Backchannel the Foreign Policy Debate
The third and final debate for the 2012 Presidential Election is Monday, October 22nd with the President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney discussing foreign policy.
The third and final debate for the 2012 Presidential Election is Monday, October 22nd with the President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney discussing foreign policy.
This is scary! Department of State spokesman Ron Ruman says the Perry County voter notified elections officials of the problem after trying to cast his ballot Tuesday. Video of what Ruman called a "momentary glitch" was posted on YouTube. It shows a vote for President Barack Obama switching to Mitt Romney on the machine.
Transcript of the final debate with interactive fact checking.
Thanks, all, for your participation in this and the last three debate backchannels. This was very productive and very useful.
CNN Prediction: Wolf Blitzer will call the debate a tie. That dude's got no opinions.
With candidates struggling to stay on the topic of foreign policy, does that say more about the candidates of the American public? They are just telling us what polls well. Do we as citizens just not care about global affairs anymore?
Do you think it's also that here domestically we really do have a lot of problems? They are privileged problems of a wealthy developed country but even so, we have a lot to fix here. Given that, it is even harder to make the case that we should be the rest of the world's keeper or at least in the far reaching way some have envisioned in the past. Foreign policy - it's a moving target, with or without bayonets or horses. :)
Would be interesting to have a discussion about what we think the top foreign policy issue will be at the next presidential debate in four years.
I think the weakness of debate on foreign policy is partly because the cost of our foreign policy mistakes are indirect and not immediate.
And the foreign policy debate in FLORIDA ends without the word immigration mentioned once. Sorry, Cuba, Mexico, and, um, etc.
I think Obama won, if for no other reason, than the fact that he is simply more knowledgeable about foreign policy, regardless of the merits of his positions vis-a-vis Romney. I don't think this changes the trajectory of the race at all. There were no major gaffes by either candidate. We will still see a lot of these two in Ohio over the next two weeks.
Romney's sweating. He looks uncomfortable. Haven't we seen this show?
How is labeling China a currency manipulator and imposing tariffs not protectionalism?
Terrorism is the biggest threat. This is what really bothers me about the two party system, there is no disagreement on this. The biggest threat we face, compared to what? Education weakness? Environment, Labor Skills?
Deaths by "terrorism" - however that is defined - are down worldwide. Not really the greatest threat
Ok seriously - let's make a list of all the things they have not discussed: global warming/climate change; energy; poverty; starvation; family planning; ethnic battles in Sudan, drought...
And there's got to be SOMETHING going on in the Western hemisphere too, right? I hear there is some drug violence (based on our buying the drugs and our selling the guns) in a place called Mexico. Perhaps something Mercosur related? Chile, Argentina, Brazil - I hear Brazil is a BIG country.
And by taking out people with Drones, both Obama and Romney feel that wedding parties and children are ok as collateral damage. The drone policy is out of control and going to lead to a escalation of drones all over the world that will include groups that are not "friends of America"
That genie is not going back in the bottle, but really, given the way tech is developing, our use of them isn't making hizbollah's nascent drone program easier. Real estate agents are using low flying quad-copter drones to photograph properties. anyone can build these things now, and the tech will eventually move to higher and higher flying aircraft. That said, you're right--major national security threat, major ethical hornet's nest--and i'm not even sure either of these guys understand the implications of the poilcy they both back.
My guess, though, is that just as firebombing Dresden failed to faze most Americans then, scattered drone strikes with "collateral damage" will fail to faze most too. Drones are creepier, but this country has never worried too much about civilian casualties - especially when they come in small bursts under opaque circumstances.
Wow, Drones are in play. And Romney seems to agree with Obama on their use.
We're now 70 minutes into a discussion of war and foreign relations, and I don't recall hearing any touching stories about a soldier in a hospital, or homage to a woman at the airport, sending off a guy in khakis for his third deployment.
War is real people. Is the discussion of Afghanistan going to do that?
Setting aside the "Obama Bin Laden" slip, what do we do with Pakistan? can the nation be reformed? Is it our job to be involved in that way?
Has anyone mentioned the largest nation on earth yet? Has the word "China" been spoken? Per Afghanistan/Pakistan - aren't they in essence both keeping us in Afghanistan for two more years, and despite Romney's tough talk on Pakistan, aren't they both commited to engaging with Pakistan because, well, we have to?
Maybe a bold statement - I don't know - but in some ways, Romney's patriarchical approach to foreign policy perfectly demonstrates the differences between these two candidates in terms of world view and approach.
To that point, I am always glad when our elected officials are humble enough draw on experts with more experience. The question is whether Romney/Ryan will be willing to do that and can select experts who are willing to relinquish the role of the US as policeman forthe world.
This is Obama's best debate. Too bad it'll get the lowest audience.
i'm a little surprised that Romney has not drawn on his missionary experience in France.
Schaeffer shoudl require Romney to answer his question. If he doesn't want to answer the question, then Romney shouldn't be able to go on.
Romney brings up "The Apology Tour" That is a tired line. Repeat - Romney CANNOT break with the structures of US foreign policy. I'd say its posturing but I do not believe he understands the gravity of the the Middle East
The apology tour line is getting really tired. Obama's response on Israel and what he did when visiting as a candidate is strong. How, though, would Romney be any different in trying to execute on what he laid out before on building friendships in the region?
Romney on nuclear threats - he seems to be saying the words without a clue what they mean.
FACT CHECK needed: 10, 000 centrifuges enriching uranium in Iran?
Interesting enough: Syria was mentioned but a place where the crackdown has been going on for just as long is not mentioned. Why don't we talk about Bahrain? Think because they host the Fifth Fleet?
aboslutley not. I think that our military positions is guiding it. But the problem is the US has turned the region into a US military encampment so we can intervene more easily. My position is that we should not be intervening in the sovereign politics of Arab countries.
the discussion on "red lines" about iran is vague. it's interesting that aside from the israel cheerleading neither is being specific.
I will seriously pray for anyone faced with the scenario of an Iranian attack on Israel. That is a situation with no easy answers, and stakes that are so high I can't even fathom them. I think we should stand by Israel, but a non-nuclear attack would raise questions vis-a-vis our role (or lack thereof) in the Six-Day War or the Yom Kippur war. What is the appropriate role for the U.S. if Israel is attacked, especially if by conventional weapons?
Israel does have an outsized importance in US foreign policy. Historically, I understand why that has been the case--we in the West kind of created the problem. But is there a point in the future at which Israel will no longer be so important? What would have to change?
I'd argue that Israel is a pawn and a proxy as have other Middle Eastern states been pawns and proxies for other states - so the question as I see it is why do we think we need to have a presence in that location? Lebanaon is another example - how abused is that poor country?
I think Israel stays important until the day (if it ever comes) that the Arab world truly modernizes, democratizes, and ceases its anti-Israel, anti-Semitic rehetoric. This would create parity, and I think would cause Americans to view other countries in the region as meriting a "special" relationship like the one we have with Israel. If that were to happen, Israel moves from very important to just important. I think thousands of years of history and its inextricable link with Western Civilization argue for its always being singular.
I'm sick of Romney saying that he balanced the state budget. He had to balance the Mass. budget. Every state balances their budget. It shows nothing.
Again on the dials - women totally do not want to hear Mitt on economy - seriously plummeting in level of interest
Wow, Obama actually comparing the US to others in military spending. how about comparing us in other areas?
Hmmm...What happened to Foreign Policy? Who's fault is that? The moderator or the debators?
For those not watching on CNN, the dial thingies are showing that no one is moved by Mitt talking economics of US - little interest in hearring the five point plan again. My college son wants to know when he will talk about foreign policy.
Could not agree more. But it is fascinating how the major events of one's generation shape how we answer that - after the Holocaust, I do think it is understandable that people all around the globe might ask themselves what more could we have done, should we have done.
Did we just bash teachers unions in a debate on foreign policy?
Maybe this bipartisan consensus that the US should be number 1 in the world should be questioned.
Let's pull out an interesting turn of phrase: America is the one indispensable nation.
How does that line play overseas?
Hee hee anything Mitt can do to keep the economics rolling in the debate. Wake me when they talk Pakistan, N Korea and India?
Romney keeps going back to the economy and the military. Can we be a world power in maintaining peace in the world with a weak economy or military?
Just want to point out that so far, the tone of this debate is remarkably civil and respectful of the moderator.
Moving on to a very general question: what's the role of the US in the world? Is this a useful question? It seems to me that most presidencies create their role in a case by case basis, based on political calculations, not principles or philosophies. Actually, having said that, ideology plays a role, too, but we're not likely to hear that explained here.
We'll probably never hear it here, as you said. But I fervently hope that whoever is elected has some long and soul searching talks with their foreign policy advisors and comes up with a new U.S. mission in the world - one that is pragmatic, modest, principled, and humble. We need a post-Cold War sea change.
Wow - according to CNN timekeeper, Schieffer is really keeping these two even in time!
"These countries can't develop without giving women the education THEY NEED" President Obama.
I think we need to acknowledge that our post WWII superpower role has to change in fundamental ways. We should be very pragmatic and very deliberate in our foreign committments; especially the military ones. I am going to start sounding like Pat Buchanan here soon.
Shorter Obama on EGYPT:
No, I would not change my policy. I held on to Mubarak as long as I could and when he became untenable, I dumped him. Bob, the US has dropped dictators when they are no longer useful for decades.
So I was right.
Obama's FP in the Middle East has been a disaster. He inherited the Bush torture regime and he kept it going in less overt but just as repressive and violent ways. See Middle East Report's current issue (264) and the articles on Obama's Kill over Capture policy as well as Toby Jones' article on US Persian Gulf security.
No way that Romney can handle any of this differently. The structure of US policies is too engrained (and an outdated way of thinking)
He inherited the torture policy and wanted to pull away from it. He wanted to close Gitmo. But the set up was too resilent so he started to rely on extrajudicial killings and drones to the dirty work.
In terms of Iraq and Afghanistan: He pull the exact some strategy in Afghanistan as Bush pulled in Iraq.
More continuity than change.
Just a reminder: please refresh the page frequently - thank you!
I'm guessing that at this point a few folks are turning the ballgames.
It's really hard to imagine Romney being able to get deep into anything related to foreign policy unless the moderator asks about global Econ. (FYI - I have already opened a second bottle of wine - maybe it will all sound better sooner rather than later?)
Does anyone think it's odd that the debate has gone on for nearly 30 minutes and Hillary Clinton hasn't been mentioned once? She's Secretary of State for crying out loud.
Obama is taking a very interesting strategy in this debate. He is really highlighting all the things Romney has said he would do that hasn't panned out well.
Pete - what do you think is a reasonable policy on Syria?
Obama on his interests in the Middle East, terrorism, Israel...
Now on to Syria--here's a question for all of you--What should our policy be?
Perhaps Romney should run for president in Egypt. He makes it seems so easy? All we need to do is set up civil society in the middle east. It's so easy... Not.
The Syrian crisis is not about Syria. That crisis has been internationalized and a playground for all sorts of country playing their interests - US, Russia, China, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi.
See Curt Ryan's article in MERIP's Spring 2012 issue for a brilliant state of play in that crisis.
Interesting tactics being taken - Romney's play to the base re: good v evil, bad guys, and speaking in terms of extremists. He needs to be careful to not deal in only monolithic caricatures of those overseas. While Obama speaking in terms of his accomplishments.
And yet for those of us who have lived or traveled in even just one place they're talking about let alone the extensive experience you, Josh and so many others have, isn't it kind of crazy that these two people are trying to convince us that they should be able to direct all this policy? Whose idea was this commander in chief thing anyway?
It seems like Romney is saying that the U.S. should have a much bigger role in the Mideast with a robust/strategic plan. What is this plan?The plan would attack the extremists in the Middle East. Is the extremism a result of our involvement already? Would increasing involvement only make it worse?
Yes, Jason. I think that's likely true. And I think Romney is a smart guy who knows that and is probably justing posing for domestic consumption during the election. But he creates an expection that what he's saying is serious policy and that is dangerous for our national conversation.
Welcome, everybody! Schieffer's getting started, and we're diving in with Libya. I hope this gets beyond the talking points.
Would like to see some of these questions, particularly number 2, by Philip Gourevitch
I hope there's some attention given to our military budget and the failed neocon approach under the GW Bush administration. If I were Romney, I would acknowledge the GW Bush was wrong and that we need to take a different approach.
I'd like to hear more about both candidates' views on China. I'd like to see a discussion that is realistic enough to acknowledge that China is a really important country, and that recognizes that, political posturing aside, we are going to be doing a lot of trading with China for the forseeable future, whether we should or not.
I'd also like to hear more about nuclear proliferation vis-a-vis Iran and the very real possibility that Israel may feel compelled to pre-emptively strike Iran (perhaps not long after the election is over). This one is probably more of an unrealistic desire on my part, because I doubt either candidate will be able to say what they truly think or what they would truly do in any hypothetical (but realistic) scenario.
Finally, I'd like to hear more about the economy in the context of a changing global economic order (not just China as I mentioned above) - but Latin America, Europe, and Japan; as all of those economies have undergone structural changes in ways that are related to, but not exactly the same as, our own.
I would like to hear a discussion regarding policy steps to be taken regarding nuclear non-proliferation and in particular with regard to North Korea, Pakistan & India.
It's a few hours early, I know, but here are some things I'm thinking about heading into tonight's debate:
What's on your mind?
Yes, regardless of whether one thinks that the democratic socialism of many European countries would be a good fit for the U.S., refraining from using "Socialist" or even "European" as pejoratives would be a step in the right direction for a productive political discourse. At least we've moved beyond "Freedom Fries".
Join us on Monday for the third and final backchannel conversation for the the presidential debates.
Not sure the case Romney will make of "we need a CEO" will resonate as much on foreign policy. I can buy it (in theory) in a lot of domestic affairs, but not so much on international relations. Even though Obama was viewed as quite green on foreign policy by most in 2008, he's a grizzled veteran now, and I think most Americans like his pragmatic and deliberate tone. Romney as commander in chief may raise the specter of a return to Bush-era policies, especially for independents.
Obama is trying to tie Romney to GWB, and to Gerald Ford (i.e. Russia greatest threat/no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe). Not sure this is all that effective with independents. But why is Romney still talking about Russia as I type this? Maybe it is an effective strategy. . .