There’s no other way to put it: last night’s Republican debate in Las Vegas was a complete disaster. At no point did we hear any of the presidential hopefuls substantively discuss how they would move our country forward; instead, Donald Trump set the tone and the agenda, and everyone else followed, proving they’re now in way over their heads and incapable of having a coherent discussion on national security. Below you’ll find coverage on some of the lowlights:
VOX // ZACK BEAUCHAMP
For someone who follows US foreign policy, Tuesday night’s GOP debate was almost physically painful to watch. This tweet, from New York Times Magazine contributor Ana Marie Cox, perfectly summarizes why: In other words: the debate was over two hours of scary rhetoric and fearmongering, with pitifully little policy substance to back it up.
SLATE // FRED KAPLAN
One thing was clear from this debate. None of these nine candidates had any remotely plausible ideas on how to defeat ISIS, or prevent terrorist attacks on American soil, beyond what Obama is already doing—except doing it louder, or with a scarier scowl, or maybe doing more of it.
ABC NEWS // JORDYN PHELPS
Chris Christie said that he’ll be more trusted by the King Hussein of Jordan than President Obama in his strategy to defeat ISIS.
Only problem is that Hussein has been dead since 1999.
POLITICO // NOLAN D. MCCASKILL
Nearly 200 countries committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in a massive climate deal agreed to Saturday in Paris.
But not once did the historic climate agreement come up in Tuesday’s main Republican debate, which focused heavily on national security.
The one mention of the Paris talks came when John Kasich mocked the agreement, which he cast as a distraction from the global fight against terrorism.
HUFFINGTON POST // SAM STEIN and ARTHUR DELANEY
Republican presidential candidates spent a fair bit of time at Tuesday night’s debate arguing about whether it was smart or moral to kill innocent family members of terrorists.
It was a surreal moment: The candidates took it for granted that collateral damage was to be expected, international norms and treaties be damned.
TIME // SAM FRIZELL
Donald Trump reiterated in the fifth Republican debate on Tuesday night that he would be open to “closing parts of the Internet” to prevent ISIS from attracting recruits, but it wasn’t clear exactly what he meant.
“ISIS is recruiting through the Internet. ISIS is using the Internet better than we are using the Internet and it was our idea,” Trump said. “I want to get the brilliant people from Silicon Valley and other places and figure out a way that ISIS can’t do what they’re doing.”
VOX // ZACK BEAUCHAMP
Ted Cruz is fond of saying America should “carpet bomb” ISIS — the New York Times, in a recent editorial, called him “Ted ‘Carpet Bomb’ Cruz” because it’s his “favorite” line. So on Tuesday night, Wolf Blitzer asked him what he meant. Cruz’s answer did not make very much sense:
What it means is using overwhelming air power to utterly and completely destroy ISIS. To put things in perspective. In the first Persian Gulf War we launched roughly 1,100 air attacks a day. We carpet bombed them for 37 days. Saturation bombing after which our troops went in and mopped up what was left of the Iraqi army. Right now Obama is launching between 15 and 30 air attacks a day. We need to use overwhelming air power and we need to be arming the Kurds and we need to be fighting and killing ISIS where they are.
To be clear — this is totally incoherent. The term “carpet bombing” means mass unguided bombing in populated areas; that is not what happened in the Gulf War.
MSNBC // EMMA MARGOLIN
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson looked out of his league during Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas as he attempted to integrate his medical background into serious questions on foreign policy and national security.
Carson used several medical-inspired metaphors to describe how he would handle ISIS, calling the terrorist organization a cancer that the United States needed to “excise.” He also likened America to a patient “in critical condition.”
Asked whether he would be willing to order airstrikes in the Middle East to take out ISIS, even though they would likely kill thousands of innocent children, Carson argued that his experience as a pediatric neurosurgeon made him more prepared – not less – for such action.
“You should see the eyes of some of those children when I say to them, ‘We are going to have to open your head up and take out this tumor.’ They’re not happy about it, and they don’t like me very much at that point. But later on, they love me,” Carson said.
WASHINGTON FREE BEACON // DAVID RUTZ
Ohio Gov. John Kasich employed some colorful rhetoric on foreign policy during Tuesday night’s CNN debate, saying it was time the U.S. “punched the Russians in the nose.”
“Finally, Hugh, in regard to Syria, understand that Assad is an ally of Iran who wants to extend that Shi’i radicalism all the way across the Middle East,” he said. “He has to go. And for the Russians, frankly, it’s time that we punched the Russians in the nose. They’ve gotten away with too much in this world, and we need to stand up against them, not just there, but also in Eastern Europe where they threaten some of our most precious allies.”
THE HILL // BEN KAMISAR
Mike Huckabee pushed back Tuesday against suggestions that surveilling mosques in the U.S. would violate American Muslims’ First Amendment rights.
“If it’s a public place and people are invited to come, how does it violate anyone’s First Amendment rights if somebody shows up because they might just want to listen and see, is there something that is a little nefarious,” the former Arkansas governor said during CNN’s GOP presidential undercard debate in Las Vegas.
“If there is, then you take the second step of getting a search warrant and do whatever you have to do.”
The governor went on to argue that Muslims should welcome the visitors if it is “as wonderful and peaceful as its adherents say.
“Shouldn’t they be begging us to all come in and listen to these peaceful sermons, shouldn’t they be begging us all to come and listen … so we all want to convert to Islam?”