Monday, October 22, 2012

Pres. Obama prepares for final foreign policy debate

The debate tonight should highlight one of GOP nominee Mitt Romney's weak points:  foreign policy.

At the very least, President Barack Obama has the advantage in this area since he is a known quantity.  People have been able to see him act in the international arena now for almost four years.  With Romney, they really cannot be sure what to expect.

The GOP candidate's unknown factor is not only related to his inexperience in foreign policy, but also to the fact that Romney simply is a very hard person to figure out in terms of policy, period.  Not only does he keep specific hidden, as with his tax deduction plan, but he often "flip-flops" from one position to another.  Even his fellow Republicans view him a flip-flopper.

Additionally, VP candidate Paul Ryan has much less foreign policy experience as compared to VP Joe Biden who is a former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Romney's well-publicized foreign policy trip during the London Olympics was a huge disaster.  Everyone from the London mayor to the UK prime minister voiced concerns over Romney's statements while he was visiting the country.

An excellent analysis on CNN last night showed that on important international security issues, Romney is significantly more hawkish than Obama. For example, while the president says his administration will not tolerate an Iranian nuclear weapons program, Romney's stance is that he will not allow for even the capability of starting up such a program.

What that means, basically, is that Romney could go to war even if Iran is simply generating nuclear energy, since the radioactive waste from such activity is convertible into weapons grade fissile or "dirty bomb" material.

President Obama can direct the flow of the debate to focus in on Romney's lack of experience and his dangerous hawkish stances that could end up entangling a war-weary nation in an unnecessary armed conflict.

 Romney will try to draw attention, instead, on the recent attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi and on the general stability issues plaguing the Middle East especially with regard to Syria.  However, the Benghazi line of attack is weak since it involves an issue that is still very much investigation. Romney is basically reaching here making assumptions on the actions of various actors in the Obama administration.

On the wider perspective of Middle East stability, the president can portray Romney as someone who is more likely to inflame rather settle the situation.  Or in the worst case, the GOP challenger could end up involving the country, eventually, in direct military action.

In general, Romney tends to make many blunders when talking about foreign policy, so the president can exploit this by asking for specifics and testing his opponent's knowledge of facts and the overall situation depending on the particular issue under discussion.

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