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After eight GOP debates and six DNC debates (counting Town Halls), the entire field of candidates from both parties has been narrowed down to just nine people. As of February 4, 2016 there have been 82 individuals accused of helping the Islamic State or planning ISIS-inspired terrorist attacks in the United States.[1] Three weeks into the New Year, 75% of Americans said that defending the homeland against terrorism should be our government’s top priority.[2] Not surprisingly, foreign policy relating to ISIS has become a hot topic on the campaign trails. So how do the candidates stack up? You may be surprised.

Observing the cards above for each candidate, it’s clear that many of them have proposed policies that are quite similar. A common theme is support of no-fly zones, but is this a wise idea? No-fly zones require enforcement, and shooting down another nation’s aircraft is no a small matter (evidenced in the Turkish shoot-down of a Russian Su-24 during an incursion in November). One of the more extreme candidates, Senator Sanders, advocates withdrawing all combat troops from the region and relying on Arab friends to clean up the mess. On the other side, Governor Bush wants to use U.S. forces in a multinational coalition to topple Assad’s regime – a regime currently battling ISIS for control of its territory. Despite their differences, the candidates have one thing in common: NONE of them have served in the military. In fact, there is speculation that several of them were draft-dodgers during the Vietnam War. Due to their lack of personal experience in the armed forces, we can hope that whoever becomes the next commander-in-chief will consider the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the rest of their expert advisers when making these types of foreign policy decisions.




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Chris Fox is a Project Coordinator at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, where he recently graduated with an MPA. Prior to that, he was a research fellow at the DHS Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE), where his focus was on homegrown violent extremism. He also holds a BA in Psychology and an AAS in Information Systems Management. Chris served for seven years as a TACP, is a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and continues to serve as a JTAC Instructor in the Texas Air National Guard.