President Obama's Distortions on '60 Minutes'
Yesterday on CBS' 60 Minutes, Barack Obama made a bold statement--one that voters need to think about long and hard before they cast their ballots:
Well, let's see what I've done since I came into office. I said I'd end the war in Iraq. I did. I said that we'd go after al Qaeda. They've been decimated in the Fatah. That we'd go after bin Laden. He's gone. So I've executed on my foreign policy. And it's one that the American people largely agree with. So if Gov. Romney is suggesting that we should start another war, he should say so.
Saying that the president's self-congratulatory remark was overreaching is being too kind. For instance, his claim that he ended the war in Iraq contradicts the reality on the ground. Iraq is still at war and is coming unglued, and it's largely due to the fact that the U.S. got out of Iraq before the job was finished. Christians are being persecuted en masse; Sunni and Shia Muslims are killing each other almost daily; and Iran is steadily increasing its influence in Iraq. So the truth is that President Obama didn't end the war in Iraq. He simply abandoned Iraq's leaders and forced them to fend for themselves.
The president's assertion that he has "executed" his foreign policy where al Qaeda is concerned is equally disingenuous. It's true that he can claim that Osama bin Laden was killed on his watch, but al Qaeda is increasing its influence throughout the Middle East and Africa in countries that are in turmoil today largely due to Obama's foreign policy mishaps. Prior to Obama taking office in 2008, al Qaeda was in decline, but today in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq, and Syria, for example, al Qaeda is positioned to exert considerable influence over the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups as they take the reins of power in one country after another.
The president's declaration that al Qaeda has been "decimated in the Fatah" may be his most untruthful statement of all. Osama bin Laden's papers, the ones that were recovered the day he was killed, tell a different story:
Like tribute money offered to Mafia dons, funds were offered to Al Qaeda out of fear. One letter in the new trove explores whether Al Qaeda leaders should accept such money. It notes, for example, that Fatah, the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization, "has offered us funds, purportedly to [support] jihad, but there is another reason, namely their fear of becoming targets of our swords."
On the plus side, the author notes that "these funds would go towards the purchase and manufacture of weapons." It also points to insider fighting, noting that these funds might be used to counter the influence of Hamas, "who fear the growth of our influence and dominion."
Does President Obama actually believe that "the American people largely agree with" his foreign policy blunders, or is he simply trying to deflect well-deserved criticism of his administration's failings? My guess is the latter. Similarly, his statement that Mitt Romney should let the American people know if he plans to start "another war" ignores the fact that the next president will be forced to deal with the consequences of Obama's ineptitude. Does that mean more war? Probably, and it won't matter who the next president is. Even if Obama is re-elected, war is inevitable due in large measure to his ruinous foreign policy maneuvers.
We have another advantage in 2012--something that we didn't have in 2008. President Obama has a performance record this time around, and it's not good. Even so, the vast majority of voters can be persuaded to believe almost anything, and they will believe almost anything unless we do our job and tell them the facts.
That statement probably doesn't go far enough. Obama's record isn't just "not good." It's atrocious, and his foreign policy misadventures are the epitome of incompetence. Even so, we must confront the reality that most voters won't take the time to familiarize themselves with the facts. Therefore, it's our job to tell them, and hopefully we can persuade some of them or even most of them to look at Obama's record objectively. If they do, they will conclude that what Donald Trump and many others have said about him is true: "President Obama is the worst president in this country's history."
Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia. His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.