The worst part of the debate was on Pakistan. Neither candidate seems to have a clue what to do about it. Conditioning our very small aid will not move Pakistan to change its policies but will make it lean more on China, which is already more than making up for any losses from us with more investment in that country. In an article published in The National Interest titled "Rethinking the Pakistan Plan," I suggest that if the United States would do more to help the informal negotiations between India and Pakistan to succeed, this could decrease Pakistan's drive to build more nukes (which increases the risk that terrorists will get them) and allow for Pakistan to be more ready to move its troops from facing India to facing up to the Taliban. There might well be better ways, but surely you did not hear about these last night. And this is about the country in which terrorists have already made at least six attempts to usurp nukes.
The most deceptive part of the debate was when both candidates agreed that the Afghan military is making significant progress, so we can assume that two years from now it will be able to secure the nation and prevent terrorists from returning. It is a very feeble force, corrupt and infiltrated by the Taliban. I hope that, after the election, we can admit that Afghanistan was and is a Vietnam-like failure and learn not to invade countries with conventional troops and try to engage in nation building when the conditions are unfavorable.
I found it troubling that President Obama claimed that we know how close Iran is to having a bomb, based on our and Israeli intelligence—when we just learned that our intelligence services did not foresee the attack in Benghazi and misdiagnosed it even after it happened.
Amitai Etzioni's book, Hot Spots: American Foreign Policy in a Post-Human-Rights World, was just published by Transaction.