Politics

Questions for the Final Presidential Debate

Here are my questions for both candidates in the final Presidential debate of 2012, on foreign policy, Monday evening.

When you negotiate with Russia and China, which do you seek for the United States: military equality or military superiority?

Do you consider the United States of America the most moral nation in history, and why?

Do you consider the government of Israel the most moral government in the Middle East, and therefore the government most deserving of support by the United States?

10/22/2012: I omitted an important question: Has the government of Iran been killing Americans, and what is your response?

12 thoughts on “Questions for the Final Presidential Debate

  1. Three excellent questions that reveal the character, values, and stance on foreign policy of the person answering them. These are topics that ought to be crystal clear for any presidential candidate. However, I think it would be shocking to the public to see them asked, in the first place, and answered, in the second.

  2. I laughed out loud when I read this question, Ron:

    “When you negotiate with Russia and China, which do you seek for the United States: military equality or military superiority?”

    My wife being Chinese and me spending much time around many people born and raised in mainland China, I can tell you this: the Chinese–I’m speaking generally here, so I do not mean every last Chinese person out there, just most of them–believe the United States is an “international bully.” If Romney, say, where to go on national TV and proclaim he is seeking “military superiority” over the Chinese mainland, the Chinese over there would go ballistic inside with rage, given their indoctrination and political brainwashing. Now, I know most Objectivists don’t care what citizens of other countries think about them or the U.S. generally, but just from a diplomatic/international relations point of view (remember the Chinese are not exactly push-overs and will pose a major military challenge to the US in the decades to come), I do not advise saying that. Language is important. What the Chinese would not be offended by is framing the issue like this:

    “The United States need a strong military to defend and protect its own interest.”

    I think the primary is self-defense, not superiority, though they often go hand-and-hand, though not always. “Superiority” like the Chinese term “hegemony” implies seeking a kind of power over others–it reeks to me of second-handedness. One (including a country) should seek to use whatever Means necessary to objectively defend oneself and one’s values. As a secondary consequence, that might imply being “better than everyone else” in that respect, but it is a secondary effect, not a primary motive or cause.

    Just a thought – I enjoy your work and your posts.

    Regards,

    Ryan Jamieson

  3. Ryan,

    To take from what you said, China is a hostile nation that does not recognize America’s political achievement. This gives all the more reason to argue for military superiority. And if China continues to be hostile, America’s intention should be to disable the threat they pose by any means necessary. Rights respecting nations have nothing to fear from America’s military superiority. Rather than go “ballistic inside with rage” they should recognize that the president of a free country who negotiates for military superiority is doing his job.

    When dealing with hostile nations of near or equal military strength who threaten national security deception can be necessary “no… were just looking military equality mr.dictator” but the end goal should be military superiority either through destroying the enemy or advancements in technology.

  4. Conrad:

    (See below, my replies interspersed.)

    “To take from what you said, China is a hostile nation that does not recognize America’s political achievement.”

    True, but it’s less hostile now than it was, say, 30 years ago.

    ” This gives all the more reason to argue for military superiority. And if China continues to be hostile, America’s intention should be to disable the threat they pose by any means necessary. Rights respecting nations have nothing to fear from America’s military superiority.”

    America, like most Western ‘advanced’ countries, is a _partial_ “rights-respecting” country, both internally and externally. It is not a perfect country; it is, moreover, far, far less perfect now than it was in 1776 or even 100 years ago. It is idiocy to argue as if America is currently a perfect, or even a “great,” country as is, given its current political status as welfare-state mixed-economy with a largely undirected, lethargic, highly confused foreign policy.

    ” Rather than go ‘ballistic inside with rage’ they should recognize that the president of a free country who negotiates for military superiority is doing his job.”

    Obviously you haven’t lived in mainland China and you nothing about the Chinese mind or way of thinking, especially in regards to diplomacy, human relations or foreign policy. Feel free to praise American “superiority” all you want to world; the relal, actual consequences will be open and clear in terms of Chinese governmental actions with respect to America in the decades to come if that’s the line your country takes, given the amount of debt the Chinese own. But don’t take my word for it, just experience it in reality, as you will if you remain in America in the coming years.

    “When dealing with hostile nations of near or equal military strength who threaten national security deception can be necessary “no… were just looking military equality mr.dictator” but the end goal should be military superiority either through destroying the enemy or advancements in technology.”

    You do NOT want to live and be in a direct war with China in 10-15 years, bet on it.

  5. I agree completely with Conrad.

    That we have squandered much of our military superiority is why China is such a grave danger. The longer we wait to regain military superiority, the worse the situation will become.

    America is still essentially a free nation, and China is still essentially a dictatorship, as Ryan’s phrase “indoctrination and political brainwashing” indicates. We are still the side of good and the side of far greater potential strength.

    America ‘won’ the Cold War by spending so much on military buildup that the Soviets could not keep up. At the same time, we publicly condemned and humiliated the Soviet government and emboldened pro-freedom individuals inside the Soviet Union. We should do the same with China.

    But we did not really win the Cold War. We were poised to win, but we failed to deliver the final blow. We could have demanded that Russia turn over its nuclear arsenal in return for economic trade.

    Now a generation later, we have un-won the Cold War. We must fight it again, and win it this time.

    What Ryan calls the “Chinese mind” is a weakness, not a strength, because it is irrationalism. We should publicly humiliate the Chinese leaders, as we should humiliate the Islamist leaders, to demoralize their emotionalist followers and embolden those in China who want freedom.

  6. “What Ryan calls the ‘Chinese mind’ is a weakness, not a strength, because it is irrationalism. We should publicly humiliate the Chinese leaders, as we should humiliate the Islamist leaders, to demoralize their emotionalist followers and embolden those in China who want freedom.”

    Good luck convincing your political leaders to do that, Ron.

  7. You say America and Americans (presumably) should “publicly humiliate” the Chinese leaders. Who is going to do that? Romney? Obama? How can men so weak and so publicly embarrassing as them humiliate the Chinese leaders? The humiliation cannot himself be a public humiliation, which is what your ‘leaders’ are.

    On a human relations level, if you tried to “publicly humiliate” me, for example, I would simply consider you a jerk and a bully, and I would probably laugh at you, if I did not rejoin you in kind. It is unlikely that I would stoop to that level. In my view, that is no way to deal with other people, let alone people who have in under control a formidable and growing military arsenal.

    If China is weak, like the child or the old man across my street is weak, it thereby poses no threat to America or American citizens. I think the truth is: China is increasingly strong, especially in its military capacities, and that is why you’re concerned.

    The truth is China would never seek to attack America, but I wouldn’t say the same about America with respect to China.

    Say what you like about China and Chinese citizens, but when I visit America, I do not see men of character and strength, I do not see Atlases walking around streets paved with gold. I see evasive, debt-ridden, frightened little people, too ignorant to investigate any facts of geography or history before they decide to send their military off to endless conflict in a foreign entanglement.

    Sincerely,

    Ryan

  8. Ron,

    Understood; I get it that Objectivists (and Americans and Westerners generally) think China is a dictatorship. I know how Chinese people think; I’ve learned their ways (it took me 10 years). You need to come at them in a certain way with the language. I know this sounds patronizing, and it may well be, but I’ve tried the “I am morally superior to you,” and it doesn’t fly with them. There’s another way that I’ve figured out.

    Ryan

  9. I am deeply disappointed in many Americans, but there are still many, many Americans with character and strength. Most of the heroes are outside the major cities, but they are everywhere.

  10. Ryan,

    I was describing how America *ought* to act, and the same goes for any Capitalist nation. America is far from ideal but essentially a free nation and on the side of good (as Ron pointed out). The premise you have is that because America is not perfect, it therefore has no right to defend itself in any way it knows how. And because China is growing and could potentially become a threat America should be careful what it says “or else”. But perfection is not a requirement to begin to act. Nations that recognize greatness should not be pitting themselves against America; rather, they should be encouraging America to strive for a proper foreign policy. China, however, has no clue what that looks like. To put it differently, Chavez, Castro, and Putin have all endorsed Obama; this is not something to be proud of, and China could easily be grouped with those three.

    You repeat your request to pander to Chinese irrationalism, but it *is* irrationalism and does not deserve the benefit of the doubt. You also mention that China will have a military force to be reckoned with in 10-15 years. This is all the more reason to do something to establish military superiority before it’s too late. If there is any reason to believe that China will remain a rogue nation at a time when their military poses a threat then this is a legitimate reason to prevent it now. As said before, by ensuring military superiority through advancements in technology or by destroying the enemy.

    Humiliation can take many forms, such as sending a female ambassador to talks with Iran, or a tall woman to China. Emphasize in speeches the values that make up a great nation, and by implication it would show why China is not. A president who stands for freedom, rights, capitalism *ought* to unwaveringly stand for these values but I don’t anticipate that Obama/Romney will.

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