Martha Raddatz, the veteran ABC News correspondent and moderator of the vice presidential debate, talks to Foreign Policy about what she didn't get to grill Joe Biden and Paul Ryan on -- and the big questions that Mitt Romney and Barack Obama shouldn't be allowed to duck in their upcoming foreign-policy showdown.
Foreign Policy: There was some criticism in the last debate that you might have focused too much on foreign policy (not from our readers, of course), but there must be so much that you didn't get a chance to ask. So what's on the top of your agenda, if you could have some time with the presidential candidates?
Martha Raddatz: There's so much I didn't get to ask. The VP debate was supposed to be divided between foreign and domestic policy, and I think it was pretty much down the middle. But Pakistan and the issue of drones is at the top of the list. Think about it: Pakistan has enough nuclear material for 100 bombs, an unstable government, radical Islamic influence in its military, and they pretty much turn a blind eye when terrorists cross the border into Afghanistan and kill our troops. What are you going to do about it?
A former U.S. official said to me that he found it interesting that the U.S. has not really captured high-value targets or suspected insurgents in the last few years and that the administration outlawed waterboarding and methods of interrogation. And yet we're killing suspected terrorists in record numbers. This is not a question I came up with, by the way, but I think it's a really interesting one.
But I'd have a lot of questions about drones. Who should these decisions be up to? Would anything change on the drone policy if Romney and Ryan were elected? How would they view the question of who to strike or not to strike -- without judicial process? And do drones produce more enemies or do they reduce the threat enough that it balances out?
What do the candidates think we'll end up with in Afghanistan in 2014? And how serious is the threat of Al Qaeda in the world anymore? I mean, al Qaeda no longer has its iconic head - of course it still has [Ayman al-] Zawahiri, but has it morphed into something more or less dangerous?
FP: Do you think there's real daylight between the two parties on foreign policy right now?
MR: I don't think there are enormous differences on this. They certainly try to go at each other on Libya, but that's not really a policy question as much as it is just seeing what happened there in that instance. I think they have an overall different approach to foreign policy, but when you get down in the weeds I'm not sure there are major, major differences. Perhaps on Iran there are some subtle differences. We'll see a lot more on Monday with the debate, but on the face it's hard to see.
FP: What do you think about the politics that's being played over the Benghazi attack?
MR: I don't want to go there! But I think there are major questions to be asked about the attack. From day one, there were questions. The biggest question now is who said that there were protests there. My reporting early on was that we don't know. And a senior U.S. official said to me, "We don't think it had anything to do with protests." So why was it like that in the first couple of days, and then five or six days later you have someone saying that these appear to be spontaneous attacks? I would love to know where that story first started. Politics aside, there are some serious questions to be asked there.