Liveblog foreign policy presidential debate

So, who won?

Below is my minute-by-minute foreign policy discussion as the editor of Spero News. I am a former U.S. diplomat and was assigned to foreign postings and to the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs at the State Department.

Please leave your comments and questions below.

9 pm: Good. Bob Schieffer is setting the tone, and asking the questions. A real pro, unlike Candy what's her name.

9:03: Will Obama dodge on Libya?

9:05  Romney says 'dramatic reversal' in aftermath of Arab Spring. But we can't kill our way out. Wow!

9:07  Peace with dignity in Afghanistan? Sounds like Nixon and Vietnam.

9:09  Romney gets it. The Muslim world is in flames for reasons beyond U.S. policy towards the Mideast. The Muslim world must reform.

9:13 Romney is taking Obama to school about geopolitics. Attacking Romney's record is not an agenda.

9:15 Syrian spillover. Obama has done nothing.

9: 18 Again, Romney is taking Obama to school on geopolitics. Iran - Syria - Hezbollah connection.

9: 21 Obama gets bogged down in tactical minutiae. Where is the strategy?

9:24 So, Obama, does pressuring Muslims to respect women also include pushing for abortion?

9:25  Obama tries to bring it on home. Eg. Let's build up our own country first. But there is no peace dividend. The events outside of the US are

affecting the homeland directly. Doesn't he get it?

9:31 Romney sets out a real strategy.

9:32 Message to Obama: the war in Iraq is NOT over.

9:32  Clean energy? More money to a company like Solyndra?

9:39 Some economic facts:  46.7 million receive food-stamps (only 17 million did so during the Clinton era)

*  There has been a 59% increase in food stamp recipients over the last 3 years
*  In fact, 67 million Americans depend on the federal government for either housing, food, income, student or other     assistance
*  Around 20 million work for the local and federal governments
*  Half of America does not pay federal taxes (151.7 million paid no federal taxes in 2009 versus only 34.8 million in 1984

9:43 Again, Romney takes Obama to school on geostrategy and geopolitics. Good point about the Navy. Obama comes back with snarkiness. Ooooh.

9:44 Red lines. Here it comes.

9:46 No red line. How will Obama stop nuclear weaponization in Iran? 

9:54 Obama's Iran clock is ticking. But what time is it?

9:59 Obama's mere contradiction and accusations that Romney's points are 'untrue' don't constitute a strategy either.

10:05 Romney is too optimistic about the "Afghanistanization" of the conflict. Their police and military are fragging American soldiers and marine. 

AND they could not prevent the destruction of six U.S. Marine Harrier aircraft this year.

10.07 Hey Obama, pulling the plug on Afghanistan was Bush's idea. Feel like giving him the credit?

And about the economy, which programs are you willing to cut? How much? How will you reduce debt to China?

Both Barry and Mitt are cool with using drones against terrorists. Against American citizens? What do they do when foreign countries use drones here?

10:18  Romney is right about Iran, but wrong about China. Its military buildup shows regional ambitions. How can America trust China?

10:19 Romney made very clear and cogent point about Chinese counterfeiting and theft of intellectual property. 

10: 27 Obama still making allusions to Bush. Romney makes good point about debt and unemployment. The difference between Obama and

Romney could not be clearer. Romney is a doer. Obama is a talker. Romney is an executive. Obama is a log-roller.

10:29 Obama makes mistake of critiquing Romney in his summation. Investment at home is a good idea, though. Controlling American energy...good point. Tax the rich, ooh. But which rich?

10:30 Obama speaks directly to the American people. Good tactic.

10:33 Romney makes good point on unemployment.

End of debate. Nice handshakes. 

Too bad: no mention of Mexico's drug war, Guantanamo, Obama does not mention Africa.

Romney could have been more aggressive. But overall, good that they brought up the issue of economy as a national security matter.

Some questions to consider before the debate:

1. What is America's role in the world?
 
2. Is our longest war Afghanistan  or Pakistan?*
 
3. What are your red lines regarding Israel and Iran?*
 
4. The Middle East and terrorism are changing. What is your response?
 
5. What will you do about China and its growing threats to Japan, the Philippines, and Korea?
 
6.  The drug war in Mexico has claimed thousands of lives there. What will you do to prevent spill-over?
 
7. Which is America's essential ally? Why?
 
8.  Neither of you, Obama or Romney, have served in the military. Neither have your children. Would you encourage your children to serve?
 
9. In the current administration, armed drones have carried out the killing of alleged terrorists, some of whom were U.S. citizens. These alleged terrorists were not accorded due process of law.  What would be your response if a foreign government were to carry out a similar drone mission within U.S. territory or the territory of an ally?
 
10. The United States, Israel, Pakistan, India, and Russia have nuclear weapons and are relatively close to Iran. Why should Iran not have them too?
 
11. How was it that Ambassador J. Christopher Steven's pleas for bolstered security not heeded? Who is responsible? How should it have been handled?
 
12. Terrorist threats are increasing in Africa. Boko Haram, for example, is connected to Al Qaeda. Should it not also be designated as a terrorist group?


Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only, not of Spero News.

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