The Corner

Watching the Debate

When President Obama and Governor Romney debate for the third and final time in about an hour now, U.S. foreign and defense policy will take center stage. In anticipation of tonight’s debate, the Foreign Policy Initiative (where we work) today released Debating the Future of U.S. National Security: Essential Facts for the Final Presidential Debate, an overview of current U.S. policy on the five major foreign policy issues set to be discussed tonight.

While America’s struggling economy, unemployment and underemployment, and other domestic issues have (understandably) dominated the spotlight for much of the presidential race, it is important and timely that national security is getting its turn. After all, whoever occupies the White House in January 2013 will be not only the president of the United States, but also the commander-in-chief of the U.S. Armed Forces — and the leader of the free world. Moreover — as vividly illustrated by the 9/11 attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and his colleagues — U.S. foreign and defense policy faces many serious challenges both in the near term and over the long haul. From Iran’s continuing march to nuclear weapons-making capability, and the uncertain future of the war in Afghanistan, to the looming threat of massive automatic cuts to the military, and China’s potential to become a bona fide military rival to the United States, the Foreign Policy Initiative’s overview lays out key facts and details that the public and press should keep in mind as they watch President Obama and Governor Romney debate tonight. For real time commentary, you can follow us on Twitter tonight @ForeignPolicyI.

— Jamie M. Fly is executive director and Robert Zarate policy director of the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI).

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