You’ll Never Guess Who Came Up With Some Brilliant Debate Questions

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As the title of this post suggests, you’re probably guessing it wasn’t a source you’d expect to find intelligent questions. And you’d be correct! Longtime readers of mine will recognize one of my favorite sources for pure, unadulterated leftism – that’s right, The Nation! One newsletter this week featured a gem from Andrew J. Bacevich titled, “6 questions you won’t hear during the debates”

Since it sounded like a quick, fun read good for a laugh or two I clicked the link and it did not disappoint – until it pitched a curve ball toward the end. The first four serve up some sofballs, to which I offer easy responses for any candidate rather than waste your time with Bacevich’s predictable answers:

1. The War on Terror

Nearly 15 years after this “war” was launched by George W. Bush, why hasn’t “the most powerful military in the world,” “the finest fighting force in the history of the world” won it? Why isn’t victory anywhere in sight?

We transitioned from a president who wasn’t committed to destroying our enemies wherever they may be to a president who was committed to surrendering to them. Taking the gloves off and going after the bad guys, regardless of which countries we have to anger by entering them, does not guarantee success – but not doing so guarantees failure.

2. Nuclear Weapons

Today, more than 70 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, what purpose do nukes serve? How many nuclear weapons and delivery systems does the United States actually need?

As many as it takes to scare any ambitious nuclear country from using theirs. This list will soon include our new partners in peace in Iran.

3. Energy Security

Given the availability of abundant oil and natural gas reserves in the Western Hemisphere and the potential future abundance of alternative energy systems, why should the Persian Gulf continue to qualify as a vital US national security interest?

Check out the nations where terror groups have the most control and what is the source of a lot of their financing. I’ll give you a hint – the source is not solar panels and windmills

4. Assassination

Now that the United States has normalized assassination as an instrument of policy, how well is it working? What are its benefits and costs?

Up until a few years ago we were focused on capturing high level bad guys to get intel out of them. Since the new policy of releasing them hasn’t magically rehabilitated them, what’s our other option supposed to be?

Then we got to the fifth question, and Bacevich’s response made my jaw drop – here it is in its entirety:

5. Europe

Seventy years after World War II and a quarter-century after the Cold War ended, why does European security remain an American responsibility? Given that Europeans are rich enough to defend themselves, why shouldn’t they?

Americans love Europe: old castles, excellent cuisine, and cultural attractions galore. Once upon a time, the parts of Europe that Americans love best needed protection. Devastated by World War II, Western Europe faced in the Soviet Union a threat that it could not handle alone. In a singular act of generosity laced with self-interest, Washington came to the rescue. By forming NATO, the United States committed itself to defend its impoverished and vulnerable European allies. Over time this commitment enabled France, Great Britain, West Germany, and other nearby countries to recover from the global war and become strong, prosperous, and democratic countries.

Today Europe is “whole and free,” incorporating not only most of the former Soviet empire, but even parts of the old Soviet Union itself. In place of the former Soviet threat, there is Vladimir Putin, a bully governing a rickety energy state that, media hype notwithstanding, poses no more than a modest danger to Europe itself. Collectively, the European Union’s economy, at $18 trillion, equals that of the United States and exceeds Russia’s, even in sunnier times, by a factor of nine. Its total population, easily outnumbering our own, is more than triple Russia’s. What these numbers tell us is that Europe is entirely capable of funding and organizing its own defense if it chooses to do so.

It chooses otherwise, in effect opting for something approximating disarmament. As a percentage of the gross domestic product, European nations spend a fraction of what the United States does on defense. When it comes to armaments, they prefer to be free riders and Washington indulges that choice. So even today, seven decades after World War II ended, US forces continue to garrison Europe and America’s obligation to defend 26 countries on the far side of the Atlantic remains intact.

The persistence of this anomalous situation deserves election-year attention for one very important reason. It gets to the question of whether the United States can ever declare mission accomplished. Since the end of World War II, Washington has extended its security umbrella to cover not only Europe, but also virtually all of Latin America and large parts of East Asia. More recently, the Middle East, Central Asia, and now Africa have come in for increased attention. Today, US forces alone maintain an active presence in 147 countries.

Do our troops ever really get to “come home”? The question is more than theoretical in nature. To answer it is to expose the real purpose of American globalism, which means, of course, that none of the candidates will touch it with a 10-foot pole.

Preach, Brother! Granted, he goes off the rails a bit in downplaying the Russian threat (Eastern Europeans may beg to differ) and closes with one of the favorite specters of the radical Left, globalism. But suggesting that Europeans stop being allowed to freeload off of our defense budget to fund their failing socialist states? This is music to my ears! Now where have we heard this idea before?
And finally the grand finale, and again I’ll post the response in its entirety:

6. Debt

Does the national debt constitute a threat to national security? If so, what are some politically plausible ways of reining it in?

Together, the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama can take credit for tripling the national debt since 2000. Well before Election Day this coming November, the total debt, now exceeding the entire gross domestic product, will breach the $19 trillion mark.

In 2010, Admiral Mike Mullen, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described that debt as “the most significant threat to our national security.” Although in doing so he wandered a bit out of his lane, he performed a rare and useful service by drawing a link between long-term security and fiscal responsibility. Ever so briefly, a senior military officer allowed consideration of the national interest to take precedence over the care and feeding of the military-industrial complex. It didn’t last long.

Mullen’s comment garnered a bit of attention, but failed to spur any serious congressional action. Again, we can see why, since Congress functions as an unindicted co-conspirator in the workings of that lucrative collaboration. Returning to anything like a balanced budget would require legislators to make precisely the sorts of choices that they are especially loathe to make—cutting military programs that line the pockets of donors and provide jobs for constituents. (Although the F-35 fighter may be one of the most bloated and expensive weapons programs in history, even Democratic Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders has left no stone unturned in lobbying to get those planes stationed in his hometown of Burlington.)

Recently, the role of Congress in authorizing an increase in the debt ceiling has provided Republicans with an excuse for political posturing, laying responsibility for all that red ink entirely at the feet of President Obama—this despite the fact that he has reduced the annual deficit by two-thirds, from $1.3 trillion the year he took office to $439 billion last year.

This much is certain: regardless of who takes the prize in November, the United States will continue to accumulate debt at a non-trivial rate. If a Democrat occupies the White House, Republicans will pretend to care. If our next president is a Republican, they will keep mum. In either case, the approach to national security that does so much to keep the books out of balance will remain intact.

Yet another beverage spitting moment! Leftists recognizing that our national debt is a problem when there is a sitting Democrat in the White House? And criticism of Bernie Sanders in this publication? When did the editors at National Review hijack The Nation’s servers and start modifying their web content? Granted the solution of cutting military spending is meaningless next to our unfunded entitlement liabilities, but opposition to the F-35? This is one of the rare moments where conservatives and leftists can unite in opposing a fighter jet whose main purpose is to spend a lot of money.

Of course, the Obama presidency has been such a disaster where the bar has been lowered to the
point where “only” adding nearly half a trillion dollars in debt is an accomplishment. And annual debt is projected to increase again, but it’s interesting that The Nation would present this as an issue when they’re confident that we’re a year away from swearing in a Socialist president.

As I mentioned, there was a lot to disagree with in this post, but when even the Radical Left is starting to take real problems seriously (notice the lack of Climate Change or race/gender grievancing in those questions), there may be hope.

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Cross posted from Brother Bob’s Blog

Blogging by the credo of "Making the world a more offensive place, one blog post at a time", Brother Bob started writing posts around the beginning of the Obama presidency over at Brother Bob's Blog. A born-again Existentialist and self-professed libertarian with conservative tendencies, he has ironically chosen to live in the Washington, DC area - deep behind enemy lines. He has always loved history, and spent eight years volunteering as a tour guide on weekends, giving over 200 tours to roughly 2,500 mostly foreign guests. His tours were highlighted by stories generally not found in the history books or most other tours, such as the importance of the Battle if Antietam, the origins or Arlington Cemetery, and dispelling the myths of FDR's New Deal. Although his favorite subject to blog about is Economics, as seen in his Economics for Politicians series, his posts try to address angles that other conservative writers and the mainstream media (naturally!) miss. "There's no point in putting up a post on a subject that someone smarter than me has already written". He believes in the "Happy Warrior" approach, and tries to inject humor in his posts, sometimes successfully. Two such examples are his posts comparing the modern left to the horrible Star Wars prequels, and analyzing the laments of a DC woman in search of a feminist boyfriend. Brother Bob lives with his very patient wife known as Sister Babe, and their fantastic son. Little Bob. Little Bob is also the reason that being a tour guide came to an end, as spending Saturdays raising a son takes priority over giving lectures to foreign visitors on the folly of Keynesian economics. BB is also grateful for the opportunity to take his place among the outstanding writers at Flopping Aces, appreciates every person who takes the time to read his posts, and especially those who join him in the conversation in the comments.

13 Responses to “You’ll Never Guess Who Came Up With Some Brilliant Debate Questions”

  1. 1


    I can point out one benefit of having our military in Europe:
    My wife, daughter and I really enjoyed our stay in Germany. We were able to travel across Europe, even to East Germany (seeing Communism in action was a real eye-opener). Many young Americans have gotten the benefit of experiencing foreign societies and meeting the people.
    Not all of the experiences were positive, of course (a waiter in Paris tried to slap my wife once), but on the whole, it was a good thing for many youngsters who otherwise would never have had the opportunity.

  2. 2

    Nanny G

    As to #5:

    Do our troops ever really get to “come home”? The question is more than theoretical in nature. To answer it is to expose the real purpose of American globalism, which means, of course, that none of the candidates will touch it with a 10-foot pole.

    Preach, Brother!

    One strategic point he missed was that this allows us to set many assets forward.
    Thousands of men and their equipment are thus positioned for any eventuality.
    It is far easier to land injured people from Afghanistan or Iraq in Germany (like we do) than try to keep them alive until they can reach our shores.
    It works both ways.

    As to #6:
    The real problem with the national debt lately has been the redefining of what a ”cut” is.
    To Republicans (and all dictionaries) a cut means a lowering of the amount spent on a budget item.
    To Democrats a cut means less growth in that budget item than the % of growth from the previous yearly budget.

    When Republicans try to make ”real” cuts, Democrats schlep out their anecdotal cases of heart-wrenching people in crisis.
    Of course THOSE examples would NOT be cut; they are the proper targets of programs.
    But other cases, along with the bloated bureaucracies that serve them do need to be cut.
    And should be.

    Perhaps what we need is a nominee who is not bound by Political Correctness, the Left’s definitions of terms, the limits of the Overton Window and one who sees through a BS anecdote to the real bottom line.
    Who fills that bill?

  3. 4


    Nearly 15 years after this “war” was launched by George W. Bush, why hasn’t “the most powerful military in the world,” “the finest fighting force in the history of the world” won it? Why isn’t victory anywhere in sight?

    We transitioned from a president who wasn’t committed to destroying our enemies wherever they may be to a president who was committed to surrendering to them. Taking the gloves off and going after the bad guys, regardless of which countries we have to anger by entering them, does not guarantee success – but not doing so guarantees failure.

    To say we weren’t committed during the Bush years or they hamstrung us, suggests those of us who were in theater (Iraq and A-stan) weren’t doing our jobs. At no point did they say don’t do this mission or that mission. It is easy to sit on the sidelines say, “cross borders to pursue of the enemy”. Most of the missions SOF and conventional forces performed will never see the light of day in terms of details because of the sensitivity of those missions.

  4. 5

    Nanny G

    @David: I think the phrase:

    We transitioned from a president who wasn’t committed to destroying our enemies wherever they may be….

    Has more to do with bigger things than our individual forces doing the great job they did.
    It has more to do with the way our leaders decided not to propagandize the enemy into submission.
    Do you recall how there was – initially – an attempt to do a radio and other media campaign to make it clear that ”alllah was NOT on the side of the Taliban or al Qaeda?”
    But after buckling to the multiculturalists, the Bush Admin ended all propaganda against our enemy.
    That was bad.
    It undermined all your wonderful efforts.

    Another example was when Bush allowed Turkey to do a 180 after promising to let our ground troops sweep into Iraq in great numbers from BOTH the north as well as the south.
    Had we forced Turkey to keep its word we could have pinched off all of Saddam’s forces.
    Instead they were able to fade into the north and into civilian populations we didn’t control.
    Again, not the fault of our great forces on the ground.

    Things like this contributed to Obama inheriting a war he could either win or lose.
    He picked lose.

  5. 8

    Brother Bob


    @David: No disrespect intended – Nanny summed up my thought process pretty well. Another example is how we’ve allowed Iran to attack our troops in Iraq since Dubya’s presidency. Living in DC I occasionally get to talk to “people who know things” and the few experts I’ve asked have no idea why we’ve allowed this to happen, either.

  6. 9

    Brother Bob


    @Nanny G: #2: I agree that having those bases in Europe helps support our troops in the hot areas. I’m not ready to go full isolationist and don’t have a defdinitive answer to this, but I think it’s high time we stop subsidizing Europe’s decaying welfare state and have them contribute their fair share toward global security

  7. 12


    @David. DO NOT accept ANY thought that the lack of a “will to win” on the part of our political leadership, or the lack of enthusiasm displayed by those who lack a “Warriors Spirit” , in ANY way reflects on you or your cohorts who honored yourselves and our country by responding to the call to duty!
    As a two-tour participant in the American effort in Vietnam, I know firsthand what that feels like.
    One of the things I’m proudest of is the total commitment of MY Band-of-Brothers to insure that YOUR Band-of-Brothers not face the same reception when coming home as ours did.
    Those who would denigrate the honor, courage, and commitment with which you served do nothing but expose their own lack of understanding of what that commitment to others often entails.

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