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

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soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Ta Larick

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  2. Lenore Soucek

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  3. Concerned (Sephardic Jew) Citizen

    November 16, 2011 at 5:08 am | Reply
  4. Zach

    For anyone interested in ending the war in Afghanistan, visit the Facebook Page titled, "End the War in Afghanistan Now". "Like" the page so you can spread posts (articles, wall posts, etc.) that are placed on the wall...the more people who like it, the more pressure we can place on our political officials. Also, read the 11 reasons why we need to end the war (located in the info section). Spread the word...Together, we can bring the troops home.

    November 10, 2011 at 11:43 am | Reply
    • markjuliansmith

      Zach you may not have noticed but this is a war against a Religion of Certainty which knows no borders and regards the fate of Other knows no boundaries.

      This is about Foundation text informing actions against Other and not simply a localized culture seeking dominance within a National boundary.

      It may also have passed you attention immense resources, in my view, are being having to be misdirected at simply addressing the outcomes of this Religion of Certainty – the Terror – and not at the source its foundation text to require it be change so that it does not continue to inform each new generation Other is less.

      We do not allow secular foundation text to influence new citizens yet we do for Religions.

      We have to fight this war wherever it resides. Which as we see with our increased expenditure on security it is both internal and external.

      Until the Foundation text is forced to be changed either by agreement or coercion – the terror continues – and Wars whether you like it or not if you really believe in enabling the independence of Other will have to be fought and hard.

      November 10, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Reply
      • Zach


        Without getting into details, I quite confident that my knowledge of both the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars probably surpasses 99% of the American population. If you happen to visit the Facebook page I mentioned, you will see 11 reasons why we need to leave Afghanistan. Depending on how you look at it, three or four of the reasons discuss continuing the war, but in other parts of the world where it is more of a necessity. The Horn of Africa is producing more terrorist than Pakistan or Afghanistan; plus, over the last six months, we have proven that drone strikes and special operation missions are a much more effective way of disintegrating terrorism and terrorist activities. We do not need to nation build to maintain our safety in America...we simply need to search-out terrorist organizations and destroy them. There will always be enemies...but are we do nation build in every country that has terrorists? I do not think that is a viable option. Thanks for your input.

        November 10, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
      • markjuliansmith

        "..not nee d to nation build to maintain our safety in America…we simply need to search-out terrorist organizations and destroy them."

        Well Zach 99% of what? Does it make any difference if it does not contribute in the long run to stop the terror.

        I would agree to the notion of nation building is a wasted effort only if the foundation text remains the same ie counter to the US constitution or similar. But should we make it easy by enabling the infrastructure to externalize terror as we see from Iran now – by the container load?

        But ask yourself were do these terrorists come from in the first place – are they really as generic as you appear to think or as stupid? And more pertinently your tactic at eliminating terrorists assumes 1. they will simply line up to be shot down and will not adapt and move into areas much more difficult to target with missiles i.e your home town.

        My point is terrorists and potential terrorists are more and more simply not out there behind a bush in another Nation we can take out with a missile they are becoming as we see much more closer to home and simply withdrawing leaving women in particular to the ravages of demented text will not stop the war.

        Taking out terrorists from our lounge rooms does not change the reasons why the will still keep coming and affect outcomes elsewhere in regions we withdraw from over which because of that withdrawal we no longer have any hope of combating. And given technology as it is nor will we be safe in those lounge rooms.

        The US cut itself off from being 'responsible' before for what occurred elsewhere – did not want to be involved on the ground – what happened – did it go away?

        The fact is Zach after the US World War II evaluation what was it those at the time determined should have happened which would have most likely stopped the War but did not? It has to do with Manchuria.

        Clearly we come from different positions my view is your dealing with the futility of dealing with the outcome, Terror, in the way we are, which is true, and I am simply saying targeting with missiles human beings and not the foundation text which formed them is a futile exercise – humans adapt – terror will manifest in a different way and increase given the critical mass of adherents do in any society within which they reside.

        November 10, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
  5. Steve H.

    I think the very first question asked of each candidate is if they have had access to classified intelligence information.

    As best as i can tell from Wikipedia, only Michelle Bachmann (newly appointed to the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence) and possibly Newt Gingrich can answer in the affirmative.

    November 9, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Reply
  6. markjuliansmith

    Coercion is necessarily a part of state-building and continued state-security.

    Excerpt from THE ART OF COERCION, ANTONIO GIUSTOZZI Columbia University Press New York 2011

    "In Western democracies, the predominant understanding of 'virtuous' state-building is that there is little role for coercion as a key ingredient of the process. Although some scholars have already challenged this assumption. Western politicians and policy makers cling stubbornly to a bottom-up evolution of a coalition of communities, interacting with a ruler until a 'social contract' is successfully formulated. The 'social contract' is of course deeply rooted in Western political philosophy; Kant's view of it is the most prevalent today, not least because of John Rawls' writing on the concept in the 1970s. Violence is considered the realm of extremist groups and terrorists, or of rogue and dysfunctional states and politicians. Liberal states, based on a 'social contract' with their citizens, do not sully themselves in coercion. Most authors therefore prefer to stress the importance of legitimacy, dispute-settling and/or the provision of public goods and political order as the key ingredients of state formation.

    While this might be an attractive ideological presentation (as already suggested by Hume in Of Civil Liberty), it seems quite at odds with the results of historical research. As our discussion of the contending opinions shows, such research unequivocally suggests a much more complex interaction of various factors, among which coercion is of great importance. Understanding the role of coercion in state-building has to be dealt with if we are to move beyond the ideological self-regard of elites, states and international relations. There is in fact a rich literature, scholarly and otherwise, on specific aspects of state coercion, but its evaluation has struggled to find a legitimate place in academia and has been too often left to the attention of non-specialists and amateurs, particularly as far as the more technical aspects of it are concerned. Although the accumulated body of literature cannot answer all the questions and fill all the gaps in our understanding of state-building, it certainly represents a point of departure for developing a new interpretation."

    Comment: For a social contract to work there have to be agreed base ethics. The Islamic terror and counter terror informs us there is no agreement to the extent communities can avoid terror in their lives. This is the point at which the state to preserve security needs to confront not the result of this discord, Terror, for this does and has not resolved the problem, but the very reason for the terror in the first place – the foundation text driving the ethics which inform new citizens from the various communities how they are to view and treat Other.

    Unless foundation text is firstly accepted is the problem as Plato pointed out so many years ago and then changes made, either through mutually agreed dialogue or if this fails state coercion, then the terror and counter-terror will continue and even increase. As each side ups the anti and sets up the societal constructs to support even more conflict.

    The state by avoiding coersion does not avoid violent conflict. In fact it enables even greater violence to occur and continue. The state fraudulently, as we see, distances itself by saying such acts of terror are criminal acts devoid of linkages to foundation text regards Other, washing its hands time after time of responsibility for the carnage due its inaction against the real culprit foundation text.

    Having various Religions of Certainty have public meetings in the midst of terror to assure us all is well with the world and we take their word for it is simply, given outcomes – insane.

    November 7, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Reply
  7. David

    The Heritage Foundation *and* the American Enterprise Institute? Both? Wow, is this how CNN provides balance nowadays?

    November 7, 2011 at 10:07 am | Reply

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