Sep 3, 2008

The Central, Defining Issue Is Judgment

By Joel C. Rosenberg

Understanding how to protect American lives and American interests from serious threats in Iran, Iraq and Russia and helping the U.S. establish real energy independence in the years ahead are among the defining issues of this presidential campaign. Senator Obama and his chief advisors all but concede he has almost no foreign policy experience. He was, after all, a community organizer and has spent most of his time in the Senate running for President. But to a man, the Obama camp says experience is not that important. The central and defining issue, they argue, is a candidate’s judgment. This is why Sen. Obama himself said in his acceptance speech in Denver: “If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament, and judgment, to serve as the next Commander-in-Chief, that’s a debate I’m ready to have.” It is indeed a debate worth having. The problem is, Senator Obama has shown disastrous judgment on Iran, Iraq, Russia and energy independence. Consider a few examples:

OBAMA SAID IRAN IS A TINY COUNTRY AND NOT A SERIOUS THREAT: “Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union,” said Sen. Obama in a May 2008 speech to a town hall meeting during his primary campaign. “They don’t pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us . . . . Iran, they spend 1/100th of what we spend on the military. If Iran ever tried to pose a serious threat to us, they wouldn’t stand a chance.” The media and Democratic establishment was stunned. The next day, Obama changed course and gave a prepared speech saying Iran is a grave threat. But his initial, gut instincts were telling — and wrong. Iran is a real and grave and growing threat to the national security of the U.S. and our allies.

OBAMA SAID THE “SURGE” IN IRAQ WOULDN’T WORK, AND WOULD MAKE THINGS WORSE: “I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there [in Iraq],” said Sen. Obama during a January 2007 TV interview the night President Bush announced the policy of putting more troops in Iraq. “In fact, I think it will do the reverse.” Just one problem: the surge has worked phenomenally well. We’re winning in Iraq. And we will soon be able to bring our troops home in victory and with honor.

OBAMA STILL REFUSES TO SAY THE “SURGE” IS WORKING NOW: During a July 2008 interview with Sen. Obama on ABC News, Terry Moran noted that “Iraqis’ rejection of both al Qaeda and Shiite extremists have transformed the country,” that ”attacks are down more than 80% nationwide,” and “U.S. combat casualties have plummeted, five this month so far, compared with 78 last July, and Baghdad has a pulse again,” he asked Sen. Obama, “If you had to do it over again, knowing what you know now, would you — would you support the surge?” Sen. Obama said “no.” Moran was stunned. But the Senator continued, “Well, no, keep — these kinds of hypotheticals are very difficult. Hindsight is 20/20. I think what I am absolutely convinced of is that at that time, we had to change the political debate, because the view of the Bush administration at that time was one that I just disagreed with.” Moran finally concluded: “And so, when pressed, Barack Obama says he still would have opposed the surge.” It’s one thing to have flawed judgment and making a major foreign policy mistake. But should one not at least concede the obvious and give credit where credit is due? It was Sen. McCain who championed the “surge” and persuaded President Bush to go along. The facts are clear, even to the media. McCain was right. Obama was wrong.

OBAMA TOLD GEORGIA TO SHOW RESTRAINT WHEN RUSSIA INVADED HER: “I strongly condemn the outbreak of violence in Georgia, and urge an immediate end to armed conflict,” Sen. Obama said in a statement. “Now is the time for Georgia and Russia to show restraint, and to avoid an escalation to full-scale war.” The entire free world condemned Vladimir Putin and the Russian government for raping and pillaging a small but free and democratic country. Why in the world would Sen. Obama urge Georgia to show restraint in defending her people and her freedom? Eventually, Obama corrected his mistake and sounded a little tougher on Russia. But his first instincts were dead wrong, demonstrating his judgment was seriously flawed.

OBAMA OPPOSES DRILLING FOR AMERICAN OIL IN AMERICA AND OFFSHORE: “[O]ffshore oil drilling will have little impact on prices,” Sen. Obama said in an August 2008 speech in Iowa. “It won’t lower prices today. It won’t lower prices during the next administration. In fact, we won’t see a drop of oil from this drilling for almost 10 years.” Without drilling for American oil in America, how does Sen. Obama plan to wean us off of Middle Eastern oil and protect our energy security? After all, we actually have a lot of oil we could use for ourselves — if we could only drill for it. “The Department of the Interior estimates that there are 112 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil beneath U.S. federal lands and coastal waters,” noted Investor’s Business Daily in July. “That’s enough oil to power 60 million cars for 60 years. That’s not counting the trillion barrels locked up in shale rock — three times the total oil reserves of Saudi Arabia.” True, Obama has shifted his position slightly — but his first instincts were wrong, raising even more questions about his judgment.

[NOTE: I’m scheduled to be on the Glenn Beck Show tonight on CNN Headline News at 7pm, 9pm and midnight eastern to discuss Sen. Obama and foreign policy. Check back for updates.]