Last night I watched the last in a series of U.S. Presidential debates between former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and the sitting President Barack Obama.
Once again, the incumbent came out swinging. However, despite it sounding once again like the audience was in his corner, President Obama lost.
More so than in the second debate, if you ask me.
An analyst on one of the TV stations covering the debate said it best when she pointed out that Obama was, in effect, debating himself. Since his Republican challenger lacked significant foreign policy experience (the supposed focus of last night’s exchange), it was the incumbent’s record in this area over the past four years that came under scrutiny.
And plenty of dedicated observers of U.S. foreign policy- myself included- will tell you that it’s in shambles.
Particularly in the Middle East.
As I see it, the Obama administration, in its attempt to tone-down what it perceives as an overly-aggressive U.S. foreign policy under the Republicans, has:
• Not deterred Iran from advancing towards a nuclear weapon. Regular readers of this blog know that I believe the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to take advantage of proposed “talks” and other delays to continue work on such a weapon. Notwithstanding military action, they will get a nuke. The prospect of having one is just too tempting. Pop one or two of these over the U.S., and we’ll have a real problem on our hands.
• Not left a stable regime in place in Iraq. I predict a real power vacuum here in the coming years, with a number of internal and external actors vying for ultimate control of the geopolitically-important failed state and its resources.
• Made a big blunder in announcing the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan in 2014. Nothing like giving an enemy a timetable to work with. I suspect Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and their allies will throw everything they’ve got at our men and women in uniform over there as the end of 2014 draws closer, knowing full-well they need only sustain such intensity until the announced exit date. Then what? Attack us on our home soil, possibly. Some terrorism experts have suggested one reason why Al-Qaeda hasn’t launched a massive operation against the United States mainland since 9/11 is because they’ve figured out it’s simply easier to kill scores of Americans on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. Remember, their stated goal is 4 million Americans dead. Back to being another failed state down the road.
• Alienated our ally Israel. President Obama seems to see Israel- like past U.S. foreign policy- as being too aggressive. And it doesn’t appear the sitting President doesn’t care too much for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu either- despite Vice President Biden and all that “Bibi” talk from the Vice Presidential debate. Consider the following:
November 3, 2011- Several media outlets reported an open-mic incident where then French President Nicolas Sarkozy told his American counterpart, “Netanyahu, I can’t stand him. He’s a liar.” Obama reportedly responded with, “You are sick of him, but I have to work with him every day.”
September 11, 2012- The White House said President Obama would not meet Prime Minister Netanyahu during a U.S. visit later that month. A number of media outlets suggested the Israeli leader was being spurned.
September 12, 2012- President Obama was taped for the CBS show 60 Minutes. From an exchange with Steve Kroft:
KROFT: You’re—you’re saying you don’t feel any pressure from Prime Minister Netanyahu in the middle of a campaign to try and get you to change your policy and draw a line in the sand? You don’t feel any pressure?
OBAMA: When it comes to our national security decisions, any pressure that I feel is simply to do what’s right for the American people. And I am going to block out any noise that’s out there.
Israeli concern over an Iranian nuke is “noise?”
Don’t even get me started on Libya and the deaths of 4 Americans, including an ambassador.
How the Obama administration has handled the Middle East is indicative of U.S. foreign policy as a whole.
Worse yet, our adversaries recognize it and actively exploit it.
It shouldn’t be too much of surprise U.S. foreign policy has come to this. After all, Democrats aren’t really known to be big on foreign affairs. If anything, they seem to look at it as an annoyance.
Whenever I think of foreign policy in the Clinton years, two words come to mind.
These days, perhaps it can reduced to just one word.
Mitt Romney did a good job at pointing out the poor foreign policy record of the Obama administration.
But, truth be told, most Americans don’t care too much about international affairs.
The Republican challenger won this last debate not by talking about foreign policy- as was the intended focus- but by leading the discussion back to President Obama’s equally-dismal record on the economy.
This is what I meant when I said “more so than in the second debate, if you ask me” earlier in this post.
Romney kept hammering away at Obama’s domestic record as it pertains to take-home pay, unemployment, food stamps, government overreach, over-regulation, small-business woes, trillion dollar deficits, the $16 trillion national debt, the list goes on, and all the way to the end.
It was circling back to the Chicago Democrat’s domestic record these past four years that won the Republican challenger the debate.
In fact, all three debates.
Whether this will translate into a White House win come November 6 remains to be seen.
Regrettably, when it comes to that financial crash I predict is in store for us, I doubt a Romney win will make much of a difference at this point in the game. Economic pain is a certainty. Still, if he’s elected President of the Unites States and implements a sustained, meaningful program of fiscal responsibility, our financial “reckoning day” may not be as devastating as I suspect it would be should the nation continue on its current path.
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