While polls indicate that Obama won tonight's third debate between the candidates, very little new information was actually provided.
Things we did learn tonight:
- Mali is now apart of the Middle East. (It's really not.)
- Russia remains the US's greatest "geopolitical foe." (It really doesn't.)
- We can't engage militarily in Syria, but we must engage militarily if Israel is attacked. (Because double standards are good.)
- We need to coordinate Assad's departure from Syria with Israel (and other regional powers.)
- The United States has 42 global allies. (That's right, a whole 42!)
In one of the best lines of the night, Obama tells Romney the 1980s want their foreign policy back, in response to Romney's assertion that Russia is the US's number one "geopolitical foe." The second greatest zinger came after Romney praised teachers, with moderator Bob Scheiffer declaring, "We all love teachers."The last best line came from Obama when he decried Romney's misguided understanding of the military by informing the candidate that the US now had fewer bayonets and horses in the military now too.
Apart from the occassional snark, the debate proved mundane. The Middle East was my predicted hotspot, but much of the world was ignored. Despite being one of the world's most populous countries, India didn't receive any lip service. Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa also remained unaddressed.
While there was much discussion of the domestic economy, neither candidate mentioned the EU financial crisis in any serious manner, though much of the debate centered around US economic policy.
In the end, Romney failed to present a distinct vision from that of Obama. This may in part be due to his lack of foreign policy experience, it may also be due to his relative ignorance of many of the foreign policy issues that will confront our next president.
Obama won tonight's debate not necessarily because his vision is better, but because he has the experience and because he was able to successfully point out areas in which Romney was incorrect. That being said, it's time for Obama to seriously consider forging a new foreign policy agenda should he be re-elected, as the current one isn't guaranteed to win us any more friends around the world.
For complete analysis of the final presidential debate, see here.