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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Mitt Romney's Statement on the Death of Kim Jong-il

Tyrant Kim Jong-il is Dead

Mitt Romney made the following statement on the death of Kim Jong-il:

“Kim Jong-il was a ruthless tyrant who lived a life of luxury while the North Korean people starved. He recklessly pursued nuclear weapons, sold nuclear and missile technology to other rogue regimes, and committed acts of military aggression against our ally South Korea. He will not be missed. His death represents an opportunity for America to work with our friends to turn North Korea off the treacherous course it is on and ensure security in the region. America must show leadership at this time. The North Korean people are suffering through a long and brutal national nightmare. I hope the death of Kim Jong-il hastens its end.”

Romney’s Statement on Death of Vaclav Havel, Fmr Pres Czech Republic

Mourners gather to remember Vaclav Havel in Wenceslas Square, Prague. Dec 18, 2021

We’ve learned that Vaclav Havel, the first President of the Czech Republic (1993 - 2003) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il have died.

The deaths of these two world figures couldn’t be more striking. One, a non-violent freedom fighter, lived to champion human rights, end repression, and led the bloodless revolution in 1989 to abolish communism in Czechoslovakia. The other, a brutal, repressive, nuclear-menacing communist dictator, ruled his starving, impoverished nation with an iron fist (human rights doesn’t exist, few N. Koreans have modern amenities - refrigerators, stoves, telephones and even access to plain, ordinary writing paper for citizens is severely restricted).

While the media is focused on the Dear Leader’s passing and the uncertainty surrounding the transfer of power in N. Korea, I want to share a few tributes from around the world for Vaclav Havel.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney:

VACLAV HAVEL INSPIRED FREEDOM’S ALLIES

“In the darkest days of tyranny, Vaclav Havel shined a light on the injustices and contradictions of communism. The power of his words and the depth of his courage inspired freedom’s allies in his homeland and around the world. The Velvet Revolution he led changed the course of history, and helped bring to an end an empire of oppression. He will be remembered as one of history’s great men: the scourge of tyrants and a champion for liberty.”

Former U.S. President George W. Bush:

“The most subversive act of the playwright from Prague was telling the truth about tyranny. And when that truth finally triumphed, the people elected this dignified, charming, humble, determined man to lead their country. Unintimidated by threats, unchanged by political power, Vaclav Havel suffered much in the cause of freedom and became one of its greatest heroes.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

“Havel was a brave and powerful voice against totalitarianism and an inspiration for dissidents everywhere struggling for freedom.”

Solidarity founder and Poland’s former president Lech Walesa:

“A great fighter for the freedom of nations and for democracy has died . . . His outstanding voice of wisdom will be missed in Europe, which is going through a serious crisis. I am praying for the peace of his soul.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron:

“No one of my generation will ever forget those powerful scenes from Wenceslas Square two decades ago. Havel led the Czech people out of tyranny. And he helped bring freedom and democracy to our entire continent. Europe owes Vaclav Havel a profound debt. Today his voice has fallen silent. But his example and the cause to which he devoted his life will live on.”

President Barack Obama:

“His peaceful resistance shook the foundations of an empire, exposed the emptiness of a repressive ideology, and proved that moral leadership is more powerful than any weapon. … He also embodied the aspirations of half a continent that had been cut off by the Iron Curtain, and helped unleash tides of history that led to a united and democratic Europe.”

Former U.S. President George H. W. Bush:

“Barbara and I join in mourning the death of Vaclav Havel, a gentle soul whose fierce devotion to the rights of man helped his countrymen cast aside the chains of tyranny and claim their rightful place among the free nations of world. His personal courage throughout that twilight struggle inspired millions around the world, including those of us who worked with him during a historic period of transformation for Europe.”

Read additional tributes here.

Freedom’s light burns brighter because of Vaclav Havel.

Rest in peace.

Vaclav Havel
October 6, 2021 - December 18, 2021



► Jayde Wyatt

Ambassador Edelman: Romney Will Renew U.S. Leadership, Sen Thune Praises Romney (VIDEO)

Eric Edelman, former Under Secty of Defense for Policy and former Ambassador to Turkey and Finland

Ambassador Eric Edelman weighs in on Mitt Romney’s debate performance last night:

Boston, MA
United States

Mitt Romney’s Special Adviser on Foreign Policy and former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Eric Edelman, made the following statement after tonight’s debate in Washington, DC:

“I believe Mitt Romney clearly won tonight’s debate with a compelling presentation of a foreign policy based on American strength and resolve. The United States and the international system are at an inflection point as they face the prospect of new nuclear-armed powers like Iran and North Korea, a rising China, the continued terrorism of radical Jihadism, and a turbulent Middle East. Mitt Romney understands that this is a dangerous time for America to shrink our military, retreat from the world, or defer to other actors. All Americans can rest assured that Governor Romney will secure both our interests and ideals with a strong national defense, resolute diplomacy, and a renewal of American leadership.”

Background on Eric Edelman:

Eric Edelman was under Secretary of Defense for Policy from 2005 to 2009. Edelman served as U.S. Ambassador to Turkey (2003 to 2005), U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Finland (1998 to 2001), and Principal Deputy Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs (2001 to 2003).



Mitt Romney is pictured speaking at a fundraiser for Senator John Thune R SD in Sioux Falls, SD. Feb 2011. (Photo AP/Argus Leader/Devin Wagner)

Senator John Thune joined Mitt Romney in Iowa, on the day before Thanksgiving, to deliver a strong endorsement for the former governor of Massachusetts. Romney and Thune spoke at a townhall meeting at Nationwide Insurance in Des Moines. A Q&A session was also held (about an hour).

C-Span recorded the event; click here to enjoy.

Romney also held a telephone townhall while in Iowa yesterday:

Speaking to thousands of Iowans in a telephone town hall, Mitt Romney pledged Wednesday to be a visible presence in the state in the weeks leading up to its first-in-the-nation presidential voting contest.

“You’ll be seeing more and more of me as we get closer to the caucuses,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll be able to convince almost all of you to go to caucus. I really do want your support.”

… Romney just opened a campaign headquarters in Des Moines and is visiting the state more frequently. He is expected to begin airing commercials soon, having recently videotaped one here.
[…]
Though his campaign has kept expectations low this time around, much has gone Romney’s way — the contest is more wide open at this point than in any Iowa nominating contest in memory, and the socially conservative and evangelical voters who thwarted him in 2008 have failed to coalesce behind a candidate.

If he can persuade his 2008 supporters to turn out for him again and the social conservative and evangelical voters who dominate the caucuses remain splintered, Romney could win on Jan. 3 despite spending a fraction of the money and time he spent here four years ago. That, coupled with an expected victory in the New Hampshire primary a week later, could seal the GOP race.
[…]
“We haven’t changed what we’ve been doing,” said David Kochel, Romney’s Iowa director. “We’ve been here several times, we’ll be back several times, and we’ve had small staff here, but they’ve worked hard and we respect the process and hope to do well here.”

(emphasis added)

There may be more in the works from The Hawkeye State…

► Jayde Wyatt

Mitt Romney’s New Op-Ed: U.S. Paying for Obama’s Inexperience


Governor Romney has written a new op-ed…

The Price of Inexperience

By Mitt Romney
June 17, 2022

Last year, when President Obama was pushing for ratification of his New START nuclear-arms treaty with Russia, I was reminded of a simple maxim: When you give something, you’re supposed to get something. But New START, as I wrote in the Washington Post, handed the Russians deep reductions in our nuclear capabilities in return for essentially nothing.

The Obama administration claimed at the time that the treaty was an excellent deal. This claim has been proven false. A new official accounting performed by the State Department acknowledges that the number of launchers and warheads in Russia’s nuclear arsenal was already below New START’s limitations when the treaty took effect, while the U.S. arsenal was well above them. In short: We’re the ones who now have to give, while Russia gets.

In agreeing to START, President Obama squandered an opportunity to extract a number of concessions from the Russians that would have advanced U.S. interests. He could have pressed for meaningful reductions not only in Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal, but also in its tactical nuclear force, which outnumbers ours by an overwhelming margin. He could have tried to elicit Russian help in dealing with North Korea and Iran’s nuclear ambitions. But instead he frittered away American bargaining chips and got nothing in return.

Unfortunately, that’s become a bit of a pattern. Before signing New START, he abruptly abandoned our Europe-based missile-defense program as part of his “reset” policy with Russia, leaving Poland and the Czech Republic in the lurch. In return? Nothing. He’s been pressing Israel for concessions to the Palestinians on settlements and borders even before negotiations between them begin. In return? Nothing.

There’s a price to be paid for inexperience in the White house. We are paying it.

-Mitt Romney

(emphasis mine)

Read Romney’s Stop START op-ed (December 3, 2021) here.


Also, Romney Hits Obama For Lack of Daily Economic Briefing.

► Jayde Wyatt