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What Are The Top 5 Differences Between Obama And Romney On Foreign Policy?

Romney and Obama shaking hands before debate
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama shake hands after the first presidential debate at the University of Denver, in Denver. Oct. 3, 2012.

President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will challenge each other on foreign policy in tonight’s third and final presidential debate. How do the candidates plan to handle hot spots like Libya, Syria, and Iran?

Robert Nolan is editor in chief of new media at the Foreign Policy Association (read their Election Guide 2012, PDF) and producer of the Great Decisions in Foreign Policy television series on PBS.  He joins David Hyde to discuss the substantive differences between the candidates and share his predictions for tonight’s questions and answers.

Nolan's Top 5 Differences Between Obama and Romney on Foreign Policy

1.  US Role in the World  

Governor Romney adheres to an “American exceptionalism” approach where US is a super power that must lead by example. It is a strong, assertive policy, similar to Bush and Reagan administration policies.

President Obama adheres to a policy of engagement. He has spent the past four years trying to stop alienating foreign countries and let other foreign powers, like EU, take lead in policy matters.

2.  Defense Budget  

Romney says he would not cut spending and would increase spending in Navy, Army, and other legacy systems. For example, he would build more ships, aircraft carriers and fighter planes.

Obama's budget, crafted with Congress, calls for a 6 percent decrease in defense spending starting  January 2013. Personnel stationed in Europe will start coming home. Obama is spending more on drones to fight terrorism and addressing issues of cyber security.

3.  Foreign Aid

Romney is interested in prosperity pacts and would reward benchmarks, for example, democratic reform.

Obama takes a traditional approach; he gives aid where aid is needed. He has been criticized for not engaging more with African countries.

4.  China  

Romney promises on day one of his presidency to report China to the World Trade Organization as a “currency manipulator.”

Obama's negotiations have mainly happened behind closed doors.

5.  Russia  

Romney views Russia as a serious and continuing threat to the United States.

Obama “reset” the relationship and worked with them on nuclear disarmament.

Produced for the Web by Jenna Montgomery.