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


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Some GOP candidates support waterboarding but CIA reluctant
November 16th, 2011
10:37 AM ET

Some GOP candidates support waterboarding but CIA reluctant

By CNN Sr. National Security Producer Pam Benson

Some Republican presidential candidates want to put controversial harsh interrogation techniques back into the CIA toolbox, but whether the agency would ever use them again is very much in doubt.

During the GOP debate this weekend, several candidates said they supported reinstating the use of waterboarding, a technique that simulates drowning, and is seen by many as a form of torture.

CNN spoke to more than a half dozen current and former intelligence officials who all believe waterboarding was effective in getting critical information from suspected terrorist detainees at the time it was used, but they believe CIA officers today would be very reluctant to use the technique even it was authorized by all the appropriate officials.

FULL POST

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GOP candidates tackle foreign policy in debate
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Fromer House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Texas Governor Rick Perry at Saturday's debate
November 12th, 2011
11:08 PM ET

GOP candidates tackle foreign policy in debate

The Republican candidates for president outlined their foreign policy and national security visions in a debate Saturday, tackling issues that have largely taken a backseat in a presidential race that has been shaped by the troubled economy.

Two of the contenders, former pizza executive Herman Cain and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, said they would allow U.S. military and intelligence agencies to waterboard suspected terrorists.

President Barack Obama banned the practice shortly after taking office in 2009.

"I would return to that policy," Cain said. "I don't see that as torture. I see it as an enhanced interrogation technique."

READ COMPLETE STORY HERE


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Romney and Perry attack Obama handling of Israel and Iran
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Texas Governor Rick Perry at a debate in Las Vegas, Nevada last month.
November 9th, 2011
11:30 AM ET

Romney and Perry attack Obama handling of Israel and Iran

GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Perry came out swinging Wednesday with statements critical of President Obama's handling of the U.S. relationship with Israel, and his administration's policy toward Iran. The statements come a day after reports of an open mic picking up comments by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and President Obama about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In his statement, Romney says Obama is "disdainful of our special relationship of our special relationship with Israel."

In the aftermath of a U.N. report that documented Iran's progress toward making a nuclear weapon, Perry said Obama's policy on Iran "based on outreach and limited sanctions, has failed."

The statements come less than two weeks before CNN hosts a debate with the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation devoted to national security issues.
FULL POST

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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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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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CNN announces first GOP debate focused on national security
October 18th, 2011
07:27 AM ET

CNN announces first GOP debate focused on national security

National security will take center stage next month at a Republican presidential primary debate in the nation’s capital, The Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute and CNN announced Monday evening.

This will be the first debate of the 2012 presidential election to focus exclusively on the issues of national security and foreign policy.

CNN and the two conservative Washington-based think tanks said more details about the Nov. 15 debate will follow.

Watch for more updates on Security Clearance and CNN's Political Ticker


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