CBS’s Bob Schieffer will moderate the third and final presidential debate on Monday. The announced topics are:
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 — I
The changing Middle East and the new face of terrorism — II
The rise of China and tomorrow’s world
Schieffer is probably getting inundated with advice. (#1: Don’t choose sides in a heated argument over the handling of a major national security crisis.) I will offer the following for each segment, combining the segments on Iran, Israel and the Middle East:
On America’s role in the world:
President Obama, in the last debate, a participant asked how Gov. Mitt Romney was different from President George W. Bush. How are you different from Jimmy Carter on foreign policy?
President Obama, why did you go along with a budget deal that could result in defense cuts that your defense secretary says would be “devastating”?
Mr. President, where in the world is the U.S. more respected than when you took office?
Gov. Romney, can we really afford the defense spending you say is needed?
Gov. Romney, would your identifying Russia as an enemy of the U.S. suggest you want a new Cold War?
Gov. Romney, why should we select a governor with no military experience or national security experience as commander in chief?
Mr. President, other than to coincide with the election calendar, why did you accelerate the withdrawal for U.S. troops over the objections of military commanders?
Mr. President, in 2009 you set out the goal of hobbling the Taliban. (“We must reverse the Taliban’s momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government.”) Is that still our goal, and can you say it has been achieved?
Mr. President, why give aid to Pakistan, where Osama bin Laden hid in plain sight?
Gov. Romney, was there anything you would have done differently from the president in December 2009, when he announced the troop surge?
Gov. Romney, under your recommendation for looking to commanders and conditions on the ground, wouldn’t we be there another 11 years?
Gov. Romney, did President George W. Bush mismanage the war in Afghanistan?
Mr. President, if you identified Benghazi as an act of terrorism on Sept. 12, why did you and your advisers continue to say it was an outgrowth of the anti-Muslim movie up through Sept. 25?
Mr. President, you told Elie Wiesel at the Holocaust memorial commemoration ceremony that you would do “everything” you could to help the Syrian people. But then you deferred to the U.N. Security Council, refused to send arms to the rebels and did relatively little while 25,000 Syrians died. How would you explain that to Mr. Wiesel?
Mr. President, did we release U.S. aid to the new Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt with no strings attached?
Mr. President, why haven’t you cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority, which is now in a unity government with Hamas?
Mr. President,Vice President Biden in the last debate said we could wait until Iran was about to weaponize its nuclear weapon because we would know when it attempted to do so. But since our intelligence community didn’t spot Pakistan going nuclear, the fall of the Soviet Union, the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq or the Arab Spring — to name a few — what gives you confidence that we would know when a few parts are hooked up in an underground site someplace?
Mr. President, was it a mistake to emphasize the settlement issue in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process or to surprise Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu with a speech about the “1967 borders”?
Gov. Romney, if you take office in January, what would you do differently from the president in trying to stop Iran from going nuclear?
Gov. Romney, what’s your policy toward the Arab Spring countries going to be, and would you have pushed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak out?
Gov. Romney, would you use American military force in Syria?
Gov. Romney, would you start what could be a Middle East-wide war to stop Iran from getting a nuclear bomb?
Gov. Romney, in which country should our policy be “regime change”?
Mr. President, was it a mistake to tell China in 2009 that we were going to put human rights on the back burner?
Mr. President, why haven’t you stopped China’s cyberattacks and theft of our intellectual property?
Mr. President, doesn’t cutting our Navy send the wrong signal to China and our allies in Asia?
Gov. Romney, you’ve said you’d declare China to be a currency manipulator. What would that entail, and why wouldn’t that set off a trade war?
Gov. Romney, what would you have done differently in handling Chen Guangcheng, and since he’s now in the U.S., wasn’t the president’s handling of the situation a success?