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The Stakes in Tonight’s Foreign Policy Debate
Front Page Magazine ^ | October 22, 2012 | Bruce Thornton

Posted on 10/22/2012 1:29:00 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife

Foreign policy, the topic of tonight’s debate, was suddenly thrust into the voters’ consciousness by the murder of 4 Americans, including our ambassador, in Benghazi on the anniversary of 9/11. Intensifying the fallout of this event has been the Obama administration’s incoherent, clumsy, duplicitous, and rapidly unraveling attempt to blame the terrorist murders on a YouTube movie trailer lampooning Mohammed, in order to downplay the strength of the heavily armed jihadist outfits, some connected to al Qaeda, now swarming in Libya as a result of our overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

If Governor Romney wants to succeed, he must focus on the Benghazi attack and subsequent misdirection not just to highlight the administration’s increasingly obvious attempt to spin a carefully planned terrorist attack into a spontaneous reaction to an offensive video. More importantly, Romney must use the attack to emphasize its real significance: the political expediencies, character flaws, and dubious ideological assumptions behind Obama’s foreign policy failures.

The evidence of this failure is obvious throughout the Middle East. Start with Libya, the country most in the news. Eighteen months after U.S. air power facilitated the overthrow of Gaddafi In Libya, a weak central government is dominated by hundreds of heavily armed militant Islamist bands, some with links to al Qaeda, of the sort that killed our ambassador. Before his death, ambassador Chris Stevens reported that black al Qaeda battle-flags were flying over government buildings in Benghazi. This is consistent with an August 2012 report from the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress, which documented al Qaeda’s influence in Libya and concluded, “The Libyan Revolution may have created an environment conducive to jihad and empowered the large and active community of Libyan jihadists, which is known to be well connected to international jihad.”

Elsewhere in Africa, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is active across a broad swath of North Africa, and is suspected of complicity in the Benghazi attack. Al Qaeda-linked militants control territory in northern Mali the size of France, and are applying shari’a law, including punishments like stoning, amputation, and public beatings. In Nigeria the jihadist group Boko Haram, whose real name is “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad,” is also linked to AQIM, with whom it shares training, funds, and explosives. Boko Haram has been murdering Christians and others, 650 in this year alone, in order to fulfill the mandate of its name. And in Yemen, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula continues to battle the government and to plot terrorist attacks. Contrary to Obama’s claims, Al Qaeda’s leadership may have been degraded, but the franchise continues to be strong and active.

Likewise in the Middle East, where the jihadist Muslim Brothers have come to power in Egypt, the region’s most populous country, thanks to Obama’s abandonment of the brutal but reliable Hosni Mubarak, who had kept them in check. Even as al Qaeda terrorists have stepped up attacks in Iraq in the wake of our withdrawal, that country is strengthening its ties to Iran, allowing the Iranians to cross Iraqi air space in order to deliver arms to Syria’s Bashar al Assad. In Syria, numerous jihadist groups fighting Assad are gaining valuable battlefield experience in tactics and weapons, including surface-to-air missiles probably acquired from Gaddafi’s looted arsenals. The Taliban in Afghanistan are surging in anticipation of Obama’s announced 2014 withdrawal, with U.S.-trained Afghan security forces turning their weapons on coalition troops, killing 51 this year. Given the weakness of the corrupt regime of Hamid Karzai, there is a very good chance that the Taliban will reestablish itself as a major power in Afghanistan after U.S. forces withdraw in 2014.

Most dangerously, Iran continues its march to the acquisition of nuclear weapons with which it can “wipe Israel off the map,” as President Ahmadinejad has threatened. According to a recent DEBKA report, Iran’s “nuclear program’s high-speed uranium enrichment plant has now been entirely sequestered in the fortified underground Fordo site near Qom,” which means the Israelis will not be able to destroy the site completely without America’s help. DEBKA continues, “The Iranians are preparing to change the ‘active formation’ of the Fordo centrifuges and adapt them for refining uranium up to the 60 percent level, a short step before the weapons grade of 90 percent. The conversion is expected to be ready to go in the second half of December or early January 2013.” Yet despite this fast approaching point of no return, the Obama administration has refused to back up non-lethal sanctions with a credible threat of force, leaving the Iranians to calculate correctly that they have enough time to reach nuclear capability.

Finally, Obama has chilled relations with our one reliable ally in the Middle East, Israel. He has accepted the specious pretext that “settlements” are the roadblock to peace, claimed that negotiations must start with the indefensible 1967 armistice line, snubbed and insulted Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, and worst of all, refused to back vigorously and unequivocally Israel’s attempts to eliminate the existential threat represented by a nuclear-armed Iran. Indeed, his Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, said of an Israeli preemptive strike on Iran, “I don’t want to be complicit if they [Israel] choose to do it.” Such hostile talk has emboldened the Iranians and disheartened not just Israel, but other allies like Saudi Arabia who know what sort of disruptions and dangers will follow the mullahs’ getting the bomb.

Obama, in short, has reversed the famous aphorism of the Roman general Sulla: under his foreign policy, America has become no better enemy, no worse friend. Our retreat and weakness have diminished America’s stabilizing role in the region, creating a vacuum other countries are eager to fill. As Amir Taheri recently wrote, “For six decades American power acted as the pole that kept the tent [regional stability] up. Over the past four years, however, Barack Obama has pulled that pole away, allowing the tent to sag and, in parts, collapse. As opportunist powers, Russia, Iran and Turkey are trying to fill the vacuum created by America’s retreat. Thus, Russia has just returned as a top supplier of weapons to Iraq, clinching a $4.2 billion contract, partly thanks to lobbying by Iran.” Under Obama, the United States now has little influence over events, even as our own national interests, values, and security are put in jeopardy by these developments.

If Romney wants to gain the upper hand tonight, he needs to highlight this litany of failure. More important, he has to identity the flaws of character and ideology that have led to foreign policy disaster. The political needs of reelection, of course, have shaped Obama’s reactions to events. He staked his foreign policy success on the narrative that our major problem was al Qaeda, so all we needed to do was kill bin Laden and use drone strikes to degrade al Qaeda’s leadership. Hence Obama’s recent assertions that “Al Qaeda’s on its heels” and “Al Qaeda is on the run.” Couple the war on al Qaeda to “democracy promotion” in the region, and all our terrorist problems would disappear. As Obama said on “60 Minutes,” follow this policy and “over the long term we are more likely to get a Middle East and North Africa that is more peaceful, more prosperous and more aligned with…our interests.”

That narrative explains Obama’s clumsy attempt to attribute the Benghazi attack to the “disgusting” YouTube video and the “spontaneous reaction,” as U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice said five days after the attack, that the video provoked, thus supporting the “al Qaeda on its heels” claim. But as we’ve seen above, al Qaeda is not just active, but growing. It is the mother ship of numerous other jihadist outfits with whom it cooperates and coordinates. But Obama’s admission that the attack was a carefully planned lethal celebration of the 9/11 attacks would perforce have repudiated the linchpin of his alleged foreign policy success, and it would have shown that contrary to his “60 Minutes” assertions, during his administration the region has become less peaceful and less aligned with our interests.

But equally important are the failures of Obama’s character, particularly his grandiose estimation of his world-historical significance. Believing that Muslims would react positively to his Muslim name and Muslim roots, Obama thought that all he had to do was show up, and all these countries would forget their national interests and religious beliefs. Of course that arrogant assumption has failed miserably, as surveys of the region show. According to the Pew Research Center, confidence in Obama exceeds 25% only in one country, Lebanon. And those numbers are significantly lower than they were when he took office in 2009. These data should not surprise anyone who knows that nations base their policies on their own culturally specific beliefs and national interests, not on other leaders’ charm or efforts at ingratiation. All Obama’s solicitous “outreach” has achieved is to create the impression that America is a weak enemy and an unreliable ally.

But more than anything else, the widespread self-loathing, self-doubt, and guilt over America’s presumed historical crimes like colonialism, racism, and imperialism have undermined our foreign policy by projecting weakness and a lack of confidence in our own principles and way of life. We saw this in Obama’s infamous 2009 Cairo speech, in which he extolled––before an audience including Muslim Brothers sitting in the front row–– the mythical superiority of Islamic culture, and implicitly apologized for “colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations.” Given this history of exploitation and oppression, Muslim terrorism thus must be understood as a response to these historical injustices, a reaction to our sins rather than the expression of religious beliefs.

This progressive reflex to blame America first explains why Obama spent so much time after the Benghazi attack talking about the obscure YouTube video. In his remarks on September 12, rather than explicitly linking the murder of Americans to terrorist jihadists and defending the First Amendment, he harped on the video and thundered, “We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.” In his U.N. speech, again he referred 6 times to the video, and said nothing specific about jihadist terror, not to mention failing vigorously to defend the central human right of free speech enshrined in our own First Amendment. Indeed, the producer of the video has been jailed on a minor probation violation, creating that “chilling effect” the ACLU usually frets over, and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Dempsey personally called a marginal pastor and counseled him to refrain from exercising his First Amendment rights. Worse yet, the administration produced an ad shown in Pakistan once more protesting our love of Islam and castigating the video, even as across the region Christians and other religions are murdered, brutalized, and driven into exile.

This betrayal of a quintessential political right and the de facto validation of the “malevolent culture of Islamic supremacism,” as Andy McCarthy writes, illustrates the delusional ideologies that have created Obama’s foreign policy now threatening our security and interests. They have made America look weak and exhausted, a civilization of unparalleled military and economic power but crippled by abject moral poverty, one more terrorist attack away from capitulation and retreat. That is the point Romney needs to hammer home tonight if his priority is to expose Obama’s foreign policy failure.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Editorial; Government; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: benghazimurders; middleeast; nationalsecurity; terrorism
......But more than anything else, the widespread self-loathing, self-doubt, and guilt over America’s presumed historical crimes like colonialism, racism, and imperialism have undermined our foreign policy by projecting weakness and a lack of confidence in our own principles and way of life. We saw this in Obama’s infamous 2009 Cairo speech, in which he extolled––before an audience including Muslim Brothers sitting in the front row–– the mythical superiority of Islamic culture, and implicitly apologized for “colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations.” Given this history of exploitation and oppression, Muslim terrorism thus must be understood as a response to these historical injustices, a reaction to our sins rather than the expression of religious beliefs. .............

It’s Not Just Obama’s Lies — It’s the Premise of Obama’s Lies by Andrew C. McCarthy [P.J. Media - Oct 18, 2012] "With CNN’s Candy Crowley shamelessly throwing President Obama a Libya life-preserver at Tuesday night’s debate, the so-called Mohammed video is back in the news. That ought to offend sensible people — and not just because the president, aided and abetted by Ms. Crowley, is lying when he now claims, despite weeks of denials, to have regarded the Benghazi massacre from the first as a pre-planned terrorist attack.

For weeks, Obama and his minions attempted to hoodwink the country into believing that the murders of our ambassador and three other Americans were triggered when Muslim protests over a “movie” virtually no one had seen spontaneously erupted into rioting. In fact, these Americans were killed precisely because Obama’s high-priority policy of embracing Islamists, in Libya and elsewhere, has empowered al-Qaeda and other Muslim militants. The policy’s current implosion, in the presidential campaign’s final days, has made a mockery of Obama’s pretensions about having decimated al-Qaeda — the only part of his record that the president thought it was safe to run on..........................."

1 posted on 10/22/2012 1:29:14 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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Daily Caller - October 22, 2012:

Report: Islamist radicals find warm welcome in Obama White House

2 posted on 10/22/2012 1:30:39 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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Expecting Romney to do an A1 job!


3 posted on 10/22/2012 1:41:31 AM PDT by Gene Eric (Demoralization is a weapon of the enemy. Don't get it, don't spread it!)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Debate? Fox has game 7 of NLCS and ESPN has Monday Night Football. Debate?


4 posted on 10/22/2012 2:02:47 AM PDT by Old Retired Army Guy
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Obama Declares:


"I showed up at this boring foreign policy debate and got my ass whupped! Like I needed this!"

5 posted on 10/22/2012 2:11:26 AM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

More than the previous POTUS , ObaHamass has a rosy vision of islam and of the muslim world.

Even GWBush was out of touch on islam . Saudi Arabia , Qatar , Turkey ...are fake “friends” and allies.

When you will have a strong muslim minority in USA , like in Europe , it will be very hard for you. They are already buying you ( ObHamass money should be tracked).

The problem is not only Lybia but the whole “arab spring” hyped by medias like CNN.
Obama’s foreign policy is fondamentally a failure and a huge fault. That’s not only Benghazi


6 posted on 10/22/2012 2:20:07 AM PDT by Ulysse (l)
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To: Ulysse

Dems are promoting the notion that Obama now has more experience on foreign policy than Romney.

We need four more years of total screw-up experience.


7 posted on 10/22/2012 2:29:30 AM PDT by sodpoodle (Life is prickly - carry tweezers.)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

>>America has become no better enemy, no worse friend. <<

America has never been a reliable friend. just ask the Cubans we abandoned; or the Vietnamese; or the Russian people who suffered under Stalin while we supplied him, etc. America’s foreign policy has to use an ally until it no longer is necessary and then walking away.


8 posted on 10/22/2012 2:29:35 AM PDT by NTHockey (Rules of engagement #1: Take no prisoners)
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Comment #9 Removed by Moderator

To: Cincinatus' Wife
"This is a time for the United States to come together, figure out what happened, which is what the commander in chief has to do"

It sounds like Senator Durbin has plagiarized Joseph Goebbels.


10 posted on 10/22/2012 2:47:45 AM PDT by nathanbedford ("Attack, repeat, attack!" Bull Halsey)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
This is both an insightful and comprehensive article. It opens up and reveals the shortcomings of character which animate Obama and drive his foreign policy. It is comprehensive because it places the Benghazi fiasco in the greater context of Obama's failed policy of apology in appeasement. It explains his cover-up as the direct and proximate result of his defects of character.

I would only add that Romney should strive to make Benghazi a metaphor for the failings of the Obama administration not just where it is obvious, in foreign policy, but where it should also be applied, in the failings of the Obama administration in economic policy. Just as Hurricane Katrina became a metaphor for the failings of the Bush administration, so should Benghazi be held up before the nation tonight as a metaphor for the failings of the Obama administration.

Romney should put Obama on the defensive with these charges but speak more in a mood of sadness rather than reproach.

Above all, Romney must defend against the inevitable charge that he is a warmonger. Obama will try to make Romney a warmonger over Iran. Romney should counter that appeasement makes Iran more bold and war more likely.

On October 16 I posted these thoughts about Benghazi:

On October 16 I posted these thoughts:

-----------------------------------------------------------------

The failure of administration policy and actions, especially in foreign policy and even more especially having to do with physical security, are ultimately his exclusive responsibility. It is his responsibility for failing to manage his administration to protect Americans.

He did not do that and he probably did not do that because he did not permit himself to be informed by his intelligence community, not having consented to a briefing for six consecutive days before the murders on 911. A proactive president who had been briefed about the attacks in Libya, who had been informed in those briefings that even our own State Department advised against travel in Libya, would have pressed his intelligence sources for more information and taking prudent steps.

There was a bias up and down the line against providing physical security because it ran counter to the administration's claims that it had opened a new chapter on the war against terror. In fact it had not eliminated the war it had only eliminated the word, and burly Marines in heavy boots carrying arms simply would present the wrong image.

These are just the questions of the president's culpability before the event, there is much more to be concerned about in his behavior during the event. Did the president of the United States decline to take the live phone call from the consulate as it was under attack? The allegation is the attack lasted six hours, did the President of the United States not even try to send relief? Did Obama get his 3 AM call and go back to sleep?

And then there are the questions of the culpability of the president for his behavior after the event. Why was all of this covered up? The most likely motivation being to conceal the entire disintegration of the administration's policy respecting Islam.

The president has failed the country in his responsibility to combat terrorism. We are lucky we have only 4 dead. Meanwhile, Americans are dying in Afghanistan to no purpose that I can discern except to get Obama past the election.


11 posted on 10/22/2012 3:06:22 AM PDT by nathanbedford ("Attack, repeat, attack!" Bull Halsey)
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To: nathanbedford

Romney needs to take the gloves off tonight
He has shown that he has the facts. Now he needs to beat Obama over the head with them

I want Obama to be reduced to a quivering pile brown jello after this debate


12 posted on 10/22/2012 3:46:34 AM PDT by Fai Mao (Genius at Large)
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To: nathanbedford

Obama’s destructive foreign policy, assembled by his appeasement and choice of favored international partners, was built - brick by brick - by Obama.

HE owns it.


13 posted on 10/22/2012 3:53:21 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Fai Mao
I want Obama to be reduced to a quivering pile brown jello after this debate

So do I and so do we all, but I think Obama understands that he has one shot left to avert defeat and that is to make Romney into Goldwater, that is, scary. I think he will try did this by claiming that his sanctions in Iran are working and that Romney will commit us to war just as Bush did in Iraq.

Romney and must not walk into this trap by being too strident. Look what happened to Obama's ratings with women after the Biden debate.

Fortunately, nothing in Romney's character or previous debate appearances suggests in any way that he will be so dense or inept.


14 posted on 10/22/2012 4:17:10 AM PDT by nathanbedford ("Attack, repeat, attack!" Bull Halsey)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

15 posted on 10/22/2012 4:35:20 AM PDT by Travis McGee (www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com)
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