Just days after the tragic terror attacks in Paris that claimed the lives of at least 129 people and injured hundreds, 2016 presidential candidates are refocusing their campaigns on national security and sounding off on how they would handle ISIS as president.
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One of the Republican frontrunners, Ben Carson, told Fox News Sunday that as Commander-In-Chief he would first call on “all Arab states” and “our traditional allies to be involved” in the fight against ISIS.
“You know, I don't want to leave anybody out. Because really, this is - when you're talking about a global jihad movement, you're talking about a movement whose eventual goal is to dominate the entire world,” said Carson.
In the past the famed neurosurgeon said he would put U.S. boots on the ground in Syria. When pressed if he would commit thousands of American ground troops in Iraq and Syria for a war against ISIS, Carson deflected the question.
“Obviously, we have boots on the ground there already. You know, that's an emotionally laden term. How many people do we need to be there? It's really what are they doing? How effective are they? That's - that I think is much more important than the number of people who are there, and utilizing our special ops, which are absolutely terrific in conjunction with the Kurds in northern Iraq, you can see how effective that is. And as others are able to join us, the Iraqi forces, you know, played an important role in that, too. And they are getting up to speed,” said Carson.
He says he doesn’t want to “put out a specific number on it” or say which countries should be involved at this point.
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“Those are decisions that I think are made by people who have a tremendous amount of military experience and capability. And, you know, for me to pretend like I have all of that knowledge and the ability to formulate all the specific plans and how to do it, I think is foolish.”
Another GOP frontrunner, Donald Trump threw out his game plan for ISIL on MSNBC Monday morning, saying he would send in an additional 10,000 troops and include other countries in the fight.
"If I were president, we probably wouldn't be in the problems we have right now," said Trump. "It's incredible we have an attack and suddenly we bomb all these sites? Why didn't we bomb these sites before? We should have bombed them a long time ago."
The real estate mogul also said he would “strongly consider” closing down mosques because he claims "some of the ideas and some of the hatred,” stems from them.
"Well you're going to have to watch and study the mosques, because a lot of talk is going on at the mosques. And from what I've heard is that in the old days, meaning a while ago, we had great surveillance going on in the mosques in and around New York City, and I understand our mayor totally cut that out," said Trump.
Malcolm Nance is the executive director of Terror Asymmetrics Project and a former counterterrorism intelligence officer for the U.S. government. With more than 30 years of experience in combatting radical extremism, he says both Donald Trump and Ben Carson do not have the level of experience needed to discuss foreign policy.
“Carson speaks in generalities because he doesn’t understand what exactly is going on in the Middle East, he needs to come into the adult world and bone himself up with information,” said Nance. “He does not understand the dynamic and the seriousness of this situation.”
Nance says it is the same story for billionaire businessman Trump, who may not truly comprehend the loss of more than 11,000 American citizens as a result of terrorism since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, who has been struggling in the polls, told Fox and Friends on Monday morning that the U.S. is missing comprehensive strategy and leadership to defeat ISIS – something he can provide.
“That requires a no fly zone, safe zones, it requires arming directly the Kurdish forces in Iraq. It means reengaging with the Sunni tribal leaders that were successful in fighting with us side by side with the surge. It means we don't have a strategy. This president is incrementally getting us into a quagmire without having a strategy to defeat ISIS. This is a threat to western civilization, a threat to our own country,” said Bush.
Nance says the issue right now is, “Obama’s hands are tied by the extreme conservatives in congress that are preventing him from making any decisions to stop ISIS.” He says there is one GOP candidate that has a good plan but zero prospects of winning the nomination.
“Senator Lindsey Graham is right, there needs to be an Arab coalition created led by the Jordanians and Egyptians who need to act like a wedge between the Syrian government and special operation task forces of Turkey and Iraq to beat ISIS,” said Nance. “All ISIS is are men in Toyotas they are not a real army. The only thing that they hold is the ground that they physically stand on.”
Nance says ISIL’s zone of control extends between two cities and if military forces could get anywhere in between those areas, the operation control of ISIS can be broken. He says they should be looked at as an apocalyptic Islamic cult which includes mind, spirit and physical control.
“The worst thing we could do is put in more troops than the special forces on the ground that we already have there,” said Nance. “One thing that hasn’t been tried that we need to do is take the Iraqis, the pre-Syrian Army, the Kurdish and Jordanian special forces – take small groups of these and then use our military transport to cut off roads and kill whatever moves. We need to get into their mind that they are no longer an Islamic state.”
When it comes to the Democratic race to the White House, he says the former Secretary of State is the clear choice for her experience in foreign policy and plans.
“Of all the candidates who are out there, Hillary Clinton is the only one that has an adult foreign policy,” said Nance. “She brings a level of maturity to the debate of how to handle ISIS.”
The Democratic presidential frontrunner had a missed opportunity on Saturday night during the second Democratic debate when she weighed in on the Islamic State by simply saying, “It cannot be an American fight.” Clinton followed up with more details on Sunday in Iowa on the campaign trail.
She called ISIS the first “Internet-fueled terrorist group,” and suggested a more proactive approach which would include aggressive countermeasures to prevent more recruitment.
“We have to be rallying our partners and allies, pulling countries off the sidelines,” said Clinton. “Attacking Paris, the City of Light, reminds us that there is no middle ground in going after these terrorists.’’
“I think she is a stronger proponent of the use of special operations and creating a coalition far stronger than Lindsey Graham,” said Nance. “I think Hillary would be stronger than President Obama but she is not going to be drawn into bringing 20,000, 30,000 or 40,000 soldiers into Iraq.”
Clinton’s direct competition, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, said on Sunday in Iowa that he would be willing to work with Russia and Iran to combat ISIS.
"When you have Russia, when you have Iran, when you have Saudi Arabia, when you have Western Europe, when you have those countries united in the fight against ISIS, we will destroy ISIS," said Sanders. "I think the folks that have got to be on the ground are the people who are fighting for the soul of Islam. That is not American troops, that is troops from the region - We should be supportive."
Back in September, Sanders said the war on ISIS, “cannot be won and it will not be won by the United States alone." Senator Sanders also opposed a resolution to train and arm 5,000 moderate Syrian rebels to combat ISIS.