Gary: The third and final presidential debate of this campaign season is now just hours away. The two candidates will face off in Florida, taking questions about foreign policy. Turns out our Team OneVote also has lots to say about how the U.S. deals with the rest of the world.
Conner Pfeiffer: We’re no longer being strong like America should be, necessarily.
We’re letting other people do it and we’re not taking the lead like we should be. We’re waiting for the UN to say we can act before we act. We’re not taking the lead in foreign policy.
Nyantan Bol: I think it’s important that we stay aware of what’s going on in the world.
In situations that do pose a threat to us, intervene but not go to war with them, or not send arms to them but humanitarian aid, which we have been doing in Syria.
Gary: So where do the candidates stand?
The most recent controversy is in Libya, where four Americans, including the ambassador died in an attack on the U.S. Consulate.
The president has taken responsibility for the attacks and has promised to find and punish the attackers.
But Mitt Romney criticized the Obama administration for its conflicting reports about what happened and whether the consulate was well protected, saying Libya shows the president is not tough enough on terrorism.
Mitt Romney: This calls into question the president’s whole policy in the Middle East. Look what’s happening in Syria, in Egypt, now in Libya.
Gary: Romney also says he would be more involved in Arab nations where the people are trying to overthrow their dictators, like in Syria. He wants to supply weapons to some Syrian rebel groups.
President Obama opposes supplying the groups with weapons because of concerns they might end up in the hands of al-Qaeda. But he reportedly has authorized other types of support for the rebel groups.
What about America’s longest running war in Afghanistan?
Weeks after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan to hunt down Osama bin Laden, head of the terrorist group al-Qaeda.
Since then, the U.S. has been fighting both al-Qaeda and another extremist group, the Taliban, who had controlled most of Afghanistan.
President Obama has set a deadline to have all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by 2014.
Nyantan: I don’t believe in war, but because we are there, I am glad that we are starting to draw down troops. And I think Obama has handled it well considering the mess that he was left with.
Kailyn Allen: I think that him giving a withdrawal date, for lack of a better term, was stupid.
Because what that did is it gave al-Qaeda the opportunity to go and talk to citizens in the country, or even the police force, and say, ‘listen, the Americans are going to be out of here in 2014, they’re not going to have your back, but we will; so come work with us.’
Gary: Romney supports the 2014 timing but says setting a firm deadline gives our enemies an advantage. And he says we need to be more flexible since we can’t predict what will happen.
President Obama has stepped up the use of unmanned planes, called drones, to strike terrorist groups in Afghanistan and nearby Pakistan and Yemen. But human rights groups say drone strikes also kill innocent civilians.
Mitt Romney also supports the use of drones.
Both candidates agree the targeted strikes are better than putting more U.S. troops in harms way.
President Obama also oversaw the mission in Pakistan that found and killed the world’s most wanted man, Osama bin Laden. And he has ended U.S. military operations in Iraq.
President Obama: I said that we’d go after al-Qaeda and bin Laden; we have. I said we’d transition out of Afghanistan and start making sure that Afghans are responsible for their own security; that’s what I’m doing.
Gary: As for Iran, both the president and Governor Romney say they are determined to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
Iran insists its nuclear program is only for energy, but the U.S. and other Western nations suspect the Iranians have a secret weapons program.
The president and Mitt Romney support economic punishments, or sanctions, to pressure Iran to stop its program.
President Obama: And that’s why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Gary: President Obama has said he believes that sanctions are working and that a military option is a last resort to prevent Iran from possessing a nuclear weapon.
Mitt Romney is willing to use military force to prevent Iran from getting nuclear capabilities.
Mitt Romney: We must make clear to Iran through actions, not just words, that their nuclear pursuit will not be tolerated.
Gary: Mitt Romney wants to increase the defense budget to the highest level in decades and add about one hundred thousand troops.
President Obama would decrease the defense budget by $487 billion over the next ten years to reduce the federal deficit. Mr. Obama would cut about one hundred thousand troops calling that the most expensive part of the military budget.