I have questions for the candidates on military policy

by Mary Ann McGivern

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There's been plenty of criticism of the Commander in Chief Forum that NBC presented to ask Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump about military policy. But there's been little mention of the dearth of actual military policy content.

Take nuclear weapons. Clinton did talk about the benefits of our treaty with Iran to limit Iranian development of nuclear weapons. And I think I remember Trump broadly dissing the treaty -- though perhaps he dissed it someplace else. But there's been no thoughtful conversation about how much these weapons cost or how many we need or whether we can ever use them -- though again rumor has it that Trump asked why we haven't used them.

Mr. Trump wants to greatly increase the number of Army and Marine troops. He didn't mention cost, and nobody asked him. Nobody asked if he disagrees with Rumsfeld's argument for a lean and agile military. Nobody asked whether he sees a troop increase as necessary because he envisions troop combat in several different zones. Mrs. Clinton did say she will not send troops to Iraq or Afghanistan, but there's been no follow-up about why she won't send them. Is it cost? Harmful effect on Muslim populations? Ineffectiveness? Her political assessment that the American public won't stand for it?

Congress has linked discretionary domestic and military spending, capping both in a program they call sequestration that is an effort to control the budget. Trump and Clinton would seem to have very different views of the military and its needs -- but again, there's been no probing of these views.

Meanwhile, my hero Rep. Barbara Lee is calling for congressional repeal of the Authorization of Military Force that has permitted 15 years of endless war. Presidents don't like congressional control of their war powers, so presumably both Clinton and Trump would oppose repeal. But they should be asked.

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