expertise on the Middle East.

First, could you tell me a little bit about yourself, why you’re running, and what kind of platform you’re running on?

“Absolutely, I'm a man of faith, a husband, a father, a soldier, a small business owner, and a lifelong conservative. These defining characteristics illustrate how I will vote, legislate, and advocate in Congress. The far left in this country has slowly but surely degraded the value of the family unit and traditional values. I intend to go to Congress to fight back against this corrosive ideology. The building blocks of a prosperous society are strong families and strong religious institutions. We need voices in the public sphere that promote these foundational structures.

As a career Army officer, one key lesson I learned over and over again, whether I was deployed fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan or working with our friends in NATO or Israel, is that America cannot protect its interests alone. Congress has a duty to ensure our allies have the ability to defend themselves and help us advance our mutual interests, while always protecting taxpayer dollars. I’m a small government, strong national defense conservative. Our Armed Forces need the best training, equipment, and leadership on earth so that we can deal with the aggression coming from nations like Iran and China. Strong working relationships built on mutual trust with our allies is critical in completing this mission.

As a small business owner, I have seen firsthand the impacts that unnecessary regulation and unlawful government overreach impose on businesses. The COVID era has revealed much about how our government operates, and the results have been catastrophic. Arbitrary decisions made at the highest levels in D.C. have real world consequences that can ruin livelihoods and communities.

As a lifelong conservative, I will support and defend the U.S. Constitution according to the oath I’ve already sworn. Our founders cultivated the Divine gift that is American liberty, and we must work diligently to preserve it.”

I really appreciate your military background and commitment to the interests of the U.S. and our allies abroad.As we close in on the end of the first year of the Biden Administration, do you think we have seen any foreign policy successes?

“Absolutely not. From the disgraceful debacle that was our exit from Afghanistan, which was personal to me after having spent a decent chunk of my adult life fighting for U.S. interests there, to the administration doing its absolute best to put Iran first and hold Khamenei’s hand on the path to nuclear proliferation. Joe Biden has spent his career being wrong on every foreign policy matter we’ve faced, and his administration makes America and our allies less safe with every decision they make.

And those two blunders only represent a portion of the administration’s foreign policy errors. The current Democratic regime’s appeasement policies embolden our enemies all over the world. China is becoming more aggressive towards the sovereign nation of Taiwan. Russia gets closer to a full-scale invasion of Ukraine every day and make no mistake, Russia’s ambitions also include imposing its will on current members of the NATO alliance. This has to stop, or we will regret it for a long time.”

Well said, but what can really be done before the 2024 Presidential Election? Will three more years of the Biden administration cause irreparable harm to the interests and safety of the United States, Israel, and our allies?

“A lot can be done. We need to take back Republican majorities in the U.S. House and Senate this year to push back on the nonsense coming out of Biden’s administration. If we force him to work with a Republican Congress, he won’t be as beholden to the progressive left-wing of his party that is currently running the show. We need to show up with fresh faces in Washington, who will knock on his door and say enough is enough.

The phrase you used, ‘irreparable harm,’ points straight to Israel though. As you mentioned. I spent time there, working with the IDF. In October and November of 2012 I was attached to US Missile Defense assets for what was supposed to be a training exercise but ended up turning into Operation Pillar of Defense when Hamas decided to pick a fight. When you see the way Israel fights, the way they have to fight against enemies who want to completely eliminate the Jewish state, there’s nothing else like it. No other nation on the planet lives every day with the sorts of existential threats that Israel bears.

The line between prosperity and destruction is razor thin for Israel. One mistake, one battle they aren’t prepared for, one missile gets through the air defense umbrella, and that’s it. Hamas, LH, Iran, Syria, you name it - they’ll all pounce. Under previous administrations, it wasn’t a question, we stood with Israel. Now, the so-called progressive left wants to treat Israel and terrorist organizations like Hamas as though they have positions of equal legitimacy that should be given like consideration. It’s ridiculous. The Biden administration’s decision to reinstate Obama-era funding of Hamas is ridiculous. Elections have consequences, and American elections have global consequences.”

How do we get out of this foreign policy crisis?

“First, we need to stop capitulating to our enemies. We appease Russia. We placate China. And like I said, Joe Biden is falling all over himself to make sure Iran becomes a nuclear power. None of this serves the interests of the US or her allies, and it has damaged our credibility among all who’ve witnessed it.

We have got to restore our allies’ trust in us and confidently and competently help our partners create a stable world that is safe for free people. Good foreigh policy, whether dealing with adversaries or allies, is all about keeping promises. Do what you say you’re going to do.

We can’t even consider leaving our partners and allies vulnerable. The United States MUST be better than that.

I will ensure that we continue to stand with our allies and back up our word, with force when necessary. We must continue to provide support for Israel and stand with them in opposition to the Iranian threat, just as we must stand with NATO against Russia and Taiwan against China. Restoring our credibility abroad is going to be difficult, but not nearly as much as facing down all these threats alone which is what will eventually happen if we fail to fulfil our role in the world.”

What is one piece of legislation you will sponsor based on your foreign policy experience?

I’ve worked in and around policymaking and I studied foreign policy in school. One of my grad degrees is in international relations, so I’ve studied enough to know I don’t have nearly all the answers.

It goes without saying that on the world’s stage, much of what goes on rests on highly complex webs of relationships and overlapping and sometimes contradictory interests. Individual egos and national prestige and the combined momentum of hundreds of millions or even billions of people cause ripple effects that can be hard to predict… but some things are easy. Some lines draw themselves. Iran hates us, openly and avowedly. The United States should have no relationship with Iran. Further, we should live with the expectation that other nations will expect to do business with the US or, but not and, Iran. We can cut them off and starve them out. Terrorist like the Ayatollahs should not be able to weild the combined power of an enitre people, and with resolve we could topple that regime without firing a shot.

What sets you apart from your opponents?

“Simply put, my wide range of real-world experience. From serving in the military to working in high finance to running a small business I have a lot of expertise on many issues that I am ready to utilize in policymaking from day one. As a combat veteran, I understand what it means to send our sons and daughters into combat. As the owner of a gym and travel agency, I could not have picked an industry more impacted by government overreach throughout the pandemic. Keeping everyone safe is important, but we cannot enact comprehensive policy solutions that are based on single factor analysis. Many small businesses like mine have failed in the last two years and will never come back. Livelihoods were destroyed. I believe I am the candidate in the race who is best equipped, through both real-world experience and formal education, to be effective in Washington.”

What is the most pressing issue facing America in the 2020s?

“We’ve discussed this a lot, but our position in the world. China, Russia, Iran, and others all are emboldened by our weakness abroad, and it is critically important that we end the reckless Biden foreign policy that has left us behind.”

Thank you for the time, I appreciate our conversation and getting some more insight into your experience and thoughts on the issues facing Georgia’s 6th District.