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After Paris, National Security Issues Lead Democratic Debate

The format of the Democratic debate was altered at the last minute to give each candidate time to give a statement about the Paris terror attacks at the beginning of the debate.

Speaking first, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said that, “Together, leading the world, this country will rid our planet of this barbarous organization called ISIS.” However, it remains to be seen how Sanders would lead this fight since he advocates a non-interventionist approach and says that theU.S. should only have a very limited supporting role in the fight in Syria. Sanders believes that the fight against the Islamic State can only be effectively waged by Muslims.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeatedly identified the enemy as jihadists, rejecting the non-descript terminology used by the Obama Administration who calls them “violent extremists.” Clinton made no sweeping promises as Sanders. Rather she said she would be laying out “in detail what I think we need to do to with our friends and allies — in Europe and elsewhere — to do a better job of coordinating efforts against the scourge of terrorisim.” She stressed that “all the other issues we want to deal with depend on us being secure and strong.”

In his opening statement, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley said that the events in Paris spoke to the new face of “conflict and warfare” in the 21st century, and as such, required “new thinking, fresh approaches.” O’Malley remarked that “we have a lot of work to do to better prepare out nation and to better lead this world into this new century.”

Polling shows that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dominated last night’s Democratic presidential debate, particularly on national security.

Public Policy Polling came out with the first post-debate poll that showed 67% of Democratic primary voters declaring Clinton the overall winner of the second presidential primary debate and 75% saying they most trust her on national security of the three candidates. The following is a summary of the national security positions taken by each candidate during the debate:

Hillary Clinton

She aligned herself closely with President Obama throughout the debate but presented three areas of difference on Islamist extremism: Identification of the enemy; support for Syrian rebels and an implicit criticism of President Obama for suggesting that “containment” of the Islamic State is a sign of success.

Right off the bat, Clinton repeatedly used Islamic terminology to define the enemy as “jihadist.” She also seemed to understand that the root of violent jihad is in the Islamist ideology, which she emphasized is not subscribed to by most Muslims. She described the adversary as “Islamists who are jihadists,” but she did not discuss whether she believes that “moderate Islamists” like the Muslim Brotherhood should be embraced as allies against “jihadists” like the Islamic State.

The second point of difference came when she was asked about President Obama’s claim that the Islamic State is “contained” shortly before the Paris attacks. While Clinton avoided criticizing the president directly, she rejected containment as a measure of success, saying it is impossible to contain a group like the Islamic State and only its defeat is acceptable.

The third point of difference was on Syria. She explained that she urged President Obama to equip moderate Syrian rebels in the beginning of the civil war to prevent jihadists from creating a safe haven. Clinton believes that developing allies on the ground in Syria would have given us a valuable ally today.

Clinton also suggested a tougher approach towards the Gulf states and Turkey. She said it is time for them to “make up their mind about where they stand” on the fight against jihadism.

On the topic of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq that preceded the rise of the Islamic State and the collapse of Iraqi security forces, Clinton said that the withdrawal was in compliance with a U.S.-Iraqi agreement signed by the Bush Administration. After U.S. forces left, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki decimated the Iraqi security forces with his sectarianism and cronyism. This, combined with the civil war in Syria and other regional variables, enabled the Islamic State to seize large parts of Iraq.

She defended the NATO military intervention in Libya to topple Gaddafi by pointing out the large amount of American blood he had on his hands from supporting terrorism. Clinton also mentioned how the Libyans elected moderate leaders after he fell. She addressed the civil war in Libya by saying the U.S. should provide more support to the current moderate Libyan government.

On the topic of Syrian refugees, Clinton said she agrees in principle with bringing 65,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S. (as O’Malley advocates) but only if they are completely vetted. Her tough language on vetting suggested that she envisions overhauling the process to become stricter, but she did not present a specific proposal.

Unlike Sanders, she would not commit to cutting the defense budget but promised to closely review military spending. She cited Chinese moves in the South China Sea and the increased aggressiveness of Russia, such as its broadcasting of a new drone submarine that can be equipped with tactical nuclear weapons.

Clinton is currently the frontrunner by a mile. She leads nationally with 55% in an average of polls; leads Iowa with 54%; is in second behind Sanders in New Hampshire with 43% and leads in South Carolina with 65%. You can read our factsheet on Clinton’s positions related to Islamism here.

Bernie Sanders

As we mentioned in our coverage of the recent Democratic forum, Sanders views the threat as being rooted in an Islamic ideology but—unlike Clinton—advocates a non-interventionist approach. His argument is that the U.S. should only have a very limited supporting role because the fight against the Islamic State can only be effectively waged by Muslims. He again stated that the fight with the Islamic State is part of a “war for the soul of Islam.”

Sanders rejected a strategy of pursuing regime change, apparently referring to the Syrian dictatorship and the removal of the Gaddafi regime in Libya when Clinton was Secretary of State. He cited U.S.-backed regime changes in places like Chile and Guatemala as counterproductive mistakes.

He spoke out in favor of cuts to the defense budget. He argued that U.S. military spending is far too high and that much of the excess costs are not even necessary for fighting terrorism.

Sanders is currently in second place overall. He is the runner-up nationally with 33%; is in second place in Iowa with 30%; leads in New Hampshire with 44% and is in second place in South Carolina with 17%. You can read our factsheet on Sanders’ positions related to Islamism here.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley

At the recent Democratic forum, O’Malley embraced the camp that believes Islamic terrorism is a byproduct of political grievances against the U.S. He did not repeat his ludicrous claim that U.S. troops overseas and the operation of Guantanamo Bay are the chief reasons for the strength of the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda.

However, during the Saturday night debate, he acknowledged that the threat comes from an Islamic ideology. Unlike Clinton who defined the enemy as “jihadism,” O’Malley defined it as “radical jihadists”—which begs the question: What is a “non-radical jihadist?”

In describing where the Islamic State threat emerged from, O’Malley pointed to the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq and especially the disbanding of the Iraqi army. He said that many of ISIS’ current members used to be a part of the Iraqi military until we fired them. There is truth to that statement, but it seems to suggest that O’Malley remains committed to the belief that the “root cause” of the Islamic State and other Islamist terrorists are mistreatment and political grievances, rather than ideology.

O’Malley continued to embrace a non-interventionist strategy, saying that the U.S. should not be trying to overthrow dictators. He then seemed to contradict himself when he said the U.S. should take the lead in fighting “evil.”  He said his “new” foreign policy would be one of “engagement” and “identifying threats” as they gather.

On several occasions, O’Malley cited the need for human intelligence sources as part of his strategy—but that’s nothing new and it’s not a strategy. Everyone agrees that more human intelligence is needed.

He reiterated his support for bringing 65,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S., up from the current 10,000 that President Obama plans to bring in. He did not address how they would be vetted and taken care of, especially when a poll of Syrian refugees found that 13% feel positively or somewhat positively towards the Islamic State.

O’Malley is in last place among the three remaining candidates. He is in last with 3% nationally; last in Iowa with 5%; last in New Hampshire with 3% and last in South Carolina with 2%. You can read our factsheet on O’Malley’s positions related to Islamism here.

You can read the Clarion Project‘s comprehensive factsheets on each party’s presidential candidates’ positions related to Islamism by clicking here.

ABOUT RYAN MAURO

Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. Read more, contact or arrange a speaking engagement.

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A Golden Nugget Hidden in the Trump Spectacle

I know. I know. As a veteran political activist, I am suppose to be extremely upset with Donald Trump, out there saying what some on both sides of the political aisle consider to be outrageous things.

But folks, I cannot help myself. It is thrilling to watch someone in the arena of ideas not playing the game according to the dictates of the Left. For far too long, our anti-America enemies on the Left have been allowed to set the rules of engagement. The Left dictates what truths we can say out loud, what words we are permitted to use and what is racist or mean.

Please note. I am neither supporting nor opposing Trump’s comments. I am celebrating Trump’s refreshing unprecedented fearlessness in dealing with the iron-fist out-of-control bullying tactics of the Left/MSM.

I guess it goes back to my childhood living on the mean-streets of Baltimore projects. I detested bullies. They were cowards and mean opportunists. My cousin Jimmy, who loved to fight, taught me the power of a strong military. I was small as a child. When bullies took my lunch money, cousin Jimmy ended the problem. Nothing serious happened, but the bullies knew not to “mess” with Jimmy’s cousin, Peanut (my nickname).

I view the mainstream media and their Leftists partners as the ultimate bullies, whipping Americans into submission, silencing our right to free speech. It sticks in my craw that daring to state an opinion other than the Left’s combined consensus on an issue means your derriere is grass.

It also distresses me that whenever a conservative/Republican says something that the Left chooses to distort and become hysterical about, folks on our side run to microphones to say, “What so-and-so should have said or really meant to say is…” Why surrender to the Left’s distort-and-become-hysterical tactic?

Why kowtow to the Left/MSM, especially when we know they are wrongly interpreting conservatives’ comments on purpose; publishing distortions, exaggerations and lies about what a particular conservative/Republican said?

The Left/MSM allows Democrats to make off-the-cuff outrageous inflammatory statements insulting millions of Americans. Waters – “The tea party can go straight to hell!” Grayson — “Republicans want you to die quickly.” Schultz – “Republicans want to see you dead.” Carson – “The tea party wants blacks hanging on a tree.” Obama about middle America – “Clinging to their Bibles and guns.” Indicting millions, President Carter said an “overwhelming portion” of the opposition to Obama is because “he is a black man.”

Remember the Democrats’ outrageous lying ad showing a Republican pushing an old lady in a wheelchair over a cliff?

Then, there was the absurd shameful irresponsible Democrat ad warning blacks that if they do not vote, they will need to send their kids to school wearing bulletproof vests to protect them from being shot by white police.

Has the MSM demanded that these Democrats apologize/walk back any of their false statements or hate generating ads? No.

Meanwhile, a conservative/Republican has to market test every word that comes out of their mouths, less they suffer the Left’s hysteria/wrath and shoulda-coulda-woulda from fellow conservatives/Republicans. Folks, with the MSM deck so stacked against us, standing up to the Left is extremely challenging. I just wish our side was more forgiving and supportive of our fighters.

Name me one occasion in which a conservative/Republican walking back a statement caused the Left/MSM to forgive him or her. Never. To the Left, an apology is blood in the water, causing a media feeding frenzy to devour a conservative or Republican. Every time one sheepishly apologizes, it is another notch on the Left’s gun barrel; letting the world know they are in charge.

This is what makes Trump’s defiance so remarkable and exhilarating. Thus far Trump has not fallen for the Left’s tactic and become terrorized into walking back his comments. As a matter of fact, Trump routinely doubles down on his original statements. Sorry folks, but I love it. There’s a new sheriff in town. His name is Donald Trump.

Another trick of the Left/MSM is to claim that their hysterical reactions reflect the feelings of a majority of the American people. However, Trump’s addressing illegal immigration shot him to the top of the polls.

Some say Trump is muddying the waters for “serious GOP candidates.” I am not going to argue either way regarding that point. I will say that it is about time someone stood up to these vipers (Leftist media).

A recent incident bears witness to how far PC and Leftist bullying has gotten out of hand; infecting the Democratic party base. Democrat presidential candidate Martin O’Malley was speaking at a Democrat Netroots conference. He was interrupted by protesters screaming about “black lives matter”. The protesters demanded that O’Malley repeat their mantra. Allowing the protesters to hijack the meeting, O’Malley said black lives matter. But when O’Malley added white lives and all lives matter, the audience exploded in outrage, erupting with boos and curse words.

Now, here is the kicker folks, Democrat presidential candidate Martin O’Malley actually apologized for saying white lives and all lives matter. That is crazy and speaks volumes.

Am I grateful for what Donald Trump has done? You betcha!

Martin O’Malley Got $147,000 in Speaking Fees from a Company He Gave Lucrative Government Contracts by David Boaz

Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland and Democratic presidential candidate, is no Bill and Hillary Clinton, who have made more than $100 million from speeches, much of it from companies and governments who just might like to have a friend in the White House or the State Department.

But consider these paragraphs deep in a Washington Post story about O’Malley’s financial disclosure form:

While O’Malley commanded far smaller fees than the former secretary of state – and gave only a handful of speeches – he also seemed to benefit from government and political connections forged during his time in public service.

Among his most lucrative speeches was a $50,000 appearance at a conference in Baltimore sponsored by Center Maryland, an organization whose leaders include a former O’Malley communications director, the finance director of his presidential campaign and the director of a super PAC formed to support O’Malley’s presidential bid.

O’Malley also lists $147,812 for a series of speeches to Environmental Systems Research Institute, a company that makes mapping software that O’Malley heavily employed as governor as part of an initiative to use data and technology to guide policy decisions.

I scratch your back, you scratch mine. That’s the sort of insider dealing that sends voters fleeing to such unlikely candidates as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

These sorts of lucrative “public service” arrangements are nothing new in Maryland (or elsewhere). In The Libertarian Mind, I retell the story of how Gov. Parris Glendening and his aides scammed the state pension system and hired one another’s relatives.

In some countries, governors still get suitcases full of cash. Speaking fees are much more modern.

This post first appeared at Cato.org.


David Boaz

David Boaz is executive vice president of the Cato Institute. He is the editor of The Libertarian Reader, editor of The Cato Handbook for Policymakers, and author of The Politics of Freedom.