I covered the debate live on Monday, and Obama won. Let me be clear, to invoke the president, I am not voting for either him or Romney. Nevertheless, I argued a couple weeks ago that the president would take this election, and I stand by that despite the recent fluctuation in poll numbers. The debate has affirmed for me that I don't like either candidate's foreign policy, but Obama's is the lesser of two evils.
I do wonder how much of America's current foreign policies are Hillary Clinton's and how much are Barack Obama's. I'm guessing it's much more the former. But whatever the case may be, the policies sounded logical as presented by Obama tonight. The president was much slower to choose good guys and bad guys, even while he maintains sanctions, drone strikes, and alliances I disagree with. Romney seemed eager to point out every flaw in present foreign policy and deplored the president's demonstration of "American weakness." I've gleaned from the debate that Romney's "stronger" America would simply do more of the same stuff we're already doing.
Latin America wasn't addressed at all tonight, and Russia only in passing. I'm not surprised by this, so I refuse to be disappointed by it. Americans vote for the president, and they care to hear more about our Navy, economy and education system than an alphabetical list of countries and our policies toward them. I don't begrudge that the electorate doesn't regularly read Foreign Affairs or even The Economist, but I do regret that we as world police still deny we're on patrol and just wish improve our station. And, just to be clear, I don't think we need to be on patrol at all.
For real-time coverage and analysis of the debate, see here.