Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie shouldn’t write about foreign policy:
The Republican nominee should use the president’s own words and actions to portray him as naive and weak on foreign affairs. Obama’s failed promises, missed opportunities, and erratic shifts suggest he is out of touch and in over his head. For example, before he was elected, he promised to meet with the leaders of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela “without precondition.” Nothing came of that except a serious blow to the image of the United States as a reliable ally [bold mine-DL]. During the 2008 campaign, he also argued that Iran was a “tiny” country that didn’t “pose a serious threat.” How foolish that now seems.
Is this the best they could do? Obama’s proposal to meet with leaders of “rogue” states was a position that he adopted during the contest with Clinton. Nothing came of it because Obama never really acted on it. The proposal’s main significance was that it made Obama seem more willing to pursue negotiations with “rogue” states than Clinton and McCain, which helped him politically among voters disgusted with Bush administration foreign policy, but it had no effect on the image of the United States because it was never attempted once he was in office. Obama’s remark about Iran being “tiny” was in comparison to the USSR. Iran is much smaller and much less powerful than the USSR was. When he was campaigning, he was emphasizing the massive disparity in military strength between the U.S. and Iran, and he was saying that the U.S. could negotiate from a position of strength. As things have turned out, the administration’s “engagement” with Iran was extremely short-lived and amounted to very little. How stupid do Rove and Gillespie think their readers are?
They make even weaker criticisms later on:
Obama recognizes that he’s seen as “cold and aloof,” and the Republican nominee should hammer this point home. The president has few real friends abroad (excepting, of course, Islamist Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as he told Time magazine’s Fareed Zakaria).
Rove and Gillespie link to the Zakaria interview, which flatly contradicts what they just said about neglecting allies. When asked about relationships with other foreign leaders, Obama said:
I think that if you ask them, Angela Merkel or Prime Minister Singh or President Lee or Prime Minister Erdogan or David Cameron would say, We have a lot of trust and confidence in the President.
That may be a self-serving claim, but it doesn’t appear to be false. It seems to be the Republican party line that good relations with Turkey is proof of Obama’s sinister intentions, but the authors fail to explain why repairing U.S.-Turkish ties is undesirable for the United States. Rove and Gillespie are so sloppy in building their indictment against Obama that they cite an interview in which Obama affirms good working relationships with the leaders of Germany, India, South Korea, Turkey, and Britain, and the five names offered in the interview are not intended to be an exhaustive list.
Most of the rest of the article includes a series of assertions for which Rove and Gillespie don’t even try to provide evidence (e.g., the “reset” has been “disastrous”) and a number of recommendations for the eventual Republican nominee that are politically tone-deaf (defending the bloated military budget against any and all cuts, running against very popular Afghanistan withdrawal, etc.). Romney and Santorum have already been following the recommendations Rove and Gillespie make, and they don’t seem to realize that there is no electoral benefit to be had in running as the even more militaristic party. Republicans insist on treating foreign policy as one of Obama’s weaknesses because they cannot come to terms with their party’s recent record of staggering failures and mistakes. Until they acknowledge those failures and make some effort to learn from them, their complaints will continue to fall on deaf ears.