Oh, the foreign policy woes of a president in his second term.
"Blame Obama" seems to be the mantra of the day, especially from the Republican side of the aisle, whether it be the Bergdahl-Taliban swap or the new crisis in Iraq.
Think for a moment about an American president who deals with the supporters of Islamic terrorism, a rogue organization dead set on killing Americans . . . with a history of having murdered hundreds of American servicemen.
That same American president decides he wants to open up a dialogue with them, and also actually sell them American arms!
Even though they have held American hostages, he sends emissaries to do a deal and doesn't even bother informing Congress. No, this wasn't Barack Obama, and it wasn't the recent deal with the Taliban to free Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. This was the story of President Ronald Reagan and his behind-the-scenes deal with Iran in the mid-1980s.
So step back for a second and remember that time, just a few years after the diabolical Iranian hostage crisis when 66 Americans were held at gunpoint at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran for 444 days.
Those same Iranians were implicated in the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 of our soldiers. But in 1985, Reagan thought he could use Iran’s influence to free American hostages in Lebanon while potentially opening a new dialogue with Tehran.
Thus, he authorized the sale of hundreds of anti-tank missiles and other weapons to the Iranians, who were then in a rather desperate war with Iraq.
At the time, the behind-the-scenes deal was not disclosed to Congress. But even worse, it later became clear that several Reagan administration officials had concocted a scheme by which profits from the sale of those missiles to Iran were diverted to support the anti-communist guerrillas in Nicaragua, known as the Contras, in direct contravention to federal law.
Hence was born the Iran-Contra scandal.
None of the critics of the recent Bergdahl-Taliban deal authorized by Obama are suggesting anything as nefarious here.
What they are suggesting is bad judgment. And in that I agree — the president cut a bad deal. But I don't think it was an evil deal or a dishonest one in its intent.
Through the years I have generally given Obama high marks for his handling of foreign policy.
As president, Obama has enlarged and enhanced the global war on terror that President George W. Bush first developed. To President Bush's credit, it laid the groundwork for more than a decade of surprising security and safety for Americans at home and abroad.
But remember the days in 2008 when Obama was campaigning against much of President Bush's war on terror? He talked like a dove then but has ended up being quite a hawk.
Enter onto the stage the latest Iraqi crisis. Obama’s critics are now saying he’s to blame for that as well. The fact is, Obama asked Nouri al-Maliki's government in Iraq to keep a residual U.S. force in place precisely to prevent what is occurring now.
America had given birth to a new sovereign Islamic republic in Iraq, and the U.S. can no longer dictate its decision-making, as bad as it may be. Sure, we can prop up the Maliki government for a short time with military intervention. But, in the long run, we will not be able to sustain an independent Iraq without the use of permanent American forces on the ground. The American public won’t support that option.
The rapid growth of ISIS did not materialize out of nothing. Billions of dollars of aid are flowing to this terrorist group helping to fashion them into a real army. U.S. policymakers would be wise to find out who is funding them — and cut off that funding.
On the home front, Republicans should remember if they complain about everything, they complain about nothing.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty to criticize the president about. I have done, and will continue to do, my share. The president has overseen the longest recession U.S. history. The economy remains stagnant at best, total employment has declined to record lows, and Obamacare remains a massive drag on economic growth.
As for Obama, he could save us all a lot of aggravation by taking a lesson from Reagan. Faced with the Iran-Contra mess, Reagan went on national television to apologize for his bad judgment.
"I take full responsibility for my own actions and for those of my administration," he said, adding that the American people "deserve the truth."
Obama should admit that maybe the Taliban deal wasn't the best for America, but his intentions were good.
Christopher Ruddy is CEO and editor of Newsmax Media Inc.
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