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Final debate fell flat for Colgate professors of peace and conflict studies

By Barbara Brooks on October 23, 2012
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Voters expected the fourth and final debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to shed light on the differences between their positions on key foreign policy issues. However, according to two Colgate professors the promise fell flat on two counts: not only did the candidates cover no new ground, there was little difference in their positions on deterring Iran’s nuclear capability, the Middle East peace process, or the conflict in Libya.

“Among the most striking aspects about the discussion of Iran’s nuclear program, is that neither Gov. Romney nor President Obama was willing to speak about the very real limits to American power in this matter,” said Daniel Bertrand Monk, George R. and Myra T. Cooley Professor of peace and conflict studies and professor of geography and Middle East studies. “The fact is that Iran is likely to acquire a nuclear weapon under either candidate’s tenure in the presidency, but neither seems willing to address how the United States should plan for that eventuality.”

Monk also was disappointed to see that, notwithstanding a brief reference by Gov. Romney, the Middle East peace process has “evaporated as a foreign policy imperative — a striking turn of events, if only because no other issue could do more to secure the stability in the region each candidate considers key to America’s interests.”

Jacob Mundy, associate professor of peace and conflict studies, also was disappointed with the candidates’ positions. “I am not convinced that Romney nor Obama is truly interested in the problems facing Libya today,” he said. “Instead, they seem too eager to score political points by interpreting the Libyan conflict to fit their needs. From the days of Jefferson and the Barbary Pirates, Libya has always been a convenient tool for American politicians. It is sad to see that little has changed in the 2012 presidential campaign.”

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