Obama needs to provide answers in U.N. speech
By: Sen. John Barrasso
September 23, 2012
On Tuesday, President Obama will address the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York. Given the tragic and infuriating events of the last two weeks, the American people will pay close attention to the president’s remarks.
They deserve to hear at least three specific messages from their commander in chief.
First, the president must acknowledge that the war against terrorism isn’t over. Terrorists – not crude and ignorant videos — are the real enemy of Americans and people around the world who support freedom.
It is completely unacceptable that the Obama administration spent more than a week stonewalling on whether the September 11th attack in Libya was planned. Our ambassador and three other brave Americans were murdered by terrorists. They were not the victims of a spontaneous attack against an offensive video on the internet.
As the organized and coordinated anti-American protests continue across the globe, President Obama cannot remain ambiguous about who America’s true enemies are.
Second, President Obama must clarify that the United States stands strongly by the side of Israel. The administration has recently distanced itself from America’s strongest ally in the Middle East. It should end that misguided policy immediately.
President Obama said that “the United States will always have Israel’s back.” Then his administration declined a request from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office for a meeting with President Obama when the Israeli leader is at the U.N. this week. The president needs to explain what it means to have Israel’s back.
Iran continues to be the greatest threat to Israel’s security. This is despite the president’s suggestion four years ago that it would not be a problem by now. The Obama campaign told us that his policy of “tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions” would yield results. Instead, we recently learned that Iran has doubled its underground nuclear enrichment capacity since May.
Third, President Obama must explain exactly what his foreign policy is. He has hinted at one to foreign leaders, like when he whispered to the Russian president that he would have “more flexibility” after the election. So why won’t he explain his policy to the American people?
Four years ago, then-Senator Obama led us to believe he had a coherent foreign policy. His plan has since turned out to be a litany of broken promises and misplaced faith in his own charisma.
In one interview during the last campaign, Senator Obama said, “I truly believe that the day I’m inaugurated not only does the country look at itself differently, but the world looks at America differently.”
Today, the world does look at America differently. The events in the Middle East make it clear that our allies cannot rely on us, and our enemies do not fear us. By last week, anti-American protests had spread to at least 33 countries around the world.
Despite the much-touted “reset” in our relations with Russia, the Kremlin has vetoed three U.N. resolutions concerning ongoing atrocities in Syria. Prosecutors in New York have turned up evidence that Chinese banks funneled money to Iran, defying U.S. sanctions.
Events like the attacks in the Middle East are not spontaneous. America’s enemies are constantly looking for ways to exploit any weakness in our resolve. A president cannot always control these events. He can, however, control how he reacts to events – and he can have a strong and coherent policy in place that accounts for them.
After the 2008 election, the Obama team stated boldly that the new administration “will signal that America is ready to come to the table and is willing to lead. And if America is willing to come to the table, the world will be more willing to rally behind American leadership to deal with challenges.”
Willingness to lead is not enough. It’s time for the president finally to explain exactly what he plans to do to provide that leadership.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo) is chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.