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Reflections on the third debate: R.I.P. Europe

Reflections on the third debate: R.I.P. Europe

Source: Richard Perry/The New York Times

This last debate on foreign policy will not affect the polls. Mitt Romney was able to make himself credible in foreign policy; while Obama was strong in defending his four years of foreign policy. Romney won the first debate, Obama the second, and the third was a tie.

This blog will be extremely short as Europe was neither present nor mentioned once with the exception of European sanctions towards Iran. Surprisingly, Asia was only dessert on the menu with some mentions of China and its trade policy. Most of the debate was centered on Libya, Syria, Iran, Israel, Afghanistan, and very briefly on Pakistan. At several occasions, both candidates emphasized the role of American allies in order to push for specific policies. The references to Europe and NATO were never part of the debate.

Unfortunately this presidential race has been all about domestic politics.  This was reflected in today’s debate as both sides spent a lot of time, almost 15 minutes, connecting the importance of domestic politics onto foreign policy. In some cases, foreign policy disappeared completely. Both men underlined that a strong domestic base can only contribute to the maintenance of American exceptionalism.

However, there were two surprises during the debate: First, the three mentions by Mitt Romney of Mali. Mali has emerged as one of the most unstable countries in the world turning into a safe heaven for Al-Qaeda. Nevertheless, they were only mentions, not analysis. Second, Mitt Romney never sounded neoconservative. He was overall talking a lot about cooperation, multilateralism and in agreement with President Obama on a large amount of policies.

If Europe could learn one lesson from the 2012 U.S. presidential race, it is that the EU Member States are on their own. This could be a considerable strategic mistake for both candidates as the worsening of the Eurozone crisis could very much take the U.S. recovery with it. But why worry now? An European collapse would most likely take place after November 6.



Maxime H.A. Larivé

Maxime Larivé holds a Ph.D. in International Relations and European Politics from the University of Miami (USA). He is currently working at the EU Center of Excellence at the University of Miami as a Research Associate. His research focus on the questions of the European Union, foreign policy analysis, security studies, and European security and defense policy. Maxime has published several articles in the Journal of European Security, Perceptions, and European Union Miami Analysis as well as World Politics Review.