Obama Foreign Policy: Seriously Sub-Optimal

Pictures of Barack Obama bowing courtesy of today’s Drudge Report.

Overview.

I’m not going to hammer on the president for his choice of words on Jon Stewart. I’m not a fan of the Dems’ insulting attempts at faux outrage over things like “binders” so I’ll not do anything but quote our president. But we can safely say, as President Obama did, when Americans die our president’s foreign policy is obviously “not optimal.” And when you look back at the past four years, really, we can’t say what’s happened are mere “bumps in the road,” either, but the result of having chosen the wrong road altogether. Today in the New York Post Amir Taheri put it more succinctly: the president’s foreign policy has “failed.”

So before tonight’s debate about foreign policy, let’s remind ourselves just how sub-optimal this president’s foreign policy has been, and how bumpy the road was. People may criticize Mitt for not having foreign policy experience, but Obama only has four more years than Mitt has, having had none when he started on the job training. The question is whether Barack Obama learned anything during that time, and perhaps the biggest indictment contained in the mess in Libya is that his record indicates he hasn’t learned what he needs to, and is willing to close his eyes to the obvious in favor of a narrative that supports, if tenuously, his world view. Meanwhile I’m sure someone else with a different philosophy, like peace through American strength, would do a lot better.

His One Argument: bin Laden

Let’s start by giving the president partial credit for his one “achievement.” In a true team effort, American intelligence, after years of searching that culminated during the Obama administration, was able to find Osama bin Laden. The president then sent a team of experts into Pakistan to kill him. Still, a number of things still trouble me about this “success.”

First, the president’s beaming over the mission and “spiking the football.” While it’s a comforting thought bin Laden is no longer a threat, call me old fashioned but it does not seem appropriate to throw a party when anyone is killed, even if a confessed terrorist and murderer. The appropriate attitude seems to be one of quiet gratitude, and confidence we were able to accomplish what we needed to protect American citizens from harm. But not elation.

Second, the president’s taking personal credit for the achievement. What happened was a success due to years of work starting in the Bush administration and involving hundreds if not thousands of people from intelligence gatherers to planners of the raid to those who actually executed it. Let’s not forget the president watched it on TV, and was not on the ground personally in Pakistan. He deserves credit as the person at the head of the team, but to the extent he deserves that credit, he deserves as much blame for what went wrong in Libya. And gracious leaders give credit where due. I agree he should be congratulated for making the decision to move forward. He took a risk and it paid off. But I disagree with President Clinton’s assessment that this decision took any special fortitude. I believe Mitt’s right that any president would have made the same decision. So Obama’s credit is for being in the seat at the head of table when the team succeeded, and for calling for the two-point conversion to win the game. He succeeded, and gets the credit for that strategic decision. But it was the team on the field, not him that deserves any glory, and an end-zone dance seems particularly inappropriate.

Third, in his desire to take personal credit, the president shared sensitive intelligence information. He volunteered the identity of the team that carried it out, putting them and their families in danger. And this was one of many leaks, coming per Dianne Feinstein directly out of the White House, of sensitive US information. The president seems willing to compromise security when it suits his political purposes, which I find difficult to condone.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the success of this one mission does not mean Al Qaeda is really “on the run,” as has been claimed by the Dems. They’re still in Afghanistan and now are in Libya. And whatever the president’s policy in this regard, despite bin Laden’s removal, the date of Al Qaeda’s last successful terrorist attack is no longer 9/11/01. It’s 9/11/12.

Now, to more problematic issues: world hot spots

1. Libya. Four Americans are killed in Libya despite pleas for additional security. Reports out of the State Department, the intelligence community and the White House contradict who knew what when. Immediately after the attack the president made a generically deniable statement about not letting terrorism deter us, but spent the next two weeks allowing the American people to believe it’s somehow the fault of our freedom of speech and an obscure YouTube video, using rhetoric that could suggest we somehow deserve what happened. Why? Again President Obama and the Democrats insisted on “spiking the football” over Osama bin Laden’s death at their convention, such that it’s an inconvenient truth that Al Qaeda is not really “on the run,” especially in Libya where the president is trying to take credit for “leading from behind.” Contrary to his assertions, Libya is not a model for American foreign policy success as it is now the site of the first assassination of an ambassador in 30 years.

Judge Jeanine of Fox lets it out here:

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Romney: More to Gain Than to Lose in Last Debate

Well, the final Presidential debate will be over in less than 24 hours.

I’m sensing a certain level of stress among some Romney supporters in the lead up to this debate. Sure, it’s human nature to feel anxious just before a big event … especially when we are so invested in Mitt’s success. But I’m not nervous one bit, and here’s why ….

Governor (soon to be “President Elect”) Romney has much more to gain than to lose in this debate. It’s Obama that has the tough job tonight. The non-incumbent challenger generally has a low-bar to clear in these debates. They only have to 1) show that they can credibly be Commander-in-Chief and 2) avoid major gaffes. Mitt has shown that he is more than capable of achieving this based on his first two debate showings.

Much of the “who won the debate?” game is about expectations. Obama was widely expected to be a superior debater/communicator, and it was a race-changing event when he lost the first debate so dramatically. This set up debate number two, where Obama had reset his bar down to the floor. As such, many observers felt that he “won” the second debate (by a much narrower margin than the 1st debate, and more on style than on actual issues according to polls). But the President’s “win” was really more of a “most improved” award … we’ve seen no bounce in the polls for him at all.

Conventional wisdom is that Obama is supposed to trounce Governor Romney tonight, since the topic is Foreign Policy. The problem for Obama, is that his supposed foreign policy superiority is already “baked into the cake” of his poll numbers/support. Obama’s problem arises from the fact that his foreign policy successes begin and end with “Bin Laden is dead.” Sure, that’s a HUGE point, but it’s sort of hard to talk about THAT for 90 minutes straight. And no voter is going to change his mind to vote for Obama on this issue. “Hey yeah, Obama got Bin Laden … I had forgotten that. I guess I’ll vote for him now.”

Even those formerly on Obama’s foreign policy team decidedly do NOT see this as a strength for him (be sure to read that scathing rebuke!).

The debate will give Mitt an opportunity to, once again, unexpectedly impress voters on the depth and breadth of his international experience and knowledge. The media have painted him as a lightweight on foreign policy, someone out of his depth. Mitt can and will highlight his substantial foreign exposure through his public, private, and religious experiences.

The wildcard issue for tonight is Banghazi … and not in a good way for Obama.


Despite the President’s higher foreign policy numbers in general, this recent Ohio poll (that was even a +8% Dem sample) showed Mitt UP 49%-47% on the question: “Do you trust Barack Obama or Mitt Romney more on the issue of Libya?” Mitt did miss an opportunity to fully expose Obama on Libya in debate #2. Don’t expect a replay of that tonight …

Obama Should Adopt Mitt’s Motto: “No Apology”

Reuters reported Thursday that the challenges in the Middle East over the past week represent a “perfect storm” of problems for President Obama.

An eruption of violent unrest across the Middle East is confronting President Barack Obama with the most serious challenge yet to his efforts to keep the Arab Spring from morphing into a new wave of anti-Americanism – and he has few good options to prevent it.

Less than two months before the U.S. presidential election, a spate of attacks on embassies in Libya, Egypt and Yemen poses a huge dilemma for a U.S. leader who took office promising a “new beginning” with the Muslim world but has struggled to manage the transformation that has swept away many of the region’s long-ruling dictators.

Perhaps a “new beginning” wasn’t what was needed in the region after all. Perhaps instead an unequivocal message of America’s willingness to protect itself is what’s needed. We’ll talk, sure, but we’ll also stand up for ourselves. Warning: naked cartoon Obama below the fold. (more…)

Slaughter in Syria: Romney “Work with partners, arm Syrian opposition groups”

Massacre in Haoula, Syria, May 25, 2012: Men were killed on the streets while women and children were shot and stabbed in their homes. (Photo AFP/Getty Images)


While Americans are busy with Memorial Day activities, shock and horror at the news of massacre in Haoula, Syria is resounding on news reports today.

On mid-day Friday, May 26, 2012, Syrian soldiers and pro-government forces burst upon the rebel-controlled village and began slaughtering residents. Video and photos show rows of dead and mutilated small children among the victims. 116 were killed and 100 were wounded.

The UN Security Council today held an emergency meeting in New York to discuss the attack.

Calling the Syrian regime’s latest slaughter “horrific”, Governor Mitt Romney released the following statement:

“The Assad regime’s massacre of civilians in Haoula—many of them young children—is horrific. After nearly a year and a half of slaughter, it is far past time for the United States to begin to lead and put an end to the Assad regime. President Obama can no longer ignore calls from congressional leaders in both parties to take more assertive steps. The Annan ‘peace’ plan—which President Obama still supports—has merely granted the Assad regime more time to execute its military onslaught. The United States should work with partners to organize and arm Syrian opposition groups so they can defend themselves. The bloodshed in Haoula makes clear that our goal must be a new Syrian government, one that contributes to peace and stability in the Middle East and that truly represents the brave Syrian people.”

(emphasis added)

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~ Addendum from Ross:

Looks like Mitt was right about Iran when he stood up for freedom while President Obama stood silent, and Gov. Romney has again voiced his support for freedom while our President allows tyranny to go unchecked now in Syria.

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