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Hillary Clinton: Walking in Obama’s foreign policy shoes

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Although Obama believes his foreign policy has restored American prestige and made the world safer, most of the world knows otherwise. One person who agrees with Obama is former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; she plans to repeat Obama’s most egregious mistakes.

Successful foreign policies start with the recognition that foreign policy differs from domestic policy. Although it is obvious, it is worth noting that the main audience for a president’s domestic policies is English-speaking Americans. Time has proven that Americans are generally more interested in domestic affairs, like the economy, healthcare and education rather than the troubles of the world.

{mosads}The greater interest in domestic affairs gives rise to increased and more detailed public debate over the issues. The rise of nearly 20,000 special interest groups is witness to just how nuanced our fights over domestic policy can be. There is no similar explosion in interest over foreign policy, although it is on the rise today because of terrorism. The same holds true for the citizens of other countries. They follow their own affairs with greater interest.

The two key points to be made here are: (1) foreign policy is less debated even though the issues are “nuanced”, and (2) whatever one country says – especially the United States – it is often translated in other languages, where equivocal language can often lead to bad translations and confusion.

All of that leads to a premium on clarity. More than any other form of leadership, the utterances of a president and secretary of state need to clear; they should be the giant letters of a billboard not the fine brush strokes of an oil painting.  So when John Kerry wonders aloud about the “rationale” for certain terrorist acts, it is would be easy to understand why in some foreign languages that could be translated into U.S. Secretary of State sees “reasons” for the attacks.

Obama is no better when it comes to terror. His refusal to say “radical Islam” leaves our allies shaking their heads and our enemies comforted by his lawyerly equivocations. There is no clarity between right and wrong or good and bad in the Obama administration. 

From his cell in a Soviet Gulag, Natan Sharansky cheered when President Ronald Reagan named the Soviet Union the “Evil Empire.”  According to Sharansky, it gave hope within the Soviet Union because there was finally an American president that provided moral clarity. He worried not that some Russians would be offended by the designation any more than he would have worried about some Germans be offended by the world’s use of the word Nazi.

Obama’s failure to use the term “radical Islam” leaves the world in moral doubt. Hillary’s announcement that she will do the same as Obama will yield four more years of the same, terrible results.

Hillary is following Obama’s equally terrible decision to tell the enemy what he will not do: use ground troops in the Middle East to stop ISIS. A commander-in-chief should leave all options on the table when it comes to the assumptions of the enemy. History is replete with terrible consequences when that rule is violated.

When Woodrow Wilson ran for reelection in 1916 under the banner of “He Kept Us Out of The War,” despite Republican calls for preparation, it was a signal to the German leaders that they could advance with less risk. In 1950, when Dean Acheson told the world that Korea was not within the American “defense perimeter,” it told the Soviets and the North Koreans that they could advance with less risk. 

For the last seven years, Obama has made it his practice to tell our enemies when and where he would retreat and not return. His announced withdrawals from Afghanistan have turned a war into a waiting game for our enemy’s future success. With ISIS, Obama’s assurances that America would not come in force has meant that they could advance with less risk and instead of being on the defensive, it has meant they could extend their reach.

By announcing that she could not conceive of the conditions under which she could commit grounds troops, Hillary is again promising four more years of the same mistakes that will lead to the same terrible results.

Years ago, John F. Kennedy said that domestic policy could defeat us but foreign policy could kill us. The stakes are much higher in foreign policy even if American’s interest in foreign policy is not. Sadly, for Obama and Hillary Clinton, it is a lesson they have failed to learn.

Del Beccaro is the former chairman of the California Republican Party and current candidate for U.S. Senate. 

Tags Hillary Clinton John Kerry

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