DEBATE PREP: Iraq's Iran problem, Iran's Iraq problem
November 14th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

DEBATE PREP: Iraq's Iran problem, Iran's Iraq problem

Editor’s note: This analysis is part of Security Clearance blog’s “Debate Preps” series. On November 22, CNN, along with AEI and The Heritage Foundation, will host a Republican candidate debate focused on national security topics. In the run-up to the debate, Security Clearance asked both the sponsoring conservative think tanks to look at the key foreign policy issues and tell us what they want to hear candidates address.

By AEI's Michael Rubin, Special to CNN

Ayatollah Khomeini may have founded Iran’s Islamic Republic in 1979, but for the regime in Tehran, his revolution has never really ended.  Iranian politics remain a vortex of factional struggle as hardliners and reformists compete to shape the regime’s character.  American diplomats have long cheered the reformists believing that should reformists triumph, Iran might moderate and return into the family of nations.

In reality, however, the struggle between reformists and hardliners is more style than substance.   Both embrace Iran’s nuclear program, support terrorist groups, and violently oppose Middle East peace.  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s hardline president, shocked the West with his virulent Holocaust denial, but his reformist predecessor Mohammad Khatami embraced Holocaust denial, just more quietly.

The Islamic Republic’s true Achilles’ heel is not factionalism, but rather the Shi‘ism upon which it is based.  Shi‘ite Muslims embrace a religious hierarchy somewhat analogous to that in Roman Catholicism but instead of having cardinals select a single pope, every Shi‘ite picks his own personal pope from amongst the leading ayatollahs.  Shi‘ites then show their allegiance by paying religious taxes to the ayatollah they embrace. FULL POST


Filed under: 2012 Election • Ahmadinejad • Analysis • Arab Spring • Bachman • Cain • Debate Preps • Gingrich • Huntsman • Iran • Iraq • Khamenei • Paul • Perry • Romney • Santorum
Bachmann: CIA interrogation is lacking
November 12th, 2011
11:01 PM ET

Bachmann: CIA interrogation is lacking

By CNN National Security Producer Jamie Crawford

During Saturday night's Republican candidates' debate on national security issues, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota said the United States has nowhere to take terrorists for interrogation and said the CIA does not interrogate anymore.

The statement: "When we interdict a terrorist on the battlefield, we have no jail for them. We have nowhere to take them. We have no CIA interrogation anymore," Bachmann said.

The facts: The controversial CIA "black site" prison program, where the suspect of the USS Cole bombing and others were interrogated immediately after arrest, has been dismantled. In an April 2009 letter from CIA director Leon Panetta to employees, Panetta wrote, "CIA no longer operates detention facilities or black sites and has proposed a plan to decommission the remaining sites."
FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Bachman • CIA
DEBATE PREP:  Money talks at the United Nations
United Nations General Assembly
November 11th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

DEBATE PREP: Money talks at the United Nations

Editor’s note: This analysis is part of Security Clearance blog’s “Debate Preps” series. On November 22, CNN, along with AEI and The Heritage Foundation, will host a Republican candidate debate focused on national security topics. In the run-up to the debate, Security Clearance asked both the sponsoring conservative think tanks to look at the key foreign policy issues and tell us what they want to hear candidates address.

By The Heritage Foundations Brett Schaefer and James Phillips, Special to CNN

The U.S. is far and away the major financial backer of the United Nations. Yet the world body often embraces resolutions and policies at odds with American positions and interests. Should the U.S. exercise its “power of the purse” to influence the U.N.?

On occasion, the U.S. has done just that, withholding contributions to express its extreme displeasure with actions taken in Turtle Bay. But the Obama administration rejected this tactic early on. Instead, in his first address to the U.N. General Assembly, President Obama proudly announced a “new era of engagement” with the U.N. President Obama’s Ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, likewise considers withholding to be a practice that is “fundamentally flawed in concept and practice, sets us back, is self-defeating, and doesn’t work.”

So how’s that working? The Palestinian Authority’s recent doings in Turtle Bay are instructive.

FULL POST


Filed under: 2012 Election • Bachman • Cain • Debate Preps • Foreign Policy • Gingrich • Huntsman • Israel • Obama • Palestine • Paul • Perry • Romney • Santorum • State Department • UN General Assembly • UN Security Council • UNESCO • United Nations
DEBATE PREP: What if China changes?
November 9th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

DEBATE PREP: What if China changes?

Editor’s note: This analysis is part of Security Clearance blog’s “Debate Preps” series. On November 22, CNN, along with AEI and The Heritage Foundation, will host a Republican candidate debate focused on national security topics. In the run-up to the debate, Security Clearance asked both the sponsoring conservative think tanks to look at the key foreign policy issues and tell us what they want to hear candidates address.

By The Heritage Foundation's Dean Cheng and Derek Scissors, Special to CNN

The political debate over China seems familiar because they’ve been on the political table for years.  Is China taking American jobs?  How cooperative is the People's Republic of China (PRC) on issues like nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran?  China rises; America frets, and Presidential candidates talk about roughly the same things every four years.

But what if China is about to change? FULL POST


Filed under: 2012 Election • Analysis • Asia • Bachman • Cain • China • Debate Preps • economy • Foreign Policy • Gingrich • Huntsman • Paul • Perry • Romney • Santorum
DEBATE PREP: Should Pakistan be engaged or contained?
November 7th, 2011
08:00 AM ET

DEBATE PREP: Should Pakistan be engaged or contained?

Editor’s note: This analysis is part of Security Clearance blog’s “Debate Preps” series. On November 22, CNN, along with AEI and The Heritage Foundation, will host a Republican candidate debate focused on national security topics. In the run-up to the debate, Security Clearance asked both the sponsoring conservative think tanks to look at the key foreign policy issues and tell us what they want to hear candidates address.

By AEI's Sadanand Dhume, Special to CNN

The raid in May on Osama bin Laden's compound in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad has brought intense focus on Washington's policy toward Islamabad.  Since then, the weight of informed opinion - in influential op-eds, think tank reports, and magazine articles - has coalesced around a consensus: the current policy has failed.

Ostensibly, since 2004 Pakistan has been a major non-NATO ally of the United States, a status it shares with such stalwart friends as Israel, Japan and Australia.

In 2009, the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act, also known as the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act, boosted aid to Pakistan by $1.5 billion a year through 2013.  These blandishments were meant to encourage Islamabad to co-operate with Washington in fighting terrorism.

Though Pakistani authorities have at times helped round up wanted al Qaeda leaders from their soil, their overall record has been disappointing.  Of particular concern to the US:  continued Pakistani support for the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network and other militants who regularly use safe havens in Pakistan to attack US troops in Afghanistan. FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Afghanistan • Al Qaeda • Al-Zawahiri • Analysis • Bachman • Cain • CIA • debate • Debate Preps • Diplomacy • Foreign Policy • Gingrich • Haqqani • Huntsman • ISI • Living With Terror • Military • Nuclear • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan • Paul • Perry • Romney • Santorum • Taliban • Terrorism • Think tank
DEBATE PREP: Is this the only path to victory in Afghanistan?
November 7th, 2011
06:05 AM ET

DEBATE PREP: Is this the only path to victory in Afghanistan?

Editor’s note: This analysis is part of Security Clearance blog’s “Debate Preps” series. On November 22, CNN, along with AEI and The Heritage Foundation, will host a Republican candidate debate focused on national security topics. In the run-up to the debate, Security Clearance asked both the sponsoring conservative think tanks to look at the key foreign policy issues and tell us what they want to hear candidates address.

By AEI's Frederick Kagan, Special to CNN

What do we need to achieve in Afghanistan in order to protect the security of the United States and its allies?

That core question should shape any discussion of our strategy in Afghanistan or the resources we devote to executing it.  But that question is too often obscured.

Many say that pursuing any kind of “success” in Afghanistan, the supposed “graveyard of empires,” is sheer folly.  Others say that is has become irrelevant, and that the death of Osama bin Laden has deprived the war in Afghanistan of continued meaning.

These facile assertions produce more palatable answers, but do not answer the core question.  Presidents and candidates for president owe
Americans a clear and cogent answer, at least, as well as an explanation for how their proposed strategy that they lay out will accomplish the requirements for American security. FULL POST

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Filed under: 10 years of war • 2012 Election • Afghanistan • Al Qaeda • Analysis • Bachman • Cain • debate • Debate Preps • Foreign Policy • Gingrich • Huntsman • Intelligence • ISAF • Kabul • Karzai • Living With Terror • Military • Obama • Pakistan • Paul • Perry • Politics • Romney • Santorum • Taliban • Terrorism
Finally, a word about national security (a debate, actually)...
November 7th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

Finally, a word about national security (a debate, actually)...

Without question, the public's attention in the race for the White House has centered on the economy and domestic issues.  It’s a sign of how things have changed since the start of these post-September 11th times.  In 2004 and 2008, a good portion of the discussion focused on keeping American safe and foreign policy. But things began to shift as the 2008 election was wrapping up and the economy was hurting.

Now there is no question the campaign talk has moved from 9/11 to 9-9-9 (and other economic plans). A fact not lost on the Republican candidates who spend little time talking about national security issues.  Debate after debate, interview after interview, domestic issues have dominated the campaign so far.  Until now.

On November 22, CNN, along with AEI and The Heritage Foundation, will host a Republican candidate debate focused on national security topics.

In the run-up to the debate, Security Clearance asked both the sponsoring conservative think tanks to look at the key foreign policy issues and tell us what they want to hear candidates address. From Afghanistan toIraq,ChinatoSyria, cybersecurity to defense spending, the folks at Heritage Foundation and AEI will make sure you are fully prepped for the big debate.

The first in the series will publish today on Security Clearance.  For more coverage of the campaign, don't forget to read CNN's Political Ticker and our political section on CNN.com.

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Filed under: 2012 Election • 9/11 • Afghanistan • Africa • Al-Shabaab • Analysis • Anwar al-Awlaki • Arab Spring • Asia • Bachman • bioterrorism • Budget • Cain • China • CIA • Congress • Cybersecurity • debate • Debate Preps • Defense Spending • Diplomacy • drones • Egypt • EU • Foreign Policy • Gingrich • Gitmo • Haqqani • Homeland Security • Huntsman • Iran • Iraq • ISI • Israel • Libya • Living With Terror • Middle East • Military • NATO • Nuclear • Obama • Opinion • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan • Palestine • Paul • Pentagon • Perry • Politics • Republican • Romney • Russia • Santorum • Saudi Arabia • Secretary of State • South Korea • Spying • State Department • Syria • Taliban • Terrorism • Think tank • United Nations • weapons
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