COC

“Gotcha” Foreign Policy Debate

Center of Concern | Wed, Oct 1, 2008

By Maria Riley, O.P.
During the first so-called “Presidential” debate, my attitude barometer went from boredom to anger. The American people deserve better, and the global situation on so many fronts demands a thoughtful debate between the two candidates.

“Without vision the people Perish” (Proverbs 29:18)

During the first so-called “Presidential” debate, my attitude barometer went from boredom to anger. The American people deserve better, and the global situation on so many fronts demands a thoughtful debate between the two candidates.

What did we get? Rehashed positions on Iraq, Afghanistan,Pakistan, Iran, Russia and energy and the resurgence of the fear factor with the final question on the possibility of another 9/11 attack.

What didn’t we hear? How the U.S. can reshape its diplomatic approaches to rebuild our credibility and our alliances; the need for a constructive multilateralism to address the numerous critical issues facing the world community—global poverty, HIV/AIDS and other pandemics, climate change; a serious discussion on the way forward to solve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict; the direction of trade policy in the future; a return to honoring our international treaties, such as Nuclear Non-proliferation and the Geneva Accords on the treatment of prisoners. The list could go on.

To be fair, the pap we received was not all the candidates’ fault. The questions posed by the moderator invited the rehashing of issues and did not probe the other pressing issues the next President will face. The media continues to facilitate old debates and panders to the “gotcha” approach while refusing to raise the critical foreign policy decisions ahead for the next president.

The Center of Concern’s “Election 2008” project has been calling for a new politics that focuses on the global common good as the way forward in our fractured, suffering world. The country needs leadership with the moral imagination to envision a global community built on solidarity with all peoples and nation states, economic justice, peace and non-violence. A moral framework for the well-being of the earth and all its inhabitants must shape all foreign policy negotiations and decisions. The American people must grow into such a vision, but we cannot do so without leaders who have vision. The debate did not serve us well, in fact it did not serve us at all.

For more information, visit the Center of Concern’s Election 2008 series: www.coc.org/election2008.