Spotlighting Obama's Foreign Policy Failures

During October 22's foreign policy debate, Governor Romney must spotlight President Obama's dismal failure on this issue.  American Thinker interviewed some experts for their opinions on what information the governor should be prepped with for this debate, including using the Obama administration's own words against the president.

Mike Gallagher, a conservative talk show host and author of the book 50 Things Liberals Love to Hate, is looking forward to this debate since "[i]t is Governor Romney's to win.  I am clueless on how President Obama is going to respond.  You can go down the list on all the inconsistencies and bumps in the road."

Here are a few issues the governor should think about:

A recent Zogby poll showed America to be less popular in the Arab world than before Obama took office.  In Egypt, 30% viewed America favorably before 2008, compared to 5% today.  Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), a Republican Senate candidate, says the 2009 Cairo speech "upset the whole apple cart.  His Cairo speech was about apologizing and thinking he could singlehandedly change the Middle East dynamics because of the power of his phenomenal personality."  Romney might want to remind the president that allies and enemies see him "leading from behind," and that it was the 2008 candidate Obama who said, "And one of the things that I intend to do as president is to restore America's standing in the world.  We are less respected now than we were eight years ago or even four years ago."

In Libya, this administration has yet to get its story straight regarding whom they have decided to blame; their attitude is anybody but Obama and that the buck does not stop with the president, but it does stop with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  This continued with the October 16 debate.  If the incident is brought up again, Governor Romney needs to point out that the president and administration continued referring to the Libyan incident as a spontaneous reaction to the video long after Obama's supposed Rose Garden statement.  Maybe President Obama should heed the advice of candidate Obama, who said in 2008, "The other thing we have to do, though, is we've got to see around the corners.  We've got to anticipate some of these problems ahead of time."  Nelson DeMille, the prolific novelist who writes about national security in his latest book The Panther, wants Obama to be questioned as to why Ambassador Stephens traveled to Benghazi (on 9/11, no less), why the Benghazi American consulate was so underprotected, and when precisely this administration finally realized that the murder of the ambassador and three others was a terrorist act.

Israel, America's staunchest ally in the Middle East, is seen as a problem by this administration.  By refusing to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month, President Obama sent a message loud and clear that Israel is on its own and that America does not have its back.  According to Fred Rustmann, a member of OPSEC and instrumental in making the video "Dishonorable Disclosures," the emphasis should be on demanding that the Palestinians "accept only a part of the pie instead of the whole damn pie."  Hoekstra agrees and relays to American Thinker that while in Israel last month, he met with several officials who felt "alone, isolated, threatened, and totally bewitched at America's policies.  They regard the Arab Spring as really a Middle East upheaval."

Iran was one of the nations President Obama talked about engaging.  Knowing that his policy was going nowhere, he kept downgrading expectations: in February 2009, the president pledged "to use all elements of American power to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon," yet, by 2011 he had downgraded the Iranian threat from "unacceptable" to "highest national security priorities."

The president missed an opportunity during Iran's Green Revolution to let the world see that the U.S. was on the side of the protesters; instead, he came out and said that America would not get involved because the Iranian government would crack down harder on the protestors.  Meanwhile, the Iranian government talks about wiping Israel off the face of the earth and continues to pursue nuclear weapons.  But fear not, said Vice President Biden during the debate, for "we'll know if they start the process of building a weapon."  That was said after he blamed an intelligence failure for the Libyan fiasco.  Michael Hayden, the former CIA director, pointed out, "You can't have it both ways, blaming intelligence for administrative failures in one case and assuming perfect intelligence as a policy staple in another case."

Iraq is currently a disaster, with the government neglecting civil liberties and religious freedom hardly existing.  In August 2011, Obama said, "We're leaving behind a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people[.] ... [W]e're building a new partnership between our nations."

Hayden describes the situation as having gone in three directions, all negative: Iranian influence has increased; there is more violence, resulting in more innocents dying; and al-Qaeda has re-emerged.  All this could have been deterred with a small U.S. presence if the president had been able to gain "a status of force agreement.  Obama should be asked: how many times did he speak personally with the Iraqi prime minister since his predecessor had weekly discussions?"

Afghanistan is Obama's war!  Remember what he said in the 2008 debate: "... we took our eye off Afghanistan[.] ... [Y]ou don't muddle through the central front on terror, and you don't muddle through going after bin Laden.  You don't muddle through stamping out the Taliban."  In another debate, he continued the argument by once again claiming he wants to finish "the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban."  Obviously, the president has not achieved his objectives.  Bing West, a former Reagan assistant secretary of defense and military author, has written a book about Afghanistan with Dakota Meyer, Into the Fire.  He told American Thinker that the U.S. had no chance of winning after President Obama announced a timeline and the generals initiated restrictive rules of engagement.  "It would be a mistake for Governor Romney to say 'I will stay longer.'  He should not pull the chestnuts out for Obama.  Let the president defend his policies, such as announcing to the other side when you are leaving a war so that everyone looks at the clock and hedges their bets."  Romney, if pressed for a policy, should say he would concentrate on special forces, covert action, and some air power, with a small number of soldiers on the ground, because that is now all that is possible with the president's failed strategy.

Mexico and Latin America are hemispheric partners with America.  Jose Rodriguez, Jr., the former director of the CIA's National Clandestine Service and author of Hard Measures, believes that there needs to be more training and partnerships with America's neighbors.  He wants the U.S. to work with them to implement reforms to their judicial systems and police forces.  Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ) is hoping that Romney will point out that this is contrary to Obama administration policies.  The administration's Fast and Furious fiasco, along with the lifting of the moratorium on drug-laundering money, did not have the cooperation of Mexico.

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, believes that "[t]he Obama administration has had a policy of neglect of our allies and appeasement of pariahs such as Hugo Chávez and the Castro brothers.  Look at what he said in July: 'And my hope is that the Cuban government begins to recognize that their system is no longer working.'  To counter these despots, Romney should commit to building bilateral trade agreements to further economic integration and to create a unified Hemispheric Joint Task Force on crime and terrorism."

Russia, according to Rodriguez, "is a problem, has always been a problem, and will continue to be a problem."  Unlike Biden, who during the debate claimed that Russia and China are working with America in the U.N., Rodriguez believes that in the "U.N., they do their own thing many times that is not in support of us.  Many times they are not part of the solution."  Romney should look to the facts, which show the reset policy of the Obama administration as a complete failure.  Russia is not cooperating in the U.N., has withdrawn from the Cooperative Threat Reduction Treaty, will not cooperate on Syria, and sent a cruise-missile submarine into the Gulf of Mexico, where it went undetected for a month.

China appears to be both an adversary and competitor, according to Congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI), the chairman of the intelligence committee.  He warns, "The president has not engaged to protect the U.S.  It is breathtaking the number, the volume, of what the Chinese are stealing when it comes to intellectual property developed by American companies.  This nation-state has decided to utilize its military and intelligence services to the task of stealing things so they can turn right around and artificially compete with American companies."

Defense cuts are looming, with sequestration right around the corner.  The debt is obviously a national security problem, since it has reduced the resources available.  Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Colonel Dan Hampton, author of Viper Pilot, told American Thinker that the military has to get smart with its choices.  For example, the F-22 is so overpriced that it becomes impractical to produce, and "I don't think I would like to fly this $200-million plane for the fear of scratching the thing."

The governor will need an answer ready when the Obama administration happily points out that House Republicans voted for these defense cuts.  Congressman Paul Gosar admits he voted for them and is not ashamed of it.  He agrees with Hampton that there is a need to discover what works and what does not work.  He is wondering why "the president has not shown any leadership.  These cuts had to be voted on because of the fiscal insanity of this administration -- almost $6 trillion more than almost all of the previous presidents combined.  I believe that the military cuts can come from finding the waste, restricting of overruns, getting rid of unneeded programs, and changing the way we look at parts, inventory, and maintenance of our facilities."

Energy independence, according to candidate Obama in 2008, should be considered a national security issue, and within ten years, America should be "free of dependence on Middle Eastern oil[.] ... [T]hat would be priority number one."  Someone should remind the president of his own words, since it does not appear that he has even started to achieve this goal.  Rustmann agrees with the president's sentiment and argues that "to reduce the reliance on Middle Eastern oil, we should become self-sufficient with our neighbors to the North and South.  Keep it in the hemisphere."

What Romney has to do during the debate is use Obama's words against him by citing how the president's own policy has failed country by country and region by region.  The president goes around bragging that "the tide of war is receding."  Looking at recent events, this is a phrase he might want to reconsider.  Above all, Romney needs to get a single point across: that Obama made calculations and decisions that were totally unwarranted.  In short, President Obama's policy is one of retreat and retrenchment.