This post has been updated.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) said Wednesday that it is in the Middle Eastern culture to lie during negotiations.
“In the Middle Eastern culture, it is looked upon with very high regard to get the best deal possible no matter what it takes — and that includes lying,” Hunter said in an interview with C-SPAN. “That’s one reason that these Gulf states like to work with the United States — because we’re honest and transparent and we have laws that we have to live by.”
The host then asked Hunter to clarify, “Are you saying all Middle East countries are this way? Willing to lie in negotiations?”
Hunter explained that Middle Eastern politicians negotiate the same way they would barter for goods.
“It is is in the Middle Eastern culture to get the best deal that you can whether you’re at the marketplace arguing over buying vegetables or buying shoes at the marketplace, to do anything that you can to get the best deal,” he said. “They like to barter there.”
The host then asked the representative, “Are you speaking from personal experience, talking about all Middle East countries?”
Hunter then said that it is not in the nature of all Middle Eastern countries.
“I would say not necessarily all Middle Eastern countries. I know that’s a big generalization,” he said. “They do business different than we do business in the West.”
In talking about the interim nuclear deal with Iran, Hunter said that the Iranian government is not a rational actor.
“If you’re willing to blow yourself up and commit suicide in order to blow up other people, you are not a rational person. And that’s who you’re dealing with when you’re dealing with the Iranians,” he said. “They have lied over and over and over. They are liars.”
Hunter also said Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai is “not an honest broker.”
“He’s a little bit crazy. He’s not trustworthy,” Hunter said.
Joe Kasper, Hunter’s director of communications, clarified to TPM in an email that the representative does not believe it is in the Middle Eastern culture to lie and that he was talking about Middle Eastern leadership.
“I recall when asked to specify on one of the issues, he said the goal is to get the best deal in general terms,” Kasper said. “But to be specific, he was talking about the political culture.”
Watch the video of Hunter via C-SPAN: