The latest RealClearPolitics poll average has top GOP contenders listed as follows: Trump, Carson, Fiorina, Rubio, and Bush. It may be that a Ted Cruz or Bobby Jindal will eventually win the nomination, but it is more than reasonable to discount such a possibility as being next to impossible in Jindal’s case, or rather unlikely in Cruz’s case. What will Syria look like when one of them assumes the nomination? What will Syria look like when they swear the oath of office? Putin has pulled the trigger and the bombing raids to support al-Assad’s regime are targeting CIA-backed rebels. It’s back to proxy wars again, but in an area that makes Vietnam or even Afghanistan look relatively simple.

Obama’s missteps are almost beside the point now. The disaster that is Syria can be debated and related to the Iraq War, and/or the withdrawal of troops from Iraq by the current White House. But what does America do going forward? What will the next President do when he or she has that first security meeting? What will be burning in the Middle East and what action plan will the President and his or her Secretary of State and National Security Advisors have in place to deal with the fires raging over there? What will the President say to Israel on that first phone call?

Carly Fiorina has set the tone on foreign policy, so experienced leaders like Jeb Bush have to show they have the same executive command of the issues. They have not so far. Cruz comes close, but he is a brawler in the Senate – which is what his followers love about him – and how he governs rather than provokes matters. But the substance of a Cruz action plan will no doubt be impressive. He has to convince that he can execute like a CEO and he hasn’t shown that and the polls reflect it. Will Trump have the substance to back up his tough-dealmaker persona? Will he listen, and will he then command on foreign policy? Ben Carson may be the truest conservative on a spiritual level and that journey that he has made will surely support any tough action he would have to take. But it’s hard to picture him doing that at this point. Maybe he can surprise any skeptic: his cognitive process is a touch ahead of most in the field. And that leaves Rubio: who might seem a little young and fresh-faced to bring the experience and nerve to deal with something like Syria. His policy record in the past has been less conservative than he would currently like, and he needs to convince voters of his strength on tough foreign policy issues. He may just do that. But for now, with Syria burning, Carly seems to be the one to imagine on inauguration day.

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