T Nation

Republican Foreign Policy Debate


I'm watching the Republican Foreign Policy Debate. I was wondering what others think. I'm going to write some random thoughts as I watch. I hope this can start a little conversation. Please write your thoughts.

-Bachmann's knowledge base is impressive. I hadn't realized she is on the intelligence committee. So far, her answers on Afghanistan and Pakistan have been pretty on.

-Sanitorum (sp?) Had a very poor answer on Iran and a very good answer for Pakistan. I was shocked at how much I agreed with his views on Pakistan.

-Perry. Look at Gingrich and Romney's faces when Perry answers about Pakistan and foreign aid... I had to pause to laugh. They didn't even try to hide their shock at his answer (I was then surprised when Gingrich said he agreed...he had rolled his eyes when Perry was speaking).

-The torture debate was interesting. I hope they all chime in on it. I fall in with McCain/Huntsman/Paul.

-"no booing" was an interesting rule. Seems like there are a lot of people who were really against Obama taking out the American citizen terrorist. I fall in with Gingrich/Romney/Obama

-Gingrich and Romney are giving Perry that "WTF face" again as he's talking about China.

-Romney's "free trade by the rules" was interesting. "we are in a trade war now"
-Huntsman's answer to that was good too.

-I'm surprised to see Gingrich and Cain supporting Mubarak. It sounds like he would still be in power there if they were president.

-Gingrich: The "training component" for unemployment is a great idea. Very necessary.

-Is Bachmann saying we should be more like China? "They don't have foodstamps"...sure, but does she really want that sort of poverty to exists in the US?

-Sanitorum: "You don't cowboy this one." Nicely said.
-Huntsman answered well as well on Pakistan.

Okay, what do you think?


What are you doing over in enemy territory? Considering a republican this time around?

Wish more of them would've had the chance to answer the torture/waterboarding question.

Actually liked the Perry/Gingrich foreign aid view. We're a fading military/economic power. A foreign aid recipient should periodically make their case for redistributed tax-dollars. We're going to disengage a great deal over the course of this century, let's not pretend otherwise.

Gingrich on Egypt and the rest of the middle east was excellent. Religious (and non-religious) minorities are in trouble. Careful cheering on regime-change, as what comes after might be at least just as ugly. 'Democratic' tyranny is no better when your churches are being razed to the ground.

Best moment:


Anyone know where I can watch this online?



Sorry, I meant to post this in the OP. If you check out wiki, they post the links to all of 'em I think.


Thanks, I'll probably have some comments when I've watched it.


Just watched about 17 mins. Initial thoughts:

Cain says he would support the "opposition movement" in Iran. Romney says he would support "insurgents" - presumably what he means is the MEK Mujahadeen-e-Khalq based in Kurdish Iraq and Turkey, which is still listed as a terrorist group by the US state department. Many have called for this ban to be lifted and have suggested that the MEK receive covert assistance from the west. Romney also wants to sanction the Iranian central bank.


Rick Santorum:

"Taliban in Afghanistan is a neutered force. They are no longer a security threat to the Afghan people or to our country."

WTF? Now Santorum should go sit in the kook corner with Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman.

Gingrich, Romney and Bachmann come up trumps on foreign policy so far. I'm assuming Romney's talk about democracy and security in Afghanistan is just spin. Presumably he understands something about the people and the place.


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She was spot on about the threat of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal and Iranian proxy groups.


cbs sucks sometimes. Keep trying. Maybe try to access it through cbs.com or google itfor another source.


Bachmann is most qualified in terms of foreign policy. Gingrich made some good points too. Romney made a statement that shows he doesn't really understand Pakistan. He said there are four powers: civilian government, Army, ISI and Islamists. It's far more complex than that. Anyone wanting to understand Af-Pak and Central Asia should read:

Afghanistan a Cultural and Political History by Thomas Barfield

Pathans: 550BC - AD 1947 by Sir Olaf Caroe

The Great Game by Peter Hopkirk

Anyone who thinks there can be a stable government in Afghanistan should look at the history of the place.

If Romney was talking about supporting the MEK he needs to consider that they want a separate Kurdish state that would include parts of Iraq, Turkey and Syria. US would be better off raising secular Sunni militias in Iraq from Bathist remnants and other disaffected Sunnis.


The old fashioned way? You go to Congress and get approval for a declaration? Hopeless nonsense from Paul as usual. In the more than 120 conflicts US has been engaged in throughout history, it has only 'declared war' 5 times. US didn't even declare war on Nazi Germany. Declaring war is a diplomatic formality and the constitution grants the power to wage war exclusively to the executive.


lol. Yeah, I try to watch 'em all.

Don't they already do this though? I wasn't sure what they meant by this.

? I'm not sure I understand what you mean by this.

I've also got a question for you Sloth: Will the conservative branch support Gingrich? I think you said they would just stay at home for Romney, what about Newt?

Thanks for your thoughts.


Thanks. I wasn't sure who or what he meant by this. I tend to be of the opinion that most "aww shucks" moments are just pandering (see Bush, who I always thought was very intelligent). But I am honestly starting to wonder about Cain.

I don't recall hearing Huntsman's name being in the "kook corner." Can I ask why you think this?



Thanks. I think I need to beef up my understanding of this. I've been meaning to ask you if you have any book recommendations about 1) Al Qaeda 2) the CIA since 2001.


LOL! Totally agree with Gingrich on that one. Well played sir. Lots of things I have issues with, but that answer was perfect.


You agree with him that the American president should have the power to disappear people?

Alrighty then, what about the ius prima noctis?

One month a year where you have to build his castle and widen his moat?


Isnt it funny how easy it is to cheer for fascism?

And they have not even donned their uniform and shiny boots!

This is all so exciting!

How could "it" happen?

One step at a time of course.


Huntsman indicated that he would withdraw from Afghanistan immediately. He also sided with Ron Paul in opposing waterboarding. I'm just lumping Santorum, Huntsman and Paul together as foreign policy kooks.


al-Qaeda is a long story. I became interested in al-Qaeda in the late 90s and read:

The New Jackals by Simon Reeve


Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on American by Yossef Bodansky

These two books gave me a bit of background but they are a bit dated now.

When 9/11 happened I read:

Taliban by Amhed Rashid

More recent books on al-Qaeda:

Descent Into Chaos by Ahmed Rashid


Inside al-Qaeda and the Taliban by Syed Saleem Shahzad

Now, CIA is not really my area. But there is a good book on the CIA in Central Asia:

Ghost Wars by Steve Coll

I should point out too that although these books reveal a lot of interesting information I don't agree with the authors and the conclusions they draw. They are the best sources on al-Qaeda but you need to read them critically.


A slow invisible process in the mind of most citizen but a very clear path for those that lead them.