On CNN television, the Republican presidential candidates were arguing which one of them will be the toughest in fighting against terrorism, outracing each other in talking garbage and boasting about the war crimes they intend to commit. In a surrealistic argument, witnessed on Tuesday night by CNN viewers, the victor was most likely the billionaire Donald Trump, who promised the killing of terrorists' families. Even Sen. Rand Paul's sober reminder that killing civilians – intentionally and deliberately – would be against the Geneva Conventions, did not manage to puzzle him.
"So they can kill us, but we can't kill them. That's what you're saying," said Trump, ironically. He told a story about Al-Qaeda's assassins "sending their families and fiancées to their home countries"* before they got on the aircraft on Sept. 11, which is nonsense, as the bombers did not have any families or fiancées in the U.S. Telling bogus little stories is Trump's specialty and it does not negatively affect him at all; quite the opposite, it grants him first place in polls and 40 percent support of Republican voters.
Incidentally, at times, Sen. Rand Paul was speaking so reasonably and logically that he completely did not fit the stage on which almost everyone was telling senseless lies, or talking with an intention to please the crowd. For all that, Paul's consciousness is one of the reasons for him having merely 2 percent of Republicans' support and zero chance in the elections.
What Is Carpet Bombing?
Sen. Ted Cruz, holding second place in polls with 16 percent of the votes, repeated his promise made a few days ago that he will be carpet bombing the caliphate, which has been created in Iraq and Syria by the fanatics of a self-proclaimed Islamic State.
When Wolf Blitzer, who was conducting the debate, asked him if he really intends to carpet bomb the capital city of the caliphate, Raqqa, with its population of 200,000 people, Cruz “chickened out” and responded that he will only bomb the places occupied by terrorists. This leads us to two conclusions: firstly, Sen. Cruz does not understand the term “carpet bombing," which specifically means the bombardment of cities as a whole; secondly, if he intends to bomb the caliphate in certain spots, he is planning the exact same thing as is presently being done by President Barack Obama, who is criticized by all the Republicans.
How To Fight the Caliphate?
“Regarding national security, we need to restore the defense cuts of Barack Obama to rebuild our military, to destroy ISIS before it destroys us," pleaded Jeb Bush, brother and son of the two latest Republican presidents, who most likely will not become the third Bush in the White House, having only 3 percent of support. His dramatic plea comprised two nonsensical statements. Firstly, it is quite unknown how several dozen fanatics would be able to destroy the U.S. Secondly, the military power of the U.S. – even if weakened during Obama's leadership, as the Republicans are alarming – is still sufficient for destroying not one, but a hundred caliphates. It does not need to be rebuilt for this specific goal.
The problem is how to sensibly make use of the military power so that the caliphate does not regenerate, and so that great numbers of civilian causalities and self-losses are prevented. In these matters, the candidates did not have anything reasonable to say.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie kept promising that he will shoot down Russian aircraft above Syria in order to show Putin that he is a tough leader and that America is not to be messed around with. "If you're in favor of World War III, you have your candidate," noticed clear-headed Sen. Rand Paul. Only time will tell if a promise to shoot down Russian aircraft will improve Christie's poll numbers, which are now at only 3 percent of the votes.
What's Next with Assad?
Perhaps the most interesting part of the debate was the discussion regarding whether the Syrian President Bashar Assad needs to be overthrown. Sen. Paul reminded everyone that toppling Saddam Hussein and Col. Muammar Gaddafi has resulted in catastrophe. "In both countries erupted chaos that is an invitation for terrorists, yet my colleagues keep insisting on toppling dictators..."** said Paul, ironically.
He was backed by Trump, who added that America does "not get anything" out of the intervention in Iraq on which it has spent several trillion dollars. "I told you very early on, if we’re going to leave, take the oil,” the billionaire said – which was not a joke, but rather a genuine outrage expressed at Obama and Bush for not stealing from Iraq.
Both Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio, who has 13 percent of the votes and is in third place in surveys, opted for toppling Assad. The latter argued that as long as Assad stays in power, the civil war and chaos will not come to an end. And so the Syrian dictator, while theoretically an enemy of the Islamic State group, is in practice prolonging its existence.
While Rubio and Paul discussed the matter, the atmosphere on the stage in Las Vegas turned really strange; both of them demonstrated real knowledge regarding the Middle East and calculated sensible reasons for both maintaining and toppling Assad. That was not the only moment when Rubio demonstrated his competence; later, when a question about a "nuclear triad" was asked, Trump had absolutely no idea as to what it was about, while Rubio knew that the question regarded maintaining the ability for a triple nuclear attack from terrestrial launchers, aircraft and submarines.
The British bookmakers partaking in bets on American elections believe Rubio to be the favorite in the race for the Republican Party's nomination. Nevertheless, although he demonstrated knowledge during the debate without making nonsensical claims, his performance did not bode well.
*Editor’s note: This quote was paraphrased by the author. The actual quote reads: "When you had the World Trade Center go, people were put into planes that were friends, family, girlfriends, and they were put into planes and they were sent back, for the most part, to Saudi Arabia."
**Editor’s note: This quote was paraphrased by the author. The actual quote reads: “Regime change hasn’t won. Toppling secular dictators in the Middle East has only led to chaos and the rise of radical Islam.”