National Journal and CBS News will host a Republican debate focusing on foreign policy and national security on Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. We asked our National Security Insiders, a pool of defense and foreign policy experts, to give us some suggestions on what questions to ask the Republican contenders. Separately, our experts are blogging about how they would rate the candidates' performances on these issues during their respective campaigns so far.
The U.S./China relationship is one of the most complicated in the world, and headed to become more so. As president, what are your expectations for it and how would you manage it?
Our allies in the Asia-Pacific theater (Japan, Phillipines, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia) are being challenged more and more by China with territorial disputes or other forms of diplomatic bullying. What should the U.S. do diplomatically and militarily vis a vis China to buttress and support our friends in the region?
What will a "Pacific century" mean in terms of U.S. defense spending in an age of austerity? Is it reasonable to cut our ground forces at the expense of our naval and air forces to better position ourselves for the security challenges of Asia?
How would you describe the relationship with China? What will the relationship look like at the end of your administration?
Knowing what you know now, was the Iraq War a mistake? Specifically, was it a mistake for the United States to have invaded Iraq in March 2003? Did any of you speak out against the war before it started? If you did not, but now have doubts, why should Americans trust you to exercise good judgment as president if you failed to do so when in a position of power and influence in late 2002 and early 2003?
What lessons have you taken away from the war in Iraq, and how would they inform your conduct of foreign policy as president? If you believe that we should have invaded, should we have sent more troops? Should we have planned to stay there longer?
Did President Bush make a mistake when he negotiated an agreement with the Iraqis to remove all forces by the end of 2011? Do you believe U.S. troops should have remained in Iraq even if the Iraqi government refused to extend them conventional legal protections that we enjoy in other countries, including the right to be tried in U.S. courts? Or would you have subjected U.S. troops to Iraqi laws and Iraqi courts?
Why are we in Afghanistan and do you think we should stay?
Should we leave Afghanistan in 2014?
How does your policy for Afghanistan differ from the administration's?
What will you do about terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan?
Do you believe the military option should be kept "on the table" in dealing with the Iranian nuclear issue? If so, what consequences do you believe would result from initiating a war with Iran? How would U.S. interests be affected?
As a last-resort option, would you support an Israeli attack upon known Iranian nuclear facilities to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon?
There is much speculation about an impending unilateral strike by Israel against Iran's nuclear-related sites. What is your position on this? Should the U.S. support Israel in this action, or should we intervene to prevent such a strike?
[The Defense Department] spends more on health care than all of its weapons systems combined. Current cost projections are not sustainable in today's budget environment. What would you do to rein in military and veterans health care expenses while still honoring their service?
The last three defense build-downs have lowered defense budgets an average of 30 percent in constant dollars over 10 years. The Budget Control Act would lower projected defense budgets 8 percent; a trillion-dollar reduction over 10 years would be a 17-percent reduction in projected budgets. Isn't this a relatively modest change, compared to our past experience?
At a time of budgetary stringency, how much should the U.S. national intelligence budget be cut and should the Director of National Intelligence have greater control than he now does over those cuts?
Is it in the U.S. interest to have China involved in rescuing Greece and the rest of Europe from their debt and euro crises? Do you believe it better to avoid new taxes, triggering the legal requirement for mandatory cuts in defense programs, or to compromise on the tax issue in order avoid such cuts?
Do you consider economic security the basis of national security? If so, how should we be reinforcing our economic position in the world?