Fred Kaplan writes: hursday night’s Trump-less debate was less blustery than the Republicans’ previous spectacles, but on foreign policy issues, the Donald’s absence didn’t make it less slight, cynical, or shruggingly uninformed.
Earlier in the week, Robert Gates — a lifelong Republican who has served as secretary of defense and CIA director — said the GOP candidates’ discussion of national security issues “would embarrass a middle schooler.” If Gates tuned in Thursday night, he would have had no cause to revise his assessment.
Sen. Marco Rubio started off by promising that, if — or, rather, when — he’s elected president, “We are going to rebuild our intelligence capabilities, and they’re going to tell us where the terrorists are.” Rubio seems unaware that President Obama has vastly boosted spending on intelligence and that the spy agencies’ No. 1 priority is to find terrorists. But Rubio went further: Under his administration, he said, “If we capture terrorists, they’re going to Guantánamo, and we will find out everything they know.” I think this means that he would bring back torture — a technique that George W. Bush ended in 2006. None of the other candidates, or the questioners, seemed to mind. [Continue reading…]