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US Presidential Debates: Obama declared the overall winner by viewers

The scores are in following Monday’s third, and last, presidential debate: President Barack Obama is declared the overall winner by two debates to Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s one, according to the Gallup poll results published Thursday.

Obama made a belligerent comeback in the Town Hall debate after his lacklustre first, and stampeded over Governor Romney all “bayonets and horses” during Monday’s foreign policy debate to beat Romney by 56% to 33% based on a poll of Americans who watched the debate held in Boca Raton, Florida.

It was not a fight you’d shell out top dollar for ringside seats. I know foreign policy is not Romney’s forte, but his meek endorsement of several Obama led foreign policies ranging from the war in Afghanistan, drone strikes in Pakistan, crippling sanctions on Iran to the position on Syria, did nothing for the optics; the raison d’être for the debates. By all accounts, the biggest bust-up was over who was Israel’s true BFF…

And the question of substance faired even worse: if aliens had tuned in to the foreign policy debate they would be forgiven for thinking the world was the US plus one, the Middle East, with China teetering on the periphery.

Clearly Russia, Asia (hem…North Korea), Latin America (and its US-backed drug war) or Europe (and its crippling economic crisis), were not deemed worthy of one second of those 90 minutes allocated to the debate.

Or maybe the rest of the world fell outside the “agreed” topics covered by the “Memorandum of Understanding” dated 3 October 2012, secretly negotiated by the Republican and Democratic parties. The 21-page debate contract, recently leaked by Time magazine’s Mark Halperin, effectively ensures that debates take place within a very suffocating, small confine of ideas.

I think the real action unfolded in another live debate aptly named “Expanding the Debate”, aired simultaneously from California by the listener sponsored media outlet Democracy Now! Third-party candidates Dr.Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party were invited to respond real time to the questions posed by the debate moderator Bob Schieffer.

Here’s a few excerpts from the bare-knuckle punches they threw:

Did the US embassy killings in Libya reflect a failure of US policy in the Middle East?

Dr. Jill Stein: “It’s very clear there is ‘blowback’ going on now in the Middle East”. This is because of a very ill-conceived, irresponsible and immoral war policy based “on brute military force and wars for oil” that has come back to haunt the US.

“In Afghanistan US soldiers are being shot at by the police forces that they are supposed to be training.”

“75 percent of Pakistanis actually identify the United States now as their enemy, not as their supporter or their ally.”

Rocky Anderson: “We’re like the bully that never got counseling, and we keep wondering, why don’t nations in the Middle East like us?”

The US invasion of Iraq was declared “illegal” by two United Nations secretaries-general. A situation aggravated by the US keeping bases in several other nations and “engaging in unmanned drone strikes in at least four sovereign nations, killing thousands of innocent men, women and children. That is the policy failure: our belligerence, our efforts to control, to dominate and to make certain that we will always have control over the resources in these nations.”

Should we reassess our policy in Syria?

Rocky Anderson: “We hear President Obama say we’ve got to do everything we can to help the opposition, and Mitt Romney is saying we ought to be shipping them heavy arms. This is a call for a bloodbath in Syria.” One that will result in hostility and hatred against the US and put its national security at risk long-term.

Dr. Jill Stein: “Yes, it’s as if there’s collective amnesia here…in spite of putting the full force of the United States military and NATO and trillions of dollars in over a decade, we have not, with all the power of that force, been able to resolve these conflicts on the ground in Iraq and in Afghanistan.” So, how are they thinking that a lesser degree of military intervention is going to solve the problem in Syria?

Would you be willing to declare an attack by Iran on Israel an attack on the United States?

Dr. Jill Stein: “This slave-like mentality towards Israel is absolutely unjustified. We need to start raising the bar for Israel and holding them to an equal standard for supporting human rights and international law and ending occupations, illegal settlements and apartheid.”

Iran recently hosted the Non-Aligned Movement summit for the non-aligned nations (totalling 120 members) to formulate a proposal for eliminating nuclear weapons throughout not just the Middle East, but across the world.

Rocky Anderson: “It’s an utter lie…for Mitt Romney to say that Iran is four years closer to building a nuclear weapon.” There is simply no evidence.

The issue of military spending

Dr. Jill Stein: “We are spending trillions every year not only on the bloated military budget, but on the wars for oil as part of that, as well as the bailouts for Wall Street (quantitative easing to the tune of $40million a month) and tax breaks for the very wealthy.”

“It’s time to be breaking up the big banks and bailing out the students instead.” Not the reverse as it currently stands; student loans broke through the $1trillion mark earlier this year.

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