Foreign Policy: Twenty Questions

I saw at lunch that Bob Schieffer has made public the questions he intends to ask in tonight’s foreign policy debate. This makes it something of an exercised in prompted speechification, if you ask me. So I figured that since I’ll be stuck teaching class all night, I’d just post some of the questions I’d ask if I were Schieffer.

And I came up with these over the course of about an hour today, while eating my lunch and posting them as they occurred to me on Twitter. I cleaned up the grammar here just a bit, but this is basically what I tweeted this afternoon.

  • If Israel unilaterally strikes at an Iranian nuclear facility, what’s your response?
  • How will you police against Chinese companies poaching Americans’ copyrights without setting off a trade war?
  • Will global overexploitation of deep sea fisheries be a priority for your Administration?
  • Do you LIKE the fact that Pakistan and India are in a continuous low-grade war?¹
  • What more is to be gained from continuing the war in Afghanistan?
  • Do we care anymore about deforestation of the Amazon? What will we do about it if we do?
  • What percentage of the budget is spent on foreign aid, and should that be increased or decreased?²
  • Are you satisfied with the Morsi government in Egypt as an agent for peace, order, and the rule of law?
  • If the Northwest Passage opens regularly, what are the resulting opportunities for the U.S.?
  • Do you consider environmental problems like global warming to have national security implications? If so, might environmental issues become grave enough to make using the military to address those problems justified?
  • What do we do when democracies overseas vote in a way we dislike, like the way the Palestinians did?¹
  • Two-party or six-party talks with North Korea?
  • Is it in the best interests of the United States for Turkey to be in the European Union?
  • What is the best outcome to the Syrian civil war and how will you help facilitate that result?
  • Should we increase the number of H1-B visas granted annually? What about student visas?
  • How many carrier groups does the US Navy need?
  • If our legal institutions are inadequate to handle terrorism suspects why not just shoot them out in the field?³
  • If the Eurozone collapses, what stops the RMB from becoming the new standard for currency exchange?
  • What nation’s banks and investors hold the largest percentage of U.S government debt?²
  • Name an incumbent head of state of another nation whom you especially admire, and explain why.

I didn’t try to come up with questions that favor one or the other side; at least, I’m not sure who most of these questions favor anyway. And at minimum, the last one is a softball.
¹ These questions have correct and incorrect answers. Unpleasant ones, to be sure.
² These questions are intended to test the candidate’s willingness to fashion policy based on reality instead of mythology.
³ Upon further reflection, I think I’d go back to the drawing board and come up with a different way to ask this. But that’s what I tweeted.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


  1. “If our legal institutions are inadequate to handle terrorism suspects why not just shoot them out in the field?”

    Aren’t we already doing that through the use of drones?

  2. Only one question about Africa, and that one on Egypt? What about the disaster that is sub-Saharan Africa? No questions about Russia, its nuclear arsenal, and Europe’s increasing dependence on Russian natural gas?

  3. 1)If evidence were to strongly suggest that ending the war on drugs in the United States would substantially decrease violence in Mexico, would you consider doing so?
    2) If the global security situation dictated as large increase in the Pentagon budget, would a tax increase be justified to help pay for it?

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