Monday, November 14, 2011

Why foreign policy matters

In spite of my vehement disagreement with and general abhorrence of social conservatism, my disgust with their increasing economic ruthlessness and my mistreatment at the hands of several Republicans, I nevertheless remain a Republican and will in all likelihood do so for the foreseeable future.  Why? Simply put, security issues.  In general, Republican are far, far tougher on issues of crime, defense and foreign policy than their opponents.  And, more than anything else, security issues are, going back to Hobbes and Locke, government's reason for existence.

Roger L. Simon touches on this in his latest piece, "It's the Foreign Policy, Stupid:"
“It’s the economy, stupid,” some dude named Carville once said. He was referring to what was the correct prescription for winning a presidential election — and it’s been gospel ever since.
He’s probably right. Except when it comes to actually being president, it’s something else altogether. “It’s the foreign policy, stupid” — because day one of being POTUS, you, and basically you alone, determine the foreign policy of the United States of America and much of the future and present of humanity.
And that’s not just because you wake up with an intelligence briefing that could make bald men lose their hair or because you are the Commander-in-Chief of the most powerful armed forces on Earth with all the life or death decisions that entails or because some unsmiling individual follows you around with the nuclear football, putting Armageddon in your hands.

It’s because — unlike economic policy for which, be it “9-9-9” or the Ryan Plan or anything else, you must get the approval of Congress — in foreign policy the president is king. Technically, the legislature has a lot to do with foreign affairs — they have multiple oversight committees as well as the right to declare war — but by the time they go so far as to meet, the president would have reacted to a dirty nuke in a Minneapolis shopping mall or a terrorist attack on the Port of Los Angeles. Whatever the Congress does in those situations is way behind the curve. The president has already acted. Indeed, he must.
So for that reason I was relieved that foreign affairs finally arrived Saturday night as the subject in the seemingly endless series of Republican debates. I am far more worried about that than I am about the economy. That’s because just about any Republican who gets elected will do some or all of the obvious — cut way back on government spending and regulations and keep taxes to a minimum. He or she will also cancel Obamacare and open the energy spigot. In all probability, the economy will boom.
But no one can predict what will happen in the world at large. That is why I am leery of a president who is a foreign policy novice.
We have seen the results of that with the incumbent. America’s foreign policy has been between non-existent and disastrous during his administration. Our leadership in the world has diminished drastically, probably intentionally, and that is horrendous for the human race.
The examples are myriad (going after Ghaddafi while virtually ignoring the far more dangerous Assad; allowing, even encouraging, the fall of Mubarak leading to the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere; playing footsie with increasingly Islamist Turkey; putting undue pressure on Israel and repeatedly disrespecting her prime minister; etc.) but I can’t recall a more despicable behavior by an American president in my lifetime than Barack Obama’s reaction — or should I say non-reaction — to the democracy movement in Iran. Who can forget the brave demonstrators in the streets shouting “Obama, Obama, are you with us or against us?”
Obama didn’t hear them, choosing instead to negotiate with Ahmadinejad. This ideologically ignorant and narcissistic decision, devoid even of basic human compassion, has helped put us in the position we are today with an Islamofascist Iran on the brink of nuclear weapons.
As long as Democrats do not take security issues seriously, and Obama with few exceptions has not, trusting them with the executive will be extremely dangerous.

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