The scheduled topic for the final debate of the 2012 election is foreign policy, but pundits expect that neither candidate will miss the chance to discuss domestic issues. Expect to hear that the economy is an engine that guarantees security from both sides.
The new ad above from the Obama campaign frames the president’s argument. He wants to end the war and use the savings to “rebuild America.”
Romney’s budget calls for a massive increase in defense spending, even above what we’ve been spending during wartime. The former governor of Massachusetts seems to agree that the war in Afghanistan should end, but disagrees that we should publicize our timeline for withdrawal.
The most pressing questions remain about Romney’s stance on Iran and his eagerness to enter another war in the Middle East. Sunday on Fox News, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that when it comes to Iran “the time for talking is over.”
Do Romney and his 17 Bush/Cheney advisors agree that the time for negotiations is over?
The Nation‘s Ari Berman explains, “If we take the candidate at his word, a Romney presidency would move toward war against Iran; closely align Washington with the Israeli right; leave troops in Afghanistan at least until 2014 and refuse to negotiate with the Taliban; reset the Obama administration’s ‘reset’ with Russia; and pursue a Reagan-like military buildup at home.”
Romney has made some attempts to soften his stance on Iran, saying that he’d be more likely to bring a diplomatic solution that would end Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Over the weekend, The New York Times reported one-on-one talks between the U.S. and Iran have been agreed to in principle. Both countries denied the report.
Recent changes to the Romney website suggest that the Republican nominee will attack the president for “his willingness to talk without preconditions or pressure.”
Efraim Halevy, former head of Mossad, the Israeli Intelligence Service, has criticized Romney’s policy, saying, “I realized dialogue with an enemy is essential. What is there to lose?”
President Obama and Vice President Biden have repeatedly called on Romney to say if he is for war with Iran.
By forcing the answer to that question, the president is hoping voters realize their choice is between rebuilding American and another decade of grueling, unwinnable war that looks a lot like the past 10 years.
One thing is clear: Romney does not feel that the president needs Congress’ approval to bomb Iran, an act that will certainly lead to war.
(h/t on the video to Rolling Stone‘s Tim Dickinson.)