Grading the Third Presidential Debate | Foreign Policy 2012

How did you grade the third Presidential Debate?  Roger Cohen thought that the debate questions were unfortunate: flat, out of sync, and off-balance:

I was waiting for one from left field. But Schieffer was not very imaginative. Something like: “In a hyperconnected world dominated by social media, does traditional U.S. diplomacy have any place? Aren’t Google and Twitter more important than the size of the navy?”

via The Timbuktu Question –

From the vantage point of a few days later, this view shows how similar the candidates’ views really are, and the trick of differentiating oneself:

Mr. Obama has a tough task. It is a lot easier to go on the trail arguing for America as No. 1 than it is making a case that America’s leverage comes in its ability to work with allies. “It’s an incredibly difficult balance, especially for anyone running for president,” said R. Nicholas Burns, who spent nearly three decades as one of America’s top diplomats before he left his post as George W. Bush’s under secretary of state for political affairs to teach at Harvard. “Governor Romney is right to say America must lead, and we are still the indispensable power and must remain a strong and active world leader. But President Obama has developed a modern and effective view of leadership that I think resonates with anyone who has done this kind of work for a living: that in places like Libya, you have to challenge the NATO allies and the Arab states to be in the front lines, and that Americans know we can no longer be everywhere and do everything.”

via The Foreign Policy Debate –

And again, this on what wasn’t said (Eurozone, Mexico, Latin America)

In general, there was a sense among analysts and observers outside the United States that these were two intelligent, competent candidates who do not differ overly much on the central issues of foreign policy and were actually debating with domestic constituencies in swing states foremost in mind.

via Debate’s Omissions Highlight Skewed Worldview –


3 thoughts on “Grading the Third Presidential Debate | Foreign Policy 2012”

  1. I would have liked to see more questions about social media and its foreign policy implications. With the Arab Spring uprising these past few years, which have largely been attributed to twitter and Facebook, I think that social media is the most important area that is not being discussed in current political thinking. Robert O. Keohane, professor of political science at Princeton University, came to speak at BYU a few weeks ago. In his opinion, nobody is really talking about the impact of social media, and they really should. I think that using social media to reach a broader base of constituents and citizens is more efficient and effective. There is a reason why the world’s most prominent leaders have twitter and Facebook accounts. The following link provides great insight in how the most popular media outlets form our version of reality:

  2. It is true that Obama is very pragmatic when it comes to foreign policy. He has a mixed strategic approach which includes elements of realism and unilateralism but definitely leans towards elements of an international multilateral approach. Based on the debate, Romney is not much different, and Romney did not really try to differentiate himself to much when it comes to foreign policy. How could he? Overall, Obama has handled all things foreign with great care. Plus, Romney’s foreign policy gaffes have been on of the major challenges to him being presidential.
    As a second point, Romney has very little foreign policy experience. So it is not surprising that he hugged to many of Obama’s position and tried to turn the conversation back to America. Which ultimately is what needs to happen, regardless of who is elected. A stronger, more capable American leadership in the world will be in large part dependent on how strong our core is. So, despite the debate being slightly boring and mundane, the truth still holds that this election is predominately about domestic affairs. It is the economy stupid.

  3. I was a little bummed that there no questions regarding the euro crises and how America would respond to this. This is a very relevant issue for foreign politics, but this was mentioned so little by either candidates that it may have given the impression that the euro crises is of little importance to Americans.

    I thought that both Romney’s and Obama’s opinions on foreign policy were very similar if not relatively the same. Romney did however do a nice job of once again supporting his plan to get Americans jobs by saying that this would be one of the ways to make America strong again in foreign policy. Both candidates however, demonstrated an adept knowledge of American foreign politics.

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