Even as terrorist attacks in Paris and elsewhere have underscored the threat posed by the so-called Islamic State, Gov. Christie says the United States' bigger foe is Iran.
"I believe Iran is moving toward obtaining a nuclear weapon," Christie said in an interview published Friday with the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg. "I have no proof at this point that ISIS is moving toward obtaining weapons of mass destruction."
Christie, a Republican presidential candidate, also said he was "fascinated" by some Republicans' and political analysts' assessment that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio could be president. Rubio is courting many of the same establishment-type supporters and voters as Christie.
"There's not a lot of depth there," Christie said.
"Do you have huge foreign-policy depth?" Goldberg asked.
"No," Christie replied, "but I have much greater depth at making decisions."
Apparently in jest, Christie added he had to "deal with" New York Mayor "Bill de Blasio everyday—that's foreign policy."
The governor said he has learned much on foreign affairs from former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. They've met "once a month, every six weeks" during the past year and a half, Christie said.
He said he also receives advice from Eric Edelman, former undersecretary of defense for President George W. Bush and a former ambassador to Turkey in the Bush and Clinton administrations, as well as Eliot Cohen, a former State Department adviser in the Bush administration and to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.
Christie said dealing with Iran was a more important priority than the conflict in Syria. Asked if he would nix the international accord with Iran over its nuclear program, Christie said no. But, Christie said, as president he would make clear that "we're not going to make any more agreements or have meetings with folks who won't recognize Israel's right to exist."
To be sure, he didn't downplay the importance of fighting Islamist extremists, declaring "we're at war with ISIS" and calling for NATO troops, including Americans, to set up a no-fly zone in Syria to create a safe haven for civilians.
He says this would help stem the refugee crisis.
But pressed whether this could actually "impose order" on the Middle East, Christie replied, "I don't know that we can impose order on Syria, but I do know that there is such drastic chaos there that is disrupting the whole world."
"So what should we do? Let's just sit back, bring all kinds of refugees to Europe, let's let Jordan take in another 300,000, 400,000. That's the answer?"
Asked whether he and other Republicans had risked alienating American Muslims by saying the U.S. shouldn't welcome Syrian refugees, including children, until Obama proved they could be properly vetted, Christie said: "These folks are Americans and they're going to say that they're at as much risk as anyone else."
"They're going to want to help. This is what happened post-9/11," he said. "After 9/11 we were getting more intel out of mosques than anywhere else, from mainstream members of mosques. I had a guy say to me, flat-out, that I'm going to help you, you know why? Because if another Muslim attacks Americans, I'm going to get shipped out of this country."