(photo credit: AFP) Republican candidate and President Obama on Tuesday’s night debate
During the United States presidential debate, on October 16th, the topic of relations with the Middle East arose and the exchanges became very heated. Provoked by a question from the audience, Romney brought up his view that President Obama did not do everything he could surrounding the assassination of the US ambassador to Libya. The environment of the debate shifted dramatically after this accusation. President Obama responded sternly and serious stating that what has been said is offensive. He backed up all of his “team” and explained the steps he took surrounding the situation, and also claimed full responsibility for the tragedy as Commander in Chief. The even stronger accusation made here was when Romney insisted that President Obama had failed to identify the assassination of US Ambassador to Libya as an act of terror until days after the event. President Obama replied strong and confident with, “Get the transcript.” Even the moderator, although unauthorized, reinforced the President’s immediate response to addressing this as an act of terror.
Though Israel was not directly addressed, it was inferred by Obama that the US relations in the Middle East are a matter of importance and he takes the events very seriously, responding appropriately. David Harris, president of the National Jewish Democratic Council, stated after the debate,
“Governor Romney has tried time and time again to mischaracterize President Obama’s relationship with Israel, ignoring that the relationship between these two countries is stronger than ever.”
On a related note, this past May Romney stated a fundraising event that he does not believe there is a possibility to gain a peace agreement with the Palestinians. In contrast, Romney promised this in a rally speech given this past Monday,
“recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel.”
In the same speech Romney referred negatively to Obama’s stance with Israel towards Iraq. Adding that President Obama’s relationship with the Prime Minister of Israel has damaged the two countries relationships. After this speech former Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, responded by backing up President Obama and said that, from her experience with Israelis, the relationship is very strong today. It is obvious that the two presidential candidates are at odds with many issues, and foreign policy is no exception. The last of the presidential debates will take place this coming Monday on October 22nd, and will the address US foreign policy. This will be a debate to keep a close watch on and may help to clear up some lingering questions on the candidate’s intentions with relations in the Middle East.