On Monday, President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney square off in their third and final presidential debate of the 2012 election, a showdown that will focus upon foreign policy and will be held in Boca Raton, Florida starting at 9:00 pm EST.
The foreign policy debate may be the most important debate yet for Mitt Romney, as he tries to undo the damage of his foreign gaffe-filled tour from September, when he visited England, Israel, and Poland. While trying to put together a sound foreign policy agenda, Romney's recent foreign policy speech provided very little vision for what a Romney administration would look like, making this debate his last chance to convince the populous that he has the vision and understanding to be a global leader.
Still, President Obama is not in the clear for this debate either. The promise that many saw in him when he took office four years ago has quickly waned internationally.
A recent poll by the Pew Research Center indicates that 54% of Americans would rather have stability in the Middle East, even at the expense of democracy. In response to this and the plethora of Middle East-centric issues that will occupy the White House over the next several years, expect Egypt, Israel/Palestine, Iran, Libya, and Syria to all receive a fair amount of lip service. China and Russia are also sure to be hot issues as the candidates go head-to-head in the third, and final, presidential debate.
While the American people may wish for stability over democracy, this is the worst thing for American interests. The goal of Monday's debate should be to explain that transformation from the oppressive regional regimes is better for everyone in the long run. If the U.S. can actively engage in supporting this, while fostering the transition and upholding the beliefs that democracy is best, even if it may not be our vision for the country, than perhaps we have an opportunity to see real change come to the region; change that will witness the growth of civil society, transparency, accountability, and representative governance. The role of the U.S. is not to force our beliefs on others, but to support the institutions that attempt to bring about a more just society for the people that they govern.
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Live stream of the debate
Post Debate Round-Up:
Washington Post fact checks Romney's education stance.
Washington Post presents their winners and losers of the debate.
According to a NBC poll, Obama won the debate, with a majority saying his performance make them more likely to vote for him.
10:40 PM: As Romney concludes the debate with statements on wanting to be the "hope of the earth" much of the world remains ignored.
10:35 PM: "I think we all love teachers," Bob Schieffer on ending the debate after Romney's continued declaration of love.
10:34 PM: Once again the debate is being turned to the US economy. Meanwhile, in this foreign policy debate, India has gone unmentioned. The EU and economic tumult goes unaddressed. Latin America remains overlooked. Sub-Saharan Africa remains neglected (but I guess that's fitting in the historical context of the continent.)
10:29 PM: Romney gets defensive on the auto industry.
10:27 PM: Unasked questions:
10:22 PM: As predicted (though a shock to many) the drone question was raised. Unfortunately, the responses were lackluster. Romney's support for and expanded vision for the use is not surprising. Missed opportunity to address the more sinister nature of drones on the part of Schieffer (see tweets below.)
10:20 PM: Twitter Reaction to question on Drones
Update: The discussion on Afghanistan is disappointing. Public weariness of more than 10 years of war is pushing for withdrawl, but after invasion it is the US obligation to ensure that we leave the country better off than when we left. Withdrawing now will only lead to more problems in the long run. Neither candidate is willing to discuss this.
All things considered, thus far, the answers have been relatively similar on foreign policy. The buzzwords are similar.
10:13 PM: Obama wants to refocus on the US after a decade at war. Provide veterans with more opportunities, which are all possible given the transition in Afghanistan.
10:11 PM: Romney argues that troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by 2014 (no matter what.) Wants to move Pakistan "in the right direction."
10:10 PM: Foreign Policy argues Iran not the US's biggest foe.
10:06 PM: Romney (wrongly) claims that the US influence is waning because of decreased military spending, our floundering economy, and weakening ties with Israel.
10:03 PM: Twitter Reactions
9:55 PM: Obama argues he would welcome Iran back into the "community of nations" if they give up their nuclear program. Criticizes Romney on his stance that arguing Obama's stance only louder would make them more effective.
9:52 PM: Romney echoes the claims that he will have Israel's back militarily. Echoes that a nuclear Iran is a threat to the US. Wants to dissuade a nuclear Iran. Agrees that crippling sanctions are working. He wants to tighten those sanctions. Wants to idict Ahmedinijad under Genocide due to his rhetoric.
9:50 PM: Moving on to Israel and Iran. Obama declares that if Israel is attacked, the US will stand with them; they are our best ally in the region. Obama states that he will not allow Iran a nuclear weapon, and that sanctions are working. Nuclear Iran a threat to both US national security and Israeli national security. Obama says that his difference with Romney is that Romney wants premature military action in Iran.
9:49 PM: Obama is getting snarky on the evolution of military. Reduction in ships not important given advancing technology (submarines, aircraft carriers etc.)
9:43 PM: How to expand the military? Romney wants to get rid of ObamaCare. Give MediCaid to the states. Promises balanced budget in 8-10 years by closing loopholes and deductions (no mentinon of specifics). Obama says the math does not work to give $5 trillion in tax cuts with an additional $2 trillion in military budget increases. Obama argues that military not asking for increases.
9:42 PM: Review of education policies. Obama attacks Romney on his stance that smaller classes don't improve education.
Update 9:39 PM: Somehow this has turned into a economic debate. Small business promotion and job creation, and education policy.
Update 9:34 PM: Very little substance being offered by Romney on his vision. He keeps repeating the same key points: strong economy, strong allies, and strong military. He has clarified his position on Russia, after Obama pointed out that the Cold War has been over for 20 years. Romney has emphasized the need for a stronger preemptive military, but refuses to commit troops to Syria. Says the US should be an organizer of intervention but not intervene ourselves.
9:07: First question on Middle East politics with a focus on Libya. Romney will begin.
9:06 PM: The candidates have been introduced. The debate rules are being announced. There will be 6 segments, each will be 15 minutes long. Each candidate will have 2 minutes to respond, with the remaining time devoted to discussion.
9:00 PM: According to US News World Report, women are more interested in foreign affairs than men.
Update 8:58 PM: First Lady Obama and Mrs. Romney have been introduced and moderator Bob Schieffer has asked for silence to ensure the debate is worthy of the presidency.
8:53 PM: With just under ten minutes until the final presidential debate begins, snarky comments are hitting the Twitter feeds.
8:50 PM: Washington Post graphics on terrorism deaths since 2007.
7:58 PM: Drones are bound to be mentioned at least once in tonights debate. WNYC (New York's Public Radio) has put together this interactive graphic for public opinion on the use of drones. (Follow the link for interactive features.)
7:53 PM: Test your global IQ via this Pew Research Center quiz.
7:37 PM: Republican strategist Isaac Hayes is convinced this debate will showcase Romney's presidential leadership
7:30 PM: This tweet hit the #debates in response to Secretary of State Clinton's assuming the blame for the deaths of US Ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi:
7:17 PM: According to Mother Jones Washington Bureau Chief, David Corn, Romney's critique of Obama's foreign policy has been "over the top and somewhat hallow rhetoric."
7:07 PM: New York Times correspondent Jeff Zeleny says this debate is about "leadership."
7:00 PM: Comparison of the candidates on foreign policy issues via Council on Foreign Relations.
Update: Pre-debate analysis on the importance of reshaping America's foreign policy image.