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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

On Foreign Policy, We Have Been Fortunate To Have Obama

Category: Barack Obama
Posted: 01/14/16 15:49

by Dave Mindeman

I caught a few minutes of a National Press Club speech by Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Mac Thornberry- which he gave yesterday in Washington.

During his speech he noted that today, "political decisions outweigh security needs when it comes to foreign policy." He was talking about the Obama administration and he said it as though we should be appalled at this type of priority.

I strongly disagree.

It was political decision making that kept us out of a nuclear holocaust during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. It was security posturing that escalated the Vietnam war into a national disgrace. It was out of control security ideas that led to the Iraq war. And it is political priorities that have led to a communications breakthrough that has prevented Iran from getting a nuclear bomb and the quick release of our sailors in the latest Gulf incident.

That is why the current rhetoric coming from our current crop of Republican Presidential candidates should give all of us pause. We have not seen this kind of shoot first mentality since the days of Barry Goldwater in 1964. There is nothing in the foreign policy realm that is off limits for criticism - at least in their view. Candidates who feel free to comment on any foreign development as an opportunity to criticize our current President are not only not helping these situations, but they are giving our enemies opportunities to test our will.

Amidst all the contentions about weakness and timidity and leading from behind that come from the GOP these days, there is not one shred of a plausible idea about how they would actually handle these situations.

In Syria, we all know it is a complex problem with a number of layers. Many of them we cannot even see. Yet, Ted Cruz thinks that carpet bombing will fix it. Trump thinks you can just bomb the oil fields. Carson thinks there are mysterious Chinese interests involved. Lindsay Graham had advocated for a massive US invasion force.

The idea that some kind of massive military intervention can fix any of these situations has already been proven to be a mistake - time after time after time. But it is all that the Republicans have to offer. They have nothing else. And the simplicity of it in the face of fearmongering may be attractive to a frustrated electorate.

But it is foolish and irresponsible.

President Obama has made some foreign policy mistakes...but most of them have come when he listens to the security first people. His first instincts of political diplomacy have always been the wiser and more productive method. He didn't over react to the Russian expansion and now Russia is bogged down with two failed policies and economic decline. He persisted on the Iran nuclear deal and achieved a solid agreement which has opened up a level of communication that has relieved tensions. His willingness to shift policy has led to a new era of Cuban relations.

The Republican critics want bluster and big stick action - but how much failure has to happen in that regard before we realize that it is not the way to deal with today's information technology world?

President Obama may not have the kind of approval ratings that you would want to see, but the standing of the United States has been rising steadily and global cooperation has improved immensely.

Aren't those the measurements that truly matter?

I know the Republican base continues to give big points for all the tough talk and swagger, but, in the end, this country needs calm steady leadership to weather these global events.

We have been very fortunate to have a President who understands that.
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