Well the final debate has come to a close and it covered a wide range of topics from China to Libya to education and energy. I had originally thought that this debate would have little affect on the outcome of the election because by this stage in the game, most Americans have already make up their minds. The main issue in this election is the economy and jobs, period. This is a main reason why the economy came up so many times in a debate that was supposed to be exclusively on foreign policy. We again listened to Romney's five point plan on how he will rebuild our economy and how President Obama plans to hire more teachers. Each candidate has realized that this is the main issue in this election which is why it was no accident these issues were mentioned several times in last nights foreign policy debate.
It was important for President Obama to hit on his accomplishments over the last four years while Romney's strategy was to hammer the President on Libya and Israel. On the subject of Libya, President Obama drew parallels to his record as a consequentialist in the foreign policy realm. He stated how the United States took out Muammar Gaddafi without any American lives lost and no troops on the ground. The United States took the back seat in that assault and allowed England to take the lead on the operation by using drone strikes. It seemed as though Governor Romney was also trying to play it safe last night as to not hurt his rising poll numbers which was a smart strategy by the Romney camp. With his momentum snowballing from the start of the first debate, the last thing Governor Romney needed was to make a misstep.
One major takeaway from last night's debate was the issue on the military budget. Moderator Bob Schieffer asked Governor Romney "Where are you going to cut the money for a bigger military?" In a debate peppered with agreement this was a very confrontational subject. Romney's response was to cut non-essential elements of government such as Obamacare. He also mentioned how he wanted to give Medicare to the states because they can run it more efficiently. Governor Romney also mentioned the sequester and how it is not the way for our country to go. He went on to state that our Navy is the smallest it has been since the early 1900's. Obama's response was capability. A smirking Obama responded to Romney's claim of the size of Navy "We also have less horses and bayonets," meaning that the art of war and our military is changing. Obama states how he is interested in what we can do with what we have. In regards to the Navy, he mentions how we have we have aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines. Obama was inferring that a large Navy is a waste of defense spending and is obsolete in today's modern warfare.
In regards to the sequester, Obama clarified that the sequester is not his plan either and that it was voted on by congress. In fact the chart below demonstrates that the President's budget proposal for defense is in fact higher than the sequester. However, Romney's plan far exceeds both and from what he outlined last night, it will be difficult to finance with just the points he provided.
Courtesy Mother Jones
Obama went on to state that Governor Romney wants to give the Pentagon $2 trillion that they are not asking for. From the Romney stand point, in order to keep our presence in the world as a leader and a major power, we must have a strong military. There is a distinction between strong military and spending the most on defense since the Korean war.
On the issue of Iran, each candidate stressed how detrimental it would be to the world community if Iran acquired a nuclear weapon. Romney mentioned how he would impose the tightest sanctions possible while the President stated he has imposed the most crippling sanctions on them yet. Romney was adamant in mentioning how Iran is four years closer to a nuclear weapon. This is a tough reality to face especially since neither candidate wants war as an option. However by tightening sanctions, this would cripple Iran's economy even more than it already is. What will happen when Iran has no where to go economically due to sanctions crippling the way the live? Each candidate wants diplomacy before war but when their backs are against the wall, how the the Iranians respond?
Last nights debate did not hold much weight because many voters have already made up their minds and the major issue in this election is jobs and the economy. This is why the subject of rebuilding our nation before we shape others came up a few times last night. Foreign policy is an important subject and the American citizens should not gloss over it. As the election draws closer and closer the registered voters must see what has been done and what is being planned for the future. This goes for each candidate and what each part stands for. Do we want to go back to a method of foreign policy of shoot first, ask later where military action is always the answer, or a consequentialist approach where each side is weight before we act?