Candidates for governor of states such as California with large metropolitan populations as well as big city Mayoral hopefuls are not generally asked questions about national security issues. These are typically addressed to congressional candidates and presidential hopefuls.

That may change in light of the Parisian massacre, the bombings in Beirut a day earlier, the downing of the Russian jetliner over the Sinai Peninsula and future terrorist attacks about which we may have little or no credible intelligence.

While the federal Homeland Security Department (DHS)   has overall responsibility in this area, local and statewide preparedness and instant response will be essential in the event of terrorist acts.

In the aftermath of the Paris attack, Governor Brown immediately authorized the state’s Office of Emergency Services to activate the California State Threat Assessment System. He could one day be called upon to do much more.

While climate control may be at the top of his list of priorities, he may also want to be thinking about security measures and California’s readiness if we are ever attacked.

As the nation’s most populous state with many inviting targets including tall buildings, mega-malls, giant sports and entertainment arenas, critical transit systems, crucial highway arteries and bridges, and a world-renowned technology complex, we have, in effect, been on permanent alert since 9/11.

Clearly, the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL as it is called) may be expanding its operations into becoming a more global conflict with a vision of establishing Caliphates in regions well beyond the Middle East.

It has been reported that there are as many as 5,000 Jihadists in France alone including apparently French nationalists who have been trained in Syria and Iraq before returning to their homeland.  Several have been implicated in the Paris attacks. How many may already have planted roots in other French communities is yet unknown.

Whether the Islamic State has designs beyond the Euro-Asian continent including U.S. territory cannot be readily determined. But the Paris disaster serves notice that the ability of federal, state and local authorities to coordinate with one another at the highest level of efficiency is imperative. There is no room here for one-upmanship, partisan bickering or sloppy execution (see Katrina) if there is an emergency.

Candidates for the California governorship in 2018 (there are at least eight potential contenders surveyed in a recent Field Poll) are likely to be quizzed on these issues.

Since 9/11 the United States has been fortunately spared any major terrorist attacks traceable to embedded Muslim cells in its communities.  With the exception of the Boston Marathon killings by the Tsarnaev brothers and the Fort Hood incident involving a lone gunman, Nidal Hasan, no American cities to the best of our knowledge have been exposed to any imminent threats in more than 14 years.

No doubt this speaks well to the increased vigilance by our security agencies in detecting infiltration by extremists, greatly heightened surveillance by law enforcement and a society that is growing more wary of suspicious activity.

But it also points up the difficulties of mounting attacks which necessitate movement of weaponry and perpetrators by air or using planes as weapons themselves to launch suicidal missions such as the ones carried out in Manhattan, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania.

These constraints are not enjoyed by European countries who share open borders with one another, such as France, providing easy access to bad actors that could hide undetected among the millions of refugees now streaming into Europe on foot from Syria and other terrorist strongholds.

Governors and Mayors are not expected to be versed on foreign affairs, but presidential candidates do not get the same pass.

At the outset of the Democratic debate just days ago, Sen. Bernie Sanders spent about 20 seconds discussing the terrorist threat.

Ben Carson looked like a deer caught in the headlights when questioned on what he would do to form a coalition to fight the terrorist insurgency.

Donald Trump advised that dealing with the Islamic State militancy should be left to the Russians and amplified that remark saying “we’ll bomb the S….out of them”, which raised eyebrows even among some of the candidate’s more ardent supporters.

While few presidents came to the office equipped with vast experience in foreign affairs (the exceptions in modern times being Dwight Eisenhower and George H.W. Bush), these responses are hardly satisfactory—and that’s a charitable observation.

Sen. Marco Rubio, Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich and former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush have offered more thoughtful analysis in recent speeches.

Among the current throng of White House hopefuls, only Hillary Clinton –whether or not she will get your vote—has authentic on-the-ground training in matters of war and peace both as Secretary of State and as the chief counsellor to a former president.

The Paris crisis raises the stakes for those candidates who must now convince the voters they have both the smarts and the mettle to deal with the more dangerous conditions the Islamic State is posing.

However the presidential primaries turn out, the wanabees better come to future debates and beyond equipped to discuss foreign policy and America’s role in this troubled age with the rules of confrontation rapidly changing and less room for serious mistakes.

Perhaps former Homeland Security Secretary, Tom Ridge, said it most succinctly, “The barbarians are no longer at the gate. They’re inside.”