Live blogging the GOP foreign policy debate


The first question is boiling down to: is it worthwhile going to war against Iran?

Mirtt Romney and Newt Gingrich: Yes, there should be a credible threat of war.

Herman Cain: Not yet.

Ron Paul: No.


Gingrich wants scientists assassinated, systems disrupted with "plausible deniability" — which gets a wave of (derisive?) laughter. He also wants close cooperation with israel. Here’s the thing: As far as we know, we have all three things; scientists assassinated, systems disrupted and close cooperation with Israel.

Rick Perry, who is not asked the question — he’s asked about Afghanistan — manages to get in the shutting down of the Iranian Central Bank, which interestingly is the most realistic next step, with backing in Congress, and under serious consideration by the White House.

Rick Santorum complains again about not being asked about Iran, even though he was asked about Iran. This is not going to tamp down the "whiner" image.

But he has the guts to note that GW Bush quashed earlier Iran containment initiatives. "We should be working with israel right now, to do what they did in Syria, what they did in Iraq, which is take out that nuclear capability." I guess add that to the "yes to military option" column.

So, Romney, Gingrich, Santorum: A qualified yes to "is war worthwhile." Cain: not now. Paul: No. Perry, Michele Bachmann and Jon Huntsman are not asked the question, although Perry gets in a sanctions enhancement endorsement. 

Nuanced answer from Santorunm U.S. military assistance overseas a) is spent on hardware in the United States and b) gives the United States leverage.


Rick Perry says his foreign aid budget will start at $0. Is he gonna get in the Israel caveat?

Michele Bachmann rejects Perry’s "zero dollars" starting point. She would reduce foreign aid to many countries but recognizes the need for assistance to Pakistan, to help control its nuclear capacity. Santorum, speaking later, agrees. 

Bachmann: "It seems like the table is being set for worldwide nuclear war with Israel … President Obama stands with Occupy Wall Street, but he doesn’t stand with Israel. Israel looks at president Obama and doesn’t see a friend."

Gingrich agrees with "start foreign aid with zero," per Perry.

Gingrich worries that "Arab Spring" is becoming an "anti-Christian Spring."

Santorum delivers a more nuanced version of Gingrich’s self-contradictory earlier take on announcing a policy he says he would plausibly deny, re: covert action and Iran. Santorum suggests such covert action is underway, without explicitly stating U.S. involvement: "There have been scientists turning up dead. There have been (disruptions) in their computer programs. I hope we’re involved with that."


A Tweeter asks: Does Gov. Perry "starts at zero" policy include Israel; Perry — "Absolutely" although "it makes sense" that Israel, after "making its case" would have substantive assistance.

The Republican Jewish Coalition tweets:  "hoping @perrytruthteam will brief their man on 10-year Memorandum of Understanding that governs US- #Israel funding levels."

In politicalese, that translates as "Gevalt."

I’ll catch the last half hour (dropped by my local CBS affiliate) tomorrow.

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