Appropriately enough, the latest Republican debate – held on the eve of Veteran’s Day – concentrated in part on what the future of the U.S. military should look like. This topic has gotten short shrift in the previous debates, especially considering the state of the world right now. With tensions rising between the U.S. and Russia, a psychopath lurking behind the Bamboo Curtain of North Korea, the ongoing violence in Israel, an endless war in Afghanistan, and the dilemma that is the Islamic State, it’s a wonder we’re talking about anything else.

There were two camps on stage Tuesday night. The (relatively) isolationist camp, to which Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and, to a lesser extent, Donald Trump seem to belong. And the other camp – espoused most vehemently by Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio – which believes we should dramatically increase both the size and the scale of the military to ensure our national security.

“I want a strong national defense,” said Paul at one point, “but I don’t want us to be bankrupt.”

Paul advocated a reduction in defense spending that would bring the national budget back under control, but the hawks on stage argued that his isolationist stance would jeopardize the country.

“We should not speak to people from a position of weakness,” Fiorina said, insisting that world peace was only achievable when other countries knew that the U.S. was not to be messed with.

As with most things, there is probably a strong argument to be made for a middle ground. Trump pulled out the reliable “world police” catchphrase, but that’s too simplistic. No, our military does not need to be involved with every civil war in the world. No, we should not be out there looking for dictatorships to topple, especially if the alternative is to give these countries over to Islamic radicals.

But it’s easy to forget what the world would look like without American intervention. Maybe because of our terminally short lifespans, it’s easy to fall into the fantasy of thinking the world has always been like this. America has always been the most powerful country in the world, the borders have always looked as they do, and giant wars involving multiple countries…well, that’s the kind of stuff that happened Before. We’re all beyond that primitive crap now, right?

Mmm, probably not.

As long as human traits such as greed, envy, and a hunger for power are left in the world – as long as there are valuable resources to fight over – as long as there are deeply-held religious beliefs that pit factions against each other – there will always be war. And as the biggest, baddest empire on the planet, America is called upon to stop these wars before they spiral out of control. The alternative – to retreat back behind our borders and hope for the best – is not acceptable. Even if that strategy would not leave us open for attack, we would be whistling through the graveyard. How many of our allies would we be willing to watch conquered before we stepped in? How powerful are we willing to allow ISIS to become?

These are the questions we have to consider, and it’s about time we ask all of our presidential candidates what they think. Before much longer, these questions may not be purely hypothetical.

Arguably, they already aren’t.