Republican presidential candidates explained their views on a wide range of issues at Tuesday night's foreign policy debate. From the constitutionality of the Patriot Act and a hypothetical attack on Iran's nuclear program, to the U.S. relationship with Pakistan and the war on drugs in Mexico, the topics covered allowed contenders put their global knowledge on display.
However, the two-hour debate missed some important foreign policy and national security challenges that the Obama administration now faces and that the next (or current) commander-in-chief will have to take on.
Here are some topics that were largely left out of last night's debate:
The Euro zone Crisis. While European countries try to keep their economies afloat, the United States has stayed mostly on the sidelines. However, Republican candidates, who have largely been focused on the economy this campaign season, might have weighed in about how the U.S. might avoid, or at least deal with, the effects of the potential global meltdown now simmering on the other side of the Atlantic.
China. It's been a major talking point in past debates and a popular scapegoat around Washington lately. But compared to other topics like the Patriot Act or immigration, China was more of an afterthought at this debate. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann touched on China as a holder of U.S. debt, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman all mentioned the country in their closing statements. However, other issues and countries certainly took precedence this time around.
Libya. Though it was mentioned a few times in passing, candidates hardly commented on President Obama's policies in Libya this year. For some, like Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who has built up a strong base with his mind-our-own-business foreign policy mantra, more discussion on the intervention in Libya could have been an opportunity. For others, like businessman Herman Cain, not having to talk about Libya was perhaps more of a blessing.
Egypt. Apart from CNN's TV teaser showing crowds in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the renewed protest movement against military forces in Egypt was largely ignored by candidates on Tuesday. Rather than take any major stand in response to recent unrest, the Obama administration has made it a point so far to stay on the periphery and call for an end to violence and for free, fair elections. Would Republicans want do the same?
Uganda. Last month, the president sent 100 troops into central Africa to take out Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony. Since it's remained largely under the radar, Republicans might have demonstrated some insider expertise if they were able to speak knowledgeably about the situation there. As for the rest of the continent (or is it a country, Rick Santorum?), Africa didn't get much air time, except for one question on development assistance and another on Somalia's al-Shabab militant group.
North Korea. Iran was the main focus in the candidates' discussion of nuclear weapons, leaving North Korea with only one mention—by Huntsman—in the entire debate. For the current commander-in-chief—who again warned North Korea about nuclear proliferation on a trip last week to the Asia Pacific region—the country's nuclear program has been a worrisome problem, and it will likely continue to be for whoever's in the White House next term.