Daniel W. Drezner

Why the foreign policy debate is already ruined

Your humble blogger enjoyed his time in Mexico City.  He particularly enjoyed last night’s dinner, at which the most delicious margaritas he had ever consumed were served.  It is possible that he should not have enjoyed that last of his many margaritas, however, because he is now extremely cranky and waiting to board his flight ...

Your humble blogger enjoyed his time in Mexico City.  He particularly enjoyed last night's dinner, at which the most delicious margaritas he had ever consumed were served.  It is possible that he should not have enjoyed that last of his many margaritas, however, because he is now extremely cranky and waiting to board his flight back to the United States.

I bring up the crankiness because it's possible I'm overreeacting to the announcded format and topics for Monday night's foreign policy debate.  Politico's Mike Allen -- via Dylan Byers -- relays the following: 

[H]ere are the topics for the October 22 debate, not necessarily to be brought up in this order:

Your humble blogger enjoyed his time in Mexico City.  He particularly enjoyed last night’s dinner, at which the most delicious margaritas he had ever consumed were served.  It is possible that he should not have enjoyed that last of his many margaritas, however, because he is now extremely cranky and waiting to board his flight back to the United States.

I bring up the crankiness because it’s possible I’m overreeacting to the announcded format and topics for Monday night’s foreign policy debate.  Politico’s Mike Allen — via Dylan Byers — relays the following: 

[H]ere are the topics for the October 22 debate, not necessarily to be brought up in this order:

* America’s role in the world
* Our longest war – Afghanistan and Pakistan
* Red Lines – Israel and Iran
* The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism – I
* The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism – II
* The Rise of China and Tomorrow’s World…

The format calls for six 15-minute time segments, each of which will focus on one of the topics listed above. The moderator will open each segment with a question.  Each candidate will have two minutes to respond.  Following the candidates’ responses, the moderator will use the balance of the 15-minute segment to facilitate a discussion on the topic.

So two-thirds of the debate will be about the Greater Middle East.  Two-thirds.  Schieffer has generously allowed that China and Tomorrowland the entire Pacific Rim should get fifteen minutes.  Here are the following areas and topics that apparently won’t be discussed: 

1)  The eurozone crisis

2)  Latin America

3)  Russia

4)  Africa

5)  Foreign economic policy

6)  India

7)  North Korea

Now I get that some of these topics won’t come up in a foreign policy debate that lasts only 90 minutes.  But I’m also thinking that maybe, just maybe, it would be a better foreign policy debate if they actually talked about, you know, SOMETHING OTHER THAN THE MIDDLE EAST!!!!!!

I’m not saying the Middle East isn’t important — we have lost blood and treasure there, some of it very recently.  But I simply do not believe that the region is so important that it should occupy 66.7% of a foreign policy debate.  

That could just be the hangover talking.  But I seriously doubt it. 

Am I mising anything?  No, scratch that — what else is Schieffer missing in his misbegotten list of foreign policy topics? 

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at Tufts University’s Fletcher School. He blogged regularly for Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2014. Twitter: @dandrezner

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