We’ve got binders full of issues with these candidates
Israel, Egypt, Syria, Russia. That was what President Obama and rival Mitt Romney talked about today at the last presidential debate. Kind of, at least.
They’re issues pretty distant from most of the things we care about here in Australia.
But their debate came just after our appointment to a temporary seat on the crucial (and flawed) international decision-making body, the UN Security Council. Subsequently, what the two candidates said about foreign policy today raised further questions about what role we’re going to play in the world in the next few years.
Iran getting a nuclear weapon was one of the hot topics. The Republican Mitt Romney, who’s close with the Israeli prime minister, talked a lot about setting down “red lines”.
If Iran “crossed” them, say hello military action from a President Romney.
On the flipside, Obama said: “We’re not going to allow Iran to engage perpetually in negotiations that lead nowhere.” But, he also said that after a decade of war, it was time for America to focus on “nation-building here at home”.
Interestingly, the two countries at the heart of the issue, Iran and Israel, both voted for Australia to join the Security Council.
You can imagine it’s one of the only things to bring the countries together in years.
The Council is the only global body with the power to authorise military operations (not that Bush took any notice with Iraq).
So what would happen if Obama, or particularly Romney and the Israelis, took a case for an international military operation against Iran to the UN?
Would we owe anything to the Israelis, pushing for a bombing campaign? What about Iran?
Would we just vote with the United States?
Would we be carried off to another war with them? Or will our seat on the council give us more leverage in negotiations with them?
All are matters we’ll have to consider with greater complexity because of our seat.
The candidates also talked about Afghanistan. The moderator asked: What will happen if the country falls apart after 2014?
Neither candidate really had too much of an answer beyond staying the course to withdraw in 2014.
A problem, especially given yet another Australian casualty in Afghanistan yesterday.
This debate and our UN appointment have raised more questions than answers for our diggers.
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