Daily Archives: October 23, 2012

Obama and Romney debate foreign policy
The final US presidential debate focused on foreign policy, and both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney laid out their vision for America’s place in global affairs. What does it mean for the world, and are US voters really paying attention to foreign policy? Borzou Daragahi, Middle East and north Africa correspondent, Geoff Dyer, US diplomatic correspondent, and James Blitz, diplomatic and defense editor, join Shawn Donnan to discuss the candidates’ positions on Syria, Iran, China and their notable silence on Europe

On Tuesday, the editor of the Financial Times, Lionel Barber, gave the commencement address at Barcelona’s Esade Business School. His theme was the eurozone crisis – but he began with a story from the earlier, headier days of the new millenium, when the Spanish economy was displaying “sustained dynamism”, in the words of the IMF.

In the summer of 2001, I interviewed José María Aznar and Silvio Berlusconi in successive weeks. Aznar was at the height of his powers. He had just successfully pressed for better budget terms at an EU summit, and boasted of quietly smoking a fat cigar until Chancellor Schroeder and others came round to his demands.

A few weeks later I was in Rome at Silvio Berlusconi’s private villa next to the Spanish steps. Inside, the roses were purple, the ceilings were high and the women statuesque. When I insisted in conducting my interview in French, il Cavaliere responded by crooning an old Edith Piaf song. Then I mentioned I had just interviewed his old friend Aznar at the Moncloa. “Well,” said Mr Berlusconi, suddenly serious, “Spain is a great success story. Madrid is one of the great cities, bustling with commerce and trade. If Italy does not reform, it will be overtaken by Spain in the next decade.”

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In the process of undermining the Obama administration’s record during the Monday night debate, Mitt Romney painted a distorted picture of the Middle East, writes Roula Khalaf. Read more

A promotion shot for Homeland

Episode two of the second series of US hit TV show Homeland (“Beirut is Back”) caused anger in the Lebanese government for its depiction of central Beirut. Lebanon’s tourist minister Fadi Abboud even threatened legal action against the producers.

The episode was shot in Tel Aviv and showed former CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Clare Danes) with dyed brown hair, brown contact lenses and a veil for her safety.

The Israelis, meanwhile, were unhappy that Tel Aviv had been used as a substitute for its enemy’s capital.

News flash for those who have never been to Lebanon: a third or so of Lebanon’s population is Christian. And both Muslims and Christians can have fair skin and blue eyes. And unlike other Arab states, in Lebanon Muslim women do not have to wear the veil by law.

Homeland may only be fiction, but its portrayal of Lebanon has done little to change the stereotype of Arabs in Hollywood as gun-toting, fanatical terrorists who pray five times a day. Indeed, when it comes to Arab characters in movies, Hollywood sometimes seems to have only one kind: bad. Read more

Opposition leader Tony Abbott with his two daughers (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Earlier this year Australia’s prime minister couldn’t catch a break.

From the Australia Day “riot” to the scandal that enveloped the speaker of the House and the nocturnal activities of a backbench MP, Julia Gillard seemed to stumble from one omnishambles to another.

But the tables have turned, and it’s opposition leader Tony Abbott who is under the kosh.

On Tuesday Mr Abbott managed to single-handily undermine his party’s attack on the Labor government’s mid-year budget with some ill-chosen words that reignited Australia’s now infamous misogyny debate.

It all started when Treasurer Wayne Swan attempted to explain the government’s decision to cut the baby bonus from A$5,000 to A$3,000 for the second and each subsequent child.

“We believe that these changes to the baby bonus will bring it more into line with the actual costs of having children. After the first child you’ve already bought the cot, the pram and other items you can use again,” he said.

Enter Mr Abbott, a proud father of three girls. He attacked the move on breakfast TV with the following logic: Read more

Welcome to the round-up of reaction to Monday night’s third and final presidential debate, in which President Barack Obama went on the offensive.

The debate’s topic was foreign policy and it saw an unusual inversion of what might have been expected, with the incumbent taking up the cudgels and the challenger assuming a statesmanlike position. Mitt Romney frequently agreed with his opponent’s foreign policies, although they clashed more fiercely on China, the final subject of the final debate. Read more

President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the Republican challenger for the White House, faced each other for the final time before November 6 in the third presidential debate. Tonight’s contest was held in Boca Raton, Florida, and focused on foreign policy.

As with previous debates, each candidate was given two minutes to respond to each question, with a further minute for follow-ups. The forum was be hosted by veteran moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS.

Anna Fifield covered the debate live from Washington and Arash Massoudi from New York, with additional comments from FT colleagues. All times are EST.

23.42 And with that, we conclude our coverage of the third and final presidential debate. Be sure to share your final thoughts on the debate in our comment section below! Thanks for joining us for the last three weeks. We will see you next on election night.

23.40 Ed Luce ends the night with some scepticism about the impact of tonight’s debate on the overall election:

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23.36 Stephanie Kirchgaessner, one of the FT’s US political correspondents, has dug through the archives to find a story about how Mr Romney’s holdings in China were connected to doing business in Iran, which Mr Obama cited during tonight’s debate.

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23.34: And the latest set of post-debate results come from CNBC with 67 per cent of respondents said that Mr Obama won the debate, while 30 per cent said Mr Romney did. Read more

By Gideon Rachman

Berlin does not feel like an imperial city. The new government buildings – the chancellor’s office, the Bundestag and the foreign ministry – have all been designed with plenty of glass and natural light, to emphasise transparency and democracy. The finance ministry is, admittedly, housed in the old headquarters of the Luftwaffe. But most of the grandest architecture – Unter den Linden and the Brandenburg gate – is a legacy of the Prussian kings. Modern Berlin presents a more welcoming face, and has become a magnet for tourists and teenagers.