COLUMN: Foreign policy debate a big deal

The first foreign policy debate was held over the weekend, giving Americans a glimpse of the Republicans’ positions.

Jon Huntsman, the candidate with the most foreign policy experience had by far the best grasp on what America needs to do. Huntsman and Ron Paul both came out against waterboarding, labeling it as torture, while Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann said they would support its use.

Waterboarding is torture — for 70 years this was not debated — whether you call it “torture” or “enhanced interrogation,” it is wrong, and lowers America to the level of the terrorists we are fighting.

On the topic of Afghanistan, Huntsman said it is time for us to leave Afghanistan, leaving behind only enough troops to help finish training the Afghani soldiers and police and to provide a counter-terror presence until the Afghanis are ready to fully take over.

They do not want hundreds of thousands of troops there for years to come, and now that the country is stabilizing, it is time that we respect their desires.

On Iran, Romney made a huge mistake, saying, “if we re-elect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon, and … if you’d elect me as the next president, they will not have a nuclear weapon.” How can he guarantee that Iran will not acquire a nuclear weapon? He can’t, and to say that to the American people is not only misleading, but it could also destroy his presidency if his promise fails.

Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum also had poor answers to the topic of Iran, with Santorum saying, “There have been scientists turning up dead in Russia and in Iran … There have been problems at their facility. I hope that the U.S. has been involved with that.” The last thing America needs is to begin covertly killing scientists — especially in places like Russia, who we have treaties with.

Paul had the right idea when he said, “For us to get in the middle of that and prop up the different dictatorships, this is why we get into this trouble … We don’t need to lose any more troops.” The less meddling we do in other countries, the better.

When it came to the topic of foreign aid, Rick Perry said he would start all countries at $0 and increase from there, but this ignores that we already have standing agreements for aid to many countries.

The last main topic was Pakistan, and whether it is our “friend or foe.” This was where Santorum shined, stressing that because they are a nuclear country, we need to cooperate with them to ensure that they are our friend.

Ultimately, Huntsman and Paul performed best on the issue, but they trail in the polls, and with the economy, foreign policy may take a back seat in this election.