Who Won the Debate: Romney Loses on Libya, Obama Advocates Smarter Approach

On Monday, the final presidential debate will focus on foreign policy and a significant portion of the debate will focus on the Middle East. The topic of Libya and specifically the tragedy in Benghazi have been brought up in the previous debates and will be further discussed Monday night. As public reactions of outrage calm, it is necessary for Commander-in-Chief post election to fully comprehend the complexity of the various issues in the region and use that understanding as the foundation for new policies.

For live coverage of the presidential foreign policy debate on Monday, including real-time analysis and coverage, see here.

Calls to end foreign aid and disengage diplomatically reveal a less than nuanced approach to foreign relations. “Those ungrateful and violent Muslims/Arabs (since they are often interchanged regardless of accuracy) should respect the U.S., our citizens, and our freedoms.” The problem with comments that are full of generalizations and are steeped in hatred like this is that they fuel the growing misunderstandings and tensions that pervade U.S. relations with the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

As we condemn the violent actions of groups of extremists that are not representative of the majority of people in those nations, let us also work to diminish the power of extremist voices in our own dialogue. The backlash against the Arab Spring and the continuing prevalence of Islamophobia coupled with extremist violence threaten our ability to form mutually beneficial relationships with these nations that are working to transition post revolution.

The reports that the attacks in Benghazi could have been the work of Al-Qaeda, the continuing conflict between Islamists and secularists, fears of U.S. imperialism, and the struggles of nations to emerge post revolution are just a few of the facts that should inform our analysis of current events and the formation of U.S. foreign policy. What is occurring is not as simple as backlash against a movie. Trying to understand these events requires a more nuanced approach and necessitates a more nuanced response.

Although there was not significant media coverage of the protests in Libya expressing solidarity with the U.S., condemning the violent attacks, and expressing condolences, the responses to those photos were nothing short of disgusting. A simple scroll through the comment sections demonstrates a significant hypocrisy in our national dialogue. For many years there have been loud calls for Muslims to condemn terrorism, but when some witness the exact action called for, it is never sufficient. When will it be enough? How many is sufficient and who decides that number?

With protests continuing in Cairo today and across the MENA region, the nature of our future relationships with these nations remains unclear. Decisions to revaluate the nature of foreign relationships and the provision of aid should not be taken lightly and diplomatic disengagement should not be a knee-jerk response to this week’s horrible events.

People across the nation and around the world may have a variety of feelings regarding the recent attacks on U.S. embassies ranging from sadness to anger to confusion, and that is completely understandable. “But we must be clear-eyed, even in our grief.” – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

For live coverage of the presidential foreign policy debate on Monday, including real-time analysis and coverage, see here.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Tye Tavaras

A native of Atlanta, Georgia with a B.A. from Emory University in International Studies. A graduate of The American University in Cairo with an M.A. in International Human Rights Law. Recently graduated with a Juris Master Degree from Emory Law School focused on International Law and currently works in the field of international education.

MORE FROM

Will Justice Anthony Kennedy retire at end of Supreme Court term? Here's what we know.

Rumors that the 80-year-old swing justice may leave the bench are fueling fear of a second Trump pick on the nation's high court.

3 states and D.C. allow same flammable building materials behind Grenfell Tower fire

The causes of London's Grenfell Tower are similar to the justifications used to waive fire regulations in the U.S.

New Jersey bill would require kids to be taught how to interact with police

Students from kindergarten through 12th grade would receive the education.

UK Parliament hit with cyberattack

Members of Parliament had difficulty accessing their emails Saturday in the wake of the attack.

Istanbul LGBT pride march banned by government for safety concerns

A right-wing nationalist group has vowed to stop the protest.

Compounds seized by US in December reportedly contained material useful in Russia probe

The Trump administration has reportedly been considering returning the New York and Maryland compounds to Russia.

Will Justice Anthony Kennedy retire at end of Supreme Court term? Here's what we know.

Rumors that the 80-year-old swing justice may leave the bench are fueling fear of a second Trump pick on the nation's high court.

3 states and D.C. allow same flammable building materials behind Grenfell Tower fire

The causes of London's Grenfell Tower are similar to the justifications used to waive fire regulations in the U.S.

New Jersey bill would require kids to be taught how to interact with police

Students from kindergarten through 12th grade would receive the education.

UK Parliament hit with cyberattack

Members of Parliament had difficulty accessing their emails Saturday in the wake of the attack.

Istanbul LGBT pride march banned by government for safety concerns

A right-wing nationalist group has vowed to stop the protest.

Compounds seized by US in December reportedly contained material useful in Russia probe

The Trump administration has reportedly been considering returning the New York and Maryland compounds to Russia.