What we watched last night in the foreign policy-themed Presidential debate was a travesty. On the one hand we have a candidate from the Republican Party who was applauded by partisan supporters for adopting the "strategic" approach (i.e. don't rock the boat, just get a draw or something close) of running and hiding (i.e. lie and distort) from the bellicosity and war mongering rhetoric he has repeatedly put on the record over the past 12 months and simply averred that we ought to be doing exactly what Obama is doing, only more "severely".
On the other hand, we have a President, a supposed lefty, commie, peacenik, Age of Aquarius, progressive liberal bragging about how many Muslims he has killed and how many Iranians he has starved over the past 4 years. The bravado was nauseating. The Commandeer in Chief as designated National Hitman. Someone mentioned this already--- the true winner of last night's debate was George W. Bush. Shoot first and ask questions later. America is Good and Noble and the rest of the world can Suck on This. The President is our fearless, Morally Pure Leader.
There was one question about drones: something to the extent of whether Romney would embrace them. Of course, he says. Romney at the controls of drones. Hell yes. Just give me that chance, his maniacal wide eyed grin seemed to say.
Here are some things that are happening in American foreign policy right now that were indisputably not addressed at the "foreign policy" debate last night. It is up to all Americans to decide whether or not this even matters.
1) We have a secret, unaccountable drone program being run by the CIA without any transparency or Congressional oversight. These drones are targeting human beings in Pakistan and Yemen, along with whoever happens to be within 20 yards of the hit zone. "Militants" is now an Orwellian term that is defined as "any military age male within a strike zone". Okaaaay then. Well that's one way to massage your collateral damage statistics.
2) We sent American war planes, materiel, and treasure into Libya without explicit Congressional authorization in order to topple an admittedly bad dude, who for some reason was taken off the terrorist list a few years ago because he had transitioned into an apparently more "Pro-America" stance. The idea that we participated in the overthrow of a cruel dictator at the sole discretion of one man sitting in the White House was deemed unworthy of being a debate topic.
3) President Obama has established the precedent that an American President may unilaterally, and in secret, order the assassination of American citizens without a whiff of due process. All he has to do when questioned is mix in the terms "terrorist" and/or "Muslim" and voila!-----bipartisan support and therefore not a suitable topic for a debate.
4) The perpetrators of torture during the Bush regime have glided off into lucrative careers as newspaper columnists, think tank scholars, and other roles deemed fit for "respected former statesmen". No questions were asked about American responsibilities to prosecute such transgressions under the Geneva protocols and whether or not a return to such barbarity could be expected under a President Romney.
5) The cognitive dissonance of the freedom-agenda rhetoric in the Middle East from both candidates---Democracy!, Individual Rights! Women's Rights! Freedom!--- compared with the less inspiring reality of our close ties with brutal, suppressive regimes in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Bahrain. Not to mention our 30 year support of the the torturing, murderous dictator Mubarak in Egypt. This is not a topic for inquiry.
6) We are targeting Muslims who attend funerals of assassinated "militants". Because, if you are related to a "militant" it is likely that you may be a "militant" as well. Or something along those lines. This is a war crime, incidentally.
7) The psychological trauma sustained by civilians in northwest Pakistan as a result of constant drone strikes, as documented by the Stanford/NYU report.
Certainly Barack Obama "won" the debate on Monday. He projected authority and had some good zingers (bayonets!). Romney seemed overwhelmed and inconsequential. But it wasn't so much a debate as bipartisan affirmation of an agreed-upon narrative that bears little resemblance to how our actions are perceived in other parts of the "non-exceptional" world.