Why the foreign policy debate is already ruined

Your humble blogger enjoyed his time in Mexico City.  He particularly enjoyed last night's dinner, at which the most delicious margaritas he had ever consumed were served.  It is possible that he should not have enjoyed that last of his many margaritas, however, because he is now extremely cranky and waiting to board his flight back to the United States.

I bring up the crankiness because it's possible I'm overreeacting to the announcded format and topics for Monday night's foreign policy debate.  Politico's Mike Allen -- via Dylan Byers -- relays the following: 

[H]ere are the topics for the October 22 debate, not necessarily to be brought up in this order:

* America’s role in the world
* Our longest war – Afghanistan and Pakistan
* Red Lines – Israel and Iran
* The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism – I
* The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism – II
* The Rise of China and Tomorrow’s World...

The format calls for six 15-minute time segments, each of which will focus on one of the topics listed above. The moderator will open each segment with a question.  Each candidate will have two minutes to respond.  Following the candidates’ responses, the moderator will use the balance of the 15-minute segment to facilitate a discussion on the topic.

So two-thirds of the debate will be about the Greater Middle East.  Two-thirds.  Schieffer has generously allowed that China and Tomorrowland the entire Pacific Rim should get fifteen minutes.  Here are the following areas and topics that apparently won't be discussed: 

1)  The eurozone crisis

2)  Latin America

3)  Russia

4)  Africa

5)  Foreign economic policy

6)  India

7)  North Korea

Now I get that some of these topics won't come up in a foreign policy debate that lasts only 90 minutes.  But I'm also thinking that maybe, just maybe, it would be a better foreign policy debate if they actually talked about, you know, SOMETHING OTHER THAN THE MIDDLE EAST!!!!!!

I'm not saying the Middle East isn't important -- we have lost blood and treasure there, some of it very recently.  But I simply do not believe that the region is so important that it should occupy 66.7% of a foreign policy debate.  

That could just be the hangover talking.  But I seriously doubt it. 

Am I mising anything?  No, scratch that -- what else is Schieffer missing in his misbegotten list of foreign policy topics? 

Daniel W. Drezner

A day in the life of a wandering academic

Your humble blogger is writing from Mexico City, where tomorrow he'll be part of a one-day conference at the Center for International Studies at El Colegio de Mexico on U.S. foreign policy in 2013

The conference is tomorrow, but the journey was today, and it was a pretty interesting journey given that it started with my alarm going off at 4:30 AM.  Some highlights:

1)  In an effort to travel light, I normally wear at least one of the suit jackets I have to bring to a trip for the plane.  I got up so early today, however, that I figured I was just dress very casual for the flight.  Naturally, this would be the day I bump into a very well respected senior scholar in my field at the Newark airport. 

2)  Right before taking off from Newark to Mexico City, a flight attendant asked the man sitting next to me for his autograph.  I later discover that I was sitting next to Iron Chef Morimoto.  Cool! 

3)  Less cool:  watching CNN on the flight.  I made the mistake of watching Ashleigh Banfield's lead segment, on the New York Fed bombing attempt.  Banfield was obsessed that the suspected terrorist got into the states on a student visa.  Her first three questions to the homeland security expert boiled down to the following: 

A)  Shouldn't the U.S. radically reduce the number of student visas it issues? 

B)  Why can't the U.S. government monitor every person coming into the United States on a student visa?

C)  Could the U.S. government use these student visas as a way of draining foreign swamps and bringing terrorists to the United States.   

Kudos to the security expert who basically said that none of these ideas were workable.  My head would have hurt banging it into the camera. 

4)  Some very nice students picked me up from the airport and took me to the college, which is right by Mexico's 1968 Olympic Stadium.  They also revealed the ways in which political scientists are viewed in different countries.  Apparently, this college was relocated from the downtown to a more isolated part of Mexico City.  Furthermore, within this "University City," the political scientists are housed in a structure separate from the rest of the social scientists.  Why?  Because the old PRI governments feared student protests led by political scientists!  Which is not really a fear in the United States. 

5)  The only thing better than watching the Yankees getting swept in the ALCS?  Watching it en espagnol, and hearing the announcer boom "PROFUNDO!!" when the Tigers hit a home run.