Obama Wins Foreign Policy Debate as Romney Plays Spokesperson



Fun fact: Iran is a landlocked county, relying on covert Quds action to gain maritime access via Syria.


Bayonets, horses and aircraft carriers. Where's Joe Biden when you need him?


Highlights: Obama patronized Romney on the military - there is no point comparing numbers between 1900s and 2012, because requirements and realities are qualitatively different.

Another highlight: According to the CIA, Latin America's GDP is about 40% that of China's GDP


OVERALL VERDICT: There was no clear winner here, because the two candidates collapsed into essentially the same person. If anyone has an edge, it would be Obama, mostly because he called out Romney on his weak spots: being all over the map, exporting jobs and mostly agreeing. In his bid to show as a moderate, Mitt became Obama’s spokesperson. Debate, therefore, goes to Obama. At least nominally. Really, nothing to see here.

Regardless of who you vote, however, American foreign policy, fundamentally, will not change.

I have a fuller analysis in the pipe, stay tuned!


Bob Schieffer: GO VOTE!

Supported in full by yours truly.


Romney: Preserving America’s principles and improve economy. With Obama’s path, much more debt and unemployment, on food stamps. My plan – faith in America, working across the aisle, improving jobs for overall improvement. Washington is broken and we have to fix it by working with good Reps and Dems. America is blessed to be free, and now is our turn to keep that going. I want to be your President, to keep America the hope of the Earth.


Obama: After three debates, you have a choice. We got out of two wars and managed the greatest economic decline since the Depression. We have made progress – Romney will pull us back. My plan will bring manufacturing back to America, education will get better, oil and natural gas have been developed, but also resources of the future, the wealthy will do a little bit more to achieve that, and I am going to maintain a strong military, but now it is time to do some nationbuilding here at home after a decade of war. I’ll fight for you and your family and for America.


Romney: The results have not shown up, Mr. President.  The last 4 years have not changed anything. Debt has gone up and joblessness too – 9 million jobs short. We can’t just do it by hiring teachers.


Romney: Auto companies had to go through managed bankruptcy, so they could get government debt.

Obama: You did not say they would get government help.

Romney: I would not have liquidated the industry. We can compete successfully in the world; the govt cannot invest in failed companies and pull it off as basic research.

Obama: The record says Romney would not provide govt assistance to auto companies even through bankruptcy. Cutting investments is not smart choice for competing with China. Adding 7 trillion dollars of tax cuts and military spending without even addressing the deficit and debt will not help America. Exporting jobs – neither. After a decade of drift, we are finally making progress. We cannot make the same mistakes with the old, failed policies.


Romney: China is profiting from trade with us, at our expense. Even importing counterfeit products that copy American products, into America. Fairness must be at the base of a trade partnership.

Obama: Romney invested in companies that shipped jobs overseas. If we take his advice, we’d be importing cars to China and taxes won’t be paid in America. If we aren’t investing in research and education, which the private does not do, we are going to lose the lead. Since I came in office, American exports to China have doubled, but we do need more progress. Asia Pivot was done precisely because this will be a massive growth area. America is a Pacific power and we are going to assert that – as well organizing trade relations so that China must show respect for the rules – this is what we’re doing.


Romney: China, just like us, want a stable world. Thus, preventing war and conflict, a free and open world. China can be a partner, and so can we, if they are willing to be responsible. They look at America and wonder about if America can be a worthwhile partner, considering debt and military cuts? We must have relations with China that work for us. ROMNEY: STOP PARROTING OBAMA! Here we go, currency manipulator. Stealing knowledge, cyber security....

Bob: Currency manipulator = trade war. The risk?


Obama: On China, they must play the same rules by as everyone else. I’ve set up a trade commission to follow and uphold cheaters of trade rules in the world. Ohio steelworkers can now sell steel to China. Cheap tires – as well. Romney criticized me for being too tough, but the workers appreciate it. Over the long term, we need to take care of business at home – education and research – to compete with China.


Obama: We have established regional partnerships to do just that and we have stood on the side about democracy every time. Attitudes have changed, but there will always be people and groups against the US. The truth is, Al-Qaeda is much weaker now.

Bob: the rise of China – what do you believe is the greatest future threat to the security of this country?


Bob: How about drones?

Romney: Iran is closer to a bomb, Israel-Palestine peace process is dead, region is in tumult. We have to counter radicalism and extremism.


Bob: Pakistan continues to support people and organizations that kill America. Time for divorce?

Romney: No. Pak does not have a civilian leadership – ISI and military are too powerful. We have to prevent them from being a failed state, because they have nuclear weapons. Technically an ally, even if not acting like one. We had to go in there for Osama – right thing to do, even if it pissed them off. We have to continue engagement, because we have to preserve gains and regional stability. We can’t walk away, but we do need conditional aid.


Obama: Iraq and Afghanistan were a disaster before I came into office. We forgot our vision – getting rid of Al-Qaeda. Afghans have to take care of themselves, and giving them their capabilities that they need. We need to do nation-building here: money for jobs, veterans and infrastructure – education and otherwise.


What do we do if 2014 and Afghans can’t handle their security?

Romney: No choice, but to be finished by then. We are moving to do so, surge has been successful and training is on track. Afghan forces are growing and ready to take over security by then. Pakistan will have a major impact on the success of Afghanistan. They are important to the region and to us, because they have 100 nukes, the Taliban and the Haqqani network. We can’t afford a failed state; conditional aid, need to move Pak in right direction and get Afghanistan ready.


Obama: Romnesia strikes again. Now he supports our policies, didn’t support a roadmap on Afghanistan, but does now – Romney is NOT CREDIBLE. We shouldn’t move heaven and earth for Bin Laden, but we did anyway – I promised that. 9/11 story on young woman, convo with daddy from WTC, Bin Laden’s death = closure. I look at what we need to get done to move our interests forward and make those decisions.

Bob: America’s longest war – Afghanistan and Paksitan.


Bob: what if Israel attacks?

Romney: Not without evaluation and prior knowledge. I see growing conflict and our domestic decline. North Korea is acting up and Russia is pursuing free will policies – we are declining. Democrat senators asked to repair relations with Israel.


Obama: When I went to Israel as a candidate, I didn’t do campaign fundraisers; I went to the Holocaust Museum and to where rockets have fallen, to remind myself of what evil is. SLOW CLAP! US funded Iron Dome program and we have stood on right side of history.


Romney: Obama missed Israel, but visited every Arab country.


Obama: Romney is wrong. When we were tightening sanctions, you were invested in a Chinese company that was doing business with Iran. I’ve maintained a principled stance against Iran all along. We’ve been able to mobilize the world – Iran is at its weakest point in all respect in many years, and they will not get a nuke.


Obama: clock is ticking – all options are on the table


Obama: Iran must give up its nuclear program to re-enter the international community. That’s the only deal we’ll accept. Glad Romney agrees. Sanctions are painstaking to set up, but they work, and make sure that international partners participate, including Russia and China.


Romney: reiterate Israel support, a nuclear Iran is unacceptable, and we have dissuading Iran through crippling sanctions and it’s good we have them. We have to tighten those sanctions. Basically repeating what Obama said. Stop flip-flopping Romney. Diplomatic isolation, like apartheid...military action is the last resort.

Bob: what is the deal for talking to Iran?


Obama: If Israel is attacked, US will stand beside; cooperation is multidimensional and deep. Iran will not get a nuclear weapon while I am president. Sanctions have ruined their economy, because a nuclear Iran is a regional threat. It is a state sponsor of terrorism. Wiped off the map? OBAMA: get your damn facts straight. You sound like Romney. We should not take premature military action – last resort. Atta boy.


Romney: Navy and air force are aging and getting smaller; army needs to fight in two theatres at once, now it can only do one. We cannot do that and the president is compromising security.

Obama: Congress proposes that, but it isn’t happening. The nature of the military is changing – Romney’s understanding is too basic. Consultations with defence staff are the basis for my policy. Romney’s policies don’t work.

Up Next, by Bob: Red lines, Iran and Israel. My own specialty.


Obama: Under me, spending has gone up –we spend more than the next 10 countries. Talked with chiefs about what needed. Romney’s math doesn’t work, he is not specific about his cuts. We need to think about cybersecurity and Space – our budget is driven by security threats in the future. Budget combines balance with priortiies.


Bob: how are paying for the military?

Romney: getting rid of unneeded programs (Obamacare) and downloading programs to states – balanced budget in 8-10 years. So, military?


Romney: Mass actually did a lot better under me. (GETTING OFF TOPIC GENTLEMEN!). Obama: that was 10 year ago, before Romney. Romney: Govt made available resources for highest-achieving students.


Obama: Mass rated at the bottom for business creation under Romney. We have to refocus on education policy – it has been reformed on the state level with gains as a fact; hiring teachers in math and science. Romney claimed class sizes and teachers don’t make a difference. Result is a highly-skilled workforce that attracts FDI; we can’t slash support for education policy. We need this for the long term.


Romney: Obama has done absolutely nothing in the last 4 years. Idea: North American energy independence. Increasing trade with Latin America to intensify growth curve – it is an obvious underutilized choice. Improve education and balance the budget; FDI won’t happen unless we get off the Greece path. Championing small business – 2/3 jobs and new business formation is practically dead.


Obama: America is an indispensible nation. Refocusing on Afghanistan and alliances that have been neglected for a decade – in Asia, Europe, Africa and Israel, including dealing with the Iranian threat. We have to rebuild America; bring back manufacturing, best education, retaining workers, controlling energy and cutting oil imports, clean energy technologies, cutting exports (?). Reducing deficit by wealthy pitching in, cutting spending. Romney = Bush in disguise, backing the same old failed policies.


Romney: America has a role in defending prricniple in human rights, freedom of expression, et al. And promoting them around the world; ending conflicts. America must be strong and lead to protect those principles – that begins with a strong economy, which we do not have now. Standing by our allies and a strong miltiary are essential. 


Romney: supporting Obama and recognize that people wanted freedom and should have worked with them earlier to prevent the region from exploding; I was opposed to Mubarak too. Our mission in the Mideast is borne from a desire for a purpose of global peace – it is America’s job. That begins with a strong economy and the consequent international perception.

Mullen: debt – threat to national security


Obama: Egypt’s new democratic government must recognize women’s rights and minority rights, as well as abiding with the treaty with Israel, cooperating on counter-terrorism; what will make the revolution successful is if young people see a path of realization. Egypt's security is America's security.

We have to nation-build in America now, not in the rest of the world.


We have lost an opportunity to find the responsible parties - insurgents are still disparate, and we need to supply them with the needed arms.

Obama: Romney doesn't have different ideas. We're doing all we can to make a transition happen.


Obama: We are already showing leadership in Syria in athoughful way and handling Qaddafi was also done throughtfully - working internatinoally.


On Syria

Obama: We are with Syria, Assad must go, identifying the moderate forces

Mitt: We need a very effective leadership. Who are the responsible parties, Mitt? A responsible Syria is a good idea, but not the president, nor Romney has an idea.


Romney: stopping radicalism and improving democracy and civil society. Flip-flopping from Russia as geopolitical enemy to Mideast extremism. Iran is the big problem.

Obama: The Libyans stand with us! That is true. Calling out Romney on his contradictory position and being wrong and confusing. We need strong, steady leadership.



Seconds to hitting off the debate - bettter live feed link above.



Thoughts, feelings, or have we said that can possibly be said before we start?

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The BBC has published an interesting article on how the two candidates have reflected the world in their prior statemetns. Transcript below:

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will tackle foreign policy on Monday night in the last of their three presidential debates - but how much has the wider world featured in their campaigns?

As the incumbent president, Mr Obama has had more opportunities to speak out on the world stage. But Mr Romney has been able to be more frank in his views.

Here's a rundown of how some countries have figured in this campaign.


Poland Prime Minister Donald Tusk warmly greeted Romney

Mr Romney visited Poland over the summer and met Cold War hero Lech Walesa, whom he says he admires.

This is a nation with an extraordinary heritage that is crafting a remarkable future. At a time of widespread economic slowdown and stagnation, your economy last year outperformed all other nations in Europe.... In a turbulent world, Poland stands as an example and defender of freedom. - 31 July

Mr Obama, too, says Poland's transition from Soviet domination to democracy is inspiring.

Your actions charted a course for freedom that inspired many on this continent and beyond. And it has many relevant lessons, so we want to encourage all states undergoing similar experiences to learn from Poland. - 28 May 2011


Chums: The Obamas and the Camerons at the White House

Mr Obama in March warmly greeted Prime Minister David Cameron, joked with him in front of the media and talked college basketball with him during a White House visit.

Today we carry on another tradition, an official visit for one of our closest friends and our dearest allies... Our world has been transformed over and over, and it will be again. Yet, through the grand sweep of history, through all its twists and turns, there is one constant: the rock-solid alliance between the US and the UK. - 14 March

Mr Romney, whose great-great grandparents hailed from England and whose father-in-law was Welsh, was generous in his praise for the UK when he visited in the summer. But the trip will probably be remembered for him questioning the UK's preparations for the Olympics, comments that caused a storm.

It's hard to know just how well it will turn out. There are a few things that were disconcerting, the stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging - 25 July


Mr Romney uses Greece when highlighting Mr Obama's record on the US budget deficit and national debt.

If this president keeps spending a trillion dollars or more... you're going to see us on the road to Greece and you're going to see a financial crisis down the road. I will not let that happen. - 6 October

The president has also used Greece as a fiscal policy teaching point, saying America's deficit and debt worries are not nearly as severe. But at a White House Greek independence day celebration, he was more effusive.

Our Founding Fathers were students of Greek philosophy and Greek history, drawing on Greek principles to guide our own nation in its earliest days... And to this day the United States and Greece shares a bond rooted in common values and common ideals. - 25 March 2011


Mr Romney spent time in France as a Mormon missionary, but Europe - a dirty word in the Republican primaries - has become a by-word for dysfunction in his election campaign.

The president seems to be changing America in ways that many of us don't recognise, making us more and more like Europe. I don't want to become like Europe. Europe doesn't work there. - 10 October

For the president, Europe is one of several "headwinds" threatening the US economy.

The situation in Europe is slowing things down. - 4 June


Romney and Netanyahu have known each other since the 1970s

Professions of friendship with Israel are routine in American politics. Mr Romney has accused the president of not being firm enough in support of America's principal Middle Eastern ally.

To step foot into Israel is to step foot into a nation that began with an ancient promise made in this land. The Jewish people persisted through one of the most monstrous crimes in human history, and now this nation has come to take its place among the most impressive democracies on Earth. Israel's achievements are a wonder of the modern world. - 29 July

The president has a chilly relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but has called Israeli President Shimon Peres "extraordinary".

The United States is fortunate to have many allies and partners around the world. Of course, one of our strongest allies, and one of our closest friends, is the State of Israel. - 13 June


Obama played host to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the first state dinner of his presidency -here they embrace in New Delhi in 2010

India's business sector was outraged by comments the president made in a July interview in which he said it was "still too hard" to invest in that country.

In too many sectors, such as retail, India limits or prohibits the foreign investment that is necessary to create jobs in both our countries, and which is necessary for India to continue to grow. - 16 July


Harper and Obama have met several times since Obama took office and after one chat, Obama said: "I always take tips from Canada"

Mr Romney loves Canadian oil and says the US should buy more of it.

You know, the president doesn't face a lot of no-brainer decisions. But one of them was the decision of whether or not to have Canada's oil come here or go to Canada, and he failed. The answer is I'll build that Keystone pipeline if I have to build it myself, bring that oil here. - 18 July

Obama has called Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper "a trusted partner", and noted Canada is the number one trading partner.

Perhaps no two nations match up more closely together or are woven together more deeply economically, culturally than the United States and Canada. - 7 December 2011


President Obama routinely says a nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable, and at the UN recently he blasted its leaders' "violent and unaccountable ideology". But he also praises the people of Iran.

The Iranian people are the heirs to a great and ancient civilisation. And like people everywhere they have the right to think and speak for themselves. - 20 March

On the campaign trail, Mr Romney raises Iran's quest for nuclear weapons - which the nation denies - as evidence of President Obama's lack of leadership.

The same ayatollahs who each year mark a holiday by leading chants of "death to America" are not going to be talked out of their pursuit of nuclear weapons. - 24 July


Mr Romney says China cheats by manipulating the value of its currency against the US dollar - and he'll crack down.

It's time for us to stand up to China for their cheating. It's got to stop. - 13 October

The president sees China as a competitor on the global market.

I will not let China or anybody else win the race for clean energy technology. - 11 October

Latin America

At a summit in 2009, Chavez gave Obama an anti-imperialist tract by an Uruguayan author; the White House said Obama probably wouldn't read it

Mr Romney favours more trade with America's Spanish and Portuguese-speaking neighbours, but he takes issue with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

What Hugo Chavez is doing, what Castro is doing, these things are of great danger to us and to people around the world. We should be actively involved in communicating and promoting our values - free enterprise, human rights, democracy - throughout Latin America. - 23 May

President Obama has said he seeks "partnerships of equality that are based on mutual interest and mutual respect" in the Americas.


The 11 September attack on a US consulate in Libya that killed four Americans has become one of the top foreign policy issues in the election, as the dispute over how the White House responded continues to rage. But both candidates have also spoken in warm terms about the Libyan people.

Obama: The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts. Already, many Libyans have joined us in doing so, and this attack will not break the bonds between the United States and Libya. Libyan security personnel fought back against the attackers alongside Americans. Libyans helped some of our diplomats find safety, and they carried Ambassador Stevens' body to the hospital, where we tragically learned that he had died. - 12 September

Romney: After the attack on our consulate, tens of thousands of Libyans, most of them young people, held a massive protest in Benghazi against the very extremists who had murdered our people. They waved signs that read, "The ambassador was Libya's friend" and "Libya is sorry... I'll support the Libyan people's efforts to forge a lasting government that represents all of them, and I'll vigorously pursue the terrorists who attacked our consulate in Benghazi and killed our fellow Americans. - 8 October

Reporting by Daniel Nasaw


Edward Williams, one of PolicyMic's reporters on scene has obtained an exclusive interview from Stephanie Cutter, Barack's Obama deputy campagin chief. Details below:

Stephanie Cutter is the Deputy Campaign Manager for Obama for America and she took a few minutes to do an interview with PolicyMic Pundit Edward Williams. 

Edward: Why should millenials consider voting for President Obama, specifically as it relates to foreign policy? 

Stephanie: What we have seen from the President is strong and steady leadership, a strong change from what we have seen over the previous decade. He has done what he said he was going to do. He has ended the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and he's going to use the savings from ending those wars to do some nationbuidling here back at home. It is a big piece of the second term agenda. He has also taken the fight to Al-Qaeda. He broke the back of Al-Qaeda and brought Bin Laden to justice and he has restored America's standing in the world. He has also made record investments in our veterans, which were to make sure that they can go to college, that there are jobs here when thy come home from fighting for us abroad, and that they're getting the healthcare that they need. So, the President has a very strong record of strong and steady leadership.

Edward: There is concern about the Middle East from the millenial generation, the region has been in turmoil in some way since our generation has been alive, does the President have a real plan to fix the structural violence in the Middle East?

Stephanie: Well, which country, they are all a little different. Let's take Syria. The President has committed to end the Assad regime in Syria. He's doing that through bringing the world together and enforcing the toughest sanctions that have ever been put in place in Syria. Assad is feeling the pressure of the sanctions and the President is also providing humanitarian assistance, resources, technological assistance to ensure that there is an end to that regime. He hasn't taken anything off the table, but he is doing everything he can to help that counry begin its transition to democracy. Same thing in Libya. He helped to provide the resources without committing our troops on the ground and assisted in that transisiton. While there was a terrible tragedy that occurred there on September 11th, that country has made progress. The President's approach to all of this is that there is a slow transition to democracy and we have to be there to help them do it. He's doing that in a way that protects our interests. 

Edward: Stepping off of foreign policy for just a second.

Stephanie: But this is the foreign policy debate. 

Edward: Yes, but we will likely have few opportunities to talk to the Obama team's deputy campaign manager prior to the election. There is a significant gender gap in the polls, some which show that President Obama has been slipping among women, what should that be ascribed to?

Stephanie: Well it depends on what poll you are looking at, every poll is a little bit different. There is an ABC poll coming out today that has us at a 14 point gender gap, we were only at 13 in the last election. There will be a gender gap on election day.

Edward: Yes, but what's causing the gender gap?

Stephanie: What's causing the gender gap is an agenda that actually moves women forward. The first bill that the President signed was a pay equity bill. The President passed healthcare reform which stops insurance companies from charging women more just because they have babies. He put an end to discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, which is incredibly important to women. He has also made sure that they can make their own healthcare decisions, that we're not ceding it to any beaurecrat, particularly men. And, whether it's protecting Roe v. Wade, or ensuring they have access to contraception, all of this stands in sharp contrast to Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney would not say if he would sign the Lily Ledbetter Act into law. He has promised to repeal healthcare reform, which puts the insurance companies back in charge. He wants to put bosses in charge of whether women have access to contraception. That's not an agenda that speaks to women and says I believe in you. He's taking from them and having a binder full of women is not a record of proof that you have helped women move forward. 

Edward: One last question, how do you believe millenials should make their decision at the polls on election day?

Stephanie: Who do you want leading this country for the next four years? President Obama is a proven leader. He has steered this economy away from the worst crisis since the great depression. Now you probably don't remember the great depression, and I wasn't alive either, but we certainly know how turbulent it was, and we were on the brink of that. This crisis didn't happen overnight and we're not going to get out of it overnight. Just look at the progress that we've made: 5.2 million private sector jobs, highest consumer confidence in five years, the lowest number of foreclosures in five years, housing starts are up, and the economy is moving forward. This country is moving forward and it's no time to turn back. Just look at the agenda: 100,000 new math and science teachers so that we can compete for those high-skilled jobs that we can't fill right now. They're there, they are in this country, we can't fill them. He will cut in half our dependence on foreign oil, not only so we can increase our own security, but so that we can create new industry here in the United States. This is an agenda that builds our economy from the middle out. The last piece is reducing the deficit. I urge every young voter to look at both candidate's deficit reduction plan. The President has a detailed deficit reduction plan, 4 trillion dollars, that reduces our deficit in a balanced way. Cuts what we don't need, but makes important investments in education. He asks for everybody to pay their fair share. Mitt Romney doesn't have a deficit reduction plan. He has a 5 trillion dollar tax plan and he won't say how he'll pay for it. Mitt Romney in the Bain boardroom would not take that deal from anyone and neither should the American people. 

Edward: Thank you Stephanie.


Debate format: six 15-minute sections, devoted to the issues outlined below, respectively. Jim Lehrer, take notes.


Tonight's debate is going to cover six main areas 'of action':

1. America's role in the world - as American influence diminishes in relative terms, the question is more philosophical than anything else. Namely, what is America's idea of the world and within that, its place in it?

2. Afghasnitan and Pakistan: Afghanistan is the lovechild of our passionate one-night terrorist stand with Pakistan in 2001, which then turned into the stereotypical marriage - can't live with them, can't live without them. The deadline in 2014 is fast-apporaching, and the question is of the same existential nature as above: why did we go there, what did we accomplish, and so what?

3. Israel and Iran - the tensions between Pres. Obama and PM Netanyahu suggest the USA and Israel are slowly growing apart in their views and priorities; but the upcoming elections in Israel may yet throw a monkey wrench in the status quo and give us a different Israeli foreign policy. Iran remains defiant, but recent rumours of talks suggest the backroom diplomacy never stopped.

4. Middle East - The so-called Arab Spring came and went with inconclusive resutls, except that Islam became the new cool political thing to do in the region, at the expense of American influence in the region. Yet again, I'll raise Christopher Stevens' demise as the symbol of the helplessness of American regional foreign policy. We let Pandora go, now we have to deal with it. Once more - what do we want from the Middle East and why are we there? The answer has been a blank for over a decade.

5. Terrorism - only second to Christianity in Western religions. Terrorism is the political mantra repeated like a feverish prayer through North America, Europe and even Russia, since 2001. The idea of the terrorist as the lower-class desperado fighting for a religious or social ideal has gripped the collective imagination in a very negative light since 9.11, but nobody talks about that everybody participates, including the U.S. We're back to square one - what do we mean by terrorism?

6. China - the world's next superpower is the endnote of this debate. The Asia Pivot has no concrete dimensions and Mitt's creativity expires with "currency manipulator". No big hopes for clarity on either side here, so we'll have to wait for the new administration for a doctrine on China.

On Monday, incumbent Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney will face off in their final presidential debate, this time focused on foreign policy. While we can expect the campaign talking points to continue, there may also be some special moments of direct confrontation between the candidates, with the potential to produce new insight into policies, interpretation, and possible future actions. 

So, what shape the debate will take?

Middle East – Ambassador Christopher Stevens’ tragic death in Bengahzi, the killing of Osama Bin Laden in 2011, the drawdown from Iraq, the continuing mission in Afghanistan, and the relationship with Israel will easily form the bulk of this debate.

China – we’re still not exactly sure what the Asia pivot is, what we’re doing about the love-hate political/economic relationship with Beijing, and how we are going to handle China’s rising strategic profile. Washington isn’t clear if China is an enemy or a friend, so we are just going with frienemy. Mitt says he’ll brand China a currency manipulator, but somehow misses that the Fed is doing the exact same thing already. Obama’s China policy is still a work in progress – he hasn’t said anything specific on American doctrine on China.

Global economy – reckless spending got us in the mess we’re in, austerity has failed to produce results, and we’re stuck in a seemingly permanent economic stagnation. Granted, that’s preferable to economic collapse, but doesn’t get us anywhere either. Unemployment worldwide is growing, the West is bogged down, China’s growth is slowing, and the Fed is continuing potentially hyperinflation-inducing money printing. Being responsible for a quarter of global economic output, American actions also set the tone on what the rest of the world does. We should hear the candidates speak about what really matters to the world – what is America doing to restore growth and what vision is there for global economic development? Neither candidate has said much about this and the answer, so far, is respectively “not much” and “nothing.”

We’ll be hoping for more substance than the talking points and partisan back-and-forth we’ve been hearing so far.

PolicyMic will be live blogging the third and final presidential debate. For real-time updates, commentary, and analysis, refresh this page and follow along below.