On both sides of the aisle, pundits awaited, with bated anticipation, for more body blows delivered by Romney into Obama's still bruised ribs over the terrorist attacks in Libya that killed our ambassador and four others. However, Romney seemed reluctant to beat that dead horse into glue, thereby demonstrating a level of class and decorum. Obama, on the other hand, seemed to use issues more sensitive to his campaign and his failed policy of apologizing as a platform to conduct personal attacks, off-issue, towards Romney. Obama achieved little to nothing in doing so except to assist in dragging the debate off-topic and to effectively distract from the topics at hand.
Disappointingly, the debate sis not seem to cover many of the important topics we, as a republic of free individuals, face on the world stage. Among those topics avoided are, most importantly, items such as our the authority of the UN and their role in dictating our sovereignty, proposed treaties concerning disarmament, and the tyrannic Agenda-21 treaties. If brought into the debate, Obama would have likely lost the debate, hands-down.
Again, we have a virtual tie with, perhaps, a slight edge given to Obama despite the fact that I disagree with most of his policies.
In debate scoring, distracting off-topic actually earns negative points, as does following that rabbit down the hole. In that scoring, both candidates earned negative points throughout the debate. The debate seemed to head more into domestic economic issues and how they relate to international trade more than to cover actual foreign policy. I counted 15 total questions and graded each on a 10 point scale, granting negatives to personal attacks that had no statements of fact or data to support them. Both candidates were abysmal in their scores with Romney scoring 41/150 and Obama ending up with 26/150.
In many policies, both had similar ideas, making it a difficult topic to debate. The largest diversity between the two seemed to be in pacing, relations with out allies, definition of a global threat as something other than a military threat, military strategy, national defense, and negotiating from a position of strength.
Fact-checking is ongoing. So far, the facts state that Obama did not go on an "apology tour", since it took him several trips over the course of two years to do his apologizing.
Now it's time to get into the blow-by-blow. Despite the results my objective scoring system showed, there are other factors to consider. First, an incumbent president usually has an edge coming into such a debate due to already being in the position of highest diplomat for our great republic. Obama's record on foreign policy is not great. On the other hand, unlike domestic issues and the economy, he isn't as much of an obvious failure in this arena.
The first question concerned Libya and the terrorist attack there. Romney took this question, hands-down, without rehashing Obama's lies about his statement the day after and his blaming a video for two weeks until the evidence to the contrary went before congress. Romney addressed not only Libya, but the entire "Arab Spring" and the US role in the events in the Middle East. Romney highlighted the seeming ambivalence in dealing with al-Asad and his reign of terror in Syria. Romney brought attention to the fact Iran and Syria are strong allies. Failing to support the deposing of al-Asad in Syria is the same as being weak in regards to Iran, who is developing nuclear weapons capabilities. Romney stated we need to foster and support republican forms of government in the Middle East in order to promote peace instead of continuous cycles of violence, tyranny, human rights atrocities, to more violence.
Obama used the question to first, again, spike the football for his personally killing bin Laden. Somehow, Obama believes that Afghanistan, which is north of India and Pakistan, is in the Middle East. Then Obama claimed that he did everything necessary to secure Libya and our embassy there, despite the evidence to the contrary.
Romney then retorted with a clear plan, this one a 4-point plan for the policy in the Middle East:
1. Support economic development & international trade for those who are in line with our policies
2. Support better education in those countries, fight against illiteracy, poverty, etc.
3. Support gender equity, no more discrimination against women and systemic abuses thereof, such as stoning a woman just because she was raped.
4. Support a rule of law, natural law and natural rights, not whimsical despotism followed by chaos and anarchy, followed by another left-wing despot.
Obama then redirected, attempting to marginalize the facts that Russia and China remain geo-political threats in the diplomatic and economic realms affected by PMESII-PT-based geopolitical threat analysis.
Romney reminded the audience that the topis at hand was Libya and the Middle East, not Russia, China, or Afghanistan. He then quickly addressed Obama's allegations to set the record straight.
Obama then went on one of his pointless and sophomoric "let me be clear" (it would be nice if he would actually do so instead of double-talking out of both sides of his mouth for once) rants that is off-base but sounds really smart for those who don't actually know a damned thing about international relations.
The next question covered Syria, Lebanon, and al-Asad's reign of terror. Obama cited his role in establishing a coalition of nations that are wagging their fingers angrily at al-Asad.
Romney countered stating that our policy in Syria is allowing a humanitarian disaster. Romney supports assisting the rebels in Syria to overthrow al-Asad then sending in teams to help Syria transition to a more constitutional republican form of government.
Obama then claimed he was already doing what Romney was proposing. He then attempted to spike the football for Qaddafi's fall in Libya, and claiming that the task of nation building in Libya is complete, despite an al-Qaeda affiliate group raping and assassinating our ambassador.
Still on the subject of Syria, the moderator asked about a plan to send military forces into Syria. Romney stated that should be only a last resort and that it does not seem necessary at this time. All Obama stated was that his policy was the same and that this is a point of agreement, not for debate.
Next, still keeping the topic on the Middle East, the moderator moved the subject towards Egypt. Here, both candidates mostly agreed. The only key difference was that Romney seemed to want a more vibrant diplomatic and economic effort to assist in Egypt's rebuilding of their government structure towards something that better resembles a form of constitutional republic. Romney also highlighted the facts that the US needs to be in a position of strength in order to affect such things. That strength needs to be both in military capabilities and in economic status in order to expand our national influence on the global scale, especially in the Middle East.
The moderator broadened the scope by asking each candidate for their vision of the US's role in the world. This question should have been either first, to set the tone for the debate, or last to summarize. However, it was placed in the middle.
Romney's statement was clear. The US needs to set the example of liberty, economic strength, and national security. In order to set that example, we need to be that example, then stand on our principles. Obama countered claiming that the US is stronger now than it was when Bush and congress declared war against terrorism, the Taliban, and al-Qaeda. He claimed that he did it all, and that he needs to rebuild the US in a vision that sounded strikingly close to Marx's. Obama delved into domestic issues, stating that the federal government needs to take over local education systems, expand public sector teachers' unions, put the government in charge of private energy production companies, and reduce the national deficit by increasing taxes on those who earn in order to support those who don't.
Romney retorted by citing Obama's failed record, then restating his own 5-point plan for job creation and economic growth, highlighting his second point of increasing international trade and seeking out trade agreements that bolster opportunities for US businesses.
On this question, however, both candidates strayed from the topic of foreign policy. Romney did attempt to tie the domestic policies to our role in the world.
The moderator asked Romney how he could balance the budget without defense cuts, and how that would affect his foreign policy. Romney restated his domestic economic policies and his support of the 10th Amendment and cutting unconstitutional federal spending in order to support the defense spending that is mandated by the US Constitution. Obama attempted to state his incorrect math that fails to recognize the Laffer Curve. Obama stated that defense spending needs to be cut and that the next battle is in space. Romney didn't take this opportunity to hit Obama on the fact he gutted NASA and our space program. Obama also attempted to justify cutting our military and its capabilities to the point it can barely engage in a one-front conflict despite the fact that there are no more one-front conflicts in the modern world.
Here I interject a reminder that Obama not only has not made any attempt to balance the budget but has failed to even pass a budget. In fact, the US Senate is controlled by his party and has failed to pass a budget through that house even once during Obama's administration.
Next came the topic of Israel and Iran. Obama correctly stated that economic sanctions have had some effect against Iran. He then stated that Iran needed to play diplomatic ball of face Obama. I guess he's going to bow to the Ayatollah as a sign of strength. Obama then stated that Israel is his friend.
Romney countered by stating that Israel is a vital ally and that he would strengthen that alliance. On Iran, he stated:
1 - Continue sanctions that are in place and seek additional ones.
2 - Tighten the sanctions, enforce them, and extend them to any nation that deals with Iran
3 - Treat Iran's diplomats as pariahs until they get better
4 - Military Action is an absolute last resort if all other options have failed
The next question concerned what would be an "acceptable deal" with Iran.
Obama claimed that the lap-dog media is a credible intelligence service. He stated that the only acceptable deal is a cessation of nuclear weapons development. Obama then made veiled statements of support for a one-world government and a necessity to get UN permission to act as a sovereign nation. Obama also stated that newspapers have not yet reported any credible evidence of either development of cessation, but the clock is ticking on time Iran has to prove it has ceased development.
Romney stated the cultural views in the Middle East, and that Obama is seen as a weak leader in that region. Those who know the cultures of that region know this is a fact. Romney cited Obama's trips to apologize to North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, etc, while ignoring Israel and maintaining our alliance with that nation.
Obama stamped his feet and called Romney a liar. He stated, as proof, that "his media" reported no such things. He then tried to accuse Romney of investing in Chinese companies, despite the fact that, though Romney's trust may have done so, it is a blind trust, meaning it is managed without Romney's direct influence. Romney's rebuttal was that Iran has continued to produce fissile material over the past four years. Obama went to these nations and apologized to them on their national and local TV stations.
The moderator gave some hypothetical and unrealistic question. Romney stated as much, then highlighted Obama's record on foreign policy. Iran is closer to nukes and being a world-wide threat, looking first at the US and Israel. Violence and atrocities in the middle east have increased, not decreased. Al-Qaeda is, in fact, rebuilding, having squirted from Afghanistan to North Africa and back into Iraq, now that the US presence there is drastically decreased and unable to deter the return. Al-Asad is acting with impunity in Syria. The foreign country that holds the largest portion of our national debt is China, who is laughing at us. North Korea is exporting nuclear capabilities. Obama seeks to cut and weaken the US military. 38 Democratic Party US Senators went to Obama and asked him to fix relations with Israel and Obama dismissed them, playing narcissistic despot even to his own party.
Obama's retort was "I'm glad Governor Romney likes diplomacy", then tried to make Romney out to be a flip-flopper. Obama falsely cited flip-flops that, when fact-checked, turned out to be inaccurate claims by Obama. Obama then spiked the bin Laden football again.
Now the candidates moved onto the topic of Afghanistan and the 2014 withdrawal timeline. Obama's answer was another football-spike over bin Laden, then saying it's time to leave and to let Afghanistan sink or swim on its own without the US insuring conditions for success are met. He then stated that the funds spent on the war and the military need to then go to veterans. His next statement came across, to me, as though he said those funds needed to be put to use to force unemployed veterans to build new roads and bridges.
Romney's statement is summarized as though as long as we continue to meet the goals and set proper conditions in Afghanistan, withdrawing in 2014 should be on target. However, Afghanistan's stability is very important to the Central Asian region, especially with countries such as Pakistan, India, and Uzbekistan. Insuring the goals are met and conditions are set are more important than sticking to a date.
So, that brought the subject to that of relations and policies concerning Pakistan. The moderator even broached the possibility of divorcing from our treaties and agreements with Pakistan.
Romney flat out opposed divorcing from Pakistan and cutting off relations with them. His reasoning revolves around the number of nuclear weapons Pakistan already has coupled with Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives in safe havens in Pakistan. To further exasperate the issues with Pakistan is their own tribal instability and their dispute over the Kashmir region. Romney stated that we cannot walk away, but need to increase our support and influence towards a constitutional republic run by the citizens, not an oligarchy.
Obama had no real response other than to state that he agreed that we need to support Pakistan even though we may need to go after some bad guys within their borders without their permission, such as when Obama personally killed bin Laden.
That segued into the subject of using weaponized drones to attack threats to our nation.
Romney praised the use of such technology. However, he also stated the importance of putting boots on the ground in order to hold that ground and keep it clear. That is a primary tenet of air-land battle as well as a key counter-insurgent and counter-terrorism tactic. In order to stabilize, first you clear, then you hold, and then you build while continuing to hold. You cannot insure the area is cleared nor can you hold the area without boots on the ground. Romney then stated that the use of drones does not do much when the foreign policy is one of apologizing. Drones do not sit down and work towards a rejection of terrorism or extremism.
Obama's counter-point revolved around respecting women, supporting a free market that is command directed under a framework of fascism, pushing for "democracy" instead of constitutional republican forms of government such as what the US Constitution established, and, again, spiking the bin Laden football, falsely stating that taking out one head of the hydra somehow killed the beast.
Next, the candidates discussed the greatest international threats to the US.
Obama stated that the largest threat is terrorism. He then claimed that China is a partner nation to the US and that federal committees need to be set up to regulate and increase investments in China. He then said that stiffer regulation covering imports from China need to be set up to protect people from tires that are below federal safety standards. He then claimed that any company that does business with China or outsources to any non-US country needs to be fined and taxed in order to increase federal control of manufacturing, education, and engineering. Obviously, Obama needs to read Atlas Shrugged to see a prophesy of how such policies will turn out.
Romney reminded the audience that, in our economic and government systems, government does not build businesses. China needs a safe global environment and strong US economy. Our country is their largest customer base. We can work with them only when our country is strong enough to take them or leave them. We are not in such a position due to Obama's policies. We do need trade agreements with China, and we have them. We need to actually enforce them. China's biggest threat to the US is that they steal intellectual property, violate patents, and produce substandard counterfeits. Russia is doing much of the same. We have threats outside of direct military threats. Those need to be addressed as well as those military threats such as al-Qaeda.
This begged a question over a trade war.
Romney correctly stated that we do have a trade war with China. Obama retorted by attacking Romney's blind trust which may have some investments with companies that deal with or outsource to China. Obama claimed that Romney called for the US auto industry to fail and collapse. Romney corrected this blatant falsehood by stating the proper role of bankruptcy and his proven proposal of government assistance after a proper bankruptcy procedure was in place. Romney then hit Obama's stimulus plan that invested in foreign companies that don't deal with the US, wasting taxpayer dollars in doing so, and those companies seeming to fail, making matters worse.
Obama called Romney a liar. However, fact-checking proved that Romney's claims were accurate and documented facts. Obama then praised programs that put more people on food-stamps. Obama called upon people to look at his record, which is one of failed policies especially in the realm of economics.
In closing remarks, Obama complained that there were too many TV commercials. He then claimed that prosperity is only attainable through government control of private businesses and the government dictating how much a person can achieve. He then stated that the US foreign policy needs to be such that it forces private citizens and companies to use wind and solar energy instead of fossil fuels. He also lauded the roles of Marxist unions, especially in education.
You can find a word-for-word transcription of the debate on NPR's website. Just beware of potential bias in their commentary since the current administration controls NPR's finances.
Romney's closing remarks:
"I'm optimistic about the future. I'm excited about our prospects as a nation. I want to see peace. I want to see growing peace in this country, it's our objective. We have an opportunity to have real leadership. America's going to have that kind of leadership and continue to promote principles of peace that'll make a world the safer place and make people in this country more confident that their future is secure.
"I also want to make sure that we get this economy going. And there are two very different paths the country can take. One is a path represented by the president, which, at the end of four years, would mean we'd have $20 trillion in debt, heading towards Greece. I'll get us on track to a balanced budget. The president's path will mean continuing declining in take-home pay. I want to make sure our take-home pay turns around and starts to grow. The president's path means 20 million people out of work struggling for a good job. I'll get people back to work with 12 million new jobs. I'm going to make sure that we get people off of food stamps not by cutting the program but by getting them good jobs.
"America's going to come back. And for that to happen, we're going to have to have a president who can work across the aisle. I was in a state where my legislature was 87 percent Democrat. I learned how to get along on the other side of the aisle. We've got to do that in Washington. Washington is broken. I know what it takes to get this country back. And we'll work with good Democrats and good Republicans to do that.
This nation is the hope of the earth. We've been blessed by having a nation that's free and prosperous thanks to the contributions of the Greatest Generation. They've held a torch for the world to see, the torch of freedom and hope and opportunity. Now it's our turn to take that torch. I'm convinced we'll do it. We need strong leadership. I'd like to be that leader, with your support. I'll work with you. I'll lead you in an open and honest way. And I ask for your vote. I'd like to be the next president of the United States to support and help this great nation, and to make sure that we all together maintain America as the hope of the earth. Thank you so much."
In the wake of the final debate, Romney published this statement this morning.