The GOP Presidential debate on Tuesday revolved around national security and terrorism. Since there are 9 remaining front-runners for the GOP nomination, it is important to examine their proposed foreign policy platforms. Here they are, starting with those polling highest:
- Donald Trump: He was called a “Chaos Candidate” by Jeb Bush and affirmed that he would be open to closing down parts of the internet in order to combat violent extremism, particularly recruitment. He also advocates for promoting the status quo, not regime change, in authoritarian countries, including Syria.
- Ben Carson: He made many references to his skills and experience as a neurosurgeon, to the point where the parallels didn’t make much sense. He just made a recent trip to a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan and concluded that the US should stay out of meddling in the Middle East.
- Ted Cruz: He got into fights with Wolf Blitzer trying to get more time, trying to bash the mainstream media, a popular tactic with the GOP base last debate. He also wants to carpet bomb the Islamic State and believes that leaving Bashar al-Assad in power is the best strategy.
- Marco Rubio: He was able to explain the nuclear triad to the other candidates and the audience. He also held his own on metadata debate with Ted Cruz over the government’s collection of information regarding terrorist suspects. He will consider using ground troops if necessary in the battle against the Islamic State.
- Jeb Bush: He remained adamant that the US will only be able to defeat the Islamic State by coming together with the Arab World, something that demonstrates his moderate stance on the issue. He wants to institute a no-fly zone in Syria.
- Carly Fiorina: She helped out the National Security Administration (NSA) after 9/11, giving them the HP equipment that they needed.
- Chris Christie: He emphasized his experience in holding executive office and making tough choices after 9/11. This showcased him as a less establishment-based candidate, one that doesn’t have direct ties to Washington. He wants to establish a no-fly zone in Syria, one where we could shoot down Russian planes if necessary.
- John Kasich: He is not opposed to the use of ground troops in Syria if they are deemed necessary. He also thought that the conference in Paris should have been on anti-terrorism operations rather than climate change.
- Rand Paul: He emphasized civil liberties and how it was important to uphold constitutional rights despite security concerns. He accused Trump of ignoring the 1st amendment in his proposal to shut down the Internet.
As the debate reached its end, it was clear that not all candidates will make it to the next one. With the first caucuses and elections less than two months away, this was a test that all of the candidates had to pass. It will interesting to see what February holds for these candidates and how their national security stances might change as they continue through the primary.