As the 2012 presidential election approaches, each candidate has expressed their opinions on national security and how to keep Americans safe, whether they be inside the borders or overseas.
“There is no higher priority,” said Jordan Harris, chairman of the Penn State College Republicans. “That’s why we call the president the commander-in-chief. That’s his primary job.”
In the past four years, Harris (senior-history and economics) said he thinks President Barack Obama and his administration has done a good job with national security and keeping Americans safe.
However, near the end of his first term, Obama did not handle issues in Libya properly, he said.
“America deserves a better explanation for Libya,” he said. “The Obama administration did not handle Libya properly.”
On Sept. 11, the U.S. embassy was attacked by a mob in Benghazi, Libya. The attacks, sparked by an anti-Islam film, resulted in four American deaths, including the U.S. ambassador and Penn State World Campus student, Sean Smith, as previously reported.
Deb Flavin, secretary and executive director of the Centre County Republicans, said if Obama would have paid more attention to the events in Libya, the ambassador may have not been killed.
She also said that paying attention to world leaders and the Middle East will help improve national security.
“The Middle East is on fire,” she said. “We need to make sure we know what’s going on.”
Harris said though the high number of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan is not Obama’s fault, something needs to be done during the next presidency. For whoever is elected, keeping soldiers safe overseas is a top priority, he said.
However, that does not mean there is no room for improvement for the next president to handle, whether it be Mitt Romney or Obama, he said.
Flavin said that in order to improve national security measurements in the United States, the next president needs to have daily briefings with agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Homeland Security and others to gain full knowledge of the status of the nation’s security.
Flavin said national security has been good since the 9/11 terrorist attacks under the George W. Bush administration because the country has not been attacked on American soil since.
Chairman of the Centre County Democrats Greg Stewart said Obama has done a good job over the past four years, including his efforts to seek out and refocus on killing Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaida at the time.
To improve national security in the future, Stewart said the government needs to increase intelligence in areas that involve technology, as well as increase the U.S. Army Special Forces.
Stewart also said the U.S. needs to increase border patrol, hire people who speak different languages, as well as keep an eye on the locations of nuclear weapons.
He said diplomacy also plays a role in national security, and diplomats play a role along with the military. Stewart said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has done a “phenomenal” job these past four years, and the U.S. needs to build coalitions with other countries.
To rebuild alliances lost when the U.S. invaded Iraq, he said, we need to assist them economically and in other ways they need help.
“We need to wind our wars down because our military is stretched to the limit,” he said. “A lot of Americans don’t feel the pain of this war.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.