By Donna Musolli for The 12
Wayne State University students weighed in on the final presidential debate over foreign policy and the candidates’ positions in the days following it.
Failing to mention the Euro crisis kept Americans from seeing each candidate’s knowledge of the crisis and general stance on the issue, senior political science student Alexander Kappaz said.
“I was extremely disappointed that any of the debates failed to mention the Euro crisis. Romney insists on comparing America to countries like Spain and Greece. I find this perplexing because the crisis in Spain was caused by sovereign debt and currency which is not analogous to the economic situations in Greece. So either Romney is economically illiterate, or being incredibly disingenuous on purpose to hammer home a fear-mongering talking point,” Kappaz said. “It would have been interesting to see Obama’s response to the crisis and I would have liked to see at least one of the candidates articulate why these situations are different.”
While some students felt that the absence of certain topics were detrimental to the debate, others did not.
“Other than what I already know on the candidates’ stance on immigration, the eurozone, and climate change, I believe that enough time was spent discussing it since the topic was already discussed during the second debate—when candidates were speaking about coal plants,” junior pre-pharmacy student Nalda Bally said.
Although certain issues were briefly skimmed over during the debate; the hot-button issue, America’s influence in the Middle East, came up frequently. President Obama emphasized a need for “strong, steady leadership” in the Middle East—which he said Romney did not display. Romney fired back by accusing the president of going on an apology tour through the Middle East, which he said created a weak image of America.
Both Bally and Kappaz disagreed with Romney’s statement and felt that the president’s efforts in the Middle East were—and will be—an asset to America’s foreign relations.
“Let’s think about all the positives President Obama has done that have positively influenced our relationship with the Middle East. During his term, he ended the war in Iraq, Osama bin Laden has been killed, he’s withdrawn troops from Afghanistan (and) he told Mubarak to go in Egypt. These are just a few of the great things he’s done in only four years. He’s one of the main reasons why the U.S. image abroad has become so positive,” Bally said.
“The idea that the President has been going around the Middle East apologizing for American values is a complete fantasy narrative constructed by certain voices on the right,” Kappaz said. “Personally I think that it is a lousy attempt by the Romney administration to paint the President as ‘weak’ on foreign policy—despite all evidence pointing to the contrary.”
Junior English student Gina Koki, however, thinks otherwise.
“I do believe [Obama] did in a way go on an apology tour with his encounter with the Saudi Arabian King,” Koki said. “I would say it reflects as a negative thing, because it does make us look weaker. Whether people want to acknowledge it or not we are a super power in the world and we do have duties to uphold. I think one of the main duties is to have some sort of non-apologetic presence in the Middle East—especially since Iran is an imminent danger to us if they do develop nuclear weapons.”
Some students, like senior political science student Rose Abu-Farha, feel that both candidates are not focusing on the right issues in the Middle East and that there needs to be a change of direction in both parties.
“Up until this point, Obama’s efforts haven’t been strong enough towards ensuring neutrality in the Middle East,” Abu-Farha said. “I also feel that there shouldn’t be so much emphasis on Iran and more efforts to stop the current bloodshed in Syria and Palestine, which is something that I feel that both candidates haven’t focused on enough.”
Donna Musolli is the managing editor of The South End.