House essay: The Obama-Romney map of the world
Evan Solomon, host of CBC Radio's The House, wonders what the map of the world would look like based on what U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said during the last presidential debate on foreign policy, in Solomon's weekly radio essay as heard on The House on Oct. 27, 2012.
You might think that watching the U.S. presidential debate on foreign policy would give you an accurate view of the world.
But if you drew a map based on how many mentions a country received during that debate, you might be shocked to see what that world actually looks like.
The U.S. would be the biggest country, of course, mentioned the most.
The second biggest? Iran, mentioned 47 times. Israel would be the third largest country with 37 mentions. China would be smaller, at 32 mentions. Then comes Syria at 28 mentions, Pakistan at 25 and Afghanistan at 20. The Middle East on its own got 10 mentions.
After that? Well, almost nothing else exists.
What's not on the presidential foreign policy map?
Well, Canada for one. Not a single mention for the biggest trading partner of the U.S.
What about the European Union? Nothing except two passing references to Greece as a metaphor for American decline. Only one mention of the word Europe, and the eurozone crisis? Not a single mention.
It's shocking because the U.S. sells more than $200 billion of goods to the E.U. every year. A healthy Europe means a healthy U.S. So when the E.U. is verging on bankrupcy, that's a foreign policy issue. Over 60 years ago, the Marshall Plan was the American program designed to help rebuild European economies at the end of World War II. Today? Europe is not on the map.
What about Mexico, America's third largest trading partner? Not mentioned.
That's pretty odd. After all, some parts of Mexico are verging on total chaos. In 2011, over 12,900 people were killed due to organized crime. That's significantly more civilians than were killed in Afghanistan in the same year. That's a war that fuels drugs pouring into the U.S., costing American taxpayers billions. This isn't just a foreign policy issue, it's a foreign policy emergency. Still, no mention.
What about India, Taiwan, Tibet? Not there.
Latin America and Central America? Not on the map.
While Israel was mentioned 37 times, the word Palestine? Not mentioned.
The continent of Africa? It meritted this: "Governor Romney, our alliances have never been stronger – in Asia, in Europe, in Africa," said Obama during the debate.
By the way, that brisk list was also the only mention of Europe. Asia got one more, for total of two.
Instead of talking about the U.S. interest in the world, the candidates talked mainly about the world's interest in the U.S.
"I absolutely believe that America has a responsibility and the privilege of helping defend freedom," said Romney.
"America remains the one indispensable nation," said Obama.
Maybe it is.
But watching the foreign policy debate, you might think the world is made up of just 10 countries.
The rest of us, I'm afraid, don't exist. We are, I guess, dispensible.
Maybe it's not a global village after all.
On the U.S. presidential candidates map of the world, it feels a lot more like a gated community.