Obama and Romney Not Likely to Discuss Africa, Haiti

Several Black officials and academics say that the presidential debate on foreign policy will not include some major spots on the globe.

Posted: 10/22/2012 04:42 PM EDT
Mathieu Eugene and James Braxton Peterson on the Third Presidential Debate

While the presidential candidates are preparing to debate tonight on foreign policy, there are a number of international topics that are not likely to be discussed, much to the disappointment of many African-American leaders and scholars.

In fact, several people interviewed by BET.com said they would like to hear the views of President Obama and Mitt Romney about the continuing crises in sub-Saharan Africa and the efforts to help Haiti regain its footing after the devastating earthquake in 2010.

“There should have been more discussion about Haiti in the campaign, and I would hope the candidates would discuss it in the debate,” said Mathieu Eugene, a New York City councilman who was born in Haiti.

“The interests of Haiti and the United States are linked together, and it would be great to hear them talk about how the United States sees its commitment to that country,” said Eugene, who was the first Haitian-born elected official in the state of New York.

When asked if it was likely that the candidates would focus on Haiti, Eugene said, “I hope so, but I’m not sure.”

Similarly, James B. Peterson, the director of Africana studies and professor of English at Lehigh University, said that the debate is not likely to extend much beyond issues relating to the Middle East.

There was post-election violence in the Ivory Coast, religious feuding in Nigeria and an effort to rebuild Liberia’s economy after its civil war. But Peterson and others say those topics are not likely to be featured in the debate.

“There has been a good deal of unrest in West Africa, particularly in Nigeria and Mali,” Peterson said. “It would be great to hear them talk about that and how they see the United States’ responsibility.”

He added that many Americans would also like to hear “about Arab racism against Black Africans."

"The Sudan is where it’s at its worst, where it borders on being suicidal. But those things are not likely to make the debate," Peterson said. "The discussion will be centered on the Middle East.”

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From left: Mathieu Eugene and James Braxton Peterson. (Photos from left:  Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images, Lehigh University)

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