Editorial - Obama, Romney fail to make distinctions
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 08:10
Monday night, President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney met at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. for the third and final presidential debate of the 2012 election season. The debate, moderated by CBS’s Bob Scheiffer, focused on foreign policy.
This debate provided the candidates with the opportunity to finally discuss issues, such as the ongoing war in Afghanistan, which have not been extensively debated this election season.
It was also the last chance for the two candidates to attack one another in person, and both President Obama and Gov. Romney attempted to make the most of this opportunity.
Despite the fact the partisan pundit-led discussion on the broadcast networks will undoubtedly focus its attention on these rhetorical jabs for the coming days, it is important to note that there were, in fact, some important takeaways from this debate.
The most compelling of these is that, despite what the candidates and their surrogates claim, the differences between President Obama’s policies and Gov. Romney’s proposals on most foreign policy issues are very hard to discern, if not altogether nonexistent.
On Syria, where a brutal dictatorship headed by Bashar Al-Assad continues to massacre its own people, both candidates expressed their support for the opposition without committing to getting involved in the conflict militarily.
On Iran, both candidates stressed that they will do everything they can, presumably including taking military action, to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Both candidates endorsed Obama’s surge of troops into Afghanistan, which cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars without substantially improving the situation on the ground.
Both Obama and Romney also seemed to be on the same page concerning the U.S. response to the Arab Spring, with Romney agreeing that turning against Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak and joining the NATO coalition to oust the late Libyan strongman Moammar Ghadafi were both the right courses of action.
Of course, neither candidate or political party will acknowledge these similarities, and the two argued over subtle rhetorical differences, such as Romney’s designation of Russia as our greatest geopolitical foe and Obama’s so-called "apology tour." But the reality is, the two candidates do not differ substantially when it comes to most foreign policy issues.
What this means for voters is that they should make an extra effort to understand the two different visions Obama and Romney have when it comes to domestic policy, as this is an area where there are substantial differences.
With only two weeks until Election Day and early voting underway in many states, it’s time for America to finally make its decision. Based on this debate, it doesn’t seem to have much of a choice when it comes to foreign policy.