There’s this myth that has accumulated over the past few months or so starting with the death of Usama Bin Laden and continuing with the death of Libya’s Qaddafi this past week. The running myth inside the Beltway and propagandized by the media is that President Obama is a very successful foreign policy president and that by way of these so called accomplishments the Republicans not only look weak but have no credible line of attack when it comes to the president’s record in dealing with foreign events.
But there’s one problem the press and other inside the echo chamber forgot, one minor detail: The president’s record on foreign policy can be picked apart and put in a proper context that makes him a beneficiary of past policies rather than the bold commander in chief the media portrays him to be.
Let’s look at the Bin Laden killing first. One could argue that Mr. Obama simply made the most obvious choice any president would make if put in the same set of circumstances. Could you imagine any of the GOP candidates or George Bush for that matter doing anything different from what took place or giving a different command than Barack Obama? Would Herman Cain or Michele Bachmann say: “You know what, now might not be the right time to kill Bin Laden even though we have him in our sights” I doubt that would ever happen.
Now there’s this issue of Libya which can be debunked rather quickly and easily. First off when the conflict between Qaddafi loyalists and the rebels began the president was against Military action. It wasn’t until Sec. of State Hillary Clinton and UN Ambassador Susan Rice went to the president and pushed him on a decision that he ultimately decided to join the UK and France through NATO. The president himself argued to skeptics in the Democrat and Republican party that the US would have a limit role, there would be no troops on the ground, and any US action would be taken in coordination with NATO, which is exactly what happened.
As for ground work that is best left to the rebels who we admittedly did not know if they were made up of Al Qaeda elements or simply emboldened citizens with machine guns and RPG’s. They were the ones who went into city after city expelling Qaddafi forces and ultimately captured the dictator. So overall by his own admission the president deserves little credit because he said himself that the US would have a minimal role in this conflict through NATO in cooperation with the UK and France who played a much larger role than we did. The president in that instance deserves no more credit than the other nations that make up NATO.
But I want you to look past the political decisions and the trumpet playing in the media. Can we actually say with honesty backed up by a factual basis of course that the world under Barack Obama as president of the United States is any more safe now than it was under George Bush whose policies are being used by Mr. Obama? The Patriot Act was first established by the Bush Administration, Predator drones were a large part of the Military budget of the Bush administration. But let’s look at the world as it stands today: the Middle East one can argue is more volatile than its ever been with governments cracking down on protesters, the Muslim Brotherhood establishing power in Egypt, Turkey moving further and further away from democracy and into a more Islamist government, Israel is more isolated than ever, and the question remains as to what will replace Qaddafi in Libya.
Then you have China and Iran. We are not better off when it comes to China and Iran, in fact both China and Iran have moved in ways that suggest not only is America less influential and less respected in the world but we really haven’t done anything of merit to stifle the progression of Iranian influence in the Middle East and Chinese influence around the world. The foundation of American decline abroad under this president is what will ultimately dog him here at home: The economy.
Our economy is directly linked to how we conduct our foreign policy. For example a nation can’t build its Military if its economy is weak. Look at China and their Military build up. The more their economy grew, the more money they had to spend, the more they spent that money on their first aircraft carrier and other Military items. The United States is talking about ending programs and cutting its defense budget in order to save money. During a speech to the UN Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad railed against the United States for our debt and he blamed the world economic troubles on America’s reckless spending and deficits.
Our enemies view our economic stagnation and out of control spending as a target for their actions on the world stage. They know we can’t really do much of anything because our greatest weapon which is our economic system is on life support. Our enemies in the Middle East know how isolated Israel has become under President Obama. You would be hard pressed to find much trust and support for this president in Israel these days.
I would advise all GOP candidates to link the economy to foreign policy and there is an undeniable link between the two. While this president has benefited from obvious decisions and policies in place by his predecessor, the actions or lack thereof that he has taken have put the United States on shaky ground internationally.
Here are a few things off the top of my head:
Ceased plans for a Missile Defense system in eastern Europe in exchange for nothing because Russia opposed it.
Did not voice support for the Green Movement in Iran back in the summer of 2009 and as a result innocent Iranians were jailed and many more were killed by security forces.
Ousted a trusted ally in Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and in his place the Muslim Brotherhood gained considerable political power.
The foreign policy myth will be used because Obama has a horrible domestic record. You’re already seeing it in the media by certain cable news networks trying to make the argument that the GOP candidates aren’t serious enough to face the rising challenges abroad. In terms of Mitt Romney the media is trying to compare him to John Kerry in 2004. In 2004 George Bush managed to win reelection because he was trusted more than Kerry when it came to foreign policy. The White House and the media hopes the lines will be drawn on those terms: Not a referendum on Obama, or a question of who do you trust to get the economy back on track, but who do you trust in times of crisis.