●Afghanistan: Do you support the continued waste of lives and billions on the senseless war? And what will you do diplomatically to ensure that our exit is not delayed beyond 2014? Reports now are that the administration is planning to keep a military force of unknown size in Afghanistan past 2014, as well as pledging another decade of financial support for a regime that our own military calls by the acronym VICE (Vertically Integrated Criminal Enterprise). What are the limits you would advocate for this misguided commitment?
●Middle East: What should U.S. priorities be in the Middle East as the promise of the Arab Spring looks increasingly like the Arab Fall? We may be witnessing the collapse of the Arab state system that was held together by authoritarian governments for the last four decades at the same time we are seeing the collapse of any fig leaf of a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. Do you believe our “Israel right or wrong” policy adequately protects this nation’s security interests? Is it more or less important now for the United States to be seen as pushing for a fair settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict with the establishment of a viable Palestinian state?
Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editor and publisher of the Nation magazine, vanden Heuvel writes a weekly column for The Post.
●Iran and nuclear peril: Do you believe our current strategy of ratcheting up sanctions, while keeping the option of the use of military force, is working to prevent Iran from joining Israel, Pakistan and India in developing a nuclear weapon? Is there a possibility that these threats are only accelerating Iran’s nuclear efforts and helping to create a national consensus for a nuclear weapons capability? If deterrence has worked with other potential hostile states, why won’t it work in the case of Iran? Do you think it is necessary to draw a “red line” — essentially threatening a military attack — to keep Iran from developing a bomb?
In the past Iran has been supportive of U.S. policy in Afghanistan and has repeatedly said it does not want nuclear weapons, especially if countries like Israel give up theirs. Would you be willing to test Iran’s interest in what is known as a Grand Bargain?
This is far from the comprehensive set of questions that any nominee should face. This country faces monumental challenges that need to be addressed. It’s time for the Senate to get beyond partisan cheap shots and exercise its constitutional responsibility to probe the president’s nominee on whether and how the administration plans to move forward in an increasingly complex world.