The post Veteran's Day Republican presidential debate in South Carolina was dubbed the "Commander In Chief" debate and was supposed to be focused on "foreign policy". It would appear, however, that the Republican definition of foreign policy is basically "who do we bomb next?". Nearly every candidate, with the exceptions of Paul and Huntsman, appeared to be trying to drown out the other on the drums of war. In fact, Huntsman compared the neglect he and Paul were receiving to being left out in "Siberia".
The agenda could not have been more "Neo-Conservative" if William Kristol and Paul Wolfowitz had been running it. Conspicuously absent were questions about establishing relations, free trade, improving the global economy or even involvement in the UN or NATO. Nothing was mentioned about easing tensions or developing ties or fostering alliances. No, this was not a debate, this was a litmus test.
The candidates were asked if it would be appropriate to go to war in order to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Not wishing to appear too eager for bloodshed, several mentioned the use of economic sanctions and pressure prior to invasion. Ron Paul was the only voice in the crowd who pointed out that this same logic led us into the war with Iraq, which cost the country dearly, in both lives lost and billions of dollars spent. Dr. Paul drew applause when he stated that if the country should decide to go to war, it should be properly declared and ended as quickly as possible.
This type of talk was clearly not in vogue on this post Veteran's Day festival. Michele Bachmann brought up the threat that Iran posed to Israel, and included other rogue nations such as Pakistan. When asked if Pakistan should be viewed as a hostile country, Newt was quick to line up the crosshairs on that nation as well. If there had ever been any doubt before, it is now clear that, with the exception of Ron Paul and possibly Huntsman, any other candidate will mirror George W. Bush, taking us deeper into war and meddling in the affairs of countries who have no intention of fighting on their own behalf.
At one point during the debate, Mitt Romney repeated his call for a "New American Century" which is eerily reminiscent of the neo conservative group Project for a New American Century which included such lumineries as Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Gary Bauer and William Kristol. This group was arguably the force behind the invasion of Iraq, who had no ties to 9/11 and possessed no weapons of mass destruction. The toll on that country has been absolutely devastating, and while the taxpayer foots the bill for the military presence there, private corporations make huge profits in contracts and exploitation.
One particular highlight of the evening was the discussion of torture. The media blackout of Ron Paul may have been a mixed blessing during this debate since one can be assured that he will come down on the side of reason and humaneness. While Cain and Gingrich praised the effectiveness of "enhanced interrogation techniques", Dr. Paul questioned the effectiveness and reliability of such procedures, not to mention the fact that they are "illegal". Of course Cain might change his position if the suggestion were made to waterboard him in light of recent allegations.
If the GOP thought it was paying tribute to American Veterans with this debate, it could not have been more mistaken. Ron Paul receives significant contributions from veterans because he knows the purpose of war. Wars are not to be fought to prove a point or to spread a philosophy. Honor comes in fighting for a just cause. The decision to send American sons and daughters to war should not be made lightly. If there is just cause to go to war, then it should be formally declared and the soldiers should be given adequate means to obtain victory as quickly as possible. The truth is, we cannot afford to continue fighting other people's battles, especially to serve the agenda of a few corporate interests.