warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Presidential Debate: Should The U.S. Intervene In The Middle East?

Anna Catherine Brigida |
October 22, 2012 | 9:36 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter


"Middle East Map" (Creative Commons)
"Middle East Map" (Creative Commons)
President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney butted heads in the final presidential debate over the United States’ involvement in Syria, Libya and Israel. 

They differed on whether to give weapons to insurgents in Syria, but agreed that sending American troops to Syria is a serious commitment to carefully consider.

Romney asserted that he wants to give weapons to responsible parties in Libya so that they can defend themselves. 

One twitter follower, @JECarter4, criticized this policy stating, “Give them guns but not, you know, dangerous guns or anything.” 

Mitt Romney strongly condemned any type of American military involvement in Syria including a no-fly zone. 

Obama did not explicitly condemn sending American troops to Syria, but made it clear that military action in Syria is not his goal.  

“What we're seeing taking place in Syria is heartbreaking,” Obama said. “But we also have to recognize that for us to get more entangled militarily in Syria is a serious step."

ALSO SEE: Mitt Romney's Views On Syria: Arm The Rebels, Keep U.S. Military Out

Some viewers were not satisfied with either candidates’ response to the human rights violations happening in Syria. 

@Kthoughtworker tweeted, “Pres Obama, Gov Romney, children of #Syria r dying- how will you protect them?” 

Although the president would not commit to military involvement in Syria, he was willing to take a stronger stance on Israel, who he referred to as a “true friend”. 

“If Israel is attacked, America will stand with Israel, said President Obama.  “I've made that clear throughout my presidency.”

Obama also emphasized that military action should be a last resort. He criticized Romney for advocating what he considers “premature military action”. 

Romney also said that he would stand behind Israel, emphasizing Israel’s important as an ally. 

Romney has previously faced criticism for offending some of America’s closest allies when he doubted Britain’s preparation for the 2012 Olympics. 

ALSO SEE: Romney And Obama Are Different And the Same On Israel

The two candidates also disagreed over foreign policy strategy in Libya. 

Obama emphasized that his main priority when dealing with Libya- and all other foreign policy issues- is to keep Americans safe. 

He attacked Romney’s strategy asserting that it would not do this. 

Romney said that his strategy was broader than just killing our enemies and that America cannot “kill its way” out of conflict in the Middle East.

He said his strategy would help those in the Middle East reject extremism on their own. 

Huffington Post writers Jen Bendery and Sabrina Siddiqui accused both candidates of not directly addressing the issues in Libya and instead answering the question in their own way. 

They criticized Romney for addressing other issues such as the Arab Spring, Syria and Iran and claimed Obama wanted to portray Libya as his own positive foreign policy achievement. 

Both candidates addressed the need for a strong America in dealing with foreign policy. 

“I absolutely believe that America has a responsibility and the privilege of helping defend freedom and promote the principles that make the world more peaceful, “ Romney said. 

Obama also emphasized the need for America to be a leader in foreign affairs. He stated Americans should be proud that they have stood on the side of democracy in regards to foreign policy issues during his time in office. 


Reach Staff Reporter Anna Catherine Brigida here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.