Another glorious end to the third and last presidential debate! The theme had already been headlined as foreign policy, but once again a good portion of the debate boiled down to domestic issues, the most important being our economy. What I hoped and expected to be the greatest concern of the debate, however, were relations with Israel and Iran.
The United States has been a supporter of Israel since 1948 when our government, under President Truman, became the first to acknowledge Israel as a sovereign state. It was a decision that came with a package of consequences, one that many knew had the potential to become dangerous and draining for the United States in the future.
Both candidates shared similar feelings about being allies with Israel; both expressed a full commitment to come to its aid in the event of an attack while admitting that resorting to military action in the region should be a last resort. The United States continues to be conflicted in the Middle East because of our relationship with both Israel and the surrounding Arab/Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Iraq. While we can’t please everyone in the region, the fact that America has openly supported Israel may be the only reason the Jewish state continues to stand intact – but the consequences of alliances are double-sided. The United States’ promise for aid in the event of an attack on Israel can deter potential aggressors from military action on Israel, but if an attack is ever made, we will undoubtedly be dragged into a war in the Middle East that will not have a simple or quick solution (just look at the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinians who still don’t have a state of their own).
During the debate, Romney and Obama both made it clear that they believe in a foreign policy in which the United States plays the leadership role in promoting peace, freedom, and stability abroad. Romney went further to state that our main goal in terms of international security should be helping countries onto a pathway in which they can reject religious extremism. I think the irony of increased American involvement in other states is that our excessive presence can sometimes encourage or feed the flames for religious extremism. For example, the United States intervened in the sovereign affairs of Iran more than once, organizing a coup to remove Dr. Mosaddeq from power in 1953 and supporting a ruthless dictator in Shah Reza Pahlavi so that we could ensure a steady supply of Iranian oil during the 60’s and 70’s. American involvement was one of the catalysts that allowed an Islamic revolution in Iran to happen in the first place!
This is why it is vitally important that we pay attention to the ideas of our presidential candidates, know what they support, and vote for them with informed knowledge. The president of the United States is often referred to as the most powerful person in the world, a statement with which I wholeheartedly agree. We have the power to put the right person in that position and the United States has the power and influence to lead the world in a peaceful and diplomatic way – so let’s participate in this extraordinary privilege we have and vote!