Debate Night in Sin City

October 18, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Tonight, the Republican Presidential candidates gather in Las Vegas for another primary debate, hosted by CNN and the Western Republican Leadership Conference (WRLC). The debate will begin at 8 p.m. EST. This morning, CNN announced that it will partner with The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute to host a foreign policy and national security focused debate on November 15 in Washington, D.C. AEI president Arthur Brooks said, “We hope that this debate will illuminate the candidates’ positions on national security and foreign policy at a critical time for America in the world.”

Must Reads

USGLC in the News

Clinton asks Kerry for help on budget (Josh Rogin, The Cable)

If Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) becomes the next secretary of state, he will inherit a department facing deep budget cuts. Unless, that is, he defends the State and USAID budgets now as part of the supercommittee that is looking for $1.2 trillion in savings by Thanksgiving.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote to Kerry to ask him for help defending the State and USAID budgets earlier this year, in a letter posted to the website of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.

Who’s in the News

Clinton arrives in Libya bearing aid and encouragement (Joby Warrick, Washington Post)
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled to the Libyan capital on Tuesday, bringing encouragement and millions of dollars in new U.S. aid to a transitional government struggling to consolidate control over a country ravaged by dictatorship and civil war.  Clinton arrived in Tripoli just after noon, becoming the first cabinet-level U.S. official to visit the country since autocratic leader Moammar Gaddafi was driven from the capital nearly two months ago.

Smart Power

Soft Power Under Obama (Mark Lagon, ISN)

One irony of the Obama presidency is how much it relies on hard power. The president came into office proposing a dramatic shift from George W. Bush’s perceived unilateralism, and most of his predecessor’s hard-edged counterterrorism tactics and massive deployments in wars abroad. Yet after three years, Obama has escalated forces in Afghanistan, embraced the widespread use of unmanned drones to kill terrorists at the risk of civilian casualties, kept Guantánamo open, and killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in a thoroughly unilateral fashion.  What he hasn’t accomplished to any great degree is what most observers assumed would be the hallmark of his approach to foreign affairs—a full assertion of the soft power that makes hard power more effective.

Malawi expects frozen foreign aid to resume (Mabvuto Banda, Reuters)

Aid-dependent Malawi expects foreign donors to resume support next year, a senior minister said on Tuesday, despite its biggest donor Britain saying it has no plans to restart funding.  Major aid donors suspended packages worth around $1 billion over concerns about human rights abuses and maladministration by President Bingu wa Mutharika, who drew international condemnation when his forces killed 20 protesters at anti-government rallies in July.

Politics/Foreign Policy

GOP debate: Heritage, AEI and CNN to host foreign policy debate (Allen McDuffee, ThinkTanked)

The American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation and CNN will host a Republican presidential candidate debate on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 8pm, the organizations have announced.  The topic of the debate will be national security and foreign policy.

In Nevada, it’s Romney and Paul (Cristina Silva and Holly Ramer, Associated Press)

Mitt Romney opened his state campaign headquarters. Ron Paul rolled out his campaign’s central policy plan. They’re both in Nevada, a state that no one else seems to be contesting in earnest.  Most of the GOP field will convene here Tuesday for a presidential debate at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino. But on Monday, the contenders were scattered, with two canceling events in Nevada to protest the state’s decision to move its caucuses earlier in 2012. That move has jeopardized New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary.

Republicans and Foreign Policy (Editorial, New York Times)

For a while, we were concerned that the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination were not saying much about national security and foreign affairs. Now that a few have started, maybe they were better off before.  Certainly, the Republican hopefuls have put to rest any lingering notion that their party is the one to trust with the nation’s security. The United States is involved in two wars with more than 100,000 troops overseas. China is rising, relations with Pakistan are plummeting, Iran and North Korea are advancing their nuclear programs. The Middle East is in turmoil. Yet the candidates offer largely bad analysis and worse solutions, nothing that suggests real understanding or new ideas.