July 10, 2008 at 12:51 pm | Posted in '08 Campaign, Democratic Party | 1 Comment
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Is it me or do you see a pattern developing from Obama…what I refer to as the “duck and deflect” manueuver anytime he has to answer a question on foreign policy?  Yesterday, Matt Lauer asked Obama this:

Lauer: State run media in Iran went out of its way to say missiles could reach Israel and US mil sites. What would your msg to Israel be both publicly and privately?

Obama: Well as you heard from your own commentator they have had this kind of long range capability for some time and I think it’s part of the reason why we’ve got to proceed agressively with the kinds of diplomacy in the region as a whole. Part of the problem we’ve got right now is that we’ve been basically farming out diplomatically activity to the Europeans. We’ve got to be actively engaged I’ve called for example here in the United States the application of potential divestment of Iranian companies. We just found out that during the Bush years U.S. exports to Iran have actually increased, that’s a mistake that sends mixed messages to them.
Whoahoho, economic sanctions?! Unheard of.  Cutting off the cigarette supply?! Fierce.  And what exactly does direct engagement mean? What are the terms of negotiations? What are the carrots? What are the sticks?

If Obama wants to be president, he’s GOT to do better than that.  The way I see it, whenever Obama is asked: what would you DO as PRESIDENT on such and such foreign policy issue, Obama launches into an explanation of what the problem is, how we got there and then blames Bush.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s eloquent, artful and brilliant politics.  But, I see Obama’s fuzzy ideologies on foreign policy becoming a major target for McCain on the trail. 

This interview with the late Tim Russert is evidence of the same pattern:

MR. RUSSERT:  Iraq and Iran, the administration, we have reported at NBC, are drawing up some plans for potential airstrikes in Iran at different missile weapons factories or special force compounds because we have indications, evidence that the Iranians are helping some of their supporters within Iraq to kill U.S. troops.

SEN. OBAMA:  Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT:  If it could be demonstrated that was a fact, would you be in support of such limited attacks in Iran?

SEN. OBAMA:  Well, let, let me not speculate yet.  I want to, I want to take a, take a look at the kind of evidence that the administration is putting forward, what these plans are exactly.  I’ve always said that, you know, as Commander-In-Chief, I don’t take military options off the table and I think it’s appropriate for us to plan for a whole host of contingencies.  But let’s look at the larger picture.  Iran has been the biggest strategic beneficiary of our invasion of Iraq, they are stronger because of our decision to go in; and what we have to do is figure out how are we going to recalibrate our strategic position in the region.  I think that starts with pulling our combat troops out of Iraq.  We have placed them in harm’s way, we have fanned the flames of anti-American sentiment, we are distracted from what’s the real battle front that we need to focus on, which is Afghanistan and, and rooting out al-Qaeda.  And if we put forward a plan where we are not going to be a permanent occupier in Iraq and we force the Iraqis to stand up and negotiate and come to a compromise that includes, by the way, a regional discussion with Iran, with Syria, as well as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey and other regional powers, then I think we are going to be in a better posture to deal with the long-term threat of Iran and particularly its development of nuclear weapons. That’s something that this administration has failed to do.  I have consistently said that we’ve got to talk directly to Iran, send them a clear message that they have to stop, not only with their potential funding of militias inside of Iraq, but they also have to stop funding Hamas, they have to stop funding Hezbollah, they’ve got to stand down on their nuclear weapons. There will be continued consequences for those kinds of actions, but that here are also some carrots and possible benefits if they change behavior.  Those kinds of direct talks have not taken place.  That’s the kind of change in foreign policy that I plan to put in place when I’m president of the United States.

I get it, you know what’s going on, you know the problems in Iraq and you want to get troops out, but with respect to Iran, What Would Obama Do?


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  1. “I see Obama’s fuzzy ideologies on foreign policy becoming a major target for McCain on the trail.”

    Obama is a foreign policy realist. I think the person to look to for a better understanding of his thinking is Samantha Power, even though she had to step down from her position as Foreign Policy adviser because she called Sen. Clinton “a monster.” Here’s a piece she wrote on Iran in Time magazine.


    The concluding paragraphs of the article, in particular, should give you a few specific answers to WWOD about Iran.

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