“...Last night Ronald Reagan would have loved this debate. Six months ago, I was really worried that our party was drifting. Last night was a hawkish debate that talked about listening to commanders and not basing decisions in Iraq and Afghanistan, on polls. This President has rejected solid military commander advice to help his own re-election. I think we’re going to win because the policies that he enacted– President Obama enacted in his first two years have damned this economy for now and in the future. So we need a solid person on the economy, someone who will say I will listen to the generals, not make poll-driven decisions….”
At least someone in the GOP has the best interest of the nation at heart when it comes to foreign policy. I guess, when it comes to the mantle of Reagan, the greatest irony is that the person the extreme right hates the most, Lindsey Graham, is the one now following the path of Reagan.
Lindsey authored an op-ed for NRO about Foreign Policy and the Obama Administration. I guess, because Lindsey wrote it, the right will refuse to pay attention to it. They hate Lindsey. Rush Limbaugh detests Lindsey, but after this past week, I would rather Rush detest me rather that admire me.
“...But Republican presidential candidates would be making a devastating mistake if they did not also challenge the Obama administration for its many strategic errors in the War on Terror, even if they should give him credit for some tactical successes as well. The president’s desire to boost his chances of reelection is affecting his national-security decisions — and this trend will only worsen as his political prospects dim….
…There have been some tactical successes by the Obama administration, and the president deserves credit. The decision to send troops into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden, the use of drones in Pakistan and Yemen, and the targeted killing of American citizen Anwar Al-Awlaki, who had taken up arms with al-Qaeda, were the right calls. But by no means do these tactical successes trump the series of major strategic mistakes, the depth and breadth of which I fear will come back to haunt our nation for decades to come. Raw politics have dominated, and will continue to dominate, strategic decisions in the War on Terror — whether the issue is troop withdrawal from Iraq, accelerated withdrawal of surge forces from Afghanistan, or allowing the ACLU to hold hostage our detention and interrogation policies….
…President Obama’s policies have alienated old allies and discarded golden opportunities to guide entire regions into a closer alignment with American interests. He has squandered the respect, admiration, and — in some cases — fear that other nations and their leaders had of America. As a result, our allies are uncertain of our national commitment to support those who would fight the enemy in their own backyard, and enemies such as Iran seem more emboldened than ever. While not surprising, Obama’s actions are disappointing.
For those seeking to be our next president, permitting these strategic mistakes to go unchallenged would be devastating. I am unnerved by the lack of scrutiny many conservatives are giving President Obama’s fundamentally unsound national-security policies….
…Those who believe we can contain a nuclear-armed Iran will likely be on the wrong side of history. To me, it seems inevitable that if primarily Shiite Iran gets a nuclear weapon, Sunni-Arab states will be driven to acquire their own. Over time, the entire Middle East will become nuclear-armed….”
“…Finally, an American military presence is vital to safeguard against a Kurdish–Arab dispute over boundary lines and oil reserves. Having a U.S. presence between the Kurdish militia and the Arab-dominated Iraqi security forces has created stability in a very volatile region of Iraq. Our commanders have recommended that 3,000–5,000 troops remain deployed to help alleviate tensions between the Kurds and Arabs as they work to reach a political settlement. Any conflict in the Kurdish area could spill over into Turkey, creating further regional instability.
Now, under Obama’s withdrawal plan, we will leave up to approximately 17,000 civilians and contractors in Iraq. This will likely prove to be even more costly than maintaining the troops requested by our commanders. This civilian force will be a de facto State Department army, something never embraced in the history of our nation. Most diplomats I have spoken with feel that a United States military presence, rather than private contractors, best ensures protection for our civilians who are doing important work in Iraq.
Our civilian leadership within the Department of Defense shares the view that the future of Iraq is critical to our national-security interests. I asked Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta how important it was to our own national security that Iraq ends well. On a scale of 1–10, he said it was an 8 or above. Undersecretary of Defense Ashton Carter went even farther, stating that given all the sacrifices we have made in Iraq, it was a 10….”
...When the president met with his military commanders in the summer of 2011, they did not present as an option withdrawing all surge forces by September 2012. While having the surge forces come home two months before his election may make sense in Chicago, it does not make sense in the Pentagon or Kabul.
President Obama’s withdrawal decision places Gen. John R. Allen in an untenable position, since he will lack the necessary forces to finish the two-part strategic plan. It’s clear from recent attacks in Afghanistan that the Haqqani network has gained influence and has become more brazen than the Taliban.
If recent press reports are accurate, President Obama is contemplating additional accelerated troop withdrawal beyond the surge forces. If this decision is carried out, it will put our enemies on steroids and be a disheartening blow to our friends and allies. Our troop withdrawals have caused those in the region to question whether we are committed to supporting forces of moderation.
Regional players and those within Afghanistan who have been betting on America are now hedging those bets. President Obama’s decisions risk all we have fought for, create doubt among our allies, and embolden our enemies. This is a classic example of political considerations’ overshadowing sound military recommendations….”
Our long-term national-security successes will not be judged by the day on which we leave places like Iraq and Afghanistan, but by what we leave behind. Under President Obama, our detention, interrogation, and prosecution policies are more in line with fighting crime than fighting a war.
The binding tie between these decisions seems to be that they are driven by political considerations, not our national-security interests.
Bringing troops home before the election is undoubtedly popular, and every politician is always concerned with his political base. However, if we make crucial decisions based on short-term political calculations, we will suffer as a nation.
When America is perceived to be weak or indecisive, it deflates our allies and emboldens our enemies. The threats we face from a vicious and evil enemy require far more strategic thought than the Obama administration has delivered.
In the 1964 presidential election, Ronald Reagan talked about “A Time for Choosing.” Today, the Republican party faces a similar time for choosing.
Will we be the party that continues to promote Reagan’s belief in a strong national defense? Will we stand up for freedom, democracy, and American values around the globe? Will we embrace and assist those willing to confront radical Islam in their own countries? And will we hold President Obama accountable for his strategic mistakes, which put our national security in jeopardy?
I believe peace through strength remains a winning formula, and I’m confident the American people are with us. But to be successful, we have to be willing to make the case. …”