America could be on the verge of war - watching the Democratic debates you'd never know it

Negar Mortazavi

For the second night in a row, the Democratic debate included only a few minutes of discussion on foreign policy. And even those few minutes did not involve much debate. It consisted of a few general questions that demanded short answers.

Jon Wolfstahl, a former National Security Council official in the Obama administration, tweeted: “War could break out at any time with Iran, Russia or North Korea. Nuclear arms race happening, UK collapsing, China trade war. Watching CNN debate you would never know it.”

Even when Democratic candidate and New York mayor Bill de Blasio asked, in a very loud voice, why they don’t talk about a potential war with Iran, CNN moderators cut him off and explained that they had to move on to the next subject.

Matt Duss, foreign policy adviser to Senator Bernie Sanders, who took part in the first Democratic debate in Detroit the night before, tweeted: “Well the 2 1/2 minutes on the US's upcoming catastrophic war is done let's move on.”

It was not only foreign policy wonks in Washington who were surprised and disappointed at the short amount of time allocated to foreign policy.

Asal Rad, a California-based researcher for the National Iranian American Council, tweeted: "After four debate nights with over 20 candidates we have barely had a discussion on a policy that may have consequences for a generation to come. But please, more about Mueller."

It is not clear why CNN decided to allocate such little time to foreign policy at a time when the US is dealing with a few serious international issues, mainly the potential of a military conflict with Iran. But after two nights in a row, viewers have started raising the question more vocally.

Maria Afsharian, a former television journalist, told me: "When I worked at NBC, I was told that most Americans don't have the time to understand, or can't relate to foreign policy.

"Foreign policy is important to people like us, but not to the majority of Americans - they are worried about feeding and supporting themselves and their families."

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, the only war veteran on the debate stage, who served in Iraq, was the only Democratic candidate to address foreign policy at any length. She said that the American people were lied to about that war, and she committed to bring back American soldiers.

"The leadership I will bring to do the right thing to bring our troops home within the first year in office. Because they shouldn’t have been there this long.”