Last night’s debate exposed the truth that the candidates are more similar than not when it comes to their stances on foreign policy, and that’s not a good thing. Here are some highlights of three of the topics the candidates were in agreement on, and the possible implications:
Both candidates were critical of China last night, which is practically a U.S. political tradition. Obama highlighted his decision to impose tariffs on Chinese tires after Beijing allegedly gave illegal subsidies to China’s automobile industries. His decision, he claimed, was made with American workers in mind. Romney appeared equally as hawkish toward the Chinese, going so far as to call China “currency manipulators,” who have been taking our jobs, “stealing our intellectual property, our patents, our designs, our technology, hacking into our computers, counterfeiting our goods.” Both argued that we need to enact trade policies with China that “work for us.” However, it’s important to note that the aggressive stance both candidates articulated on China does not cultivate friendship, but hostility and trade war. Enacting policies that benefit the United States at the expense of China will not make China want to trade more with us, and this is something that neither candidate seems to grasp.
Mitt Romney openly endorsed the use of drones, and said he would continue using them during his presidency. While Obama didn’t explicitly mention his position on drones, it’s no secret that he’s used them extensively throughout his presidency. It’s also no secret that our use of drones has bred resentment and led to recent protests among citizens of the Middle East. It’s no wonder, considering that a recent report estimated that 474 to 881 civilians, including 176 children, have been killed by drones, and an additional 1,228 to 1,362 have been injured in Pakistan between June 2004 and September 2012. It’s true that Obama has only been president for four of those years. However, since both candidates have openly endorsed and/or used drones, this number will inevitably continue to rise, as well as the resentment it has bred throughout the rest of the world.
Romney asserted that it’s essential for America to show our strength in the Middle East, while Obama suggested that America needs to help with state building, and continue to strengthen our alliances. Either way, both ultimately argued for a continued U.S. presence in the Middle East regardless of purpose. As far as dealing with potential threats (namely, Iran), the candidates were much more similar.
Both leaders seemed to be in agreement on the threat posed to America and the rest of the world if Iran were to acquire a nuclear weapon. Romney even stated that the biggest present threat to America is a nuclear Iran, and was more militant on the issue. He argued that best way to deal with Iran is to show our military strength, which he accused Obama of not having done. He advocated imposing more crippling sanctions on the country, saying that we need to whatever it takes to ensure Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon. Both candidates stated that a military intervention should be America’s last resort, but did not say what other avenues would need to be taken before such an intervention were to take place. Also, both candidates expressed that America has an unbreakable bond with Israel, signaling our unwavering financial and military support. Ultimately, both candidates made vague yet aggressive statements on Iran, which is exactly the type of rhetoric that could lead America down a slippery slope to eventual war.
All in all, last night’s debate shed light on what many Americans have already assumed — no matter who wins in November, Americans will in fact have to face four more years of conflict, and a Middle East without an American military presence is but a distant memory.