GOP foreign policy debate Tuesday nightThe Heritage Foundation is sponsoring a Republican Presidential candidates' foreign policy debate on Tuesday night. I have two previews for you - one in video and one in writing.
Let's go to the videotape.
The written preview is a bit more substantive.
If the candidates can avoid these unforced errors, Constitution Hall offers an appropriately spacious and resonant backdrop for a serious exploration of how American exceptionalism translates into specific policy objectives and outcomes. For example, how exactly does the U.S., with its interests and values in mind, set and pursue goals regarding Egypt’s deepening political crisis? What should the U.S. be saying, both publicly and privately, to the Egyptian military junta, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other actors? What exactly are the specific red lines in this unsettled relationship that cannot be crossed with impunity — and what are the precise consequences for doing so? For instance, should these red lines demarcate acceptable treatment of religious minorities such as Coptic Christians, who constitute some 10 percent of Egypt’s population? If not, why not?Those comments actually came from several different commenters who were previewing Tuesday night's debate. That's not all the previewers and it's nowhere near all their comments, so I urge you to read the whole thing.
America’s reputation was hardly helped by the Obama administration’s confusing and inconsistent response to the Arab Spring. The administration’s support for Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak seemed to shift with the wind when protests broke out in Egypt early this year. It wasn’t that long ago that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton referred to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad as “a reformer.” The administration’s decision to “lead from behind” in Libya extended the bloodshed in the Libyan uprising for several months and undermined America’s reputation as defender of freedom.
The next Republican president will have a lot of work to do to rebuild American leadership on the world stage. We don’t need the U.N.’s permission to protect our interests. We must accept that, as the world’s sole remaining superpower, we will not always be popular or loved. We need to stand by our friends — such as the U.K. and Israel — and hold rogue states — such as Iran, North Korea, and Syria — accountable for their behavior.
Fixing our foreign policy will take principled leadership. The next GOP president must nominate strong officials to key foreign-policy posts. To obtain new foreign-policy ideas and better management practices, some of these officials should come from outside of government.
Washington can ignore the world for only so long before the world comes knocking on its door. And while getting America’s fiscal house in order has to be the priority for any new president elected in 2012, his or her administration will be faced with a growing list of foreign-policy issues hardly any less important.
Iran: Given Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the Obama administration’s reluctance to do anything about them, a new president will need to take military action, be prepared to deal militarily with an Iranian reaction to Israel’s having struck Iran’s program, or put in place the kind of stringent sanctions that may well produce a military response from Iran in any case.
Arab Spring: If one looked only at the attention given by the White House to the past year’s events in the Middle East and North Africa, a person would never know that what is unfolding there is as revolutionary a transformation as any we have seen since the collapse of the Soviet empire. Yet, like most revolutions, these too will either result in a substantial advancement of decent rule or spin off into their own idiosyncratic tyrannies. Any new administration will be left to play catch-up as a result of the Obama team’s general reluctance to shape how these revolutions unfold.
As the U.S. heads toward the 2012 presidential elections, the country remains bogged down in a prolonged period of unemployment. Yet if Iran succeeds in its quest to obtain nuclear weapons, it will only compound America’s economic woes.
Iran’s nuclear program is the single greatest foreign-policy threat to America’s security. Its rulers seek a Middle East dominated by revolutionary Islam, as advocated by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, whose followers first declared war on America in 1979. The storming of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran more than three decades ago was merely the opening salvo in a wave of terror attacks against U.S. interests from Afghanistan to Iraq to Lebanon.
Last month, Iranian perfidy very nearly struck in Washington itself, in a foiled attempt to murder Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States in an attack that could have killed scores of Americans at a Georgetown restaurant.
The next administration will need to combat Iran’s proxies, including Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. The Republican contenders should call for Washington to impose real sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran to starve the regime of funding for its nuclear and terrorist activities.
Did you all notice what was missing? Not one person who was discussing Tuesday night's debate mentioned the number one priority of the Obama administration: The Middle East 'peace process.' It may not even come up at the debate. That's because Republicans and conservatives recognize that it pales in importance next to issues like Iran, the Arab spring and the revitalized Russia. If a new President is elected who lays off of Israel, that would be a breath of fresh air. And if that new President supports Israel and make Israel a part of the solution to the World's problems, that would be even better.