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National Defense … topics for next debate

October 18th, 2012 · No Comments

National Defense, the magazine of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), has this banner headline at this time:

The November issue’s lead article:  Top Five Threats to National Security in the Coming Decade.  Reading that article suggests, in comparison with the uninspired question arenas for next week’s Presidential debate on foreign policy, that National Defense has laid out the basis very appropriate question for the debate.

The National Defense Industrial Association has identified five critical national security threats for the coming debts.

  • Biological weapons;
  • Nukes;
  • Cyber-Attacks;
  • Climate Change; and
  • Trans-national Crime

Please explain your perspective on these, highlighting arenas for the American public where your precepts and approaches differ from your opponent.

Clearly, this question could lead to a serious discussion for days on end, rather than a few minutes, but it would put on the table five quite serious arenas of “foreign policy” and allow the candidates to draw out differences. (This path, of course, would risk that the candidates would continue the climate silence through addressing issues other than climate change.) Thus, an even better approach would be to devote a reasonable period of the debate — perhaps 30 minutes — to go through this list, allowing the two candidates to address each in turn.

Kudoes to National Defense for an interesting article (which merits reading, discussion and debate) that provides the basis for a meaningful Presidential debate item.

Shockingly, when considering the tentative (likely) question arenas for next week’s debate, it is hard to see that any of these “top five threats to national security in the coming decade” identified by the National Defense Industrial Association fit cleanly into the list. Here is that list:

  • America’s role in the world;
  • Our longest war – Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • Red Lines – Israel and Iran
  • The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism – I
  • The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism – II
  • The Rise of China and Tomorrow’s World

Here is what I commented when first seeing the list

Let’s see:

  1. 4 of the 6 are on the Middle East. Guess we know, clearly, what is “the world”. Of BRIC, only China? Nothing on Europe, Japan, Oceania, Africa, South America…
  2. Nothing here on how the world community works together (or not) on critical issues — like how does the Global community cooperate (or not…) on addressing climate change. Or, for example, what is the role of the UN, international law, and otherwise as related to the United States.
  3. What about questioning about the varying tools of power? Military, economic, cultural, diplomatic…
  4. What about trade?

Now, as per this post, I would certainly add a “5”:

Why not use National Defense’s identified top five threats to national security as the basis for a debate question or for a portion of the debate?

PS: I spent a very interesting day, yesterday, at the Navy Energy Forum, hosted by NDIA and the U.S. Navy.  I plan on writing several pieces from / based on / derived from the discussions yesterday.   Hat tip to an NDIA National Defense staffer, who highlighted the “top five threats” article to me when I discussed climate change with him.

PSPS:  A recent post re National Defense magazine, Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence … NDIA edition …

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Tags: 2012 Presidential Election · climate change