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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/22/12

A Real Foreign Policy Debate Should Talk Trade and Human Rights

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Cross-posted from The Nation

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If tonight's  third and final debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney follows pattern, it will not be the foreign policy debate that has been advertised. Rather, it will be a narrowly-defined discussion of national security, with lots of the usual cheap shots, unsubstantiated charges and style-over-substance positioning.

The absence of Green Party nominee Jill Stein and Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, both of whom have met the reasonable threshold of gaining enough state ballot lines to be elected president, will reduce the likelihood of a serious discussion on fundamental issues.

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But it should not take a third-party candidate to raise concerns about how failed international trade policies have led to the offshoring of millions of U.S. jobs. The issue is ripe at the moment, as Romney's old firm is preparing to shutter a high-tech auto sensor plant in Freeport, Illinois, in order to ship the plant's equipment and equipment to China.

Obama could raise the issue; and those of us who have followed the broad fight for fair trade rather than free trade, and the narrow fight on behalf of the workers at Freeport's Sensata plant, certainly hope he will.

Of course, the political and media elites who make it their business to keep debates from getting interesting, or meaningful, would object. They don't like it when foreign policy discussion turn to trade issues, and they especially don't like it when the focus turns to the way in which bad trade policies harm American workers and communities.

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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