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Cruz v. Rubio: Shots Fired, but What’s the Plan?

As Donald Trump’s lead amongst Republic presidential candidates shows signs of faltering, conservative blue-on-blue attacks will exponentially increase as those who feel they have the most to gain from the fall of “the Donald” position themselves against their rivals for the candidacy crown.

The latest broadside – or rather fusillade, given its intensity – has come from Senator Ted Cruz and is aimed squarely at Marco Rubio

In a lengthy interview for Bloomberg, Cruz attacks the fellow Cuban-American senator as a reckless adventurist as unfit to lead on matters of national security as Democrat frontrunner and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

Cruz links Rubio support for Clinton’s involvement in the Obama administration’s policy to dethrone Muammar Gaddafi to the subsequent terrorist attack in Benghazi that led to the death of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, and to a general “military adventurism” that does not serve American interests.

Whilst it is disheartening to see two young presidential candidates on the right battle each other given the greater target that the Democrat slate surely represents, the obvious fact is that the 2016 election will be fought in the arena of national security and this will not be the last duel of its kind.

After the recent ISIS attacks in Paris, the question must be asked (and answered): what does the right have in way of a plan that is better than the current White House approach, which apparently sees “climate change” as not only the most important threat to national security, but also somehow part of the explanation for the rise of jihadist violence in general?

Is Senator Cruz right in saying with regard to the rise of ISIS, as he does in the interview, that “we have no dog” in the war in Syria? Is the carnage unfolding day by day in the Middle East really just another version of the scenario in Libya, and is Rubio just “repeating the very same mistakes” Clinton and Obama committed?

It is actually easy to agree with Senator Cruz that any likely replacement for Assad will probably be far worse for Syria and America than if he retains control in Damascus. But does it naturally follow that Syria’s war has nothing to do with the safety of this nation, and the safety of Americans in America?

After the attacks in Paris, that is a very hard argument to make.

Senator Cruz appears to be resorting to the same type of straw-man argument that was used recently by the White House to bulldozer through the nuclear “non-treaty” with Iran. In that case, we were told that if America does not sign the deal, then the only other possibility is war with Iran. Why?

Why does the fact that removing Assad is a bad “neocon” idea (and yes Senator Cruz liberally uses the neocon label in a most pejorative sense, associating the putative “cabal” with Rubio’s policy stances), automatically mean America has no interests in Syria? No interests in a war in which one of the actors, namely ISIS, has established a Caliphate, declared America and the West its mortal enemy, and just sent its operatives to Europe to kill infidels?

And this is not even just about Syria, Iraq, or Paris.

As my wife and I have recently documented in our report on the domestic ISIS threat in America, ISIS is already here and intent on killing our citizens.

In the last 20 months, law enforcement authorities have killed or arrested 82 ISIS supporters in the U.S. Of these jihadists, half were planning to travel to the Middle East to fight for ISIS in Iraq or Syria. 19% were higher grade facilitators, the talentspotters who identified those willing to join the Holy War and effect their physical deployment into the warzones of the Middle East.

But a full 29% of those arrested or killed had no intention of traveling anywhere. They had decided by themselves, or under ISIS direction, that the best way to serve the new Caliph and the new “empire of Islam” was to kill American infidels here in the United States.

At the same time, the unclassified data is clear: we are arresting on average three times as many ISIS suspects per month here in the U.S. than we have arrested Al Qaeda suspects on average per month since 9/11.

In English: ISIS’s domestic recruiting here in America is 300% more successful that Al Qaeda’s has been, and fully a third of the people they recruit are planning to execute Paris-type atrocities in America’s cities.

In his attempt to define himself in contrast to his fellow presidential candidate, and in some form as a “third way” figure when it comes to national security, Senator Cruz offers a simple litmus test: military action should only be considered if there is “a real threat” to American security. Is the interdiction of ISIS jihadis in the U.S. planning to kill Americans in our own cities “a real threat?”

I would suggest it is rather difficult to answer that question in the negative.

As a result, the next question to Senator Cruz should be: what kind of military action do you propose? Destructive criticism is ever so easy. Constructive criticism less so.

I will be suggesting to the Senator’s team that if his test still stands, we now need to hear from him what his plan for military action is.

Just because Hillary and the neocons made things worse in Iraq, Libya, and Syria, does not mean that there is no right way to use force when faced by a threat that it committed to our destruction.

Sebastian Gorka, Ph.D. holds the Major General Matthew C. Horner Chair of Military Theory at the Marine Corps University, Quantico, and is the Chairman of the Threat Knowledge Group. Follow him on Twitter @SebGorka.

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