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Which country was mentioned most at the foreign-policy debate?

Answer: Iran. For evidence that the United States is still disproportionately focused on the Middle East despite all the talk about the pivot (or should I say "strategic rebalancing?") toward the Asia-Pacific region, look no further than the country mentions at tonight’s foreign-policy debate: Iran: 47 China: 35 Israel: 34 Afghanistan: 29  Syria: 28 Pakistan: ...

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Answer: Iran.

For evidence that the United States is still disproportionately focused on the Middle East despite all the talk about the pivot (or should I say "strategic rebalancing?") toward the Asia-Pacific region, look no further than the country mentions at tonight's foreign-policy debate:

Iran: 47 China: 35 Israel: 34 Afghanistan: 29  Syria: 28 Pakistan: 25  Iraq: 22 Libya: 12 Egypt: 11 Russia: 10 Mali: 4 Turkey: 3 Great Britain/United Kingdom:Greece:Lebanon: 2 Saudi Arabia: 2 Cuba: 1   France:North Korea:Qatar: 1 Somalia: 1 Yemen: 1

Answer: Iran.

For evidence that the United States is still disproportionately focused on the Middle East despite all the talk about the pivot (or should I say "strategic rebalancing?") toward the Asia-Pacific region, look no further than the country mentions at tonight’s foreign-policy debate:

  • Iran: 47
  • China: 35
  • Israel: 34
  • Afghanistan: 29 
  • Syria: 28
  • Pakistan: 25 
  • Iraq: 22
  • Libya: 12
  • Egypt: 11
  • Russia: 10
  • Mali: 4
  • Turkey: 3
  • Great Britain/United Kingdom:
  • Greece:
  • Lebanon: 2
  • Saudi Arabia: 2
  • Cuba: 1  
  • France:
  • North Korea:
  • Qatar: 1
  • Somalia: 1
  • Yemen: 1

The surprise of the night? Romney’s four references to Mali (in the context of al Qaeda’s resurgence), a country he hasn’t mentioned in his major foreign-policy addresses or even in his campaign website’s Africa section. The Republican candidate clearly studied up on al Qaeda’s new franchises

Update: Thanks to our readers for spotting a few other country mentions. The candidates and moderator also referenced Japan, Poland, and Tunisia — one time each. 

Uri Friedman is deputy managing editor at Foreign Policy. Before joining FP, he reported for the Christian Science Monitor, worked on corporate strategy for Atlantic Media, helped launch the Atlantic Wire, and covered international affairs for the site. A proud native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he studied European history at the University of Pennsylvania and has lived in Barcelona, Spain and Geneva, Switzerland. Twitter: @UriLF

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