Back in August, former US Senator Gary Hart penned a piece for the Huffington Post where he argued that that President Barack Obama would win re-election by a landslide due to the Democratic ticket’s depth of foreign policy experience.
The article perplexed me, since foreign policy has rarely made a difference in the outcome of presidential elections in the past few decades, largely due to the end of the draft and the shift to an all-volunteer army.
The other reason why I was a bit surprised by the former Democratic presidential candidate’s assertion was that I never thought the Obama Administration’s foreign endeavors were anything to brag about.
In fact, it might be said with a straight face that Joe Biden is a better running mate than Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Joe’s worst transgressions are mostly rhetorical; the “gaffes” committed by the Clinton State Department and by extension the Obama White House have come with more serious consequences sans laugh track.
The Obama/Clinton foreign policy has been a bumbling series of failures with one shining moment that the president hopes will blind the public from the totality of their failed international initiatives.
Here’s a quick rundown on their record…
The current state of relations with Russia is terrible. Secretary Clinton’s Carrot Top-esque “Reset button” gimmick was an embarrassment and made us look foolish when it turned out the wrong word had been printed in Cyrillic on the prop. Instead of sending a signal that the US desired improved relations with Russia, we looked like rubes, which is dangerous when dealing with the Kremlin.
President Obama’s unintended live-mic mention of post-election“flexibility” to then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev concerning America’s missile defense was extremely disconcerting and the Obama Administration’s cancellation of planned missile defense sites in the Czech Republic and Poland was a sign that the US cannot be trusted to fulfill our commitments to even our most loyal allies.
In a pathetic gesture to make us “popular”, President Obama conducted an apology tour to corners of the world that resent us. The supplications did not pay any diplomatic dividends, but instead broadcast our naiveté that the “grievances” of the world against America are legitimate while the sins of rogue regimes are best left ignored.
The murderous regime in Damascus apparently has received an immunity stick from the Obama Administration as it continues to kill with impunity protestors demanding democracy in Syria.
In another example of an ally being thrown under a bus, Israeli security interests have been recklessly dismissed by the Obama Administration yet they naively extend hope for a breakthrough regarding the pursuit of a nuclear weapon by an Iranian government that is only marginally improved from the beards behind the seizure of our embassy staff in 1979.
But the biggest foreign policy albatross hanging around the neck of the Obama Administration is the murder (and possible torture) of Ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya.
The State Department’s refusal to provide adequate protection and their coordinated deceit to the American public about what happened represents one of the most serious transgressions ever committed by an administration.
It is the hope of President Obama that another body will outweigh that of Stevens’s.
President Obama’s greatest achievement in the international realm was the assault on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.
The president should be recognized for his bold and proper decision concerning the elimination of bin Laden in an operation that took place not only outside the military operation area but only 31 miles away from the capital of Pakistan.
There were plenty of risks involved sending a covert military force relatively deep into another country. It could have very well ended up like Operation Eagle Claw, the disastrous Delta Force mission authorized by then-President Jimmy Carter to free US embassy personnel being held hostage in Tehran.
President Obama has made great political hay of his authorization of the successful mission and I assume television viewers will be reminded as much in the Monday evening debate.
While I believe Governor Romney should recognize the president’s decision as admirable, he should point out that any other occupant of the Oval Office would have given the same order to bring bin Laden to justice.
Furthermore, Romney should call out the president’s brazen attempt to seize more credit than he deserves. The mission was carried out by the Navy SEAL team and President Obama’s ad nauseam boasting is an affront to those who risked their lives to do the job.
Or to put it another way, he didn’t kill that. Someone else did. That someone being SEAL Team 6.
President Obama will also lay claim for the winding down of the American involvement in Afghanistan though the wisdom of announcing a withdrawal date is questionable. However the Obama Administration’s position is popular with an American public that wants our countrymen to be removed from the graveyard of empires regardless of the consequences that could follow.
President Obama will also try to do the same concerning the War in Iraq, which ended under his watch though the withdrawal was established under the Bush Administration and the war was effectively won by the troop surge that broke the back of the al-Qaeda network there. Then-senator Obama opposed the surge.
While President Obama intends to turn the final presidential debate into a “bin Laden’s dead gloat fest”, he will have a lot of explaining to do concerning the a host of other breakdowns and poor decisions that collectively represent the most disastrous foreign policy record in decades.
Former senator Hart’s rosy view of le monde du Obama notwithstanding, the president should have as much difficulty defending his foreign policy on Monday evening as he had defending his economic record in the other two debates.