The lasting impression of the debate, certainly for anyone watching in the rest of the world, is just how narrowly Americans define foreign policy. Neither candidate mentioned NATO. Indeed, neither candidate mentioned the European Union or the Eurozone crisis, other than Mr. Romney’s dire predictions that the United States will soon be Greece unless he is elected.
Moving east, the candidates barely mentioned a single country in East Asia other than China. There was only the briefest reference to Japan (our closest ally in Asia) by the moderator and a single mention of North Korea (another very dangerous nuclear power). Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, didn’t come up. For that matter, there was no reference to India (a mere billion people). This silence is all the more striking given Mr. Obama’s reference at the end of the debate to his administration’s purported “pivot to Asia,” a pivot that was supposed to be away from the Middle East. Yet when Mr. Obama was asked to name the greatest threat to the United States he said terrorist networks; Mr. Romney said a nuclear Iran.
Beyond individual countries, consider the silence on the global issues that are vitally important to the rest of the world. Neither candidate ever uttered the word “climate.” Or drug violence. Or poverty, disease, food, water, or even energy.
This really wasn’t a debate about foreign policy or world affairs. It was the projection of the American electoral map onto the globe. All discussion of Israel and Islam was targeted at Florida; all discussion of China was targeted at Ohio. From a real foreign policy perspective, a business in which we devote a great deal of time and effort to reassuring and mobilizing our friends and allies and trying to solve global problems, we can only hope the rest of the world wasn’t listening.
- 23 October, 2012
- 10 notes
- anne-marie slaughterdebateselections 2012quotationsforeign policy
Anne-Marie Slaughter, America’s Narcissism
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