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What Were the 5 Critical Questions That Needed Answers In the Final Debate?

Tonight’s final presidential debate will focus solely on foreign policy. Moderator Bob Schieffer announced that the topics will be: “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,” and “The Rise of China and Tomorrow’s World.” Heritage’s foreign policy experts have written a series of tipsheets for prepping on each of these issues, featured on our Debate 2012 page and linked below.

Join us tonight at 9 p.m. ET to watch the debate live on the Debate 2012 page. In addition to the live stream, our experts will be live blogging, and you can join in the conversation on Twitter.

Our experts have submitted five questions they consider vital to the foreign policy debate:

  1. Given that the Taliban movement still poses a threat to the futures of both Afghanistan and Pakistan, how do you plan to ensure stability in the region and prevent either country from serving as a base for international terrorists intent on attacking the U.S.?
  2. Over the last several years, the Chinese have become increasingly aggressive in pressing territorial claims against their neighbors, threatening to upend peace, security, and the free flow of commerce in the region. What policies will your Administration undertake in the first year to make clear to this new Chinese leadership that the U.S. will remain committed to its friends and treaty allies in the western Pacific?
  3. The U.S. is not the world’s policeman, but it is a leader in world affairs. Can we maintain our influence and protect our vital national interests around the world (such as the “pivot to Asia” that the Administration has announced) if defense cuts continue? Do these cuts encourage adversaries and extremists (as in Libya) to test U.S. resolve?
  4. In the months since Osama bin Laden was killed, al-Qaeda franchises in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and North Africa have grown stronger and continue to pose a significant threat to Americans. Yet the U.S. appears to be stuck in a “whack-a-mole” tape loop. How should U.S. counterterrorism policy be changed to effectively counter this evolving threat?
  5. Although sanctions have been ratcheted up against Iran, a new study by the Congressional Research Service has concluded that sanctions have not succeeded in accomplishing their principal objective “to compel Iran to verifiably confine its nuclear program to purely peaceful uses.” Tehran has accelerated its enrichment of uranium and is closer than ever to a nuclear weapon. Can sanctions alone stop these trends? What else should the U.S. do to end Iran’s nuclear defiance?


Debate Prep: The Right Answers on China by Dean Cheng and Derek Scissors, PhD

Debate Prep: The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism by Morgan Lorraine Roach and James Phillips

Debate Prep: Red Lines for Israel and Iran by James Phillips

Debate Prep: Our Longest War—Afghanistan and Pakistan by Lisa Curtis

The Obama Doctrine: A Failed Policy Leaving America Weaker in a Dangerous World by Luke Coffey

3 Questionable Foreign Policy Statements in the Second Presidential Debate by Steven Bucci

Other Questions