Obama, Romney wrangle over foreign policy

Obama, Romney wrangle over foreign policy

Obama, Romney wrangle over foreign policy


U.S. President Barack Obama sharply challenged Republican rival Mitt Romney over foreign policy on Oct. 22, as the two presidential rivals squared off in their third and final debate with the race in a dead heat two weeks before elections.

“I know you haven’t been in a position to actually execute foreign policy, but every time you’ve offered an opinion, you’ve been wrong,” President Obama told his foe, coming out swinging in the debate in Boca Raton, Florida. Romney responded that “attacking me is not an agenda” for dealing with a dangerous world. He accused Obama of sending the wrong signals to Iran’s leaders by showing weakness in the Middle East.

Both candidates underscored their support for Israel against a threat from Iran. “If Israel is attacked, we have their back,” said Romney, moments after Obama vowed, “I will stand with Israel if Israel is attacked.”

Neither candidate scored a knockout punch in the debate, as both men reined in the confrontational sniping. Romney played it safe, avoiding any catastrophic error that would have undermined his bid to be commander-in-chief, but was often on the defensive, apart from when lambasting Obama over the struggling economy.

‘Syria opportunity’

According to two instant polls released by CNN and CBS News, Obama “won” the debate. CBS News said that its poll of 521 undecided voters said the president had won the night by a 53 percent to 23 percent margin over his counterpart. CNN said Obama won by eight percentage points among the debate watchers it polled, 48 percent to 40 percent. Republican candidate Romney actually backed much of the substance of President Obama’s global strategy. He endorsed Obama’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014, supported the president’s lethal drone war against terror suspects, and congratulated him on hunting down Osama bin Laden.

Both agreed that in Syria President Bashar al-Assad would not survive. Obama said there was no difference between the two on policy towards Syria except that Romney wanted to send heavy weapons to the rebels. Romney said the U.S. should be arming the “responsible” rebels. “Syria is an opportunity for us … We should be playing the leadership role,” he said. That precipitated a quick response from Obama, who pointed to U.S. efforts to organize international efforts to address the issue, as well as its support for opposition factions. “We are making sure that those we help will be our friends [in the future],” he said. Over China, Romney vowed to press Beijing harder on trade and currency issues but toned down earlier rhetoric, following warnings that his approach could spark a trade war.

Obama described his opponent twice as “wrong and reckless” and accused him of being “all over the map” on his foreign policy positions. Obama said Romney would reinstate the unpopular foreign policies of President George W. Bush and jabbed at Romney’s comments during the campaign that Russia is the United States’ “number one geopolitical foe.” “Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s,” Obama said. Romney said that despite early hopes, the ouster of despotic regimes in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere over the past year had resulted in a “rising tide of chaos.”

No choice from Armenians

Ümit Enginsoy - ANKARA

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), the largest and most influential U.S.-Armenian group, has announced that it will support neither President Barack Obama nor Republican candidate Mitt Romney in the Nov. 6 presidential election.

“Neither Barack Obama, who turned his back on the multiple promises he made on Armenian-American issues, nor Mitt Romney, who as a former governor of Massachusetts, has no evident public record on issues of special concern to our community, has earned the support of Armenian-American voters,” ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian said in a press release last week.

“Our country’s federal policies on Armenian-American issues, sadly, remain hostage to the dictates of foreign officials, in Ankara and Baku. While we remain open to constructive engagement with both campaigns, we have no plans at this time to issue an ANCA endorsement this presidential election cycle,” he said.

 “The president first signaled that he would break his pledge during a March 2009 speech in the Turkish Parliament during which he chose not to use the term Armenian genocide in calling upon Turkey to address its past, but did note that his ‘personal’ views in support of Armenian Genocide recognition remained unchanged,” the ANCA said.

“The Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts... has no evident public record on Armenian issues from his four-year tenure as governor or his two campaigns for the White House. He has also not reached out, in any meaningful way, to meet or consult with the Armenian-American community’s leadership,” the ANCA said.

‘Romney-led US to toughen foreign policy rhetoric’

Soli Özel -ISTANBUL / Hürriyet Daily News

Washington’s main foreign policies are unlikely to change under a Republican presidency, but the United States’ language – including rhetoric toward Turkey – is likely to toughen if Mitt Romney unseats President Barack Obama, according to a Turkish scholar. A Romney administration would not intervene in Syria and would continue the U.S. pullout from Afghanistan, Soli Özel told the Hürriyet Daily News, but added that Washington’s foreign policy language would become more strident, especially toward Russia, Iran and Syria, and even toward Turkey, in the event of a Republican victory. Washington would also approach Turkey differently under Romney, he said, noting that Eric S. Edelman, a Romney campaign adviser and former
U.S. ambassador to Turkey, does not have good relations with

‘Problems expected in Turkey-US ties if Romney is elected’

Prof. Dr. İlter Turan - ISTANBUL / Hürriyet Daily News

Neo-conservatives, who favor action and the use of force in foreign politics, will be more powerful in Washington if Republican challenger Mitt Romney is elected as U.S. president, an academician İlter Turan told the Hürriyet Daily News. This change of attitude will reflect on U.S.-Turkey relations, which will worsen as Washington would more forcefully ask Ankara to comply with its policies if
Romney came to power, according to Turan.

If Obama is reelected however, Turkey-U.S. relations will not change, even if the U.S. Secretary of State changes, he added. Turkey will also be under pressure to improve its relations with Israel if Romney came to power, as the Republican candidate has already expressed his unconditional support to Israel, Turan said.

Obama’s ‘horses  and bayonets’ goes viral


“Horses and bayonets” became the most memorable catch phrase of the debate. “You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916,” Obama said. “We also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go under water, nuclear submarines,” he said.

 Obama’s comments provided the latest debate-related phrase to become popular on social media. The hash tag “horsesandbayonets” trended on Twitter. A new tumblr website was created with entries such as a picture of Obama captioned, “We also have fewer bows and arrows and catapults” and images of Romney riding a horse and carrying a gun with a bayonet.

Syria is Iran’s route to the sea, Republican Romney insists


Neither man made a noticeable gaffe during the debate, but Romney did describe Syria as “Iran’s route to the sea.” Talking about the relationship between Iran and Syria, Romney said: “It’s unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, and … Syria is their key ally. It’s their only ally in the Arab world. It is also their route to the sea.” For the most part, moderator Bob Schieffer stayed in the background of the third presidential debate, but he was caught making one notable verbal gaffe: confusing the names of the president and America’s former most wanted terrorist. Schieffer, the CBS News host, referred to “Obama’s bin Laden” when introducing a question about extremist groups supported by Pakistan, according to Fox.