Once again, we have been treated to the spectacle of a national debate. Joe Biden was a boor, Paul Ryan was a wonk, and the moderator was biased. Gigabytes have been written about this debate, but that pretty much sums it up. Oh, and Hillary being thrown under the bus by Obama over Benghazi and the whispers of an internecine battle brewing as a fallout of it will surely be commented on. It makes for great pundit fodder but is nothing more than predictable noise.
What has been missing so far in both debates is a real discussion of foreign policy. We have heard of intelligence failures, troop withdrawal timetables, standing by our allies, standing up for democracy, and Iran's nuclear program ad infinitum, but both sides have failed to tell us what our sons and daughters are coming home in body bags for. Our allies? Who, the Pakistanis? Democracy? What, like the "Arab Spring's" one man, one vote, one time policy where an Islamic theocracy gains control from a dictatorship? What about when the Iranian people tried to rise against the Mullahs? Why was our government silent about that? What of the Christians who were not being slaughtered on a daily basis by the deposed dictators but now face that under the new "democracies" we helped establish? Now which Afghans are the good ones, again? Confusing, isn't it? Never mind the score, at least tell us where the goalposts are.
Military force, whether boots on the ground or drone strikes, is nothing more than an extension of diplomacy. Is our diplomatic corps so incompetent that we must resort to "kinetic action" against our "enemies" on a daily basis? Or is it because of a flailing foreign policy? Allies are such because of common interests and enemies are such because of conflicting ones. There are no absolutes to either, only varying degrees. In addition to receiving mixed signals about whom our allies and enemies are, the American people have not been told where the increasingly vanishing line that we cross when we commit our sons, daughters, and treasure in support of American interests is drawn. Perhaps this is because it has become too easy to do so. Our leaders borrow or print money to finance these actions but do not pass a budget to account for them. Aside from rare exceptions, it is always someone else on their umpteenth tour in a dangerous place performing a modified "meals on wheels" mission, restricted by absurd rules of engagement where they are unable to shoot at night for fear of waking the neighbors.
CBS correspondent Lara Logan, who has been closer to Islam than any of us would care to emulate, recently made the case that our government is lying to us about our true enemies. Maybe our government is lying to themselves, too. Americans need to hear the truth about what our foreign policy is: who we support, who we oppose, and to what degree and why. Who we buy and who buys us. Most importantly, what vital American interests are at stake? And that is just the Middle East. Maybe a candidate has already covered this. I must have missed it.
Ebben Raves is a veteran, constitutional conservative activist, and speaker who teaches American history and has been a guest on several talk radio shows. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.