The Slatest

The 11 Looniest Foreign Policy Lines of the Debate

Donald Trump speaks while Ben Carson looks on during the Republican Presidential Debate sponsored by Fox Business and the Wall Street Journal at the Milwaukee Theatre, Nov. 10, 2015. 

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

The foreign-policy portion of Tuesday night’s debate was mostly filled with talking points that regular debate viewers have heard many times before. Trump thinks it’s great if Putin wants to bomb ISIS, even if he’s not actually doing that; Rand Paul thinks its dangerous to arm “allies of al-Qaida”; and Carly Fiorina—well, just see this set of misleading statements that I addressed in a fact-check last debate. There wasn’t much change.

But there were some notable additions to the repertoire:


Ben Carson:

Well, putting the special ops people in [Syria] is better than not having them there because they—that’s why they’re called special ops, they’re actually able to guide some of the other things that we’re doing there


No, that’s not why they’re called that.

I think in order to make [jihadists] look like losers, we have to destroy their caliphate.

Only chumps lose their caliphates.


Donald Trump:

The TPP is a horrible deal, a deal that is going to lead to nothing but trouble. It’s a deal that was designed for China to come in, as they always do, through the back door, and totally take advantage of everyone.

As my colleague Jordan Weissmann notes, China is not part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.


We have problems with North Korea, where they actually have nuclear weapons. Nobody talks about it.

Nobody but Trump ever talks about North Korea. Ever.

As far as the Ukraine is concerned and you could say Syria, as far as Syria, I like if Putin wants to go in, and I got to know him very well because we were both on 60 Minutes, we were stablemates, we did well that night. You know that.


Trump was featured on the same episode of 60 Minutes as Putin. They weren’t in the same room. Also, this is irrelevant.

And I said keep the oil, and we should have kept the oil, believe me. We should have kept the oil. And you know what? We should have given the oil, we should have given big chunks to the people that lost their arms, their legs, and their families and their sons and daughters because right now, you know who has a lot of that oil? Iran and ISIS.


Oil doesn’t come in chunks.

Marco Rubio:

We have a president that treats prime minister of Israel with less respect than he gives the ayatollah.

He’s used this one before and it’s a fine zinger, but it seems particularly strange the day after the prime minister visited the White House. (The ayatollah wasn’t invited.)


John Kasich:

In Jordan, we want the king to reign for 1,000 years.

May his enemies tremble before his mighty sword. May his harvests be bountiful and his peasants contented with their lot. May he issue forth the strongest sons and fairest daughters in all the seven kingdoms.

Moderator Maria Bartiromo:

We asked Facebook to take a look at some of the major issues we’re talking about and tackling in this debate tonight. This word cloud shows what people are focusing on the most. The bigger the word, the more the talk. One of the most discussed issues in the last month, homeland security.

Also, Baby Hitler.

Honorable mention: Undercard debater Chris Christie:

One last thing, I will tell you this, [China is] building the artificial islands in the South China Sea, and the president won’t—up until recently wouldn’t sail a ship within 12 miles or fly a plane over it. The first thing I’ll do is I’ll fly Air Force One over the islands.

And pop a wheelie on the DMZ!

Update, Nov. 11, 2015: Somehow missed this Jeb! Jem last night:

Jeb Bush:

If you’re a Christian, increasingly in Lebanon or Iraq or Syria, you’re going to be beheaded.

Christians are 40 percent of Lebanon’s population.

Read more of Slate’s coverage of the GOP primary.