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So If There’s No Foreign-Policy Debate Tonight

… well, my Friday plans are then ruined. Thanks, John McCain! But let me do what McCain always implores and consider a cause greater then myself: ask what are the burning questions that the candidates will miss.

The New York Times does a great job rounding up foreign dignitaries and letting them pose queries to McCain and Barack Obama. My personal favorites come early. First there’s this from new Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari:

How would you work with America’s allies in the Muslim world to turn around the widely held misperception there, as evidenced in opinion polls, that the global war against terrorism is actually a war against Islam?

Really a crucial question, despite the alarming turn Pakistani has taken away from the U.S. during Zardari’s brief tenure. As it happens, Obama adviser Richard Danzig recently fielded a near-identical question from — ahem — moi, and his answer was roughly as follows:

The alienation produced around the world “contributes to the radicalization of populations on the streets of Pakistan and the Islamic world.” Obama “articulates a different view of the world” and understands the Muslim world “having grown up, part of his youth, in Indonesia.” Obama would convene a meeting “of Islamic countries and talk about how counter to Islam so many of these kinds of notions are, of terrorism and the like.” Also will set up an education fund to creat an alternative to the radical madrassas “because we have no secular educational” alternative.

Meanwhile John McCain will bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran and straight-talk them into believing that we don’t have a problem with Muslims despite invading and occupying their countries when we feel like it, etc.

Also, Rory Stewart, whose brilliant book I read while in Afghanistan, asks this:

Why do you think that terrorism is the No. 1 strategic threat to the United States? How does it compare to the threat from an economic meltdown, from an environmental catastrophe, or from another nation?

Heads would explode if Jim Lehrer posed that question. People just aren’t ready.

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