“And still we continue to wait and hope that our president will finally stop being a bystander in the Oval Office.” -Governor Chris Christie
In this column’s prequel, the consistent rhetoric of divisiveness, blame, and distraction put forth by both the Obama administration and campaign was explained as the only narration available to describe economic policies that have irrefutably failed. Put simply, the activity of President Obama and his Democratic Congress (which prominently features a failed stimulus package, a massive healthcare overhaul, and an imprudent distribution of blank taxpayer checks masqueraded as ‘bailouts’) ultimately claims responsibility for the removal of substance in relation to the President’s electoral vocabulary.
The explanation of President Obama’s dependence on an unprecedented use of division must be expanded to include his failures abroad. Per tonight’s exclusive concentration on foreign policy, it should be noted that matters abroad have also emerged as a contributor to President Obama’s impossibility to successfully utilize a campaign of substance. However, unlike domestic and fiscal failures that have resulted from the President’s activity, the foreign failures of the current administration have resulted from the President’s emblematic inactivity. It is this parallel juxtaposition of activity that simultaneously accounts for the President’s misguided electoral approach. More importantly, the most undesirable consequence of this activity and inactivity equilibrium (in relation to domestic and foreign policy, respectively) is its contribution to an unacceptable approach of governing. Inactivity, passivity, and their first cousin, appeasement, have too frequently consumed the foreign policy playbook of the Obama Administration. Governor Romney’s ability to foster a 21st century that will be led exclusively by American strength is the converse to that of the incumbent’s approach, and encompasses our winning argument (and far more importantly, a successful governing approach).
As I anticipated in Our Winning Argument, Part 1: Five Debate Questions for President Obama, the probability of the following five questions appearing on Bob Schieffer’s prepared list remains unlikely. However, as a trustee of history’s greatest nation that happens to be facing its great historical threats, the following five questions must appear on your list of questions as a most necessary exercise of presidential accountability.
Question One: Mr. President, what is the capital of Israel?
President Obama’s persistent unwillingness to accept as fundamental of a truth as recognizing the capital of a fellow nation – nonetheless of a fellow ally – has ironically emerged as one of the most active aspects of his presidency. Ranging from the spokesperson for the State Department to Press Secretary Jay Carney and Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest, President Obama and company have repeatedly undertaken a literal pivot from a 2008 platform that emphasized unequivocal support for Israel and its “undivided and eternal capital, Jerusalem”. Following the embarrassing Jerusalem omission within the 2012 National Democratic Party Platform, party leaders sought desperately to salvage what little credibility the DNC collectively had on the Israel issue (such a move sparked eruptions of boos and condemnation among convention attendees). Admittedly, it takes a tremendous degree of effort and activity to categorically deny reality and concurrently reverse one’s position prior to the completion of a single term.
Yet from the more significant emblematic perspective, the great lengths that the Obama Administration has taken to reject information that appears in virtually every world fact book and atlas fittingly aligns with a foreign policy that is bent on unfortunate passivity and appeasement. Since its existence, Israel has been situated in a Middle East region that categorically rejects its cherishment of liberty, equality, justice, and opportunity. In other words, these precious pillars of democracy that ultimately explain Israel’s virtuousness have empirically proven (via the innumerable Israeli terror victims as a result of the innumerable demands for Israel’s destruction) why they are among history’s most difficult values to defend.
Given such a daunting prescription for brutality, perhaps my criticism of the President’s Jerusalem position appears to be petty or irrelevant. Yet its primary significance arrives in the following question: If we cannot depend on President Obama to merely declare the capital of Israel in these antebellum years, how could we depend on President Obama to provide adequate defense (both rhetorical and armed defense) for Israel if a demanding military conflict materialized? Thus, my Jerusalem criticism arises not in spite of the serious threat of looming war, but rather because of the serious threat of looming war. The Jerusalem issue subtlety (yet powerfully) foreshadows President Obama’s presumed reluctance when the defense of Israel will be needed most. If the President has been emblematically passive on such a simple reality in perhaps what were the simplest times for Israel in the next decade, he will most certainly be actively passive when the stakes reach their zenith, and Israel’s existence is palpably threatened.
Further, if President Obama’s inactivity impedes our ability to properly defend our values-proxy known as the State of Israel, I fear most for an analogous passivity in response to potential hazards placed on our own national security. To think that threats on Israel remain mutually exclusive to our shared democratic principles precisely demonstrates the gravity for a collective acquisition of understanding – beginning with President Obama. For the sake of Israel (and thus inherently for the sake of the United States), we simply cannot continue having a bystander-in-chief.
Question Two: Mr. President, are you still ‘sick and tired’ of dealing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu?
Supplementing his hurtful words above that were shared with former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, President Obama has consistently instilled resentment as a fundamental tenet of his relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. When contemplating the world leader who was surreptitiously sneaked in and out of the White House’s side doors, insulted and blinded hours before his flight to the United States as he learned of the President’s devastating and indefensible policy agenda for his nation, and defeated by the ladies of ‘The View’ and David Letterman for securing a meeting with President Obama, the name Benjamin Netanyahu should not even appear in one’s wildest imagination; certainly not as the correct answer. President Obama’s snubs towards Prime Minister Netanyahu have unfortunately developed into an onerous activity of insolence, in lieu of a relentless interest of stalwartly maintaining the unblemished history of our two nations and respective leaders.
President Obama’s self-inflicted, flawed relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu serves to further substantiate my fear of a broader, comprehensive passivity when defending Israel. In tandem with the Jerusalem acknowledgment matter, I similarly put forth the question that if we cannot depend on President Obama to foster a laudable relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu in these antebellum years, how could we depend on President Obama to foster an essential relationship of unambiguous support with Prime Minister Netanyahu if a demanding military conflict materialized? Once more, my criticism of the President’s failure with Prime Minister Netanyahu arises not in spite of the serious threat of looming war, but rather because of the serious threat of looming war.
Question Three: Mr. President, has Iran grown further from or closer to its primary goal of achieving nuclear capability since January 20th, 2009?
Undoubtedly, it is Iran that can be identified as this serious threat of looming war that Israel faces. Beginning with the well-known beliefs of its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has publicly declared to the world that Israel must be “eliminated” and “wiped off the map”, referred to Zionists as “the most detested people in all humanity”, and considers the Holocaust to be a “myth”. Further, as the worldwide sponsor of terror, the products of Iran prominently include Hezbollah and Hamas – terrorist organizations that pride themselves on the frequent murder of the innocent via suicide bombs, missiles, and roadside bombs. As the regime of empirical terror, Iran can therefore claim responsibility for being the leader of the aforementioned innumerable Israeli terror victims as a result of its innumerable demands for Israel’s destruction.
In congruence with their proxies of Hezbollah and Hamas, the issue of Iran extends to yet another proxy relationship: the United States and Israel. Like the multitude of victims from our fellow Israeli values-proxy, Iran has murdered the innocent lives of thousands of Americans. Consider, for instance, the 1983 Hezbollah attack on the United States Marine barracks in Lebanon, in which 241 Marines and servicemen were tragically murdered. Additionally, as Prime Minister Netanyahu explained in his March address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), “In the last decade, Hezbollah is responsible for murdering and maiming American soldiers in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Just a few months ago, Hezbollah tried to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the US in a restaurant just a few blocks from here. The assassins didn’t care that several Senators and members of Congress would have been murdered in the process.” And, similarly to Iran’s asinine Holocaust denial, they too have accused the United States government of organizing the September 11th attacks. It is important to note, as Prime Minister Netanyahu further stated, “This is how Iran behaves today, without nuclear weapons. Think of how they will behave tomorrow, with nuclear weapons.” We must therefore remain meticulously cognizant of the reality that Israel is simply not the world’s only nation that is subject to Iran’s wrath. We must therefore remain attentive when the leader of a nation on the cusp of nuclear capability calls for the destruction of Israel. We must remain devoted to stopping Iran’s nuclear program.
Thus, when he implored the American people to “calm down” about the prospect of a nuclear Iran, it was Vice President Joe Biden who, pardon the paradox, best communicated the regrettable position of the Obama Administration. It is this approach of the Obama Administration, enthralled in a fundamental lack of urgency, which ultimately threads together the underlying significance of the faults regarding Jerusalem and the relationship with Benjamin Netanyahu: emblematic passivity. Yet when contemplating the reality that Iranian production of enriched uranium has tripled since President Obama took office and Iran is closer than it has ever been to achieving nuclear capability (as the Obama Administration still continues to talk with them), emblematic passivity reveals itself as substantial danger.
Question Four: Mr. President, why were repeated requests for additional security from our personnel in Libya rejected? Further, if you knew within the first 24 hours that the attack was one of terror, why would you knowingly mislead the American people by blaming a YouTube video?
As I explained in Redress of Grievances: Lessons to be Learned from September 11th, 2012, the discussion of the attack that occurred in Benghazi is one that should be handled with utmost tact. The horrific reality that four outstanding men were murdered while serving this country first and foremost commands the prelude that gaining cheap political benefit from tragedy is both vile and thankfully rejected by the American people.
Concurrently, we must accept our responsibility to analyze critical mistakes made by those who lead our government. Such a process commences with confirmed requests for extra security and help with flying personnel and equipment around Libya that were denied by the State Department. Ambassador Stevens himself repeatedly voiced concerns (including on the day of his death) following thirteen security threats over the six months prior to the September 11th attack. As Paul Ryan perfectly stated in the vice presidential debate, “Our ambassador in Paris has a Marine detachment guarding him. Shouldn’t we have a Marine detachment guarding our ambassador in Benghazi, a place where we knew that there was an Al Qaida cell with arms?” Why the Obama Administration and its State Department would not arrive at similar conclusions is quite frankly beyond comprehension.
In concert with these deplorable rejections for additional security requests in Libya, the Obama Administration utterly failed in its collective response to what can emphatically be described as a premeditated act of terror. In addition to pundit Lee Doren’s note that the President “knowingly falsely blamed a private citizen of causing an international riot”, President Obama further falsely blamed the YouTube video six times on the world stage at the United Nations General Assembly. Concurrently, President Obama sent our United Nations Ambassador on television to blame the video five distinct times in just one morning. The known fact that President Obama knew within 24 hours that the Libya attack was one of terror (with the possible involvement of Al Qaeda) exposes the unfortunate essence of his misleading.
Lastly, President Obama’s passivity with Libya ultimately arrives in his continued failure to offer strong leadership. In the wake of such a devastating tragedy, the initial instinct of a strong American leader would not seek to fly out to Nevada on the day following the attack for political fundraisers, would not knowingly mislead the American people by falsely blaming a YouTube video, and would not accuse Republicans of playing politics for their necessary pursuit of oversight. Most importantly, a strong American leader would certainly not prioritize the aforementioned while remaining cognizant of the reality that Ahmed Abu Khattala, the ‘ringleader’ of the recent September 11th attacks is able to freely sip “strawberry frappes” with a New York Times columnist on a luxury hotel balcony.
Question 5: Mr. President, in March of this year, you explained to current Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev that as this is your last campaign, you will have more “flexibility” after the election. What exactly is being hindered that necessitates post-election flexibility?
President Obama’s comments to Prime Minister Medvedev provide a telling preview of the role that unidentified activity would have in a second term. If the President’s current passive foreign policy approach can be described, as Senator Lindsey Graham declared “Exhibit A of a failed foreign policy”, contemplate for a moment the unraveling that would transpire should his known passivity transform to an agenda of unidentified activity. Merely through passivity, President Obama has managed to alienate allies such as Israel (and friends such as Benjamin Netanyahu), witness Iran become four years closer to achieving nuclear capability, and observe the Middle East virtually hinge on collapse. Inject unidentified activity into these delicate circumstances, and each will be inevitably exacerbated beyond their limits.
Further, as Senator Marco Rubio explained just yesterday on ABC’s “This Week”, “The most startling thing that has happened here the last month over this campaign is the president has completely given up on outlining any sort of agenda for the future. What’s his plan for the next four years?” Given the unacceptable results from these past four years of President Obama’s passivity, the American people should not be subject to the gamble of what would stem from the next four years of a foreign policy enveloped in unidentified activeness. Perhaps unlike Dmitry Medvedev, we the American people are not flexible with the brightness of our future.
Parker Mantell | University of Indiana at Bloomington | @ParkerMantell