The 3rd Obama – Romney Debate: Foreign Policy

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The third and final debate between President Barack Obama and his challenger, Governor Mitt Romney took place in Boca Raton, FL at Lynn University moderated by Bob Schieffer, host of CBS’s “Face the Nation.” The focus was on foreign policy with most of the questions centering on the unrest in the Middle East, the conflict in Afghanistan, the military and the war on terror. Many of the pundits and snap polls gave the “win” to Pres. Obama, who let loose with a few well placed “zingers” in response to Gov. Romney’s criticism of his foreign policy. The “horses and bayonets” quip countering Gov Romney’s criticism of the US Navy’s fleet strength. Here is some the more balanced analysis from the left who had as much to say about the Obama administration’s bungled foreign policy, as they did about the dubious future policies of a President Romney.

From David Dayen, FDL News Desk, article, We Don’t Have an American Foreign Policy Debate

While Mitt Romney hid behind Barack Obama and displayed about as much independent thought as a college student who didn’t cram enough the night before the test and spent the whole time looking at his neighbor’s paper, his neighbor Barack Obama reflected so strongly the smoldering wreck that is this nation’s foreign policy consensus.

It’s amazing that the Republican Party, once associated almost totally with a “strong national defense,” would give up so completely on foreign policy, to the extent that they have no identity whatsoever on the issue. Romney agreed with every Obama position but said the nation needed a “comprehensive strategy” to deal with the world, the equivalent of Gerald Ford’s “Whip Inflation Now” buttons, a signifier without anything behind it.

But it’s also amazing to me that anyone would call the Republican candidate Peacenik Mitt, since on the one area by which we wage war in the 21st-century world, Mitt agreed “completely” on the use of drones. That’s increasingly the only way America and the west fights wars these days. So agreement on drones means agreement on the war strategy for the world powers over the next several decades. [..]

When war policy gets reduced to “send flying robots overhead to strike,” eliciting no sacrifice on the part of the general population, it becomes much easier to make these calls, to sign off on interventions in Libya or Somalia or Yemen or Mali or wherever else. [..]

From Glenn Greenwald‘s comments during the live blog of the debate at The Guardian:

9.34pm: Both candidates are eager to ignore the topic of this debate – foreign policy – in order to talk about the economy because they perceive, accurately, that this is what most voters care about, and because they don’t really have much to disagree in the foreign policy area. And so they are now dispensing with any pretense and regurgitating their economics debate.

But US foreign policy actually does have a significant relationship to the economy- namely, the massive military, the constant aggression, war and occupation, the hundreds of military bases around the world all drain resources away from far more constructive purposes – but neither of these two candidates will dare to question any of those imperial premises, so they can’t actually address the prime economic impact of US foreign policy. [..]

10.22pm: A primary reason this debate is so awful is because DC media people like Bob Scheiffer have zero interest in challenging any policy that is embraced by both parties, and since most foreign policies are embraced by both parties, he has no interest in challenging most of the issues that are relevant: drones, sanctions, Israel, etc.

10.34pm: That was just a wretched debate, with almost no redeeming qualities. It was substance-free, boring, and suffuse with empty platitudes. Bob Scheiffer’s questions were even more vapid and predictably shallow than they normally are, and one often forgot that he was even there (which was the most pleasant part of the debate.)

The vast majority of the most consequential foreign policy matters (along with the world’s nations) were completely ignored in lieu of their same repetitive slogans on the economy. When they did get near foreign policy, it was to embrace the fundamentals of each other’s positions and, at most, bicker on the margin over campaign rhetoric.

Numerous foreign policy analysts, commentators and journalists published lists of foreign policy questions they wanted to hear asked and answered at this debate. Almost none was raised. In sum, it was a perfect microcosm of America’s political culture.

10.56pm: Echoing a common refrain of progressives, Andrew Sullivan after the debate says that Obama has “restored America’s moral standing in the world”. I suppose one can say that if one excludes the entire Muslim world from “the world”, as many do, because in that rather large and important part of the world, there has been no restoration of any kind. Quite the opposite. See, just as a beginning, here, here, here, and here.

From lambert‘s Mission elapsed time: T + 45 and counting* at Corrente:

Obama vs. Romney Round III. Recently, I’ve started taking the bus into town, so I can caffeinate myself and work on my laptop in a milieu that could make me feel like I lived in a city again, if I were able to suspend disbelief, which I can’t.

Point being that I take the last bus home, and the last bus here, like last buses everywhere, is filled with characters. A selection of characters I’m highly confident is drawn from populations that are under this or that form of supervison. Most exhibit detailed knowledge of pharmaceuticals, especially barbiturates. Their language is technical and official. They are expert in brands, dosages, arrests, trials, hearings, sentences, and treatment regimens. They trade tips. Most present well; they speak fluently and often, especially of compliance, recovery, and the disasters of others.

And heaven knows what they do when they get home.

So, tonight, listening to our affectless, sweating, droning candidates speak so fluently and present so well, I couldn’t but be reminded of junkies on the last bus. Because it really is about the next fix with these guys, isn’t it? It always is, with junk. Oil, money, power: Junk. Right in the imperial vein.

From Gary Younge‘s comment at The Guardian:

Obama fires and Romney falters but third debate fails to find a flourish

The president did better than an unconvincing Romney – but it’s difficult to imagine this debate changed minds or won hearts

If the world could vote on 6 November, Barack Obama would win by a landslide. A global poll for the BBC World Service revealed that 20 out of 21 countries preferred the president to his challenger. But when you watched the presidential debate on foreign policy on Monday night you had to wonder why. Not because Mitt Romney was better, but because on matters of policy, Obama was almost as bad. It takes a friend to reveal the harsh truth to the global community, so here it is: “Obama’s just not that into you.”

No one could love Israel more, care less about the Palestinians, put more pressure on Iran or be a greater fan of drone attacks or invading Libya. Both candidates agreed that America’s task was to spread freedom around the world: nobody mentioned Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib or rendition. “Governor, you’re saying the same things as us, but you’d say them louder,” said Obama. It was a good line. The trouble was it condemned them both.

Charles Pierce, in his analysis at Esquire noted some significant glaring ommissions:

A discussion of foreign policy that did not mention climate change. (Four debates and nary a mention. Somebody else is going to have to tell the polar bears.) A discussion of foreign policy that mentioned teacher’s unions exactly as many times – once – as it mentioned the Palestinians, and I am not making that statistic up. A discussion of foreign policy that did not mention hunger, or thirst, or epidemic disease, but spent better than ten minutes on The Fking Deficit. (Here Romney cited in defense of his position that noted political economist, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.) A discussion of foreign policy that was all about threats, real and imagined, and wars, real or speculative, and weapons, and how many of them we should build in order to feel safe in this dangerous world.

There is no light between them.


  1. TMC
  2. gotterdammerung

    the Media-Industrial Complex.

    The big losers: the environment, ergo, all of us.

    It really says something about the overton window when the commie socialist, Kenyan marxist gets out-leftied by a severe conservative, sheesh!!

    Will the last lefty standing please shut off the lights.

    Peace…and thanks, MomCat, for everything you and ek do.  

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