Destination 270

SMU Students Analyze the 2012 Presidential Election

Foreign Policy in the 2012 Election

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For most of the general election, foreign policy has not been mentioned at all. The main issue continued to be the economy and creating jobs. With high levels of unemployment and low economic growth, the economy issue was an easy way for Mitt Romney to gain significant ground against President Obama.

In the past few weeks, foreign policy has become an increasingly important and divisive issue between the two presidential candidates. The Vice-Presidential debate and the second presidential debate featured major clashes over foreign policy issues. The debates and the campaigns have now brought foreign policy to the forefront of the election, making it just as big of an issue as the economy.

Although some may think that foreign policy is not that important to voters, it has been a major factor in many elections throughout our nation’s history. Both Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt ran during a time when the world was engulfed in war. Every president from Truman to Bush Sr. focused on the Soviet Union and the spread of communism, the major foreign policy issue during that era.

What are the major foreign policy issues of this election?


With the recent attacks on the American ambassadors in Libya, it has become a major issue for the election. Libya has appeared in every single debate in the past two weeks. It is an issue that has been hurting both campaigns for the past several weeks.

President Obama is being criticized for not providing enough protection to the Libyan ambassadors, and also for failing to acknowledge that it was a terrorist attack for a long period of time. Romney, on the other hand, has been criticized for turning the deaths of Americans into a political issue when it should not have been. Libya will continue to be mentioned by both campaigns until Election Day.  


China has also become a major foreign policy topic between the two candidates, especially in the second presidential debate. President Obama’s administration has enacted several policies to try and promote fair trade practices between the U.S. and China.

Romney has criticized the President for not doing enough to ensure fair trade practices with China. He states that, if elected, he will be harsher on China by labeling the country a currency manipulator. This would be a very harsh action, and nobody can accurately predict how China would react to this. The topic of “getting tough on China” will continue to play a prominent role in the final weeks of the election.


A final major issue that has been brought up is Iran and its nuclear program. Both candidates agree that Iran should not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, and this was made obvious in the previous debates. However, the candidates differ on how much action they are willing to take against Iran to prevent the acquisition of nuclear weapons.

President Obama has continued to issue sanctions against the country, but has refused to consider any military action. Romney agrees that sanctions are important in stopping Iran’s nuclear program. He would take it one step further, though. Romney would have a military option ready as a last resort if nothing else would halt Iran’s nuclear program. Since Iran has been a major topic in the past several elections, it will continue to be one in this election.

The Foreign Policy Debate

Foreign policy will now have a major impact on the 2012 election, making the final presidential debate even more important. It will occur Monday, October 22. The debate will focus solely on foreign policy, meaning all of the issues mentioned in this post will definitely play a prominent role.


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