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Foreign Policy

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Tonight's debate will center on foreign policy.

The problem with foreign policy is that as President you just need so many of them.

It's a big world. There are 193 members of the United Nations and 192 of them are not named The United States of America.

Every one of those countries has problems. Some are problems with too many people earning too little money, like Haiti. Some are problems with too much money that they use to buy off their non-working population, like Saudi Arabia.

Some are problems with too few natural resources, like Japan. Some have become too dependent on their natural resources, like South Africa. Some have on-going problems with their neighbors, like Israel.

Some don't have any neighbors and are too isolated, like Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic Ocean that is 1,750 mi from South Africa and 2,090 mi from South America. As there are only 270 people living there, they're lucky if they can find a date ON one of the islands, much less someone 2,000 miles away.

There are countries that are having problems internally - Syria comes to mind; and countries that are threatening everyone around them - Iran fits the bill.

There are countries that don't have enough currency like Greece and Spain; and countries who have so much money they're buying up everyone else - China.

There are countries that have to import manufacturing workers like Germany; and countries that have no manufacturing and so export drugs, like Afghanistan.

Every one of these countries has some combination of head of government, head of state, a council of ministers and at least the appearance of a national legislature. Even Tristan da Cunha which, as a protectorate of Great Britain, has an Island Council consisting of 11 members or about 4% of the population.

If the U.S. had the same ratio of national legislators-to-population the House would consist of about 12.5 million Members.

Where was I? Oh. Yes.

And not one of those Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings, Queens, Emperors, Emirs, Sultans, Supreme Leaders (limited to North Korea) Chancellors, Dictators or Tsars wants to be told by either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney what to do, or how to do it.

No matter how much money and goods we give them, no matter how many wars we have fought on their behalf, no matter how many of their young people want to come here to study; nor how many of their elders want to come here for medical treatment.

No President can control the world. Woodrow Wilson could direct assets to help win the Great War against the Germans but couldn't get a League of Nations through the Senate. Franklin Roosevelt could control both the European and Pacific wars but left behind the Soviet Union and a half-century of nuclear tension.

No one else has even come close.

The two candidates have been studying hard for tonight's debate. Moderator Bob Schieffer is not likely to quiz them on the names of heads of state, but he may well try to get them to discuss that very issue:

With the rise of the EU, the re-emergence of Russia, the enormous financial power of China, and the inter-dependency of just about every country on the planet; what are you planning to do to try and get them, if not to play nicely with one another, to at least stop threatening each other with every arrow in their national quivers including money, natural resources, and weapons?

I'd be interested in hearing the answer to that question.

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