Tonight’s debate will likely be filled with vitriol between the candidates. This year feels unique because national security is such a hot topic for voters.

Tonight is going to be a spectacle, for sure.

But now more than ever, foreign policy is a part of the conversation. When George H.W. Bush ran years ago in 1992, a top issue was family values. So much as changed since then when it comes to the electorate. They discussed the Waco shootings. What they didn’t ask was, are we safe, is someone going to come and kill us? Isn’t that a strange question to be asked during a job interview? Because that might be what part of this debate is going to be about.

The Commission on Presidential Debates released the following statement:

Lester Holt, the moderator of the first 2016 presidential debate, has selected the topics for that debate.

Subject to possible changes because of news developments, the topics for the September 26 debate are as follows, not necessarily to be brought up in this order:

America’s Direction
Achieving Prosperity
Securing America

The debate will be held on Monday, September 26 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. The format calls for six 15-minute time segments. Two 15-minute segments will focus on each of the topics listed above.

All debates start at 9:00 p.m. ET and run for 90 minutes without commercial interruption.

Here are some hot topic foreign policy issues that may come up tonight (plus my glib answer):

Are we safer now than before?

Yes and No. Compared to the rest of the world: yes.

Who can stop ISIS?

Neither. The job to remove ISIS in its fullness will probably go on for another ten years or more. Because they’ll lose ground but they’ll remain intact as a group of global insurgents at war. A better question is how do we get ahead of the next ISIL after ISIL eventually fizzes?

Who can we trust with sensitive information (and nuclear codes)?

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We’re going to trust one or the other.  When one becomes commander-in-chief it will be time to stop criticizing and start critically thinking. No matter what I hope, we haven’t become so polarized that professionals and competent individuals do not seek positions in the next White House.

I’m not talking about the relatively insignificant political appointments and staffer but the professional leadership roles. Particularly in foreign policy, because national security ought to be political party agnostic. I don’t think this is a time we can sacrifice knowledge to political operators. I’m sure this is a pipe dream on my part.

Where are we headed? Into another war? (Ground troops/Boots on the ground debate)

I’ve mentioned it before that I don’t think it’s possible to avoid a larger more pronounced ground presence in both Syria and Iraq. It won’t and shouldn’t be a conventional invasion and occupation but an enabling operation to at least try to force folks in the region to care for their security.

Either way, tonight will be exciting amid all the hype, which has been fueled via personal attacks to a new, unprecedented level of a lack of civility? But, not if you watch modern reality television.

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