**Updated; This post was written before Ted Cruz (more info; http://votesmart.org/…/time-magazine-ted-cruzs-speech-on-su… ) and John Kasich (more info; http://votesmart.org/…/john-kasichs-concession-speech-in-th… ) dropped out.**
On March 22nd, three bombs were detonated in Brussels, Belgium, including one filled with nails. Two were set off within nine seconds of each other in an airport lobby, and then another went off about an hour later on a subway. In total, the three detonations took the lives of at least 30 people and wounded more than 300 others. Less than a week later on Easter Sunday, a suicide bombing suspected of targeting Christians in Pakistan killed another 70 individuals and injured hundreds more. With these types of phenomena happening, foreign policy has become one of the main focuses of this election cycle. Each presidential candidate has their own take on foreign policy and America’s role in the Middle East right now.
Beginning with the Republican candidates, Donald Trump tweeted things such as “N.A.T.O. is obsolete” and “we pay a disproportionate share of… N.A.T.O.” after the Brussels attack that some find controversial, but that he deems necessary to defeat international terrorism. Mr. Trump has also suggested in the past that he believes America should reinstate waterboarding as an interrogation tactic, as well as target the families of confirmed terrorists. On the broader scale, Donald Trump has supported the idea of nations outside the United States contributing more to the war on terrorism.
Among other foreign policy actions targeted at terrorism, Senator Ted Cruz has proposed carpet bombing ISIS, and has said that if elected President, “we will utterly destroy ISIS”, as quoted by Fox Business. He said the same thing on Mornings with Maria the day after the Brussels attack. In that same interview, Sen. Cruz defended a policy he proposed that involves using police to patrol Muslim neighborhoods. Ted Cruz believes that “political correctness” is hindering the safety of American citizens, and is standing in the way of the fight on terrorism.
Governor John Kasich has supported the idea of an international coalition being assembled, including countries from outside the realm of what is considered the western world, to help put an end to global terrorism. In the same interview, he also supports aggressive military action against terrorism. As quoted by Alex Romano, John Kasich disagrees with Ted Cruz’s comments about patrolling Muslim neighborhoods by saying “We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with radical Islam.
On the Democratic side of the presidential primary elections, both former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders took a stance that warns against blaming an entire religion and giving in to fear to dictate foreign policies. Hillary Clinton also says that we should reinforce alliances between America and countries from around the world, build a coalition between Western and Arab states, and avoid sending ground troops to the Middle East. In her past political position as a Senator, she voted in favor of the war in Iraq, as well as advocated for the use of military action in Libya as Secretary of State. In a December debate, Secretary Clinton stuck with her support for intervention by advocating for establishing a no-fly zone in Syria, and supported Obama’s decision to leave troops in Afghanistan after his presidency ends in 2017 in an interview with the Boston Globe.
Bernie Sanders has argued in the past that we must have Muslim troops on the ground to destroy ISIS. Along with that, he also stated that those Muslim troops must be supported by a coalition of world powers, including the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Russia. Senator Sanders has argued that we should be focusing on ISIS at the moment, rather than focusing on another regime change in regards to Assad in Syria. This skepticism of regime change and military intervention is in line with past foreign policy positions Senator Sanders has taken in that he voted against the Iraq War, and criticized the military overthrow of Gadhafi in Libya. In an interview with CNN, Senator Sanders stated that Muslim countries in the region need to address the instability issue.
With all the different angles that foreign affairs can be seen through, it is up to the American people to decide which candidate has the best plan for dealing in foreign policy. It is important to see the similarities between each of the candidates on these types of issues, as well as the glaring differences. Many of the remaining candidates agree in their support for some sort of coalition to resolve conflicts in the Middle East. However, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz seem to be openly advocating for a more militarily aggressive approach to the issue at hand than the others.
Kyler Beaty is a student at Texas State University majoring in Applied Sociology and a current intern with Project Vote Smart. For more information on internship opportunities with Project Vote Smart, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1-888-VOTE-SMART.