Who Won the Debate: Romney Got Schooled by Obama

In a major foreign policy address at the Virginia Military Institute, Mitt Romney characterized President Barack Obama’s foreign policy “as weak and dangerous.” Despite his tough talk, Romney’s actual proposals do not differ much from the policies that the president have been pursuing over the last four years. True to form, Romney sets out to have it both ways on some major policies despite the heated rhetoric. To win the debate, therefore, Obama would need to explain to the public the end results of Romney’s foreign policy outlook, which is akin to that of George Walker Bush.

Syria has been engulfed into a civil war. According to CNN, more than ten thousands civilians have lost their lives. The conflict has also forced almost 200,000 Syrians to flee the country. Romney has criticized Obama’s approach to Syria. The Obama administration has provided “non-lethal assistance” to the rebels. Knowing that the public would not support an intervention in Syria, humanitarian or otherwise, Romney has carefully avoided the advocacy of such policy. But Romney stated that he would “help arm elements of the Syrian opposition who share our values” through U.S. allies in the region if he were to become president. But the situation in Syria is chaotic. There is a legitimate fear among administration officials that the weapons, especially heavy ammunition, could end up in the wrong hands.

The Iraq war has resulted in substantial costs for the country both in lives and in money. For instance, according to the Huffington Post, about 5000 soldiers died and more than 30,000 had been wounded. Those numbers, however, do not fully reveal the trust cost of that war. The Huffington Post further indicated that almost 500,000 returning veterans have suffered some form of injuries, which range from post-traumatic stress and depression, due to their participation in the war. The estimated cost has been projected to be $3 trillion. As promised during his 2008 campaign, the president put an end to that misguided war and withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq. In his foreign policy speech, Romney criticized the president for his “hasty troop withdrawal from Iraq.” This criticism implied that Romney would not have made that decision or at the very least would have kept some troops there. Despite his criticism, Romney has not said whether he would have wanted the president to keep U.S troops in Iraq. Thus, he is against the quick withdrawal while he is not in support of keeping more troops in the country.

The war in Afghanistan is the longest running conflict in the nation’s history.  According to the president’s plan, the U.S. combat troops will leave Afghanistan at the end of 2014. Once again, according to Reuters, Romney characterized the president’s timetable as a “politically timed retreat.” But though he criticized the timetable, Romney does not commit himself to maintain those U.S. combat troops who are scheduled to leave in Afghanistan in case he gets elected. Like his Iraq’s position, he both supports and opposes the president’s decision.

There has been concern that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapon for at least a decade. In his inaugural speech, the president stated that he would be willing to negotiate with Iran in order to make certain that the country does not develop nuclear arms though he supports Iran's rights to enrich uranium for electricity purposes. But the Iranian leadership has rebuffed the president’s overture. Because of its refusal, Obama has been able to convince European allies to go along with the toughest sanction that has ever been imposed on the Iranian regime. As a result of this crippling sanction, the Iranian economy has been tanking. Romney, however, still attacked Obama’s Iranian policy. He vowed that he would be tougher on Iran. But since he knows that the American public has no appetite for another war in the Middle East, his vow consists mainly of imposing stiffer sanctions on the Iranian government, which is the very course of action that the president has been pursued over the past three years.

For many decades, American has been the staunchest ally of Israel. During Obama’s time in office, the U.S. military ties with its Israeli counterpart have never been stronger. This is a fact that has been acknowledged by Ehud Barak, the Minister of Defense in the Benjamin Netanyahu government. Romney, on the other hand, accused the Obama administration of throwing “Israel under the bus” despite the evidence to the contrary.

In the third debate, Romney would most likely employ two main strategies. First, Romney would certainly try to portray himself as a moderate again like he did in the first debate on national security issues since he knows that the public would oppose any new conflict. At the same time, Romney would seek to paint a picture of the Obama administration as weak. In order to win the third debate, Obama should try to take advantage of the tension between Romney’s rhetoric and his actual proposals on foreign policy. Therefore, Obama should force Romney to spell out exactly what he would do differently from the course that he has charted during his first term.  In so doing, Obama will be able to take Romney’s tough talk to its only logical conclusion: another major conflictin the Middle East.

Live Updates

1:24 AM My final thoughts on the debate

1: 18 AM Blog Reactions

Hat Tip To Andrew


 1:13 AM Meme of the Debate

Hat Tip to Andrew Sullivan


10:12: Romney once again has another secret plan; this new secret plan would help blunt extremism? Gov Romney when would you share any of those secrets plan with the public.

10:06: There is no question that you are capable of seeing Gov. Romney; but the question is what would you have done differently from the course that the president has pursued over the past three years.

 

9:51 PM You cannot be a leader if no one is following you; the sanctions are working because Europeans allies agree to get involved

9:34 PM So Mr. Romney after attacking the president's foreign for months and months, you no longer have any criticism. It begs the questions: Did you believe what you were saying before or do you believe what you are saying now?

9:25 PM After months of attacking the president's foreign policy as being weak, Romney, now, supports the policies of the president. Simply amazing!!!

 

9:06 PM Romney seemed to have decided not to launch any Benghazi attacks

8:58 PM Latest Washington Post Polls Gives Obama a Razor-thin Lead Nationally


8:43 PM Members of the Military Contributed more Money to Obama


 

8:37 PM Romney seems to be ready for the debate


7:55 PM Obama's prebuttal


7:11 PM Scott Van Duzer, who bear-hugged the president- has been invited by the Obama’s
campaign to the debate


5:14 PM A Recap of the Second Debate


5:08 PM  A Recap of the First Debate


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Peter Prime

I have been following and reading about politics and policy for a long while. I like to read a variety of sources from magazine, newspapers to blogs. Aside from my interest in politics, I like to play soccer, and tennis. I also follow both sports. I used to be a big fan of Andre Agassi and I like watching the Brazilian soccer team.

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