Obama at the Third Debate: Misstatements or Outright Lies?
At the foreign policy debate, President Obama was condescending and arrogant, and once again, he misled the American public. He seems to think that just because he says something, it's the truth. American Thinker asked foreign policy experts their take on Obama's statements.
The president had many facts wrong in this quote: "You mention the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military has changed. ... We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater -- nuclear submarines. And so the question is not a game of Battleship, where we're counting ships[.]"
Bing West, the author of many military books, a former assistant secretary of defense, and a former Marine, would have told the president that he should check with the Marine Corps, since there are a number of instances where Marines use horses to get around Afghanistan -- and they still have bayonets on their rifles. As a matter of fact, a Marine told American Thinker that there are more bayonets being used by today's soldiers than at any time between 1916 and today.
The Marine feels that the president does not seem to understand that "'these things called aircraft carriers' will be in danger without adequate destroyer cover. As President Obama decides to 'pivot to the Asia-Pacific region,' he might also look at a map, since all that blue around the Asian continent means water, where a strong navy is needed and should not be reduced in size." e als
A former national security adviser suggested that the president pay more attention to what those in his administration have stated. The adviser cites Admiral Michael Mullen, the then-chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, who said in June 2010, "I have moved from being curious to being genuinely concerned about China's military programs. The question of how the United States should respond to China's military modernization effort is of particular importance to the U.S. Navy, because many U.S. military programs for countering improved Chinese military forces would fall within the Navy's budget."
Michael Hayden, the former CIA director, was upset over "the biggest factual mistake of the night, when the president said he was not negotiating for a status of forces agreement and would not have left 10,000 troops in Iraq. His claim does not square with the historical record." Hayden referred to the New York Times article published on October 22, which pointed out how Obama misled the American people: he did want to keep 10,000 troops in Iraq but was unable to because the Iraqi government never agreed to give American troops immunity from Iraqi law.
Furthermore, Hayden pointed out that President Obama personally spoke to the Iraqi prime minister only twice during the negotiations, unlike his predecessor. Obama did not begin the negotiations until June 2011, which left little time, and had his own secretary of defense, Leon Panetta, propose a plan, as late as September 2011, to leave American troops in Iraq.
The candidates were asked by the debate moderator about a possible October surprise -- namely, having the U.S. and Iran sit down to talk about ending Iran's nuclear program in exchange for lifting the sanctions. The president said the reports are not true, but is he to be believed, considering all the other mistruths he has said during the debates? Hayden was not sure what to make of the president's statement. He told American Thinker that the situation is best described by "putting two circles on the chart. One is what the Iranians are willing to give up, and the other is what we are willing to accept. The problem is that the circles never overlap. The negotiations have been going on for a decade. The president needs to be aware of the goal of sanctions -- not to punish Iran, but to have Iran change its mind. Until you change their mind, you have not done anything."
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FLA), chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, was aghast at how the president "wrapped himself up in the Israeli flag. I thought he was more Israeli than Prime Minister Netanyahu in the debate. He said the right things even though he is not doing the right things. The reality is, he supported indefensible borders for Israel, the 1967 lines; pressured Israel to give up the construction of settlements; and always made it sound as if Israel was an impediment to peace."
Ros-Lehtinen was also grateful that Mitt Romney brought up Latin America, since there was not one question about that region, and the president basically ignored the area as well. "I am so glad he mentioned Latin America, the Castro Brothers, and Chávez. He laid out a plan to increase trade with Latin America and work with our neighbors in our own hemisphere."
Since the president said that sequestration would not happen, were any of the people interviewed surprised? Hayden commented that the word he would use to describe his reaction was "shocked." The congresswoman's reaction: "Okay, let's wait and see what his own Democratic leadership says about this. Lets see if he will back off." Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ) thought, "What is he talking about? Previous to this debate, he has not shown any leadership or integrity concerning an alternative to this issue. I am sure those in Congress will take the president up on his offer. If leadership does not do it, I am sure the freshman class will absolutely do it. We will not wait for the Senate to put something on the table. Our biggest worry is what is he going to try to do by executive order. He made mention of it in two of the debates."
Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Governor Romney's House liaison, believes that the president and his deputies, as reported in Bob Woodward's book, wanted the defense cuts to twist the Republican's arms to agree to his "Grand Bargain" and feels that the president was not being forthright with the American public. She was upset when she heard the president's statement during the debate because "[i]t was so hypocritical on his part. How can he say it is not going to happen if no action is being taken? This administration has done nothing to prepare or put forward a plan to avoid the current path." She also emphasized that sequestration shows how dangerous the debt is to America's national security.
Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers is glad that the governor pointed out to the president that the latter should heed the words of Admiral Mullen: "our debt is the biggest national security threat we face." She told American Thinker that everything is connected: "In order to have a strong defense, it all starts with our economy. We must have a strong economy to have a strong military, to be able to protect our citizens, and to continue to lead in the world."
The general reaction of all those interviewed was that the president's statements appeared to be petty and rude, coming off as personal attacks. They considered the best line of the night when Romney said, "Attacking me is not an agenda." As Hayden noted, "[s]trategically, President Obama failed because he was unable to prove Romney should not have been on the same stage with him, since the Governor was responsible, knowledgeable, and calm. The president did not have a knock-out punch and was unsuccessful in trying to make the governor out as dangerous. There were two men on stage; one was president, and the other was presidential."
Elise Cooper writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews and author interviews, and she has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.