Horses & Bayonets!

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

The foreign policy debate is usually the sleepiest of the three presidential debates. But this one had everything you might want (except maybe a winner on the bingo card).

Miss it? Here's a 100-second version that hits the high points, courtesy of Talking Points Memo.

What did you think? What was President Obama's best moment? (OK, second-best, after the horses and bayonets zinger.)

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    President Obama schooled Romney on what foreign policy and leadership is. Took him to the woodshed and left him there.

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    President Obama: "The Cold War is over. ...The 1980s are calling up and asking for their foreign policy back. "

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    Schieffer alluded to "the Iranian threat" and then asked, "If Israel were attacked, would you stand with Israel?" ("Would you stand with your dear spouse if the sun were to rise in the West?"- my translation of this ridiculous question- too bad Obama & Romney didn't seem to know it is ridiculous).

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    The Marine Corp has currently about 200,000 enlisted and each are issued bayonets. It would be nice if our snarky Commander and Chief knew that those... things that go underwater... with those nuclear things, they aren't ships Mr. President, they are called "boats", and the Navy doesn't have a single "corpse"man

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      200,000 bayonets. Yup, still far fewer than were issued in 1916.

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      Un-true. The Navy considers all of it's large vessels to be ships. Submarines are often referred to as boats because of a traditional linguistic holdover from the days when the subs we had were launched from tenders. Modern submarines are not launched from tenders, they are fully independent ships and are therefore classified as such.

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    From AP:WASHINGTON — Two hours after the U.S. Consulate came under attack in Benghazi, Libya, the White House was told that a militant group was claiming responsibility for the violence that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

    A State Department email sent to intelligence officials and the White House situation room said the Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter, and also called for an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli.

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      One AP report about a specific piece of a larger, complex puzzle does not a conspiracy make...

      Snippets of communication - pushed to the media during a highly charged campaign - are not sufficient to make judgments about the Benghazi tragedy.

      Absent context, tragedies are always subject to conspiracy theories and those that seek to gain advantage from spinning half-truths.

      Let us remember a few things:

      First, groups claim responsibility for actions that gain attention (especially when against the US) all the time. they do this for their own purposes - without concern for groundtruth. Just because initial reports say something - it doesn't always mean that they are true (or more importantly, true enough).

      Second, the notion that we must choose between two competing truths is a false dilemma. It is most likely a combination: a crowd inspired to action and terror-group responsibility are not inconsistent with the administration's claims - as more credible information became available.

      Beware of red herrings. The Al Qaeda franchise is using whatever levers they can seize upon to move folks into clash and conflict against the US.

      Third, a consulate - any consulate - is never as secure as the Embassy. Temporary facilities lack the hardening necessary for sufficient structural and systemic defensive fortifications.

      Fourth, the environment in Libya is fluid enough that there are likely at least three "truths" involved: what happened, what the US (and our Libyan allies) wanted to report - and not report - to minimize follow on threats, and the reality that is always a blend of actions taken under duress.

      Finally, as a person that has used intelligence products in theaters around the globe (in conflicts large and small), the only true test of intelligence is perspective/time.

      In such cases, it is helpful to remember the moral of John Godfrey Saxe's poem "The Six Blind Men and the Elephant." In the last paragraph he concludes,

      "So oft in theologic wars, the disputants, I ween, Rail on in utter ignorance Of what each other mean, And prate about an Elephant not one of them has seen!"

      We make decisions upon what we know and sense; all of us contribute to the larger vision - but none of us has the whole picture.

      Perhaps we can keep our focus upon the real issue: we lost an ambassador and his team because a hostile group of people made a decision - for their own purposes - to kill them.

      America is a big nation and we have enemies. In the best of circumstances we remain unable to deter all potential threats. This tragedy was wrought by people demonstrably disinterested in building a new future.

      Stop pointing fingers. Stop comparing parsed commentaries. There was sufficient confusion over the specifics that the Administration's ambiguity on this matter is reasonable. Not a stellar day, but neither was it purposeful obfuscation.

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