Republican Debate Defense (11-22-11)


The Republicans debated National Security issues on Nov. 22, 2011.

PATRIOT ACT: The Patriot Act undermines liberties, said Ron Paul. We can have security without sacrificing rights. He would protect the rule of law. Our Founders warned not to sacrifice liberty for security, something our government is now too willing to do. If we give up freedom and become a police state, the government will commit the crime. We would throw out much of what our revolution stood for. Huntsman said we need to balance individual liberties and security. We have to share intelligence, and work with governors. Romney said there is criminal law with constitutional rights, and a different body of law applicable to war. Perry said we must collect intelligence to keep the next attack from happening. Santorum said the last time we had a threat like this was in the Civil War when Abe Lincoln ran all over civil rights. Gingrich said there is a distinction between National Security and Criminal Law. We need to preserve criminal law rights, but strengthen the Patriot Act, so we can gather intelligence. He does not want to find terrorists after we lose a major American city. He wants to stop them from trying. Bachmann said technology changed and we must change the way we investigate. She said the attempted Detroit bomber was given Miranda warnings, even though he was not a citizen.

PROFILING: Paul asked what if a person looked like Timothy McVeigh? Romney said people, who are a lower risk, should be allowed to go through TSA screening more quickly. Perry proposed a law to criminalize TSA pat-downs, privatize the agency, and get rid of their union. Santorum would profile those most likely to commit crime, such as Muslims and younger males. We should look for the bomber, not the bomb. He favors privatizing the TSA. Cain called profiling targeted identification. Since terrorists want to kill us, we should kill them first said Cain.

INTERROGATION: Bachmann made the ridiculous statement Obama turned over the interrogation of terrorists to the ACLU. She also believes the CIA can no longer interrogate terrorists.

FOREIGN AID: Ron Paul said all foreign aid is worthless. We take money from poor people in the U.S. and give it to rich people in poor countries. We have endless war and foreign aid, but nobody cares about the budget. The biggest threat to our national security is our financial condition.  Santorum incorrectly said “Africa” was a “country” on the brink. The work we are doing, such as the Millennium Challenge, is essential for national security. It would be absolutely wrong to zero out foreign aid. We are the shining city on the hill that comes to the aid of those in trouble. We have saved military deployments by wisely spending not on our enemies, but on our friends in Africa. Cain said foreign aid should depend on results. Perry said if you are not going to be an ally of the U.S., do not expect a dime of our money.

WAR: Ron Paul said our needless and unnecessary wars have undermined our prosperity and liberties, and added to our deficits. We are too careless in the use of the word war. We did not declare war. We are against terrorism, which is only a tactic. Santorum agreed we are not fighting a war on terrorism, since it is only a tactic. We are at war against radical Islam, he said.

AFGHANISTAN: Huntsman said we need an honest conversation about our sacrifices over the past 10 years in Afghanistan. We ran the Taliban out of Kabul, upended al-Qaeda, held elections in 2004, and killed Osama bin Laden. We still need intelligence gathering, Special Forces, drones, and ongoing Afghan National Army training, but we don’t need 100,000 troops doing nation-building. 10,000 to 15,000 troops would due. The American people are very tired of where we find ourselves. He said we listened to generals in 1967, and that did not serve our interests very well. At the end of the day, the President must act as Commander-in-Chief. Romney said we cannot write off a major part of the world. We don’t want to literally pull up stakes and run out of town. We need a gradual transition responsibility over to the Afghan Security Forces. He thinks a withdrawal before 2014 would put at risk the sacrifices we made. We have been there for 10 years, and we are winding down, but it is not time for America to “cut and run,” a phrase borrowed from Nixon.  Of course the Commander-in-Chief makes the final decision. Romney actually thinks there is a very good prospect the Afghans are securing their sovereignty from the Taliban. If we pull out precipitously, as Gov. Huntsman suggests, we could see Afghanistan and Pakistan pulled into terror, and become another launching pad for going after America. Cain thinks if we pull out of Afghanistan “too soon,” there will be a power vacuum that Iran will fill.

PAKISTAN: Huntsman said Pakistan is a concern, because they have 100 nuclear weapons, and 160 million people. They have a Midrasha Movement, troubles along their border, and are at risk of becoming a failed state. He said an expanded drone program would serve our interests. Romney said only 12% of Pakistanis approve of us, we are not doing a good job. We need to bring Pakistan into the 21st Century. Perry said since Pakistan cannot be trusted, he would not send them one penny, or give them a blank check, until they showed they had our best interests in mind. Gingrich thinks we should be able to change the rules of engagement so we have a right of hot pursuit to enter sanctuaries in Pakistan from Afghanistan. Pakistan should not complain, if we kill people who are being protected on their land, and they are not willing to go after them. Bachmann said Pakistan is the epicenter of terrorism, where al-Qaeda and the Haqqani Network train. We have to take seriously their 15 nuclear sites. She would continue aiding Pakistan, because they are too nuclear to fail, but she would demand more from them. She called Perry naïve for not being willing to maintain an American presence in Pakistan.

IRAN: Ron Paul wisely said he would not support an unprovoked unilateral attack by Israel upon Iran. When Israel bombed the Iraqi missile site in 1981, he was one of the few Congressmen to say it was none of our business. Israel has 200 to 300 nuclear missiles, and they can take care of themselves. If they want to bomb something, it is their business, and they can suffer the consequences. We don’t even have a treaty with them. Why should we commit to send our kids and money endlessly to Israel? Why would they need American help? Huntsman said Iran is certainly going to make a nuclear weapon, but sanctions are not going to work, because Russia and China are not going to play ball. Romney said Ahmadinejad should be indicted for violating the Genocide Convention. Perry said we should sanction the Iranian National Bank. We need to use every sanction before a military strike. Gingrich would not want to see Israel use multiple nuclear weapons in Iran, because that would bring a future none of us would want to live through. He said we need a strategy of defeating and replacing the current Iranian regime with a minimal use of force. We need to defeat radical Islam wherever it may exist. We need to sabotage the only refinery they have. Putting sanctions on them is better than a war. He said a bombing campaign that left the regime in power would accomplish very little. We have to replace the regime, not just attack them. Bachmann said Iran is a real threat, because they would use nuclear weapons to wipe out Israel and the U.S. She thinks Obama appeased Iran. We are talking about Israel making a strike against Iran, she said, because Iran announced a plan to strike Israel. Ahmadinejad wants to eradicate Israel from the face of the earth. Can was asked: If Israel attacked Iran to prevent Tehran from getting nuclear weapons, would you help Israel? Cain said Iran may have 40 different weapon sites, and if Israel had a credible plan for success, he would support their attack, and would in some instances join Israel in violating international law.

ISRAEL: Romney said his first foreign policy trip would be to Israel to show the world we care about them. Huntsman said our foreign policy interests in the Middle East are Israel, and to insure Iran does not go nuclear.

PERSIAN GULF: Huntsman (apparently referring to Bahrain) said Obama missed the Persian Spring, and failed on that front.

LIBYA: Huntsman: We had no definable U.S. interest in Libya.

SYRIA: Huntsman said we have an American interest in Syria called Israel. We need to remind the world what it means to be a U.S. friend and ally. Romney would not impose a no-fly zone over Syria. He would instead use sanctions and covert actions. We should support the rebels. Perry supports a no-fly zone over Syria, because it would help dissidents. Cain opposes a no-fly zone and would instead pressure allies to stop buying their oil.

IMMIGRATION: Paul said if we give an easy road to citizenship, we will get more illegals. We should not require border states to provide free education and medical care. Romney said amnesty is a magnet as it only encourages more people to come illegally. He would allow those with degrees in math or science. He would cancel in-state tuition for illegal aliens, because people respond to incentives. Perry said we have to secure the border first. Gingrich, who voted for the Simpson-Mazzoli Act in the 1980s, created a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens, which some called amnesty. He though 300,000 would get amnesty, but it was granted to 3 million. This time we have to control the border. Those who just got here should go home. Those here 25 years who have families, paid taxes, and obeyed the law, should not be kicked out. He said we need visas for people with advanced degrees in science and engineering. He likes the part of the Dream Act that allows aliens to serve in the military to acquire citizenship. He would not separate families that have been together for 25 years. We are the party of the family, and we cannot destroy them. Bachmann opposed making 11 million workers legal. Steve Jobs moved operations to China, because he could not find 30,000 engineers. We need highly-skilled people.

MEXICO: Paul said the war on drugs is a total failure. We should handle drugs like we handle alcohol. Perry said we need border security with Mexico, because he thinks Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran are at work there with plans to come to the U.S. He promised that within 12 months of taking office, the border would be shut down. Cain thinks terrorists have entered the U.S. via Mexico. He would secure the border, enforce the laws, and promote a path to citizenship. Let people through the front door, not the side door.

LATIN AMERICA: Romney said Hezbollah is working in Latin America. Perry said Iran has one of the largest embassies in the world in Venezuela. Santorum also worries about Latin America.

CHINA: Perry said again Communist China is destined to the ash heap of history.

BUDGET: Paul said they are not cutting anything out of anything. It’s all just talk. They are nibbling away at baseline budgeting. There is nothing cut in the military. On the Hill, they are hysterical, because the budget is not going up as rapidly as they want. It’s a road to disaster, and we better wake up. Huntsman said a 70% debt-to-GDP ratio in the U.S. is a national security problem, because when it gets too high, we will stop growing. Japan is in their third decade of no-growth. We have to have an honest conversation about debt and sacred cows. Everything has to be on the table, including the 650 billion dollar Defense budget. Romney said they cut 350 million for the F-22. They delayed aircraft carriers. They stopped the Navy cruiser system. They are not going to build Air Force bombers. They are trying to cut troops by 50,000. Perry said Obama has been a failure in terms of budget leadership. He would impose a flat tax of 20% on corporations, and would cut spending. Santorum said he would compromise and give on some things. Gingrich would reform Social Security by using the Chilean model, which he believes would not hurt anyone. He said there is something wrong with a system where it takes 15 to 20 years to build weapons, but Apple can change technology in just nine months. Bachmann said four years ago we were 8 trillion in debt, now we are 15 trillion in debt. We are sending interest money and our power over to China.

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