As anyone with a television and a computer probably knows, the events in the Middle East the last few days have not only caused a good deal of foreign turmoil but also a bit of the domestic kind as well. Strangely, most of this political intrigue is not surrounding President Obama's handling of the situation (which spread today with protests again in Cairo and an attempted siege of our embassy in Yemen), but with the rather early reaction of his political adversary: Mitt Romney.
Now I critiqued Romney's first responds to this crisis as being premature and reeking of desperation. I freely admitted that the President's public reaction to the events wasn't exactly awe-inspiring but his actions (beefing up security at our other embassies/consulates, deploying two warships to the area and rumors of US forces already in Africa being redeployed to hunt down those responsible) spoke loud enough for me to not criticize him too much. However I understand those who were upset by his rather lukewarm response to the whole situation but because of me being a bit cynical I know better than to take what most politicians say publicly very seriously since it's usually just window-dressing.
However, while I didn't much care for Romney's critique so early in this crisis, I didn't necessarily find it as being out there and stupid sounding as the media made it out to be ALL DAY TODAY. It's seemingly as big a story as the actual crisis in the Middle East, which is the real idiotic thing in all this to me. To be honest, I wasn't going to bother with any further piece on Romney's early statements because I (rightfully) didn't see it as that important of a story. Well apparently I was wrong or the media is crazy (I'm kinda leaning towards the latter).
So why have I decided to write up a post anyway? Because the Romney campaign didn't just double-down on his rather iffy sounding criticism, they went face first into the floor. How so? Well, I'll let the title of the link say it all: (1)
Romney Adviser: Libya Attack Never Would Have Happened Under Romney
....Where does one even start with a claim like that? Well I decided to have a little fun with by using Romney's position on several foreign policy issues from the 2008 campaign and see what a President Romney's foreign policy would have looked like.
Well according to his statements during the 2008 campaign, a President Romney would not be conducting a large scale drone campaign tasked with killing Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists where they live. Because surely, we can trust the nations where these terrorists live to properly hunt them down and bring them to justice, right? (2)
Well a President Romney would have been very clear with his reaction to the uprising that started in Libya. He first would have some ground troops as well as a No Fly Zone but then would have criticize his opponents for attempting "Mission Creep and Muddle" by advocating for the removal of murderous dictator Muammar Ghaddafi once we implemented said ground invasion and NFZ. Real clear right? Even better, the US would have ground forces in yet another nation in the Middle East (because the presence of the US military in the Arab world always makes things better). (3)
Don't let that gaffe soon-to-be-President Romney stated during the campaign that if Saddam Hussein had just allowed the IAEA inspectors in, there wouldn't have even been a war with Iraq fool you. President Romney wouldn't have withdrawal all the US forces out of Iraq when the deadline set by his predecessor passed. He would have a present force in the country today helping to stabilize that war-torn nation. Admittedly, a nation WE tore up in a war based on bogus intelligence and political innuendo, but those are minor details (like the aforementioned gaffe) that aren't important anymore..Right? (4)
Okay okay, I've had my fun. I don't seriously think that's what a President Romney would have necessarily done in those instances, I simply based them on statements he made during the previous election cycle and early in this one. You know why I don't think that? Because when the proverbial crap hits the fan and you are actually in the big chair in the White House, many of the things you said before the election about foreign policy go out the window. Why? Because the world of foreign policy looks a lot different from the safety of your campaign office (to paraphrase President Obama). In other words, until you're actually in that particular situation it's hard to predict exactly what's going to happen. For example, who would have ever guessed the Presidential candidate that referred to the Soviets as the "evil empire" would become close friends with a future Soviet Premier and help lower tensions between the superpowers? You just don't know what decision you will make until you are the one with the raw information presented to you and have to make the call.
You can second-guess the President's decisions all you like but to claim to the whole world that if you were President none of this would have happened is not only unrealistic, it's just plain moronic. Because ultimately, the only way I could see this from being prevented is if we had never aided the rebels in Libya in the first place, Ghaddafi would still be in power, and we wouldn't really have had a US consulate to attack in the first place.
The people who attacked out consulate in Benghazi (now quietly confirmed to be a Al-Qaeda linked group taking revenge for our killing of AQ's No. 2 the other day) would still have hated and would still have had the audacity to lunch such an attack no matter who was president. Why? Because no matter how tough you sound or act towards these people, they will still hate us. Just look at the Bush administration. They were very terrorism-oriented and acted very tough to the world and yet there were still attacks on US interests in the Middle East. No amount of bravado and saber-rattling by us will ever truly scare AQ or their sympathizers away or keep them from trying to attack us. You can say President Obama's foreign policy decisions make us look weak and that encourages such events til you turn blue in the face but guess what? These people will always see us as being just as evil as we see them. Hell, Reagan was one of the toughest-sounding Presidents when it came to foreign policy and still terrorists committed acts against US interests (including unleashing a horrific car-bomb in Beirut that killed so many brave Marines). Did Reagan's foreign policies necessarily cost those Marines their lives? Of course not. No matter who was President, the moment those Marine set foot in Lebanon they were targets for terrorists who wanted to do the US harm.
Appearing tough to the world is fine, but the Middle East is just one of those parts of the world where that doesn't really seem to matter. The people who hate us in that region will always hate us no matter who is President and just all there is to it. Now that's not to say a President's policies don't influence events. If Al Gore had won in 2000 it is a safe bet that we would never have invaded Iraq and the Middle would look much as it did when Clinton left office, but that's because President Bush made a conscious decision to go to war with Iraq. It wasn't such an event that he had to react to like these attacks on our embassies. Did these attacks occur because we waged war in Libya? I think it's safe to say if we hadn't intervened in Libya the rebels would either have lost or would still be fighting. In either case, considering our relations with Libya at the time before the war there, it's unlikely AQ-linked terrorists would have attacked our consulate simply because we wouldn't have had very many in any diplomats in Libya in the first place if we never intervened not to mention the presence of AQ in Libya was likely much less before the war.
On that same token I suppose since what apparently motivated this attack was the recent death of AQ's No.2 man by one of our drone strikes, perhaps if the President wasn't waging such a campaign (a very successful one I might add) than MAYBE this particular AQ-linked group wouldn't have attacked our consulate. But then again, this is AQ were are talking about, when have they EVER passed up a chance to kill Americans? The point is, it's hard enough to predict what's going to happen in this country let alone anywhere in the Middle East. There are just too many variables and we have a very determined foe who will stop at next to nothing to attack our interests the world over.
So to Mr. Romney I have this final note. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with criticizing the President's foreign policy to date. Nothing. You can even say his reactions to the events of a few days ago were rather weak-sounding. Fine. But to try and claim things would have been SO much different if you had been elected President back in 2008 instead of Obama is just plain stupid. Your defenders were right today to say the media went overkill on your initial comments on this crisis, but you have honestly earned their scrutiny now and I can tell you that many of my fellow Americans will simply look at this claim and say, "Yea Right".
Any opinions and/or views expressed in the above piece are purely those of the author and not of any political or non-political organization. Any re-posting of this work MUST include this disclaimer.