I miss being able to ask various political figures questions that they find inconvenient. I rarely had the power to compel them to answer – I was never much of a fan of issuing subpoenas. But unsuccessful attempts by my political opponents to answer questions they wished I hadn’t asked were at least widely publicized.

This column is second best: I can pose the questions and then supply what I believe are the answers that my hypothetical interlocutors would have had to give.

The first question is for opponents of legal abortion who insist it is murder. An abortion involves at least the person who performs the abortion and the pregnant woman who volunteers to undergo it. Since the willing participation of both parties is necessary for this crime, by what reasoning do those who claim that abortion is murder absolve the pregnant woman from that charge? An adult who not only voluntarily brought a child to be murdered but also physically participated in it would be equally guilty. So why do the Marco Rubios of the world not demand that women receiving abortions be charged with the crime?

The answer is clear: Angry rhetoric to the contrary, there are virtually no abortion opponents who really do equate it with the murder of a 2-year-old. This does not mean that their objections to abortion have no moral force, but it does make it a much more complicated question than it becomes when you accuse proponents of murder.

The next question is for those who proclaim absolute opposition to even the most modest forms of the regulation of gun ownership, on the grounds that once we start, there will be an inevitable slide into confiscation of all weapons. There are two logical problems with this effort to defend opposition even to reasonable measures that seek to diminish the likelihood that people with a serious mental illness – which includes a propensity to violence – are able to purchase lethal weapons.

The first is that only a small number of people consistently oppose any legal restriction on the capacity of private citizens to obtain weapons. This is especially relevant when the rationale for having the Supreme Court strike down most laws enacting some form of gun regulation is the phrase in the Constitution that says that the right to bear arms is a consequence of the necessity of “a well-regulated militia.” Many opponents of gun registration argue that it is necessary for the people to be able to own weapons not simply to repel criminals, but also to defend against an oppressive government, citing the context in which the right is proclaimed in the Second Amendment.

If the right to bear arms is justified in part because of the need to be able to resist government aggression against the citizenry, why does the NRA not support private ownership of shoulder-fired missiles, land mines and armed drones? Of what use will even the best semiautomatic rifle be against the Air Force?

And why is accepting the prohibition on the ownership of this set of weaponry not the very precedent that they insist will lead to outlawing all weapons? There may be coherent arguments to be made against restricting the sale of weapons that allow deranged people to fire large numbers of rounds rapidly. But those arguments are clearly neither that this is necessary to protect us against government oppression, nor that it would be a first step that would inevitably lead to people not being able to own hunting rifles.

The third question is for those who are opposed to President Obama’s decision to draw down our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan on the grounds that the opponents of the people we support in both countries are still strong. How long are they prepared to have us stay? There is a critical difference between using our troops to defend a smaller country that has been invaded by a stronger, aggressive neighbor and intervening in a civil war. When the problem is a civil war and our intervention is necessary to allow the side we favor to avoid defeat, the exit strategy becomes problematic. In those cases when we intervene to help a party prevail when it could not have done so on its own, there is no reason to believe that we will at some point be able to withdraw with the assurance that they will be able to stay in power without us when they weren’t able to do so in the first place.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, we intervened with the purpose of overthrowing two specific regimes – Saddam Hussein and the Taliban – and having succeeded in doing so, we now face a situation in which we have no way to guarantee that the successor regimes we installed can stay in power without us. Having done our best to overthrow bad governments, it is a mistake to undertake the obligation to remain in those countries indefinitely to support those we anointed as their successors.

But this course is strongly supported by many Republicans in Congress – and all of the Republican candidates for president with the exception of Rand Paul. So my question to Jeb Bush, Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Kelly Ayotte and Lindsey Graham is this: How long do you support our staying in those countries? If the answer is that we should stay until there is no significant chance that the governments we installed will be overthrown, then we will be there for a very long time.

And the follow-up question is how much they are willing to spend, since all are people who would have us believe that they are very concerned about reducing the deficit.

Barney Frank is a retired congressman and the author of landmark legislation. He divides his time between Maine and Massachusetts.

Twitter: BarneyFrank