Political Scientist Michael Desch Previews Debate on Foreign Policy

Author: Kate Garry

Michael Desch

In an effort to differentiate himself from President Barack Obama on foreign policy in tonight’s debate, Mitt Romney may be forced to exaggerate what few differences actually exist, as he faces a formidable challenge in scoring points against the president, according to a University of Notre Dame political scientist.

“There is not that much actual difference between their positions on many issues such as Afghanistan and China, and the President has had some notable foreign policy successes, especially taking down Osama bin Laden, building a broad international coalition to oust Moammar Gadhafi, and winding down the war in Iraq,” says Michael Desch, a leading expert on foreign policy and national defense.

Romney likely will “conflate uncritical support for the hardline policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with standing by Israel—and scraping the bottom of the Internet barrel to manufacture a fevered conspiracy out of the Obama administration’s admittedly ham-handed initial public response to the tragic events in Benghazi,” Desch says.

Compared with the much larger losses of life to terrorist attacks during the Reagan, Clinton and second Bush administrations—280, 30 and 3,000 respectively—“the loss of four diplomatic personnel in Libya hardly constitutes a major set-back in the war on terrorism,” according to Desch.

“But given how close the race is, count on Romney to grasp at any straws he can tonight to try to cut into his Democratic opponent’s record.”

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Originally published at newsinfo.nd.edu.