Newt Gingrich argued in support of the Patriot Act that when it comes to national security, you are not innocent until proven guilty. The rest of the candidates agreed with Gingrich, except Ron Paul, who cited Ben Franklin that it isn’t necessary to surrender essential liberty for perceived security. Jon Huntsman disagreed with Ben Franklin, arguing that there needs to be a “balancing act between liberty and security”. Rick Santorum said there needs to be racial profiling of Muslims. Herman Cain agreed with Santorum.
Mitt Romney cited the example of Indonesia in the 1960s in saying the U.S. needs to bring Pakistan into “modernity”. In the ’60s, the U.S. supported General Suharto after taking power in a military coup. An estimated half million people were killed in a CIA-backed campaign of violence against “communists”. The U.S. also supported Suharto’s genocidal invasion of East Timor.
Jon Huntsman said the U.S. needs to be involved in “counterterror”. Then he corrected himself and said “counterterrorism”. He said he was upset that the U.S. spent so much money in Afghanistan only for China to get mining concessions in making the point that U.S. foreign policy “must be driven by economics”. Ron Paul said people don’t understand the Taliban and its motivation, and they make a mistake arguing we need to be in Afghanistan fighting them so they don’t attack the U.S.; on the contrary, what the Taliban want is for foreign troops to not occupy their land, just as Americans would not want foreign forces on U.S. soil.
Herman Cain said he would support an Israeli attack on Iran. Ron Paul said he would not, and cited former Mossad chief Meir Dagan saying how stupid it would be for Israel to attack Iran. Newt Gingrich said the U.S. should sabotage Iran’s oil refinery, and that the U.S. should start a war with Iran to prevent it from getting a nuclear weapon and to change the regime. Michelle Bachman agreed with Gingrich and repeated the false claim that President Ahmadinjead has threatened to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth with a nuclear weapon, and added her own lie, that he said he would use a nuclear weapon against the U.S. Mitt Romney said the U.S. should indict President Ahmadenijad for genocide. No evidence was cited by any candidate that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, a claim contradicted by the U.S. intelligence community.
Rick Perry warned that “border security” was “paramount to the entire Western Hemisphere” because Hezbollah, Hamas, and Iran were “working in Mexico with their ploy to come into the United States”. Herman Cain said “We know that terrorists have come into this country by way of Mexico.” Mitt Romney echoed Perry, saying that Hezbollah “is working throughout Latin America” and is “a very significant and imminent threat to the United States of America”.
Rick Perry said the U.S. should enforce a no-fly zone over Syria in order to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. He later repeated that “If we’re going to be serious about saving Israel, we’d better get serious about Syria and Iran, and we’d better get serious right now.” Jon Huntsman said the U.S. should do what is in Israel’s interests because “our interest in the Middle East is Israel”. Ron Paul said the U.S. needs to stop interfering in other countries’ affairs, stop starting wars, and have a foreign policy where the U.S. doesn’t do to other nations what it wouldn’t like to have done to itself.