Presidential hopefuls Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman met today in what was being hyped as a “Lincoln-Douglas Debate” for the 21st century, with both candidates having more time to elaborate on their positions on foreign policy.
The introduction to the debate centered mostly around taking pot-shots at the other debates for not offering sufficient time to elaborate on their differences, which would have been of much more use if the two candidates involved had expressed any major differences from one another. Indeed, the extremely cordial “debate” mostly involved praising one another for really understanding the issues.
Inevitably, the discussion turned to Iran, where both candidates took extremely hawkish positions. Huntsman declared Iran the “transcendent threat” of the next decade, insisting “Afghanistan is not our future, Iraq is not our future,” before going on about the importance of moving against Iran.
Newt, as usual, took the issue and ran with it, accusing Iran of “training their children as suicide bombers” and insisting that they’ve been at war with the US since 1979. Moving into the inevitable discussion of nuclear weapons, Newt said all of Iran’s suicide bombers “proved” how eager they were for nuclear weapons, while saying that just three atomic bombs would mean a complete end to Judaism.
Neither claim, of course, stands up to scrutiny. Suicide bombing has been extremely rare among Shi’ites, to the point where US military academics have marveled at the surprising lack of it as a tactic among even those Shi’ites living under military occupation. Likewise, Iran’s religious leadership has publicly condemned the notion of having, let alone using, a nuclear weapon, and even if they didn’t three nuclear weapons (or three anything) wouldn’t be capable of wiping out “Judaism,” a religion followed by 13 million people across dozens of nation.
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