Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice – our last competent Secretary of State – has been aggressive in criticizing President Obama’s failed foreign policy. And she has the experience and expertise to do so with authority. While nobody really expects the Obama administration or most Democrats in Congress to pay Dr. Rice any heed, the Republican Party better be listening and raise its collective voice against the dangerous path that Obama is taking this country down.
Dr. Rice is particularly concerned with the “vacuum” in world leadership resulting from the Obama administration’s leading from behind policies. The vacuum is being filled by the likes of Russian President Vladimir Putin. As Dr. Rice wrote in an op-ed article appearing in the Washington Post on March 7th, “dictators and extremists across the globe will be emboldened” if the United States abandons muscular diplomacy and eschews its global responsibilities as the leader of the free world.
The Obama administration’s attempt to extend “hands of friendship to our adversaries, sometimes at the expense of our friends,” such as the administration’s “reset” button with Russia, has obviously not worked, Dr. Rice has pointed out.
For those who might say that Condoleezza Rice is hypocritically skipping over Russia’s push into Georgia in 2008 during the presidency of George W. Bush while she criticizes the Obama administration’s ineffectiveness in dealing with the Ukraine crisis, Rice set the record straight in her op-ed article:
After Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, the United States sent ships into the Black Sea, airlifted Georgian military forces from Iraq back to their home bases and sent humanitarian aid. Russia was denied its ultimate goal of overthrowing the democratically elected government, an admission made to me by the Russian foreign minister.
But even those modest steps did not hold. Despite Russia’s continued occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the diplomatic isolation waned and then the Obama administration’s ‘reset’ led to an abrupt revision of plans to deploy missile defense components in the Czech Republic and Poland.
President Obama said last week in The Hague that he was “much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan” than he was about any threat from Russia. Fair enough, but Obama’s agreement to fruitless negotiations with Iran and easing the pressure of sanctions in the meantime, while Iran advances its nuclear arms and missile delivery programs, is making that nightmare more likely. So is his failure to deal adequately with the spread of al Qaeda and its affiliates throughout the Middle East and Africa, as well as the infiltration of Iran’s proxy Hezbollah in Latin America. And rather than worry about the real threat of nuclear and chemical weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists as the most significant threat to homeland security, why is Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry foolishly declaring that “climate change can now be considered the world’s largest weapon of mass destruction, perhaps even the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction?”
Dr. Rice expressed particular concern that withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan without a reasonable amount of residual military presence may repeat the disastrous aftermath of the Obama administration’s precipitous decision to withdraw all American troops from Iraq. Al Qaeda returned with a vengeance to launch widespread lethal attacks in Iraq and threaten its viability after they had been largely defeated as a result of the successful surge that President George W. Bush had ordered in the face of opposition by then Senator Obama, John Kerry and many other members of the Democratic Party of Defeat.
Addressing more than two thousand people attending the National Republican Congressional Committee’s annual dinner on March 26th, Dr. Rice also warned about the dangerous consequences of a shrinking military budget:
Our values and our interests require defense. As Ronald Reagan famously said, peace really only comes through strength. What are we doing? What are we doing when we’re talking about a defense budget that is so small that our military starts to tell us that we may not in fact be able to carry out all of the requirements put upon it?
President Obama wants to reduce the force level of the United States Army to its smallest size since 1940 and drop an entire class of Air Force attack jets.
While understanding the weariness of the American people after two long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and more than a decade fighting global terrorism, Dr. Rice said that “leaders can’t afford to get tired. Leaders can’t afford to be weary.”
The Obama administration is operating on the dangerous assumption that America can lead from behind by relying on our European allies, even though they are unable to get their act together to take any effective measures against Russia over Ukraine, for example. President Obama also hides behind the apron strings of the fuzzy norms of international law, which he insists everyone in the 21st century is expected to follow as a matter of course. President Obama believes that even the Iranian regime can be dealt with rationally in good faith negotiations. This is the same regime ruled by Ayatollah Khamenei, who reportedly issued a fatwah declaring that he must be obeyed as the “representative of the Prophet Muhammad and [Shi'ism's] 12th Imam on Earth.”
Unfortunately, what President Obama says in his speeches regarding how he thinks all world leaders should act bears little resemblance to how the leaders of our adversaries are actually acting in the real world.
Republican leaders in Congress and elsewhere need to follow Dr. Rice’s example and directly challenge the basic tenets of Obama’s foreign policy. They need to clearly contrast Obama’s tenets with the principles that Republicans stand for, which if implemented will keep the United States and its allies free and secure. The United States must lead from the front, not from behind as Obama would prefer. An American president should give America’s allies such as Israel the benefit of the doubt, not those who time and again have proven that their word cannot be trusted as President Obama has tended to do. As Putin follows a more aggressive foreign policy and jihadists are expanding their bases of operations, now is not the time to radically cut America’s military defenses as President Obama wants to do. Peace is truly won through strength, not by planned weakness in cutting the U.S. military down to size in order to supposedly improve America’s image in parts of the world where we are not liked. As jihadists, who want to kill as many Americans as they can, get closer to possessing weapons of mass destruction, now is not the time for John Kerry to raise a red herring about climate change as possibly “the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.” In fact, to achieve energy independence for the United States and our European allies, the radical environmentalists should be told to return to their environmentally protected shells while such initiatives as the Keystone Pipeline and the export of liquefied natural gas are finally allowed to go forward.
Few Republican leaders in Congress have been as bold to date as Dr. Rice in directly challenging the foundational principles that animate the Obama administration’s foreign policy and have led to disastrous outcomes. Some are all too willing to give President Obama the benefit of the doubt, a courtesy that Democrats including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, former Senator (now Secretary of State) John Kerry and Barack Obama himself refused to do in their relentless and at times vicious attacks on President George W. Bush’s foreign policies. It would be perfectly appropriate for Republicans to point out that while Bush’s surge was widely credited with winning the war in Iraq against the insurgents, Obama’s decision to withdraw all troops from Iraq managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. And it would also be perfectly appropriate for Republicans to point out that while Ronald Reagan helped win the Cold War, leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union, Obama is managing to midwife the rebirth of the Russian empire.
When some Republican congressional leaders such as Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham do level a sharp criticism, it tends to deal with specific episodes such as the Obama administration’s mishandling of the Benghazi debacle. Hopefully, as it becomes painfully obvious by mid-summer to all but the willfully ignorant that there will never be a verifiable deal with the Iranian regime to dismantle Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities and to curb its missile program, Republicans will insist on the passage of new sanctions against Iran and work with like-minded Democrats to ensure veto-proof majorities.
The world is a far more dangerous place than when President Obama first took office in 2009. A fundamental reason, as Condoleezza Rice said in her speech at the 2012 Republican Convention, is that under President Obama’s watch the world does not know where America stands. “You see,” she said, “when the friends or foes alike don’t know the answer to that question, unambiguously and clearly, the world is likely to be a more dangerous and chaotic place.”
This should be the key foreign policy message during both the 2014 midterm election campaign and in 2016. Particularly if Hillary Clinton runs for president, perhaps the Republican slogan against candidates from the Democratic Party of Defeat can be “Strong American leadership DOES make a difference.”
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