DEBATE PREP: U.S. needs to lead from the front on Syria
November 18th, 2011
10:10 AM ET

DEBATE PREP: U.S. needs to lead from the front on Syria

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 Danielle Pletka, Special to CNN

It didn't take much conviction to decide Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had to go after the Egyptian military turned on him.  Ditto for Libya’s Muammar Qadhafi, once large portions of the country had freed themselves from his rule and our European allies were clamoring for military intervention.  But when the outcome is in doubt, as in Syria, Barack Obama is sitting on the fence.

Consider the stakes: Syria is Iran's most important ally. Under President Bashar al-Assad, Syria remains the patron of Hezbollah, and home to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. It was the conduit by which terrorists traveled to Iraq to kill Americans.

But Assad isn't letting go easily. There are few fissures inside his regime. Ambassadors are not resigning, nor are generals defecting.  The Arab League and Turkey may chide Assad’s vicious response to his opponents, but they appear unwilling to back their rhetoric with action. FULL POST


Filed under: 2012 Election • Analysis • Arab Spring • Assad • Bachman • Cain • China • Debate Preps • Diplomacy • Foreign Policy • Gingrich • Huntsman • Iran • Iraq • Middle East • Obama • Paul • Perry • Romney • Russia • Santorum • Syria
DEBATE PREP: America the cyber sucker?
November 16th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

DEBATE PREP: America the cyber sucker?

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 James Jay Carafano, Special to CNN

The scene from "Casablanca" says it all.

"I'm shocked-shocked to find that gambling is going on in here," Police Inspector Renault declares.  Immediately, the croupier hands the chief inspector his roulette table winnings.

Renault's disingenuousness disclaimer could be the tag line for U.S. cyber security policy. Just last month, the Director of National Intelligence delivered a report to Congress – "Foreign Spies Stealing U.S. Economic Secrets in Cyberspace."  Its "shocking" conclusion: China and Russia are stealing us blind.

Quelle surprise! Chinese beachheads in U.S. cyberspace have turned up time and again for years.  Not long ago Chinese hackers so thoroughly penetrated the computer network at the U.S. National Defense University in Washington, D.C., the entire system had to be shut down and cleaned out.

As for the Russians, they've long been recognized as a real "bear" online.  The infamous Russian Business Network (RBN) brazenly ran all manner of illicit online operations- and there was never much doubt that they were working in collusion with Kremlin officials. FULL POST


Filed under: 2012 Election • Analysis • Bachman • Cain • China • Cybersecurity • Debate Preps • Gingrich • Huntsman • Paul • Perry • Romney • Russia • Santorum • Technology
DEBATE PREP: Pakistan, Iran's model for success
Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran
November 14th, 2011
02:15 PM ET

DEBATE PREP: Pakistan, Iran's model for success

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 Ali Alfoneh, Special to CNN

Does an economically poor military dictatorship armed with the nuclear bomb sound familiar? If you were thinking Pakistan, you would be right. But increasingly also Iran, which is emulating its neighbor to the east.

To most Western observers this may seem odd.  After all why would Iran follow the example of a failed state rather than a more successful neighbor like Turkey?  The answer may lie in the perspective:  Seen from Tehran, Pakistan is not a failed state, but a tremendous success.

(See also: DEBATE PREP: Iraq's Iran problem, Iran's Iraq problem)

Pakistan may be a poor country, but the Pakistani military establishment manages to protect the privileges of the officer class, which constitutes the ruling elites of Pakistan.  Pakistan did experience international sanctions in the wake of its nuclear tests, but the nuclear capability has since provided Pakistan with a protective shield which makes Pakistan a beneficiary of United States military aid.  This is despite a record of contribution to proliferation of the nuclear bomb, despite of being caught harboring Osama Bin Laden and despite United States Army accusations of Pakistan supporting terrorist networks killing American troops in Afghanistan. FULL POST


Filed under: 2012 Election • Ahmadinejad • Analysis • Bachman • Cain • Debate Preps • Gingrich • Huntsman • Iran • Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps • Israel • Khamenei • Middle East • Nuclear • Pakistan • Paul • Perry • Romney • Sanctions • Santorum
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
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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