Entries Tagged as 'foreign policy'

Ron Paul’s Bad Memory

David Frum January 4th, 2012 at 10:14 am 33 Comments

Odd experience on CNN this morning.

I was on a panel that had a chance to interview Ron Paul. I asked this question:

“I attended a precinct caucus last night where the person who spoke on your behalf praised you as a strong social conservative: pro-life, anti-gay marriage. He also described you as pro-defense, he said you voted in favor of the war in Afghanistan and supported the killing of bin Laden. That’s at variance with the things you yourself have said. Would you today affirm that you support the Afghanistan war and the bin Laden killing?”

Paul said yes, but that is not in fact true, at least as to the killing of bin Laden.

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John Bolton as Secretary of State

David Frum December 7th, 2011 at 4:13 pm 30 Comments

Newt Gingrich’s suggestion that he’d offer the top diplomatic job to the famously rough-edged Bolton reminds me of the shrewd English definition of a gentleman: one who never gives offense unintentionally.

Romney’s Worst Debate

David Frum November 22nd, 2011 at 10:40 pm 94 Comments

Tuesday was a bad night for Mitt Romney, maybe the very worst of any of these debates. It started badly with the joke about Mitt being his real first name, when it was not–and ended badly with a weak answer about “unexpected threats” that did not play at all to Romney’s strengths on international economics.

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FF Livechats the National Security Debate

November 22nd, 2011 at 5:12 pm 31 Comments

Post debate notes:

-There were no questions about the European debt crisis.

-Newt Gingrich will face accusations of supporting amnesty. He said that it would not be possible to expel all illegals and was supportive of a long-term guest worker program.

-Ron Paul was unsurprisingly isolationist, prostate but Jon Huntsman also made a clear argument to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a debate that should be given more time.

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Answers for the Next Foreign Policy Debate

David Frum November 16th, 2011 at 2:45 pm 45 Comments

In my column for The Week, I answer my own questions on foreign policy that I suggested for the CBS-National Journal GOP debate:

In advance of last Saturday’s GOP foreign-policy debate, sponsors CBS and National Journal asked me to suggest questions for the moderators.

Unaccountably, they did not make use of my suggestions. Still, I had posted the list on my blog, and soon got a query from an international friend: Okay, wise guy — how would you answer them?

Here goes.

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With Friends Like Obama…

David Frum November 14th, 2011 at 3:00 pm 132 Comments

As Chris Sands writes at Huffington Post Canada about the Obama administration’s hostile action on the Keystone pipeline, with friends like President Obama, who needs enemies?

[Canadian Prime Minister Stephen] Harper has been a great friend to Obama: supportive of the U.S. global warming approach at Copenhagen and Cancun, ponying up billions to support the auto bailouts, supporting the U.S.-led NATO mission in Afghanistan, and offering to sell renewable hydroelectric power as well as oil and gas to energize an American economic recovery. This from a Conservative whose political friends in the United States can’t stand Obama.

But as many have discovered, it doesn’t pay to be Obama’s friend. Just ask Britain’s Gordon Brown, Spain’s José Luis Zapatero, Australia’s Kevin Rudd, Israel’s Binyamin Netanyahu or Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak.

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My Questions for the Next GOP Debate

David Frum November 11th, 2011 at 11:35 am 77 Comments

Had I been on the panel for Wednesday’s economics debate, I’d have opened with the question: “Are taxes lower or higher today than on the day President Obama was sworn into office?” Just for fun.

CBS and National Journal asked me among others to suggest some questions to ask the candidates at tomorrow’s foreign policy debate. My suggested list follows. Note that it was written in advance of the Keystone XL pipeline decision, which adds urgency to the energy security questions.

Foreign Policy, Finally!

October 18th, 2011 at 2:00 pm 20 Comments

The Heritage Foundation has announced that it will co-host — with the American Enterprise Institute and CNN — a Republican presidential debate on foreign policy and national security.

Unfortunately, sales we’ll have to wait a month (the debate won’t happen until Tuesday, ed November 15), but such a focus is long overdue. Because if the past is prologue — and it is — then tonight’s GOP presidential primary debate will give short shrift to the most urgent questions of war and peace, which, typically, only the commander-in-chief himself can resolve.

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Pawlenty Can’t Afford His Foreign Policy

July 2nd, 2011 at 12:39 am 26 Comments

GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty recently called for $2 trillion in tax cuts for individuals and businesses in the next decade, view as well as two to three times less federal spending – cutting a total of $8 trillion.

But on Tuesday, illness Pawlenty expressed his foreign policy plans to remain involved in the Middle East – to “seize” the opportunity “amid the turmoil of the Arab Spring” and to “help promote freedom and democracy.”

The GOP candidate said America should stop “leading from behind” and be more active in regions like Libya, Egypt and even Saudi Arabia.

However, the cost of the U.S. campaign in Libya is expected to exceed the $750 million Pentagon estimate set out in March. Taxpayers are spending $2 million a day to support the African nation – and all this while “leading from behind.” At the current expenditure, the U.S. will spend almost $1 billion on its Libya mission.

Pawlenty’s campaign spokesperson refused to comment on how the candidate plans to fund even more overseas missions while also cutting government spending.

Economics columnist Bruce Bartlett said his foreign policy corresponding to his economic policy is “possible – but it’s also possible that pigs will grow wings.”

A president has limited power in controlling the budget. Pawlenty would require Congressional approval to make such drastic cuts in both taxation and spending, which Bartlett said is “absurdly unrealistic.”

Taking stands that separate him from other candidates may appeal to some portion of the Republican electorate, which could give him the much-needed popularity he is lacking – even if it’s from Tea Partiers, Bartlett said.

However, Peter Feaver, a former National Security Council advisor to Clinton and Bush, said that ignoring problems abroad will just bring them home, so Pawlenty has the right idea by addressing the importance of U.S. involvement in the Middle East.

“I wouldn’t say that he is focusing so much on the Middle East as the Middle East is focusing on us,” said Feaver, who is now a professor at Duke University. “I would say in the long run the Republicans are not going to win in the general election by running on the left of Obama on foreign policy.”

Feaver said he did not know enough about economics to analyze if Pawlenty’s plan is feasible, but he did say “a crucial part ofPawlenty’s stance is that you have to rebuild the economy and get it growing again and his plans and ambition on the foreign policy side is predicated on [that].”

Feaver said the perceived mood of the Republican party is war-weariness and a desire to retreat from the Middle East, but even though “being strong on national security doesn’t capture the way the mood seems to be recorded,” the last century of history shows that few international problems have been solved without help from the United States.

“The lesson since World War II is that American leadership is important,” he told FrumForum, “There are few problems that got better with America ignoring them, and few that got solved by others stepping up and letting America ‘lead from behind.’”

But looking at the numbers, Pawlenty’s foreign and economic policies do not seem compatible.

Federal Budget Analyst Andrew Fieldhouse said that Pawlenty’s tax plan does not compute with his spending plan because the GOP candidate has endorsed a federal balance budget amendment towards capital expenditures of 18 percent GDP. Currently, federal spending is close to 24 percent. His revenue plan would lose 7.6 trillion dollars of revenue. According to his plan, revenue would only be 14 percent of GDP, and after subtracting the three percent interest rate, there would only be 11 percent of GDP for actual government spending.

“At that point you could theoretically continue large military presence overseas and his extensive foreign policy, but it would crowd out huge areas of the federal budget,” said Fieldhouse.

The government would have to reduce the Congressional budget, eliminate Social Security, federal retirement, foreign subsidies, federal health expenditure, non-interest government spending and 10 percent of the economy over the next decade.

“It doesn’t seem feasible to me,” he told FrumForum. “He has a delusional approach to budgeting. I don’t think he’s thought any of this through.”

Budgeting 18 percent of the economy (which the Ryan plan proposes) is always difficult, but possible. However, budgeting 11 percent of the economy for federal spending, while having a large military presence overseas – is near impossible, said Fieldhouse.

A recent Gallup poll shows that Pawlenty’s name recognition among Republicans has risen to 57 percent, but his Positive Intensity Score is 8 – his lowest to date. To prevent his popularity from decreasing, he needs to increase his appeal to voters.

When asked if he thinks Pawlenty is using his foreign policy stance to stand out from other candidates, Feaver said that Tuesday’s speech truly reflects his views.

“I think this doesn’t reflect a tactical positioning of himself to appeal to the primary voters so much as this is what he actually believes is good for American national interests,” he said. “And that’s an important distinction – some candidates will take a stand because they’re trying to triangulate some primary voting blocker.”

“Since the [Tea Partiers] make no demands on their ideological leaders to be logically consistent or have numbers that add up, he doesn’t feel like he has to conform to that requirement either – so he just says whatever he thinks will be popular,” said Bartlett.

GOP Jews are Clear: Israel is an Election Issue

May 25th, 2011 at 1:24 pm 23 Comments

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must have scored a big win in his speech to Congress.  In a Monday meeting at the Blair House between Netanyahu and  Jewish political leaders from both parties, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz pressed Matthew Brooks, Executive Director of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), to “pledge to refrain in 2012 from using Israel as part of the issues in campaigns.”

Yesterday, Brooks issued a full response in a letter to Wasserman Schultz:

May 24, 2011

The Honorable Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Democratic National Committee 
430 S. Capitol St. SE 
Washington, D.C. 20003

Dear Chairwoman Wasserman Shultz:

It was a pleasure to be with you at yesterday’s bipartisan meeting involving the Republican Jewish Coalition and representatives from the National Jewish Democratic Council. It is always an honor to be with an Israeli Prime Minister and I know you are as grateful as I am for the time he gave us so we could discuss matters that involve Israel’s security.

I also commend you personally for your pro-Israel record as a Congresswoman. There is no question that when it comes to how you vote, you have always been strong for Israel. Not everyone in Congress is like you and that’s why it is important for both of us to continue to speak out freely when individuals in our parties break from a position of support for Israel. I did so just two weeks ago when Congressman Ron Paul announced his candidacy for President.

In order to maintain bipartisan support for Israel, the RJC will continue to publicly point out the records and statements of public officials who stray from this bipartisan position. I hope you will do the same and not feel pressure to sweep under the rug or whitewash the positions of anyone in your party whose positions represent a threat to Israel’s security.

I hope you agree with me that no one – in either party – whether it’s the President of the United States, a candidate for President or a rank and file member – should be shielded from criticism if their positions are harmful to Israel’s well being. Covering up anti-Israel positions by gagging debate about them doesn’t help anyone; instead it only protects those who hope to get away with their anti-Israel positions. The Jewish community has a right to be informed about people’s records and people should be answerable for the positions they take. That is the essence of democracy.

Indeed, several leading Democrats have exercised their right to free speech when they criticized President Obama’s controversial statement that, “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.”

Former New York City Mayor and lifelong Democrat Ed Koch responded, “If President Obama does not change his position, I cannot vote for his reelection.”

According to a story in today’s Politico, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in his remarks to AIPAC, rebuked President Obama for his remarks.

However, in our meeting with the Prime Minister, you appealed to us, in front of the leader of a foreign nation, to pledge to refrain from any debate about these matters. I do not think that the timing or the venue you chose for raising this issue was appropriate.

I recognize that now, as the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, you are in a position where you must support candidates whose positions on Israel are different from yours.

To that end, I understand why you would like to shield and provide political amnesty to those Democrats whose positions undermine Israel’s security.

For example, in Wisconsin, your party is likely to nominate a signer of the Gaza 54 letter, Rep. Tammy Baldwin, to replace Senator Herb Kohl.

In New Mexico, the Democrats are likely to nominate Congressman Martin Heinrich, who refused to join 344 colleagues in condemning the Goldstone report.

And in Connecticut, your party is likely to nominate Congressman Chris Murphy, who accepted major financial support from J Street in two different election cycles.

I understand that you would like to stifle debate in the Jewish community on these issues, but the RJC believes they are legitimate issues and part of a healthy and vigorous debate. Indeed, the best way to avoid debating them is for Democratic candidates not to hold positions that weaken Israel’s security, in which case both parties would be fully joined together in strong support of Israel.


Matthew Brooks 
Executive Director

Wasserman Schultz’s cynical attempt to silence debate about Israel’s security comes at a time when congressional Democrats, as well as President Obama, have found themselves vulnerable to attacks from the pro-Israel community.  Republican presidential candidates have jumped at the chance to accuse  Obama of weakness on Israeli security.  Mitt Romney recently attacked Obama for “throwing Israel under the bus,” and Tim Pawlenty has called Obama’s position “very naive and very dangerous.”

Even as Democrats in Congress step back from Obama’s Israel policy, considerable damage has already been done to the party’s support among Jewish Americans.  The combination of Obama’s recent remarks and his continuing refusal to visit Israel has left donors frustrated.  Robert Copeland, a developer from Virginia Beach, VA and a frequent Democratic supporter told the Wall Street Journal, “I’m very disappointed with him.  His administration has failed in Israel.  They degraded the Israeli people.”  It remains to be seen to what degree Republicans will be able to make Israel an issue in 2012. But in Pennsylvania and Florida, battleground states with relatively large Jewish populations, Democrats will have some explaining to do.