Monday, October 15, 2012

Pants on Fire # 7: Foreign Policy

The Lies: Rep. Paul Ryan claimed in last Thursday's debate that the Obama administration is not tough enough in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and Iran. The Obama administration shouldn't have announced the 2014 withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. A Romney-Ryan administration would be tougher. A Romney -Ryan administration would be supporting the peace-loving, American-values-embracing rebels in Syria, giving them guns and sending in air attacks and ground troops to support these heroes of the common folk of Syria. Showing force makes the U.S. look stronger, which makes our enemies less willing to attack us. The Obama administration deliberately misled the American people about the recent attack at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. And they should have had Marines at that consulate. And they should have had more protection there, too.

The Truths:  First, the discussion in the V.P. debate last Thursday evening did not really include "foreign policy" as such. The questions and answers dealt instead with military strategy and tactics. It would have been nice to hear what the Romney-Ryan philosophy is on foreign policy---if they have such a thing. It seems, though, that what they have is a series of talking points that go like this: If the Obama administration thinks one thing, we must say we think the opposite, even if there is no better alternative and we have to admit as much later in the discussion.

Second, the Obama administration is working carefully with other nations through the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to work toward peace in the Middle East and all over the world. The Romney-Ryan attacks on Pres. Obama's supposed placatory and peaceful talk are pure rhethoric. In fact, Ryan admitted in the debate that there is no difference between what he and Gov. Romney would do in Afghanistan (i.e., withdraw by 2014). 

Third, the idea that arming the rebels in Syria would be helpful to U.S. interests or the long-term interests of the people of Syria is ridiculous. The rebels are mostly Salafists, that is, extremists who hate Western values and would make the Taliban terrorists of Pakistan, you know, those people who try to assassinate little girls because they want to go to school, look like peace-loving hippies. Arming those people would be disastrous for Syrians and the entire Middle East and would set back American interests and Western influences by centuries.

Fourth, "showing force" in the sense that Rep. Ryan means it would make the U.S. look like a big bully; while working with other nations and through diplomatic channels is helping us make progress toward peace throughout the world. And, in fact, using this method, the sanctions against Iran are stronger and have greater potential to change the situation than any saber-rattling could ever do. And, also in fact, Pres. Obama is the one (not any Republican president) who has sent in Navy Seals to take out the perpetrator of 9-11 and drone attacks to take out many of his highest supporters. 

Fifth, and finally, the Obama administration has told the facts about what happened at the consulate in Benghazi as they became available. There was a lot of confusion surrounding that attack, which turns out not to have been related to the protests in Cairo and was apparently a full military attack. Marines would not have been guarding the consulate, in any event; they guard embassies, not consulates, and they are not there as bodyguards. And Republicans are the ones who cut the budget for diplomatic security. 

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