I went through the transcript and found some rather amusing lines from last night’s foreign policy “debate.” Some of them stuck out at me when I heard them (I was flipping channels back and forth, so didn’t see the whole thing). I loved this line from Romney:
And — and we’re going to have to recognize that we have to do as the president has done. I congratulate him on — on taking out Osama bin Laden and going after the leadership in al-Qaeda.
I love how he started with the “we’re going to have to recognize” line, as though what he was going to say after that is something important, then all he says is that he agrees with the president. Yes Mitt, we’re going to have to recognize that Obama did the right thing. Way to make the case to replace him!
But we can’t kill our way out of this mess. We’re going to have to put in place a very comprehensive and robust strategy to help the — the world of Islam and other parts of the world, reject this radical violent extremism, which is — it’s certainly not on the run.
There isn’t a single idea in all of that. A “comprehensive and robust strategy” is just a generic nothing. It’s what you say when you have nothing specific to say. Obama’s answer was equally substance-free:
Now, it is absolutely true that we cannot just meet these challenges militarily. And so what I’ve done throughout my presidency and will continue to do is, number one, make sure that these countries are supporting our counterterrorism efforts.
Number two, make sure that they are standing by our interests in Israel’s security, because it is a true friend and our greatest ally in the region.
Number three, we do have to make sure that we’re protecting religious minorities and women because these countries can’t develop unless all the population, not just half of it, is developing.
Number four, we do have to develop their economic — their economic capabilities.
This is one of the most irritating things about these debates, and it’s why there needs to be a real moderator instead of a spineless lapdog: the candidates are always talking about what we must do or ought to do, but they talk only in terms of outcomes. “We have to make sure everyone is treated equally” or “We need to get the economy moving again.” Yeah, no shit. But the question was, what are you going to do to make that happen? Repeating what we want as an outcome of policy has nothing to do with discussing the policy and why it would work.
Oh, and then there’s the abysmal ignorance from Romney:
Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world. It’s their route to the sea.
Say what? Iran is on the fucking ocean, with almost 2500 kilometers of coastline on the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Syria has less than 200 kilometers of coastline on the Mediterranean. And Iraq is in between the two countries, so Iran couldn’t get anything to Syrian ports without shipping it through Iraq (which they can’t do). Seriously, this is something any high school kid who’s taken geography would know.