James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

Lindsay analyzes the politics shaping U.S. foreign policy and the sustainability of American power.

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The World Next Week: Obama and Romney Debate Again, Libya One Year After Qaddafi, and the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis

by James M. Lindsay
October 11, 2012

Romney and Obama debate in Denver on October 3, 2012. (Jim Bourg/ courtesy Reuters) Romney and Obama debate in Denver on October 3, 2012. (Jim Bourg/ courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the second presidential debate; where Libya stands one year after the death of Muammar Qaddafi; and the fiftieth anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis.

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The highlights:

  • Next Tuesday’s presidential debate in Hempstead, New York is a high stakes meeting for both candidates, but especially for President Obama. The chatter on the eve of the first presidential debate was whether he was effectively about to clinch his re-election. After a showing that even his supporters describe as disastrous, the talk is suddenly whether it is too late for him to recover. Governor Romney saw a roughly four point bounce in the national polls, some of which now show him leading, and he closed the gap in critical battleground states. Obama’s task may get even harder if Vice President Joe Biden fares poorly in his debate tonight against Paul Ryan.
  • One year after the death of Muammar Qaddafi, Libya is in political turmoil. Libya’s parliament ousted the country’s prime minister in a no-confidence vote this week, the contending political factions cannot seem to work together, the country is awash in weapons, and a small pro-Qaddafi contingent hangs on. The fact that Libya, which has a relatively small and homogenous population, is struggling to build a stable democratic government raises serious questions about the fate that awaits Syria, a larger and far more complicated society, after the al-Assad government falls.
  • Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of the U-2 flight that turned up photographic evidence that the Soviet Union was installing nuclear-tipped missiles in Cuba, despite insisting repeatedly and publicly it was doing no such thing. One of the many remarkable things about the thirteen-day long Cuban missile crisis was how President John F. Kennedy stuck with his public schedule for several days, giving the American public and the world no hint that he and his national security team were wrestling with how to respond to a Soviet provocation that had brought the two superpowers to the brink of nuclear war.
  • Bob’s Figure of the Week is 40 percent. My Figure of the Week is Malala Yousafzai. As always, you’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out why.

For more on the topics we discussed in the podcast check out:

Obama and Romney rematch in the second presidential debate: The Huffington Post outlines four foreign policy issues that will dominate Romney’s debate strategy. The LA Times reports on Madeleine Albright’s criticism that Romney changed his mind on several issues and failed to provide specifics about his proposed foreign policy strategy. ABC News compares what Obama and Romney have to say on several foreign policy topics.

Libya one year after the death of Muammar Qaddafi: United Press International covers the ouster of Libya’s prime minister on Monday. Time contends that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi has intensified the deep political divisions in Libya. The Chicago Tribune reports that the International Criminal Court is deciding whether Libya can provide Qaddafi’s son with a fair trial. The New York Times notes that partisan politics may play a role in the congressional hearing on the attack in Benghazi.

The Cuban missile crisis fifty years later: VOA News points out particular events in 1961 that helped fuel the Cuban missile crisis. Forbes compiles political figures’ thoughts and reflections on the Cuban missile crisis. Foreign Policy plans to tweet the Cuban Missile Crisis in real time while outlining its historical lessons. The Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University commemorates the crisis with a website loaded with information and analysis about the events and people that drove the confrontation. USA Today reports that the National Archives is releasing 2,700 pages of papers from its Robert F. Kennedy collection, many of them dealing with the missile crisis.

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