Foreign Policy Debate

Foreign policy, center stage in the last debate. We size up the Obama and Romney world views.

 The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) launches an F/A-18 Hornet while conducting an air power demonstration, Oct. 19, 2012.  (U.S. Navy)

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) launches an F/A-18 Hornet while conducting an air power demonstration, Oct. 19, 2012. (U.S. Navy)

Last debate. Foreign policy. The whole world on the docket, but it was tough for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to fight their way out of the Middle East last night. Iran, Egypt, Syria, Israel. If Romney came on strong in the first debate, it was the president on offense last night.

Painting Romney as “wrong and reckless” while Romney pointed to an Obama world of chaos. The challenger, who has sounded bellicose, talked peace last night. But they both love drones.

This hour, On Point: the talking is almost over. Sizing up the last debate.

-Tom Ashbrook


Elisabeth Bumiller, Pentagon correspondent,  and former White House correspondent, for the New York Times.

Jon Meacham, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and executive editor at Random House. He is a former co-anchor of the public-affairs broadcast “Need to Know on PBS” and  former editor of Newsweek. He’s the author of the forthcoming book Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power.

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

Foreign Policy “That would be a merciful version of Monday, Oct. 22’s upcoming debate on foreign policy. In fact, we should probably feel thankful that Candy Crowley, the moderator of the Oct. 16 town-hall debate earlier this week, did not, as expected, divide the questions equally between foreign and domestic policy. During the few minutes devoted to foreign affairs, both candidates postured shamelessly on getting tough on trade with China, after which Barack Obama won a round on Libya by catching Mitt Romney (“get the transcript…”) in a semantic error. But that was fair, because Romney’s objection to Obama’s Libya policy was itself semantic: When did he say “terrorist,” and what did he mean when he said it?”

The American Interest “Governor Romney cannot run on restoring the Bush foreign policy. There is not a groundswell of support out there for the second coming of Cheney and Rumsfeld. Romney needs to present himself as the Goldilocks candidate here: if Obama is too cool on foreign policy issues, Bush was too hot—and Romney pledges to get it just right.”

The New York Times “We can hope that it is a chance for both candidates to describe, at a level of detail they have not yet done, how they perceive the future of American power in the world. They view American power differently, a subject I try to grapple with at length in a piece in this Sunday’s Review, “The Debatable World.

The Atlantic “Often third debates are less revealing on these personal-dynamics fronts, because each candidates has become familiar with the opponent’s moves and the format as a whole. Sometimes actual points of policy force their way into our consciousness! Toward that end, a friend with a long career as a scholar of and participant in national politics sends this wish-list for the themes the candidates should be made to discuss.”


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