Well, I only caught the last bit of this debate (had to finish my Electricity & Magnetism HW…), but there were several interesting points.
The first issue I heard the candidates talking about was the issue of Iran and the possibility that they develop nuclear weapons. First of all, Newt Gingrich said (paraphrased):
We live in a country in which we have to worry about nukes going off in our own cities
I really have no idea what he means by that. Believe me Mr. Gingrich, nuclear warheads will not explode on a whim. You could probably drop one out of a plane at 30,000 feet and it wouldn’t explode on impact: you have to start a nuclear reaction.
However, the real issue is the candidates’ (except for Paul) lust for war in Iran. Gingrich claimed that a preemptive strik in Iran is necessary to keep them from developing nukes. The general argument went like this:
- Iran will build/develop a nuclear weapon
- They will sell those weapons to radical groups like Hezbollah
- Those groups will smuggle those weapons into the US through South America
- Iran will use their one or two nuclear warheads to threaten us and “get away with whatever they want”
Yeah… One or two nukes… SCARY! According to the Federation of American Scientists, Russia has 11,000 nuclear warheads, and the US is close behind with 8,500 [source]. What kind of threatening power could Iran possibly gain with one or two warheads? As pointed out by Mr. Paul, we dealt with the Cold War and the constant threat of nuclear attack. We’ve done this before, and Iran is no Russia…
To address the point of smuggling warheads into the country, yes, that is possible. However, as far as I am aware, there is no evidence that Iran is developing a nuclear warhead (or several), so we’re not exactly there. Trying to plan for every possible future is impossible.
Many of the candidates (all of them except Ron Paul, I think) criticized Obama for being “timid” when it came to action in Iran. The three of them have so much enthusiasm for taking our military into Iran. It’s upsetting. I strongly disagree with the sentiment that we must fight other nations if they don’t adhere to our policies. Besides, we’re hardly the ones to criticize Iran for having a nuclear warhead or two; we have thousands of times as many. I agree with Ron Paul - we need to talk to Iran, like we did with Russia, to navigate through this tricky mess. We cannot treat Ahmadinejad like he is a child, or like he is crazy. The only way to get him to respect us is by respecting him.
All of the candidates agreed tonight that the federal government has no place in the education system. They also seemed to think that the Federal Teacher’s Union is a bad thing rather than a good thing, putting the emphasis on protecting teachers rather than doing a good job of teaching students. I’ll admit, I really know nothing about this issue. I’m open to the idea of education reform. Newt Gingrich said that he would turn control of the school system over to parents rather than local, state, or federal governments. I understand that he wants government out of our schools. What I don’t understand though is where he thinks the money would come from? Our schools are funded by the government, and that funding has been getting slimmer and slimmer every year. Is he suggesting that we turn education into a commercial venture? That would be a large overhaul indeed, and I don’t think it would succeed - at least, not without a very detailed plan, which I’m fairly certain he doesn’t have.
Oh, here’s a good reason not to vote for Newt Gingrich: he claimed that he would “open up federal lands, open up offshore drilling, and replace the EPA” in order to bring oil prices down. Oh Lordy… Yes, Newt, let’s just do away with our nature preserves and the Environmental Protection Agency so we can drill for oil. What kind of sick, perverted people are we? We would rather have cheap oil and continue polluting like crazy than preserve the beauty of our planet. You want to lead the world, America? Why don’t we show the world (including India and China) that we can develop an efficient energy infrastructure that doesn’t depend on oil (or coal!)?
One final note: Rick Santorum commented on how he voted for “No Child Left Behind” by saying, “It was against my personal values, but sometimes when you’re part of a team, you have to take one for the team.” By team, he was referring to the Republican Party. I wonder if this comment will sink him? As Ron Paul later pointed out, this “team sport” approach to politics is precisely what is wrong in Washington. Our politicians shouldn’t be voting based on what their party believes in. They should be voting based on what they think is right! By “playing” on “teams,” we have a polarized government that excels at getting absolutely nothing done.