Last night saw the final US Presidential debate, President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney this time facing off in a debate on foreign policy.
However, there was surprisingly little sparring. The BBC’s Mark Mardell noted the debate showed Romney trying to lay out a different emphasis in his foreign policy.
Mardell highlights how Romney set out a much more peaceful agenda in this debate, aiming to reassure the American public he would not be a trigger happy president, demonstrating a wish to occupy the centre ground.
Romney congratulated Obama on the killing of Osama Bin Laden but later criticised him, saying “we can’t just kill our way out of this mess” – a strange attack for Romney seeing as this line of criticism is usually fired from the left.
Strikingly, Romney expressed support for a lot of the positions maintained by the Obama administration, not just on al-Qa’eda. Romney supported the President on Iran, for example, agreeing with the Administration’s use of tough sanctions.
Jonathan Bernstein at the Washington Post joked the only difference between the two on Iran was Romney’s claim he wanted tough sanctions first. This has not always been the case, however; only last year, Romney wrote in the Wall Street Journal of his belief Iran was sprinting toward nuclear capability.
He threatened the Ayatollah:
“If you want peace, be prepared for war.”
This is but the latest clear example of Romney’s centrist he has been making through these last few months and weeks of the campaign in order to win votes.
One issue on which Romney has flip-flopped throughout the campaign is the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. It has slowly become clear, through the vice presidential debate and other means, that Romney believes in a 2014 withdrawal of troops with the caveat of consulting military commanders on the ground first.
Last night, however, Romney shifted his position to be in line with Obama – an absolute withdrawal in 2014:
“We’re going to be finished by 2014, and when I’m President, we’ll make sure we bring our troops out by the end of 2014.”
The debate at times wandered from dealing with foreign policy, but when actually discussing their policies we could see the cynical manoeuvring of Romney over policy. Romney has either reversed his apparently strongly held beliefs or changed his mind. Again and again, flipping and flopping. Either way, it is a terrifying state of affairs for a potential leader of the most powerful nation in the world.
Or maybe he’s suffering from Romnesia…