On January 14th, Republican candidates for the US Presidency met to debate in North Charleston (SC). As is (unfortunately) usual in these events, candidates made some statements that do not correspond to the facts. Here are a few.
Both Senator Ted Cruz and Governor Chris Christie commented on this week’s Iranian military boarding of a US Navy vessel and the holding of 10 US sailors overnight. According to the Iranian government, the US vessel had strayed into Iran’s territorial waters (see, Washington Post for more details). Cruz stated that: countries who made US military members get on their knees would “feel the full force and fury of the United States of America.” Christie claimed that “tin pot dictators… are taking our Navy ships.”
Forgotten among the rhetoric was the fact that the US naval vessel did, in fact, stray into Iran’s territorial waters, allegedly due to a navigational error. Also left unsaid is the fact that the sailors were released unharmed after a 10-hour detention and that the ship was returned to the US Navy. Would we have treated interlopers into our territorial waters any differently?
Businessman and surgeon Ben Carson commented the US should chase the Islamic militants anywhere in the world and not “let[ Islamic militants] smoke their cigars in their comfortable chairs in Raqqa[.]”
Raqqa is the de facto capital of the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS). However, like many things under ISIS’s rule of law, smoking is prohibited and stiff fines are imposed upon those caught smoking. More brutal physical punishment is meted out to those caught selling cigarettes, water pipes (hookahs) or anything that can be smoked – including cigars.
Mr. Carson also suggested that Syrian refugees (i.e., those seeking to escape ISIS) be relocated to “al-Saqqa province, where they’ll be in their own country.” Unfortunately for Mr. Carson, there is no such place as “al-Saqqa” in Syria. Mr. Carson probably meant Raqqa. Given, however, that Raqqa is under the command of ISIS, from under which the refugees are trying to escape, it is unlikely that they would be very safe in such a place.
Governor Christie stated that the program known as “Common Core” had been eliminated in his state (NJ). However, not only has the program not been eliminated, but a panel put together by Governor Christie this week recommended 232 changes to the state standard (out of 1,427).
Governor Christie, in response to Senator’s Rubio criticism of Christie’s past stances, further stated that he had never written a check to Planned Parenthood. Unfortunately, on September 30, 1994, Governor Christie was quoted in the Newark-Star Ledger as saying that he: “support[s] Planned Parenthood with my personal contribution, and that should be the goal of any such agency, to find private donations.”
Businessman Donald Trump denied that he favored a 45% tax on Chinese imports stating that: “That’s wrong.” Unfortunately, Mr. Trump did tell the New York Times just last week that he favored such a tax. However, he did also say that the tariff could be much less than that and may not even be needed as China started to trade more fairly (?). Mr. Trump now flat out denies ever proposing this tax.
Messrs. Bush, Carson, Trump and Rubio deplored the sorry state of the US military. According to Mr. Bush: “Every weapon system has been gutted.” Mr. Trump believes that: “Our military is a disaster.” Mr. Carson stated that: “We have the world’s best military even though [President Obama] has done everything he can to diminish it.” Senator Rubio believes that our military is undermined by the President’s greater interest in funding Planned Parenthood.
While it is true that the military budget has shrunk, Republican candidates may wish to remember that these budget cuts were approved by a Republican-controlled Congress. Furthermore, for better or worse, under President Obama, the military has undertaken a wide range of modernization efforts, including to our nuclear capability, combat fighter jets and special forces. Lastly, it may interesting to note that, in fiscal year 2015, military spending accounted for 54% of federal discretionary spending a total of $598.5B.
In fact,the US military budget is the same as the next 7 countries combined:
Next up, the Democrats. And remember, when the power of love overcomes the love of power, we shall know peace (Sri Chinmoy Ghose).