The final presidential debate goes tonight. The topic is foreign policy. This is supposed to be an Obama stronghold and months ago they were probably thrilled that this topic would be the closer of the debates. But now I'm sure they are a bit worried. The over under on Obama mentioning getting Bin Laden is about 11, because really, that's all they've got. He may also try to spin the Arab Spring as one of his successes. Reality however, flies in the face of his supposed strength.
The quick skinny on a number of foreign affairs.
Consider Iran: First there was the failed Green Revolution in Iran, where Obama sat on his hands while Iranians were being killed in the streets by government thugs. Then there has been the non-action while the Iranians have continued to surge towards nuclear weapons capabilities.
Consider Libya: The president decided the best way to lead on the uprising in Libya was from behind. After the overthrow of Qaddafi, most recently there's been the misleading of the American public on the attacks at the consulate in Benghazi, followed by inaction on the terrorist attack.
Consider Syria: The death toll of Syrian citizens by a brutally oppressiveness regime marks a strange positioning for the president. Why would the president ignore Syria when he jumped in (gingerly) in Libya, and yelled quite loudly on Egypt? Evidence suggests either he is not comfortable confronting enemies the way he is with confronting allies, or else he's learned that the idea that we are fostering liberty in these nations has given way to fostering Muslim extremism in place of oppressive regimes and has decided to back off. In the first case it demonstrates weakness and in the latter case, a late understanding of the reality of the world combined with a lack of a plan on dealing with a post-dictatorship Middle Eastern nations.
Consider Egypt: After demanding a far-less-than-perfect ally in Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, step down (something the White House was completely silent on in the case of Iran), the media happily declared an Arab Spring. But the Muslim Brotherhood has surged to the forefront of the Egyptian political scene. And there has been flag burning demonstrations outside of the U.S. embassy, also on September 11th. The president's apology tour early on in his presidency has done nothing to change perception of American niceness in the Muslim world. What it has done is demonstrated America's weakness and fostered the idea that now is the time to take advantage of that weakness.
Consider Israel: The president's dismissive attitude towards an erstwhile stalwart ally has been shameful. Israel has serious, legitimate concerns over Iran, over Hezbollah and neighbors with significant animosity towards it. In light of this the president suggested Israel retreat to borders that no one believes is an intelligent meaningful discussion point.
Consider China: The president's policies are aiding China's ascent and U.S. decline.
The theory behind the Obama Administration’s weak dollar policy is seductive, but wrong. A rise in the value of the yuan relative to the dollar is supposed to make Chinese imports more expensive, and U.S. exports to China less expensive, thereby reducing Chinese imports and increasing U.S. exports. The problem is this theory has failed miserably ever since President Nixon broke the dollar’s link to gold and devalued the dollar in 1971...The danger of a weak dollar policy is in the total incoherence between its objective – to make Americans more prosperous – and its prescription – to make Americans poorer by increasing the price of our imports while reducing the value of what we sell in exchange.When a weak dollar makes imports more expensive, our standard of living goes down as we pay more for goods we buy at the mall... To the extent we have to spend more on imported goods, we have less money to spend on domestically produced goods and services. You can’t make America richer by making our paychecks and savings worth less.Second, a stronger Chinese currency makes the Chinese richer. Now, their money buys 25% more on world markets. The value of their savings has also appreciated 25%......the harm inflicted by a falling dollar on the U.S. economy remains. A weak dollar chases capital out of the U.S. as investors seek to protect themselves against losses associated with a falling currency. Such outflows hurt capital intensive U.S. companies and destroy U.S. manufacturing jobs relative to the less capital intensive service sector. For example, from 2000 to 2007 under the weak dollar policy of President George W. Bush, the 10% increase in industrial production was a full 8 percentage points less than the expansion of real GDP.
Consider Russia: The policy on missile defense is indicative of an overall policy of appeasement. This gaffe shows the naked political opportunism at home and the appeasement view of foreign policy the president has not just with Russia but as his overall strategy on foreign relations.
Consider Venezuela: As Venezuela has sped towards dictatorial socialism, the president has turned a blind eye towards it an earned an endorsement from Hugo Chavez. This in addition to the endorsements from Raul Castro and Russia's Vladimir Putin. He's go the enemy dictator endorsements locked up. What does that tell us? That America's enemies want another four years of Obama. That speaks volumes.
Consider Canada: One word sums up both the president's poor treatment of allies, and the prioritization of political opinion over the economy - Keystone.
Consider all the bowing:
Good for America? It certainly is odd.
Consider Great Britain: No bowing here.
The president also sent some thoughtless gifts Great Britain's way.
Finally, consider the Bin Laden raid and killing: Did the president really accomplish anything that would not have been accomplished under anyone else as president? No. The intelligence made the finding of Bin Laden possible. The planning of the raid was surely a military matter. The only involvement the president had was to give the go ahead on the raid. Had he not the scandal would have been huge (had it come out). In other words, his decision to go ahead was such a no-brainer that anyone in his position would have made the same decision to go. Does he deserve credit? Maybe for not being frozen by fear into inaction.
The ground is fertile for Romney to win this debate. He has lots of ammunition and he should push hard on any issue that comes because the president will be hard pressed to defend himself on any of it.