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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Democrat's Foreign Policy Rhetoric and Geopolitical Reality

Throughout the campaign you are likely to hear this sort of rhetoric from the Democrats regarding our foreign policy.

Former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle says Barack Obama will restore America's credibility in the world if he's elected the next president of the United States.

Daschle, an adviser to the Obama campaign, says Obama "would return to the days of aggressive multilateralism."

Obama "has come to the realization that we would have to work in concert with our allies and friends," Daschle told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday.

Hillary Clinton sounds much the same.

Finally, a person that listens to the people, listens and works with people, and can get the country together and reunite us, restore our credibility, restore our military, and put us back in a fiscal policy worth the United States history.

These sorts of nebulous statements have always bothered me because while they are totally nonsensical, they are likely to sway those that have no foreign policy sophistication. The Dems would have us believe that we alienated our friends and allies and that they are the ones to restore our reputation and bring us back to the world community. The problem is that there really isn't necessarily any evidence of the former, and furthermore, their actions are counter to the latter.

Over the last few weeks, the Democrats have made several actions and statements that show that not only are these statements naive and disingenuous, but that they ignore geopolitical reality.

The first is their firm refusal not only to pass the free trade pact with Colombia but their indication that other free trade pacts with countries like South Korea and Panama will face the same fate. The Presidential candidates have also threatened to renegotiate NAFTA and CAFTA. Now, folks around the world aren't stupid. Everyone understands that the Democrats are playing to the wishes of their most important constituency...the unions. Free trade isn't merely an issue of economic but also of geopolitics. If the Democrats indicate to the rest of the world that the wishes of the unions trump the wishes of our allies, that is the opposite of restoring our credibility. The Democrats want to have it both ways. They want to bemoan our foreign policy position and claim that they will restor credibility. At the same time they are willing to play politics with that same credibility the first chance they get.

Second, both Democratic Presidential candidates have called for the President to boycott the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games. I, myself, haven't really figured out if this is a good move or not, however this is a dicey geopolitical maneuver. If China is shunned for civil rights violations, then we must maintain a consistent civil rights position. If it is inconsistent, then we look as though China is singled out. If we single out China for civil rights violations and ignore others, that will only further weaken our credibility. That's why what Barack Obama recently said about Iran is so troubling.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Tuesday called for a "diplomatic surge" including talks with US foe Iran, to help stabilize the situation in Iraq.

Barack Obama would have China be embarrassed in their shining moment at the same time that he would invite Iran into the world community. Both countries have serious civil rights problems. Yet, he wants to shun one during their moment, and he wants to invite the other to the negotiating table. How does this duplicitous dichotomy restore our credibility?

It doesn't. The reality is that the whole narrative that the Democrats have created about restoring our credibility is nothing more than empty rhetoric. It is nothing more than reaching out to some enemies and shunning most allies. This doesn't restore credibility. All it does is make us look opportunistic, weak, and duplicitous, and that, frankly, is how their empty rhetoric looks.

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