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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Biden wasn't being especially astute in recognizing what our enemies surely already see, but now Obama-Biden can no longer pretend ignorance of these risks

Slow Joe Biden's accidental truth-telling wasn't an act of genius, as I wrote last Tuesday in a guest-post at HughHewitt.com.

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[Copied here for archival purposes on November 5, 2008, from the post linked above at HughHewitt.com.]

(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)

In his newest post on the Weekly Standard blog, Bill Kristol makes very much the same point as Hugh did in his post from Monday evening. Hugh, pointing out that Biden has been receiving high-level intelligence briefings as a vice presidential candidate in addition to whatever he hears as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote:

The most obvious interpretation of [Biden's] ramble is that an Iran-Israel confrontation is coming, and that if Obama is president, America will sit it out with, at best, words that do nothing to support Israel or deter Iran....

... A President Obama will blink when Iran threatens Israel by approaching the nuclear tripwire. A President Obama will seek to force Israel to live with Iran as a nuclear power capable of either striking Israel or shipping to Hezbollah the means of threatening the very existence of the Jewish state, and the supporters of Israel in the U.S. will be stunned and then angry.

Bill Kristol writes, to similar effect (italics his):

... Biden is forecasting inaction by Obama in the face of testing by a dictator. I suspect he’s right in this forecast. McCain might want to clarify this point. It’s not just that Obama’s own running mate expects an international crisis early in his presidency. It’s not just that Obama has a weak foreign policy record. It’s that Biden himself expects what will appear to be a weak response from Obama to testing by a dictator.

As I contemplate this, I can't help recalling January 20, 1981, the date a new president who was very unlike Barack Obama was being inaugurated. Literally within hours of his becoming Commander in Chief, a 444-day American humiliation at the hands of the Iranian mullahs ended with the return of 52 U.S. hostages who'd been seized from the American embassy in Tehran. The Iranians had pushed around, taunted, ignored, and ridiculed an idealistic and untested young American president whom Barack Obama much resembles. But Ronald Reagan's inauguration put a swift end to our enemies' boldness. Confronted with an American leader whose spine and resolve they did not dare challenge, the bullying terrorists backed down.

Foreign intelligence agencies pay lots of attention to American elections. In Moscow and Tehran, among other places, decision-makers are well aware that John McCain won't hesitate in standing up for America's interests without regard for its potential impact on his own political future. McCain has a history of being able to negotiate candidly and in good faith even with his and America's historic enemies, as in the 1990s when he led America's normalization of diplomatic relations with the same Vietnamese government who'd imprisoned and tortured him. But he's also shown a willingness to buck "conventional wisdom" or public opinion polls, as he did in critiquing the Bush-43 Administration's handling of the Iraq reconstruction and then in his support for the Surge. And if our enemies are under the impression that he's sometimes a bit impulsive, that suits me fine too.

A couple of folks, in comments on recent posts, have chided me for focusing on Biden's remarks, insisting that I can't have it both ways — disparaging Biden's foreign policy wisdom while simultaneously pointing to this prediction as important and prescient. But there's no contradiction: What Biden pointed out isn't something subtle or hard to grasp, and it's something that I and other critics of Obama's lack of foreign policy seriousness have been pointing out for many months.

What's significant is not that Biden was being astute or especially intuitive in these comments, but rather that these remarks amounted to an unintentionally candid assessment from the number two guy on the Democratic ticket. When even Slow Joe Biden can predict with absolute confidence that our enemies will rush to test Barack Obama by "contriving" foreign policy crises, can anyone doubt that our enemies themselves will see how doing exactly that might serve their national interests and harm America's own?

— Beldar

Posted by Beldar at 06:50 PM in 2008 Election, Global War on Terror, Obama, Politics (2008) | Permalink

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