Friday, December 9, 2011

Obama Gives a Preview of How He'll Campaign on Foreign Policy

"I shot the sheriff
But I didn't shoot no deputy."  --Bob Marley

By Barry Rubin

At his rare December 8 press conference, President Barack Obama took two questions on the Middle East. His answers give a sense of how he’s going to campaign on the issue. Both answers are deeply flawed but one wonders how many people will understand that.

To paraphrase the song, Obama will say: I shot ben-Ladin, and I also wounded Iran.

The way his election rivals should put it is:

You--or more accurately courageous U.S.  soldiers--may have shot the sheriff but you have been helping turn over several countries with tens of millions of people to the far more dangerous deputy. He and his men are terrorizing the townspeople who you keep criticizing them for trying to defend themselves.

Or, let me put it boldly:

Think about this: In the year 2012 the overwhelming majority of Muslims in the Middle East will be governed by radical Islamist regimes that believe in waging jihad on Israel and America, wiping Israel off the map, suppressing Christians, reducing the status of women even more than it is now, and their right as true interpreters of God's will to govern as dictators. (Egypt, Gaza Strip, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia, and Turkey)

Now compare that to a few thousand al-Qaida guys running around and staging occasional terror attacks.

Back to the press conference. A reporter asked Obama:

“Republican candidates have taken aim at your approach to foreign policy, particularly the Middle East and Israel, and accused you of appeasement. I wanted to get your reaction to that.”

I think that the concept of “appeasement” is not so useful here and is easy for Obama and his supporters to dismiss.  Appeasement is to try to make a strong force that you fear leave you alone and not hurt you by making concessions to them.

What the Obama Administration has done goes far beyond that.

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