Third debate: Obama scores, but did the world lose?

Posted: October 24, 2012 in Barack Hussein Obama, Mitt Romney, Osama Bin Laden, Pakistan, US presidential debate, USA

(President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney after the final presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida on Monday.)

By Narayan Lakshman from The Hindu

In what was quickly billed as the weakest of the three presidential debates held in the run-up to the November 6 elections, the third and final encounter between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney saw mostly acquiescence by the former Massachusetts Governor on a number of Mr. Obama’s foreign policy positions.

With a CBS post-debate poll of uncommitted voters giving the President a winning score of 53 per cent, Mr. Romney 23 per cent and 24 per cent considering the event a tie, it was clear that Mr. Obama’s aggressive performance and his repeated allusion to his experience as Commander-in-Chief went some way in establishing his foreign policy credentials with observers. A second poll of uncommitted voters by CNN gave Mr. Obama 48 per cent and Mr. Romney 40 per cent after the debate in Boca Raton, Florida.

Yet both men appeared keen to limit the debate to their respective talking points, which not only resulted in the debate often being pulled back into arguments over domestic issues such as the economy, it also led to a vast swathe of nations, allies and foes of U.S. alike, being entirely ignored. India and sub-Saharan Africa, for example, did not feature in the debate at all, and the European Union and Latin America were only given passing mentions.

Both were however effusive in their remarks on their support for Israel, repeatedly asserting their commitment to protecting the U.S. ally from threats emanating from Iran, Egypt and other parts of West Asia. The Palestine question was notable for its absence.

When Mr. Romney accused Mr. Obama of going on an “apology tour” criticising the U.S. while visiting other nations, the President retorted, “When I went to Israel as a candidate, I didn’t take donors, I didn’t attend fundraisers, I went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum there, to remind myself [of] the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be unbreakable.”

A memorable moment in the debate came when Mr. Obama, striking a note of sarcasm on Mr. Romney’s allegation that the President planned to cut military spending by one trillion dollars, said, “You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.”

While Mr. Romney may have surprised some within his own party by some of his agreement with Mr. Obama, for example that all U.S, troops ought to be drawn down from Afghanistan by 2014, he seemed to tone down the aggressive streak that he displayed in the previous two debates, possibly in an effort to appear cool-headed and presidential.

Two of India’s neighbours, Pakistan and China, however came up on several occasions during the debate. On Pakistan, moderator and CBS anchor Bob Schieffer came close to making a gaffe when he said that Pakistan had “arrested the doctor who helped us catch Obama’s bin Laden.” Regarding the hunt for bin Laden the President responded, “If we had asked Pakistan for permission, we would not have gotten it him.”

Referencing the U.S.’ troubled relationship with Pakistan in the context of the Afghanistan strategy Mr. Romney admitted that it was “not time to divorce a nation on earth that has a hundred nuclear weapons and is on the way to double that at some point, a nation that has serious threats from terrorist groups within its nation — the Taliban, Haqqani network.” He added that while Pakistan was “technically an ally,” it was not acting very much like an ally, “but we have some work to do.” Especially because Pakistan did not have a civilian leadership calling the shots, Mr. Romney noted, if the nation fell apart and became a failed state, terrorists could get their hands on nuclear weapons.

On China, the only other nation from Israel that dominated the candidates’ time on air, there was even less dissonance in terms of the men’s policies. Surprisingly it was Mr. Obama who took up Mr. Romney’s war-cry of calling out “cheaters” from among China’s economic competitors.

Mr. Romney, contrarily, struck a conciliatory note, arguing, “China has an interest that’s very much like ours in one respect, and that is they want a stable world. They don’t want war. They don’t want to see protectionism.”

Pointing out that the country had about 20 million people coming out of the farms every year, seeking jobs in the cities, he noted, “We don’t have to be an adversary in any way, shape or form… We can collaborate with them if they’re willing to be responsible.”

  1. says:

    It didn’t come across to me as the weakest of the three presidential debates.

    One peculiarity about being a journalist in India is that one can write anything one wants and it wouldn’t make even an iota of difference to India and the world.

    Westerners are no better.

    British writer V. S. Naipaul, from an Indian immigrant family settled in Trinidad, wrote millions of words on India. Looking back now, all his efforts have come to nought. India proved him wrong.

    I watched the entire 3rd presidential debate.

    Substantial issues were covered.

    Obama did well thanks to him having more information, as the incumbent, at his fingertips.

    Romney, if he’s to be believed, is not the way for America to go forward on tackling the trade and budget deficit, education, job creation, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iran, terrorism, Islam, the Middle East, women and religious minorities in Muslim countries, Russia and China.

    Romney will not get the votes of the women, youths and the 47 million people on food stamps. The underclass and the average American will not be comfortable with a stuffed shirt like Romney in the White House.

    An American president has to always worry about re-election during his 1st term of four years.

    During his 2nd term in office, he can make all the tough choices and take unpopular measures. He doesn’t have to worry about re-election.

    A new American presidential candidate spends two years raising funds including a year campaigning to become the presidential nominee. If selected he has a year to campaign for the presidency. That totalls three years.

    If elected, he can govern for only two years. The remaining two years of his 1st term has to be spent on raising funds and campaigning for re-election.

    Once re-elected, the 2nd term president can spend the entire four years in office to fully govern the country and police the world.

    The 2nd term in office is crucial to a president’s legacy. Two years of speaking softly and carrying the big stick followed, after an interval of two years, by four years of speaking loudly and carrying an even bigger stick.

    People will see the real Obama during his 2nd term in office.
    Sent by DiGi from my BlackBerry® Smartphone


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