By Alexander Stringer
While the world was still reeling from the tragic attacks in Paris, the three Democratic Party candidates–former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley–came to the stage for their second debate on November 14.
Among discussion of super PACs and college tuition, the debate delved into the candidates’ positions on foreign policy, focusing mostly on responding to ISIS after the Paris attacks.
The first half of the debate was dominated by the evolving threat in Paris, allowing the three candidates to flex their foreign policy muscles for the first time, and seemingly putting the ball in Clinton’s court.
Debate moderator John Dickerson put Sanders and O’Malley on the defensive with several hard-hitting questions–comparing their foreign policy experience, or lack thereof, to Clinton’s, Dickerson asked if the candidates would be able to effectively take on terrorist threats if elected President, inquiring about their views on the current war with “radical jihadists.”
The consensus was clear among the candidates that the United States, and indeed much of the Western world, is at war with ISIS and terror groups. Clinton made sure that the verbiage used was clear: the West is at war with “radical jihadists,” not the Muslim world, as some GOP candidates purport. Though all three candidates agreed that more must be done to take on ISIS before they can follow through on recent promises to reenact their terror streak in Washington, the trio had different visions on how best to tackle the situation.
O’Malley posed that the organization can only be taken down by a “U.S.-led coalition” with other NATO powers.
Sanders gave arguably the weakest of the arguments, first claiming that climate change was “directly related” to the rise of terror groups in the region (which Politifact found to be mostly false). Moreover, Sanders argued that though the U.S. should have somewhat of an involvement in the issue, other nations in the region opposed to the ISIS regime should bear the weight and act swiftly.
Clinton came out with the most hawkish plan, defying President Obama’s recent remarks that ISIS was contained. “ISIS cannot be contained. It must be destroyed,” Clinton said.
Though she did not outline her plan during the debate, her camp later released a far more comprehensive plan for bringing about the end of the terror group.