With the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination officially under way, I thought it apt to share a set of questions on foreign policy — an area in which it is vital that each candidate distinguish himself given the size and scope of the threats we face.
Below are 20 questions the next commander-in-chief will likely be grappling with, and should be able to answer cogently, consistently and comprehensively.
The responses to these queries would serve to elucidate the first principles of each of the potential nominees, and create a clear contrast in terms of their goals, strategies and tactics with respect to protecting and furthering America’s interests both at home and abroad.
1) Define your general foreign policy doctrine, and explain how it will differ from that of President George W. Bush.
2) How should America respond to the metastasization of Sunni and Shiite jihadists in the Middle East?
3) What do you believe would be the consequences of a hegemonic Iran in the region, and what steps might you take to counter her?
4) In the event of a nuclear arms race triggered by Iran, what if anything would you do as president?
5) Will you stand in the way if Israel acts unilaterally to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities?
6) What is in America’s national interest with respect to Syria, and how do you intend to achieve it?
7) Do you believe it a sound policy to arm Muslim groups in the Middle East given the historically negative consequences for the West?
8) What is/are the key lesson(s) of the Iraq War?
9) What is/are the key lesson(s) of Libya?
10) Do you believe the Muslim Brotherhood and its violent and non-violent proxies both in the Middle East and the West pose a direct threat to the United States and her interests, and how will you counter the group’s growing influence?
Without America there would be no Islamic State.
Indeed, without America there would have been no Cold War. Without the Cold War there would have been no need to arm and train the Mujahideen against the Soviets. Without the Mujahideen there would have been no Al Qaeda. Without Al Qaeda there would have been no Iraq War. And without the Iraq War there would have been no Islamic State. Or as President Barack Obama put it:
ISIL is a direct outgrowth of Al Qaeda in Iraq which grew out of our invasion which is an example of unintended consequences which is why we should generally aim before we shoot.
Such is the pretzel logic to which one must subscribe if one is to believe the president.
Which is to say that Barack Obama’s argument during a recent interview with VICE News is patently absurd.
But there is something worse than the absurdity of the president’s remarks, his implicit banal Bush-bashing and unwillingness or inability to ever take responsibility for anything – the least of which includes his failure to negotiate a status of forces agreement with Iraq.
President Obama’s argument in the main is that America’s actions in the Middle East create terrorists. But by invoking “blowback,” he is parroting precisely the propaganda that Al Qaeda, Islamic State and other jihadist groups want us to repeat, while ignoring the self-evident truth that their actions come not from without but from within. In so doing, as when he raised the scepter of The Crusades, the president provides a veneer of legitimacy and even moral standing to genocidal Islamic supremacists who seek to destroy Western civilization and create a global caliphate.
The words of Osama bin Laden himself are germane to this argument. Witness what Al Qaeda’s godfather said during a May 1998 interview with ABC’s John Miller:
The call to wage war against America was made because America has spear-headed the crusade against the Islamic nation, sending tens of thousands of its troops to the land of the two Holy Mosques over and above its meddling in its affairs and its politics, and its support of the oppressive, corrupt and tyrannical regime that is in control. These are the reasons behind the singling out of America as a target.
…The wrongs and the crimes committed against the Muslim nation are far greater than can be covered by this interview. America heads the list of aggressors against Muslims.
…They rip us of our wealth and of our resources and of our oil. Our religion is under attack. They kill and murder our brothers. They compromise our honor and our dignity and dare we utter a single word of protest against the injustice, we are called terrorists. This is compounded injustice.
In a particularly nauseating portion of the interview in which Miller implores bin Laden to “give us the true picture that clarifies your viewpoint” – as opposed to the “distorted picture of Islam, Muslims and of Islamic fighters” presented by “American politicians,” bin Laden continues [emphasis added]:
The leaders in America and in other countries as well have fallen victim to Jewish Zionist blackmail. They have mobilized their people against Islam and against Muslims. These are portrayed in such a manner as to drive people to rally against them. The truth is that the whole Muslim world is the victim of international terrorism, engineered by America at the United Nations. We are a nation whose sacred symbols have been looted and whose wealth and resources have been plundered. It is normal for us to react against the forces that invade our land and occupy it.
Ignored however is the rest of bin Laden’s message [emphasis added]:
That a short letter penned by an Iraq War veteran and signed by 46 of his colleagues in the Senate would earn the ridicule, scorn and derision of the left, while generating wobbliness among the more politically craven members of the right, is a testament to its virtue.
The primarily pedagogic letter’s detractors have invoked the Logan Act, signing a petition calling for the prosecution of the letter’s signatories on grounds of treason. But little could be further from treasonous than publicly opposing a policy that legitimizes and empowers a mortal enemy of America and her interests.
Worse still, legislators who in actuality undermined American interests by negotiating with our enemies are mentioned in the same light. This list of shame includes: John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi among others.
Whether addressing the congressional speech of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or the letter authored by Sen. Tom Cotton, the left rarely attacks on substance because it realizes the content of its opponents’ message is credible, and the character of the messengers is widely seen as unimpeachable.
The same cannot be said however of the deal that President Barack Obama seeks to consummate, and the parties sitting at the negotiating table.
Conservatives are understandably depressed in the wake of Speaker Boehner and the Republican-controlled Congress’ predictable caving on executive amnesty.
Let me stop right there by emphasizing that I only said conservatives. Were our republic healthy, every single American would be depressed that President Obama’s amnesty—which on dozens of occasions he said he did not have the authority to enforce—will continue apace to the benefit of lawbreakers at the expense of American citizens.
Americans would be further demoralized at the notion that our president politicized the sovereignty of our nation represented by failing to protect its borders, all in a transparent attempt to win a permanent Democratic majority—which the shortsighted Republican establishment seem perfectly fine with, since they want immigration and the idea of “those racist Republicans” to become non-issues.
Some are lamenting the cowardice of our representatives, and to that I quote a former NFL Coach: “They are who we thought they were!”
I have even seen one article arguing that the Constitution itself has failed. But the Constitution and our Founders did not fail. Human nature has not changed between 1787 and 2015. There were undoubtedly plenty of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century booze-swilling, cigar-smoking iterations of John Boehner lumbering around Capitol Hill.
What has changed is the size and scope of government, the number and composition of people who are voting, and the public’s general indifference to and acceptance of the greed, graft, lying, and all matter of corruption that have become commonplace in public life. There is also a heck of a lot more bread and circuses to keep us fat, happy, and distracted from what our supposed leaders are doing.
Few Americans would want to live under the rule of General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt’s authoritarian president. But on the other hand, neither would any jihadist.
An Egyptian administrative court recently upheld the nation’s Ministry of Religious Endowment’s decision to shutter 27,000 mosques deemed most supportive of jihadism.
This marks the latest in a series of steps taken by the Sisi regime to cripple terrorists.
Such actions evince an attitude and approach toward countering the threat of Islamic supremacism entirely counter to that espoused by the Obama administration.
Consider four critical areas in which Presidents Sisi and Obama have taken opposing sides:
President Sisi has very publicly criticized Islam — linking it to jihadist destruction and backwardness in the Arab world. President Barack Obama has made every effort to de-link Islam from Islamic terror, arguing that Islam itself, not its reformation, is essential to combatting jihadism.
During a December 2014 speech at the seat of Sunni Islamic learning, Al-Azhar University in Cairo, President Sisi stated:
It is inconceivable that the ideology we sanctify should make our entire nation a source of concern, danger, killing, and destruction all over the world. It is inconceivable that this ideology… I am referring not to “religion,” but to “ideology” – the body of ideas and texts that we have sanctified in the course of centuries, to the point that challenging them has become very difficult.
It has reached the point that [this ideology] is hostile to the entire world. Is it conceivable that 1.6 billion [Muslims] would kill the world’s population of seven billion, so that they could live [on their own]? This is inconceivable…You cannot see things clearly when you are locked [in this ideology]. You must emerge from it and look from outside, in order to get closer to a truly enlightened ideology. You must oppose it with resolve. Let me say it again: We need to revolutionize our religion.
In a less-noticed interview with Der Spiegel in February of this year, President Sisi stated:
On the eve of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, a despicable and disastrous betrayal has become clear: President Barack Obama has traded Israel for Iran.
In the annals of the history of American foreign policy filled with pages of willful blindness, amorality and often State Department-led folly, there are few things more substantively and symbolically egregious than this fundamental transformation.
Consider the two nations of which we are speaking: One is the largest state sponsor of terror in the world, run by genocidal jihadist theocrats who in their Twelver Shiite theology seek to bring on the apocalypse by destroying the cradle of world civilization. The other is a bastion of liberty, plurality, dynamism, creativity and innovation, despite being surrounded by myriad hostile regimes.
In a sane world, it would be unthinkable, unconscionable, and un-American for us to turn on the state of Israel – the front line of Western civilization against barbarians who seek to take us, and who are fast taking themselves, back to the seventh century.
But then we are in year seven of the Obama presidency, an “Alice in Wonderland” world in which the seemingly perverse has become the norm, all in the name of regressive progressivism.
While Americans focus on the seen of beheadings or the destruction of ancient artifacts by Islamic State in high definition, that shock our collective conscience, the unseen is that Iran is quietly becoming the hegemon in the Middle East – and perhaps in the eyes of President Obama, America’s top ally in the region.
The easing of sanctions allowing billions of dollars of wealth to flow to a tottering economy and allowing the continued enrichment of uranium – will provide legitimacy to a terrorist regime and show the world that – like Neville Chamberlain’s England – America has chosen to appease evil rather than confront it.
Meanwhile, as DEBKA asserted in a recent memo, Iran has concurrently been “taking up forward positions in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, where they are busy fashioning a Shiite Crescent that encircles Sunni Arab states as well as Israel.”
America under this president has consciously chosen to stand by all the while. As Tony Badran wrote in a stunning analysis at NOW [emphasis mine]:
In one of Obama’s several letters to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, he reportedly presented finalizing the deal on the nuclear program as the gateway to a broader regional partnership, especially against Sunni extremist groups like the Islamic State (ISIS).
This partnership is central to Obama’s broader objective of extricating the U.S. from the Middle East and leaving in place a new security structure, of which Iran is a principal pillar. His tacit policy from Baghdad to Beirut has been to partner with Iranian-backed forces as the boots on the ground in the campaign against Sunni extremists. In Iraq and Lebanon especially, the U.S. partnership with Iranian assets and Iran-dominated state institutions has created a de facto condominium between the U.S. and Iran.
Lest we conclude the spread of Iran’s tentacles throughout the Levant primarily endangers Sunni jihadists, the title of a recent paper from MEMRI spells out the real casualty: “From The Mediterranean to the Golan, Iran Builds Active Front And Direct Military Presence On Israel’s Border To Deter Israel And Further Ideology Of Eliminating The Zionist Regime.”
MEMRI quotes from a columnist for the Lebanese Al-Akhbar paper:
On Big Tech’s Stifling of Counterjihadist Speech
September 1, 2017
Where Democracy Really Does Die in Darkness
May 12, 2017
The Left’s Radical Effort to Subvert President Trump, and How He Can Respond
March 5, 2017
Trump Reinvigorates the US-Israel Relationship Upending Obama’s Anti-Zionist Agenda
February 16, 2017
What the Founders Said About Draining the Swamp — And How Trump Can Do It
February 15, 2017