The Daily Gamecock

Foreign policy more than just words

Trustworthy candidate crucial to US success


The third presidential debate proved foreign policy has taken a back seat in this year’s election. As Tom Brokaw put it, “You could have said to one of the two candidates, ‘Nice tie,’ he would have said, ‘Yes, let me talk to you about the economy.’” Among a myriad of international issues from around the world that affect the United States, the only issues discussed were terrorism in the Middle East, Iran’s nuclear capabilities and China.

Granted, these are large problems with a huge impact on the future of the United States, but there are a number of other issues that haven’t been mentioned at all in the campaign. Other than some brief Spain bashing in the first debate, the Euro Crisis has never been mentioned, despite trade flows between the US and the Eurozone making up roughly a third of world trade flows. While a lot was said about human rights violations in Libya and Syria, numerous other areas are still going as little mentioned sites of horror: violence in Burma has displaced over 20,000 people and Syrian violence is spilling into Lebanon, while terrorist activity is finding homes in Nigeria and other surrounding countries.

Instead, all of these complex topics took a back seat to simplified bickering on three undisputed topics.

I say undisputed because, despite the heated words, both candidate’s positions boiled down to the same thing. Neither candidate wants Iran to have a nuclear weapon but will not send in American troops. Neither candidate wants the Syrian conflict to continue but will not send in American troops. Both claim to be tough on terrorism but will work with the international community first. Both claim China will not be allowed to “bully” America but acknowledge them as a key trading partner. When both candidates have such a similar foreign policy outlook, the question is not “Who has the better plan?” but “Who can deliver?”

In answering that question, one of the biggest topics becomes null for both candidates: China. Aside from a few harsh words, the next president will have little to deter China’s practices without sending us into another Cold War (assuming these practices are really as bad as both candidates have painted them).

The rest of a candidate’s foreign policy strength falls to diplomatic relations. Which candidate will other countries trust? The debate could go back and forth as to which they should trust, but the president in such a globalized world must be one they do trust. According to a BBC World Service polling over 20,000 people in 21 countries, only 9 percent of the global community favored Mitt Romney, while 50% favored Barack Obama. The only country Mitt Romney “won” was Pakistan.

Of course, the global community doesn’t vote for the President of the United States, and for good reason. But in a world as interconnected as ours, it is important to consider who will give us an edge and who will leave us handicapped.