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The Final Debate

By Washington Post, Washington Post - October 22, 2012

LISTENING TO the last presidential debate, you’d think the only foreign policy issues President Obama and Mitt Romney have to discuss is when the word “terror” was first used to describe the attack on the Benghazi consulate and which man has invested more money in China. In fact, within months the occupier of the White House will have critical decisions to make on entirely different issues, from Afghanistan and Iran to Syria. We’d like to believe Monday’s debate will force the candidates to talk about some of those choices.

Fortunately, moderator Bob Schieffer has selected five topics that could prompt some specifics. The first, after “America’s role in the world,” is on Afghanistan and Pakistan — where both candidates have been unsatisfactorily vague. Shortly after the election, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan will send the White House his recommendation for how many of the 68,000 remaining U.S. troops, if any, should be withdrawn in 2013. While Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama have said they would stick to a NATO plan to withdraw all combat forces by the end of 2014, neither has said whether he would order significant withdrawals next year.

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