Presidential Debate Winner Tonight: Obama, But By a Narrow Margin

Obama narrowly came out on top at the final presidential debate, but both candidates did well.

As much as I think Obama won, I believe it is due to Romney’s outdated foreign policy, smartly pointed out by the President early in the debate, rather than the strength of Obama’s platform.

Romney made sure to differentiate his plans from Obama’s program, and voters should get the sense that it’s a more muscular and unilateral approach. Romney’s rehashed keywords of the night sum it up: He wants a strong America.

His plan contains much tougher sanctions on Iran (as well as its diplomatic isolation), the armament of opposition forces in Syria against Assad, and the pursuit of a stronger U.S. military relationship with Pakistan.

However, what he fails to grasp is that America, however strong it is, can no longer approach international relations in an independent manner. One case in point is the Syrian issue. Providing more arms to the forces opposing Assad is a risky business, with Syria having so many ties to Lebanon, which is in turn intimately involved with Israel and Palestine. The consequences of sending more arms to the region could be devastating for many.

Meanwhile, Obama defended his record with assurance and he was adamant that he had no choice to make the difficult decisions he made.

He highlighted the successful execution of bin Laden and his decision to force a military intervention on Libya last year to remove Colonel Gadhafi from power in the name of democracy. He outlined his plan to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and he made it clear that Israel was an ally by whom the U.S. will stand no matter what.

However, there was nothing new about it and it lacked a bit of grandeur.

Things got a bit muddled regarding China, and as I blogged earlier, the big elephant in the room was the Chinese government’s manipulation of its currency, which neither Obama nor Romney addressed head-on. This is a difficult question to tackle, I grant it, but any relationship with China will have to go through the dealings of this artificial devaluation. 

Saying that China is an economic partner is not sufficient. Americans need to know what is done about it.

For real-time analysis and coverage of the debate, see here.