The Final 2012 Presidential Debate: A Foreign Policy Cheat Sheet


Foreign Policy is the theme for Monday’s final Presidential Debate. This is the time where the American public will judge the candidates ability not to just be President, but Commander-in-Chief.

The job of President is to also serve as our representative on the world stage. You want to elect a President that understands diplomacy, does not send our troops into harm’s way for trivial pursuits, and who understands global economy. You want a President (Obama) that has restored the American image abroad. You don’t want a candidate (Romney) that insults a host country’s handling of the Olympics on their own soil. You want a President (Obama) that can help in peace talks with Israel and Palestine. You don’t want a candidate (Romney) that insults the Palestinians absence of wealth and technological progress to “culture” and “the hand of Providence.”

Aside from judging your Commander-in-Chief on these basic fundamentals, I have outlined a few hot topics that are sure to come up on Monday. Let this be your cheat sheet to understanding what’s going to be on the exam!

Syria (Arab Spring)
Since early 2011, citizens of many Arab nations staged widespread demonstrations protesting the authoritative regimes in their nations.  Some of these demonstrations, such as those in Tunisia and Egypt, were wildly successful and led to these nations holding elections and changing regimes. The collective term for these democratic movements is The Arab Spring.

Though the demonstrations in Egypt and Tunisia were largely peaceful, in other nations these movements turned violent. In Syria, Dictator Bashar Al-Assad used the military violently to put down protests and slaughter unarmed civilians. Though Assad’s violence against civilians provoked angry criticism from the international community, violence in Syria has escalated. The death toll among civilians and military personal is reported to be near 20,000. Though the human rights crimes in Syria seem to give reason for the United States to intervene and help Syrian civilians overthrow their oppressive government. US politicians and citizens are wary of entering another potentially costly war in the Middle East; in lives and deficit dollars. President Obama and Governor Romney will likely be asked how they will help solve the crisis in Syria and whether they will use force. Their answers will reveal a great deal about what they believe America’s role in world politics should be.

Benghazi, Benghazi and Benghazi
Expect this to be a major focal point during the debate. Benghazi is a city in Libya where US Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed inside the US consulate. The republicans have made an issue regarding how much the Obama administration knew at the time. The discussion, on the cause of death of the ambassador, will center on an anti-Muslim video that caused protests in other parts of the Middle East vs. a planned terrorist attack. The President will push back that his administration made the American public aware of the intelligence as it was coming in. The President will also push back on Romney trying to score political points during a time of crisis. Romney inserted campaign politics into the discussion by issuing an inaccurate press release without knowing the facts; the situation wasn’t resolved at the time.

The issue here is Iran’s ability to make a nuclear weapon. This will threaten the security of Israel and destabilization of the Middle East. Romney is leaning towards using force against Iran to stop the nuclear production, while President Obama is leaning towards diplomacy and economic sanctions. The moderator will definitely ask a question on how each candidate would handle this sensitive situation. Notice how Romney’s position will be force, than ask yourself, can America handle another Middle East conflict using military force. The sanctions are working. They have completely interrupted Iran’s ability to move ahead with their nuclear timeline.

North Korea
Enough said! This will be a major topic of discussion as well. Unlike Iran, North Korea has recently claimed that is has long-range missile ability to reach American borders. This suggestion has been refuted but it doesn’t take away that this is their goal for development. North Korea is a complex situation as their leader Kim Jong-un is unpredictable.

Be sure to tune in Monday, Oct. 22 from 9-10:30PM EST. The debate will be hosted by Face the Nation’s Bob Schieffer and airs on C-SPAN, ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC among others. The world will be watching!

Mike Muse can be reached at [email protected],, and on Twitter @iammikemuse