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Foreign Affairs Forum

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Panelists at the LSU Presidential Election Forum on foreign policy listen as Aly Neel, LSU alum and journalist in Turkey, speaks via Skype on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012, about the Turkish reaction to foreign policy events. Credit:  Brianna Paciorka Panelists at the LSU Presidential Election Forum on foreign policy listen as Aly Neel, LSU alum and journalist in Turkey, speaks via Skype on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012, about the Turkish reaction to foreign policy events. Credit: Brianna Paciorka

By Ferris McDaniel | LSU Student

High on the list of concerns at an LSU political forum focusing on the presidential campaign and foreign policy is the nuclear mènage à trois involving the U.S., Israel and Iran.

Political science professor Harry Mokeba believes that if Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is elected, then he will be more "openly" helpful toward Israel than President Barrack Obama has been.

Political science professor David Sobek countered that even though the Obama administration has not been excessively pro-Israel, the United States would be at Israel's defense if there was an existential threat, perhaps through nuclear warfare.

It was part of a series of six themed forums being conducted at LSU prior to the election.

When former President George W. Bush came into the conversation, Sobek argued that Obama is mostly seen by overseas leaders as an "easier partner."

Aly Neel, LSU alumna and Turkey-based journalist, chimed in, via Skype, from Istanbul, that some Turks tell her they would have voted for Obama in 2008 if they could have, but have since felt he has not delivered on promises made involving foreign affairs,, leaving them disappointed.

Returning to the America's relationship with Israel and Iran, Neel believes Turks consider Romney a worse alternative to Obama because of his close ties with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom they do not trust.

The ping-pong nature of the debate soon jumped the talk to China, a nation Sobek insists has an "interdependent relationship" with the U.S. since China holds more than $1 trillion of america's debt while the U.S. relies on China's manufacturers.

Political science professor Daniel Tirone said the U.S.' alliance with China is useful but one that must be treated with caution. Sobek reminded the audience attendees that the U.S. has already fought a conflict with China in Korea during the early 1950s.

"I'm not saying we're going to invade China tomorrow. But if (it becomes) more territorial and comes up against South Korea or Japan, what would we do?" Sobek asked.

The debate also looked at America's international likability. One student asked if U.S. foreign relations were best at the end of the Cold War and if America could ever become a "shining beacon on a hill" again.

Tirone said the Cold War's end was certainly a high point for U.S. image in the eyes of most foreign countries, but Sobek differed with his colleague.

"We never really were that shining hill," Sobek said.

After the Cold War, the former Soviet Union didn't like the U.S., even if other countries highly approved, Sobek said, adding the U.S. can return to that same level of international support because the nation has always been able to rebuild.

Sobek said that America's ups and downs are cyclical. The country currently is on a downward path, which won't last forever. He believes the U.S. will soon bottom out and begin its slow trek to the top.

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