Six questions a veteran of Iraq and Af’stan would like to ask the candidates in tomorrow’s presidential debate
- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Andrew Person
Best Defense department of veterans & politics
1. You’ve said on numerous occasions that you would oppose any tax increases. But you’ve also supported a two trillion dollar increase in defense spending. Democrats on Capitol Hill have said they will not agree to waive the mandatory defense cuts set for the end of the year without increases in revenue. If faced with a choice between increased taxes and cuts to defense spending, which would you choose?
2. During the primary campaign, you took the position that the US should not negotiate with the Taliban but instead “we should defeat the Taliban.” Neither you nor any of your five healthy strong sons have ever served a day in the military. Do you think taking such a position during the primary, a position that if applied as policy would necessarily involve more troops losing lives and limbs, is easier since you have no direct experience with the pain military families have suffered as a result of this war?
3. The mother of the former Navy Seal killed in Bengazi on September 11th asked you to stop using her son’s death for political purposes on the campaign trail. Did you apologize to her?
1. In most respects our war in Afghanistan seems to be a strategic failure, despite some clear tactical victories around the country. In your view, do the military advisors who advocated a surge/counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan still have credibility? Would you rely on their advice in a second term?
2. Under your Administration the US spent more in real terms on military spending than at any time since WWII. Yet in many respects the Pentagon and the defense industry have squandered the investments through failed program development, cost overruns, etc. During a second term, what steps would you take to hold the defense industry accountable and use American tax dollars more effectively?
3. You supported a health reform bill that specified what level of profits a health insurance company can make. Would you consider a similar requirement for the defense industry?
J. Andrew Person served as a U.S. Army officer and paratrooper from 2001-2006, including year-long tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He studied foreign policy at Georgetown University and spent five years working on Capitol Hill. He is now a fellow with the Truman National Security Project and is attending law school at the University of Montana in Missoula.