Separating from the GOP candidate pack
November 22nd, 2011
06:00 AM ET

Separating from the GOP candidate pack

By National Security Producer Jamie Crawford

There is one area where all eight Republican candidates seem to be in complete agreement: In their minds, Barack Obama's presidency has been a failure, and his national security policies have only served to weaken America's standing in the world, and left the United States more vulnerable to attack. That consensus aside, there are positions each candidate has taken in the areas of foreign policy and national security that set them apart from the field. As CNN prepares to host a debate Tuesday night on national security topics with the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute, here is a look at some distinctive positions and experiences the candidates are raising on the trail.
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Herman Cain

What sets Herman Cain completely apart from the rest of the field is his lack of foreign policy experience, and it is that distinction he is happy to wear as a badge of honor on the trail and his debate performances.

While he may lack experience in the foreign policy establishment, Cain says it would be his experience in the business world that would guide him on matters of national security.

FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Bachman • Cain • Debate Preps • Foreign Policy • Gingrich • Huntsman • Paul • Perry • Romney • Santorum
DEBATE PREP: Speak up about Mexican drug violence
Scarves embroidered with the account of murders are on display in a park in Mexico City
November 21st, 2011
01:20 PM ET

DEBATE PREP: Speak up about Mexican drug violence

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 Roger F. Noriega, Special to CNN

Republican presidential candidates have had little constructive to say on the issue of the bloody drug violence in neighboring Mexico.  They can change that as they meet to debate on Tuesday night.

President Obama’s Mexico strategy picked up where the Bush-era “Merida Plan” package left off.  It  amounts to “less of the same,” as U.S. law enforcement and community development support is delivered in dribs and drabs.  In 2012, if Mexicans choose a new president who decides to end the anti-drug offensive, we may wish that we had done more to support our Mexican allies when we had the chance.

Outgoing President Felipe Calderon launched a frontal offensive against criminal syndicates five years ago, enlisting the military alongside outgunned civilian police.  Although the vast majority of the 35,000 deaths in recent years are the result of criminal turf wars, most innocent Mexicans are beleaguered by insecurity and violence.  Many Mexicans wonder why they are paying such a high price to fight the illicit drug trade that services the insatiable demand for drugs in the United States – particularly when U.S. policy makers appear either indifferent or worse to their plight. FULL POST


Filed under: 2012 Election • Analysis • Bachman • Cain • Congress • Debate Preps • Gingrich • Huntsman • Mexico • Paul • Perry • Romney • Santorum
DEBATE PREP:  Back to the strategic future
November 21st, 2011
06:00 AM ET

DEBATE PREP: Back to the strategic future

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 Thomas Donnelly and Heritage Foundation's Baker Spring, Special to CNN

It is only a small exaggeration to say that the United States hasn’t had a coherent national security strategy since the end of the Cold War. To be sure, we have produced a back-breaking number of strategy documents and discussions, both in government and in think-tanks and academia.  And, at least until the Obama Administration moved into re-elect mode, there’s been a pretty consistent pattern to American strategic behavior.  But if we wish to maintain a “balance of power that favors freedom” and the American geopolitical leadership without which that balance goes tipsy, we need to start taking strategy-making seriously.

In a search for strategic clarity, we can do no better than to re-read the NSC 68 report done by the Truman Administration at the start of the Cold War.  While that document framed the policy of containment and the subsequent practical strategies that ushered the Soviet Union out of business, its enduring insight – one we appear to have lost touch with – is about the role of America in the world.  That role, the report declared, was anchored in the domestic character of the republic, and had consequences. FULL POST


Filed under: 2012 Election • Analysis • Bachman • Budget • Cain • Debate Preps • Defense Spending • Diplomacy • Gingrich • Huntsman • Military • Obama • Paul • Pentagon • Perry • Politics • Romney • Santorum • Think tank
DEBATE PREP: Missile defense is not expendable
November 20th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

DEBATE PREP: Missile defense is not expendable

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 Heritage Foundation's Bruce Klingner and Sally McNamara, Special to CNN

Ballistic missiles pose an increasing risk to the United States and its allies, particularly as more nations strive to acquire nuclear weapons. The once exclusive nuclear weapons club now has nine members, and Iran is knocking on the clubhouse door. Altogether, at least 32 countries have ballistic missile capabilities.

Defending the United States, its forward-deployed troops, and its friends and allies against such threats should be a national security priority for the U.S. president. We have a fledgling missile defense capability. But further investment, research and procurement are needed to truly realize a fully effective ballistic missile defense (BMD) system.

FULL POST


Filed under: 2012 Election • Analysis • Bachman • Cain • China • Debate Preps • Defense Spending • Gingrich • Huntsman • Paul • Perry • Romney • Santorum
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
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