The Monitor's View

15 questions for the first debate

What, for example, should be the US role after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

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Barack Obama and John McCain square off Friday night in their first debate as nominees. The topic will be global affairs. With so many demands on American resources at home, voters may wonder if foreign policy really matters. It does, for both peace and prosperity. Here are 15 questions that the Monitor hopes will be asked:

1. When horrific war crimes or a humanitarian crisis occurs in another country, should the United States intervene – even if the United Nations refuses to approve? What would be your threshold for such a crisis to justify US military action?

2. Some experts contend that the US should address the security fears of Iran, Russia, North Korea, and China in order to prevent these countries from becoming threats to others. Do you agree with this approach?

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3. What are the three most important steps to achieve American energy security?

4. Would you compel Americans to adopt standards on carbon emissions even if China and India do not take similar actions?

5. And why do you prefer a cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gases when that approach has not worked in Europe – whereas a carbon tax in Sweden did help lower greenhouse-gas emissions?

6. If US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan largely ends during your first term, how would you then change the American military based on your reading of its potential roles?

7. The international community has helped reduce extreme poverty by almost half a billion people since 1990. What would you do to reduce poverty in other countries, especially in Africa, in addition to what President Bush has already done?

8. Every president who has tried to solve the Palestinian question has failed. How would your approach be different?

9. Is it possible to greatly reduce illegal immigration from Mexico by helping improve the quality of life in that country? How would you do that?

10. Name three things the United Nations does well.

11. Does the US have a special role in the world as the guardian of international security and as the indispensable leader of the world community?

12. Both of you support Georgia and Ukraine joining NATO, making them allies. Are the American people ready to jeopardize their soldiers in defense of these countries if they are attacked?

13. What steps would you take to open foreign markets now closed to US goods, to allow export of products and services that the US does well?

14. Roughly what proportion of US resources should go toward helping and protecting other nations compared with the resources that are needed to build up America?

15. Twenty years ago, Islamic terrorism was a sleeper issue. Some people warned about it, but few paid much attention to it. Same thing for climate change. In your opinion, what is today's sleeper issue?

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