Posts Tagged ‘Presidential Debate’

2012 Presidential Debate on Foreign Policy

October 22, 2012

Tonight’s presidential debate provides the American public an opportunity to evaluate President Obama’s foreign policy over the past four years, and to learn about Candidate Mitt Romney’s approach to foreign policy for the next four years.

There are a multitude of international issues that could be examined during the debate.  Rather than attempting to tease out detailed answers regarding specific topics, Bob Schieffer, the debate moderator, may seek to establish the respective candidates’ foreign policy principles.  To do so, Mr. Schieffer will need to ask questions that probe beneath a candidate’s rote answers, assess their foreign policy credentials, and draw out more fundamental strategic approaches to these issues.

The “U.S. National Security Strategy” Congressionally mandated publication was issued by the Obama Administration in 2010.  It is bland and cautious, but it establishes principles that are markers of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy.  These include:

  • American national security strategy starts by recognizing that our strength and influence abroad begins with steps that we take at home.
  • America must also build and integrate the capabilities that can advance our interests, and the interests we share with other countries and peoples.
  • The burdens of a young century cannot fall on American shoulders alone – indeed, our adversaries would like to see America sap its strength by overextending its power.
  • America will be steadfast in strengthening those old alliances that have served us so well, while modernizing them to meet the challenges of a new century.
  • America will advocate for and advance the basic rights upon which it was built, and which peoples of every race and region have made their own.
  • As a nation made up of people from every race, region, faith, and culture, America will persist in promoting peace among different peoples and believes that democracy and individual empowerment need not come at the expense of cherished identities.

The document affords Mitt Romney an opportunity to associate with, criticize, and evaluate President Obama’s national security performance.  More importantly, the debate provides Mitt Romney an opportunity to express his national security principles and objectives that he would apply over the next four years.

U.S. foreign policy tends to confuse tactics with strategy.  The key question is: how should foreign policy be adapted to the array of threats facing America?  The National Strategy Forum Editorial Board proposes ten questions that moderator Bob Schieffer should ask the candidates on October 22nd.

To read these questions, see our new article on the Huffington Post titled “10 Questions Bob Schieffer Should Ask Obama and Romney.”

A round-up of other key articles offer additional insights for tonight’s debate.  Good sources to brush up on include:

Foreign Policy Questions for the Candidates” by the Council on Foreign Relations

Why a Foreign Policy Debate is an Anachronism” by Richard Haass at the Council on Foreign Relations

10 Law-Related Questions Bob Schieffer Should Ask the Candidates” by Andrew Cohen at The Atlantic

The Politics of National Security: Debate Edition” by Matt Bennett, Mieke Eoyang, and Michelle Diggles from Third Way

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10 Questions Bob Schieffer Should Ask Obama and Romney

October 19, 2012

The NSF has a new piece on the Huffington Post titled, 10 Questions Bob Schieffer Should Ask Obama and Romney.  The article provides a primer for readers in anticipation of the final presidential debates on October 22nd.  Will the candidates move beyond rote answers and convey their foreign policy vision for managing U.S. foreign relations at one of the most challenging times in U.S. history?  The NSF has asked the right questions; let’s hope for clear answers.

The Vice Presidential Debate: Differences on Iran

October 16, 2012

The Vice Presidential Debate: Consequential Statements on Iran (Download in PDF)

Iran’s progress towards a nuclear weapon requires three stages of development.  First, Iran must enrich uranium from 20% up to greater than 90% purity.  Second, Iran must develop a trigger mechanism to detonate a bomb.  Third, Iran must have a delivery system for transporting the bomb, typically a long range missile system.  To date, Iran has made significant progress towards enriching uranium, but progress on the missile system and trigger mechanism are believed to be not as advanced.  The “red line” in this process is the point at which Iran’s nuclear program is on the verge of completing a nuclear bomb.  Traditional views ascribe the “red line” as Iran’s ability to enrich uranium to weapons-grade level, because once this step occurs, the transition to a nuclear bomb is possible in a very short time period.  For example, Israel’s Prime Minster, Benjamin Netanyahu, made a similar argument before the UN a few weeks ago—literally drawing a red line for Israeli military intervention at the 90% enrichment.

The Vice Presidential debate on October 11th between Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan illuminated their perspectives on the Iranian nuclear proliferation issue.  Their comments anticipate how each Presidential candidate would handle foreign policy issues.  When asked about the American “red line” for military intervention in the crisis, each candidate made contrasting statements.  Viewers should consider the consequences of these statements, and look for clarification from President Obama and Candidate Romney during the upcoming October 22nd foreign policy debate.   (more…)