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Obama vs. Romney: Top 5 Foreign Policy Differences

Posted: Oct 22, 2012

In a presidential election that was supposed to be all about the economy, global events have turned the spotlight on foreign policy just weeks before Election Day. The killing of Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, concern over Iran's nuclear ambitions, and what to do about China will all likely be points of discussion when President Barack Obama and his GOP challenger, Mitt Romney, meet Monday night in the last presidential debate before voters go to the polls Nov. 6. Here's a cheat sheet on the two candidates' positions on various foreign policy points heading into Monday night's debate:

Middle East

The killing of Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, sparked renewed concern that the U.S. government (and its allies) are losing its influence with fledgling democracies where dictatorial leaders have been deposed. A concern for the U.S. and its allies, particularly Israel, is that new “Arab Spring” democracies could become vulnerable to terrorist groups and corruption in the region. GOP critics also charge the Obama administration has not been forthcoming about whether Stevens' death was a result of terrorism or a riot over an anti-Muslim film. In addition, an ongoing crisis in Syria between the government and citizens demanding change also poses a threat in the region.

OBAMA: The president’s chief concern is stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction and advancing “the rights and dignity of all human beings,” as he noted during his speech at the Democratic National Convention. His administration's efforts, managed to a large degree by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has worked to ensure America, its interests and allies are protected in the region.

ROMNEY: The former governor wants to be sure that “the Arab Spring is not followed by an Arab Winter,” and is advocating post-revolutionary relationship building in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, according to his campaign website. Romney views Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad as an “unscrupulous dictator” who hasn’t earned the privilege of America’s outstretched hand of diplomacy.

War in Afghanistan

The number of U.S. combat troops in Afghanistan is being reduced, but a series of recent deadly strikes on NATO and American forces have threatened the notion that President Hamid Karzai and the U.S.-trained Afghan military force will be ready in time for a complete withdrawal in 2014. Radical Islamist elements in Pakistan and Iran are threatening to undo America’s costly dismantling of terrorist networks in Afghanistan. With thousands of American troops and countless injuries, several analysts suggest the progress (or lack of) can no longer dictate the U.S. timeline. 

Read more here.




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