A viewer might have expected a little more of the globe to make it into the 90-minute discussion, particularly because Mitt Romney (wearing his Moderate Mitt mask again) voiced his agreement on the major parts of Barack Obama’s foreign-policy agenda. (We could practically hear the quiet sobbing of tea partiers and old-line right-wingers clutching tattered copies of Phyllis Schlafly’s ode to bright-line conservatism, “A Choice, Not an Echo.”)
CBS’ Bob Schieffer did his best to fence in the candidates as they strayed into domestic policy. It wasn’t enough, however, as both Obama and Romney inched across the narrowest foreign-policy thread to raise their voices in support of favored domestic policies. Amid the chaos, scores of international matters that ought to be discussed during a presidential campaign were cast aside. Among the international policy orphans were:
Mexico: It’s estimated that 6-in-10 illegal immigrants in the United States come from Mexico. In 2011, trade with our NAFTA partner amounted to $500 billion.
Cuba: Aside from Schieffer’s mention of the 50th anniversary of the Cold War’s Cuban missile crisis, the island-nation was ignored Monday. The question left unexamined: How does the United States lure the Cuban government out of its shell and into the free world?
Climate change: As the planet continues to warm, weather patterns will continue to intensify, as will the need for policies for addressing both the causes and the effects. In a 2008 presidential debate, Obama called it “one of the biggest challenges of our times.” Four years later, and the subject doesn’t warrant a mention in any of the debates.
European Union: The global economic slump has put massive pressure on the EU and its single-currency model. The fate of the euro and the coalition of nations tied together by it will make an impact on the United States and its financial markets. A question Obama and Romney should have been asked: What happens if it all goes south?
Africa: The best the continent received from Obama was, “Our alliances have never been stronger: in Asia, in Europe, in Africa, with Israel.” It’s a pretty sweeping summation for a continent with 1 billion people and 57 countries. Even worse, Romney said even less about Africa. Schieffer missed an opportunity here to press both candidates on issues relevant to this part of the world.
North Korea: Kim Jong Un was installed this year as the authoritarian regime’s third generation of leadership. Yet, the brutal conditions for North Koreans have not changed. Let’s not forget that 28,000 U.S. soldiers are aligned near the border between South Korea and North Korea.