My opinion on the CBS/National Journal GOP debate

After the CNN, the Heritage Foundation, and the AEI announced that they would jointly host a debate devoted exclusively to national-security-related-issues and foreign affairs, CBS apparently decided not to be outdone and hosted a debate of the same kind together with the National Journal – BEFORE CNN could host its own debate.

The debate took place last week. The CNN debate was originally scheduled for November 15th, but has been inexplicably delayed to November 22nd.

The moderators were fair and impartial, and asked tough, probing questions on a wide range of foreign policy issues. Unfortunately, they omitted (for unknown reasons) two important issues: 1) the dilapidated state of the US military 2) Russia and issues related to it, including the disastrous New START treaty.

Nonetheless, the debate was interesting, exciting, and important. Never once throughout the debate was I bored, and as a result of the debate, I learned a lot about the candidates.

Here’s how I believe the candidates did during the debate:

Herman Cain did abysmally. He clearly knows nothing about foreign affairs, and proved that during the debate. He could not outline any specific policy on Afghanistan and Pakistan, even though the Afghan war has now been going on for 10 years. He has responded to every question by saying he would rely on “the commanders on the ground” and on his advisors to make a decision; in other words, he would be completely dependent on others to decide. He would pass the buck to someone else. President Harry Truman explained why that is unacceptable in his farewell address:

Michele Bachmann also did badly, although not as badly as Cain. She did not give unclear answers to any questions and did not doubt what to say, but what she said was mostly dumb and troubling. She supports assassinations of US citizens. She claims Obama has not been standing with Israel and that Tel Aviv is not sure if Obama is their friend, even though Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that under President Obama, Israeli-American relations have been as good as ever before. Most worryingly of all, she has agreed to further defense cuts. When a CBS viewer, Josh Cooper, tweeted a question falsely stating that “half of the federal budget goes to military-related expenditures” and asked whether increasing military spending is a good idea during this time of debt-driven crisis, Bachmann not only failed to refute that false claim, she agreed to significant defense cuts, including cuts to weapons spending, while claiming she would not make any cuts that would wreck the military (Obama has made the same promise, and it’s not credible, because he IS wrecking the military).

Jon Huntsman falsely implied that Mitt Romney would lead the US into a trade war with China and has stated that his answer to China’s hostile policies towards the US is to appease China’s netizens, most of whom hate the US and support China’s hostile policies towards the US. On a positive note, he was the only candidate who said that, if a nuke goes lose or if the Taleban or AQ steal a nuke, he would immediately order the SOCOM to capture it. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich could not bring themselves to say that.

Ron Paul has given great answers to questions about torture and assassinations of US citizens, but he’s completely blind to the danger of a nuclear Iran.

Rick Perry has, a few times, tried to shift questions to other issues than the ones these questions pertained to. Nonetheless, this time, he performed better than during any previous debate he has participated in, and made it clear that he would introduce zero-based budgeting for the entire federal government, including the foreign aid budget, including Israel. He has also failed to give a decisive, clear, coherent answer to the debate’s last question – about what he would do about the Eurozone’s debt crisis. After 30 seconds, the moderators cut him off.

Newt Gingrich did well, as he always does during debates, but it’s too bad that he didn’t endorse Herman Cain’s missile defense proposal or a nuclear deterrence option, and too bad that he didn’t say he would send SOCOM troops to capture a nuclear weapon if it went loose or was stolen by Al Qaeda.

Neither did Rick Santorum, who is also still clinging on to the wrong, obsolete policy of appeasing Pakistan, which is clearly an enemy of the United States.

Mitt Romney did well, not flunking any answers to any questions he gave.

Overall, it was a good debate, except the question about military spending.


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