Why Foreign Policy Matters and CBS' Anemic Debate

Yesterday evening’s debate was a first in the foreign policy arena, and showed, in my opinion, the lack of depth and understanding of this important area by the moderators and the candidates.  Questions that should have been asked weren’t, and the answers given depict the insularity of thinking and lack of experience among some candidates. Questions that could have been asked, from my perspective:

  1. This past year, we have seen the overthrow of several decades-long regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, while several other countries are experiencing riots and unrest. An Islamic government has been elected in Tunisia; Egypt’s military control may give way to the Muslim brotherhood; we’re not sure what direction Libya is heading; and Turkey’s leader, Erdogan, is turning back decades of secularism, instituting Islamic laws, and pushing for closer ties with Iran. What would you do as President to counter the spread of fundamental Islam and its taking control of governments across the Middle East?
  2. We make the assumption that if Iran is successful in developing a nuclear weapon that, a) they will use it, and b) they will use it on Israel.  But what if the part b assumption is false and Iran’s ultimate objective is control of Middle East oil.  Saudi Arabia ranks #3 on the list of petroleum exporters into the US, Iraq is #6. There is a centuries old cultural hatred between the predominantly Shiite Iranians, and the Saudis, who are Suni.  Since the US has no energy policy to speak of, what would you do as President to protect our vital oil interests in the Middle East before, or should they, come under threat of attack?
  3. The rise of China as an economic superpower has been well-documented. In Europe, China was recently asked by Eurozone members for its support in the financial restructuring of several members’ debt.  In Africa, Nigeria and Congo, specifically, China is making significant inroads exchanging infrastructure building for export of much needed vital minerals. But despite its “Westernization”, China is still Communist, with Communist ideology and vast cultural differences.  What would you do as President to address the growing aggressive expansion of China into the world’s economies and natural resources?
  4. We continue to read not only of Mexican drug cartels increasingly exporting their violence and operations into US cities, but in a recent House Committee on Homeland Security report, “A Line in the Sand”  it states on page 4, “Members of Hezbollah have already entered the United States across the Southwest border.”  Other notable studies on the subject have indicated Venezuela is a training ground and safe haven for terrorist activity as well.  While illegal immigration is a very serious problem for the US, what would you do as President to address the much larger picture and problem of terrorism in the Western Hemisphere and its threat to US national security? 

It’s difficult to explain to, and convince people who are unemployed, who have lost homes, and are trying to grapple with increasing financial pressures both in their personal lives and work, that foreign policy matters, and matters greatly.  “Jobs, jobs, jobs” and a variation of “it’s the economy, stupid,” didn’t matter when 9/11 occurred and 3000+ people lost their lives.  Unless we have a presidential candidate who can articulate his point of view on a broader front, and not just answer the question of the moment, unless we have a presidential candidate who will surround himself with people, who, for lack of better term, “get it”, then our decline as a global power and nation able to defend itself, will no longer be a theory, but a fact.