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article imageOp-Ed: Preview of Final Presidential Debate — Foreign Policy takes stage

By Sadiq Green     Oct 22, 2012 in Politics
Boca Raton - The final presidential debate takes place tonight at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida and the topic is foreign policy. Expect fireworks to fly as each candidate seeks advantage in the final weeks of a campaign that is going down to the wire.
President Obama has a strong foreign policy and national security track record to defend and can expose Romney’s naiveté on national security issues. Romney and his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan clearly lack foreign policy experience, and that can be seen as a weakness in tonight’s debate and for the GOP ticket in the remaining weeks of the campaign.
From China’s currency to Israel’s security; to Iran’s nuclear program; to violent revolution in Syria; to stateless terrorists and struggling alliances, most notably in Egypt and Libya – where the US ambassador was killed in a terrorist attack – all have become major campaign issues and therefore debating points for President Obama and Mitt Romney.
Mitt Romney clearly won the first debate against President Obama, who even jokes now about “the nice long nap I had” in referencing the first debate. Romney won that debate by appearing as "Moderate Mitt" which clearly threw the President. In their second contest, President Obama was much more engaged. Coupled with Romney not offering any specifics on his plan to reduce the deficit and his gaffe about “binders full of women,” the challenger lost that contest.
Following President Obama’s takedown of Republican challenger Mitt Romney in last week’s debate, this could very well be the President’s strongest showing though he is certain to be faced with accusations and inaccuracies from this opponent. Mitt Romney attempted to get a head start on the foreign policy debate on the issue of the Benghazi tragedy during the debate at Hofstra University.
The tragic killing of those five Americans in Benghazi will no doubt be a central line of attack for Mitt Romney tonight. In last week’s debate Romney’s attempt to portray President Obama as being inconsistent in describing how he responded to the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, fell short. Debate moderator Candy Crowley of CNN confirmed that the President did indeed use the term “act of terror” in his Rose Garden press conference following the incident, as he said during the debate. Despite the availability of a written transcript and video from the press conference, conservative pundits took to the airwaves to denounce and discredit Crowley, while failing to acknowledge that in the same breath Crowley said Romney was correct in stating that it took a little while before the administration focused on the attack as an incidence of terrorism.
Regarding the conflict in Syria, continued turmoil in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the threat of a nuclear Iran, the debate should put in clear focus the difference in world-view of each candidate. There are substantive differences between these two men on our nation’s foreign policy posture. Since taking office President Obama has attempted to construct a new American model on foreign policy, intent on protecting the nation and to taking on global terrorism, but also committed to a new diplomacy that rests not on military might but international respect and cooperation.
For his part Romney has taken on the appearance of a Bush-era neoconservative with Cold War tendencies. The Republican nominee is supportive of a massive military buildup of the type reminiscent of yesteryear’s U.S.-Soviet conflict and wants to draw a line in the sand in Iran, possibly provoking an apocalyptic response that would have global ramifications.
Most voting Americans rate their worries about the economy first on their priorities list. But with turmoil increasing in hot spots around the world, foreign policy and national security have become much more important in recent years. While he touts his success in bringing terrorists to justice, decimating al-Qaeda’s leadership through drone strikes and dispatching Osama bin Laden, Mr. Obama must do a better job explaining the new global reality. The President can take credit for our nation’s withdrawal from Iraq and stand firm in the commitment to withdraw from Afghanistan as examples of real leadership and keeping his word. Ending those two wars is an opportunity for the President to redirect national resources and invest in our nation’s economy, resulting in our greater security.
In describing his efforts to protect the nation over the last four years, President Obama must also use the debate to explain how the economy and energy independence increases our security, and how the new challenges of cyber and environmental terrorism requires a different response than a 20th century military could provide. It is why the Joint Chiefs of Staff concurs with the President’s defense budget priorities and rejects the model pushed by the Republican nominee.
Further complicating the nation’s global status has been a historic recession that has destabilized the world’s traditional powers. At the same time, a new generation in the Arab and Muslim world is challenging our nation’s history of entitlement and global supremacy, and through technology and new devices of warfare various corners of the globe have exposed the need for the United States to reinvent its relationship to the world. There is perhaps no better example of our foreign policy dilemma and choices than the differences the two candidates will bring to the stage tonight in Florida.
With many pundits feeling this debate will be the tie-breaker expect fiery rhetoric to be hurled by both candidates. But the debate need not delve into shallow and petty bickering because there are substantive differences between these two men on our nation’s foreign policy posture.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about Election 2012, Presidential debate, President obama, Mitt Romney, 2012 presidential election
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