Ex-Cheney Adviser: Obama Overvalues Popularity in Foreign Policy

Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 07:36 PM

By Sean Piccoli

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America's adversaries no longer worry that they'll be punished for threatening U.S. interests because they recognize President Barack Obama's image-conscious distaste for the exercise of American power, a Mideast policy adviser to former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney told Newsmax TV on Thursday.

The result, David Wurmser told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner, is chaos in the Middle East and beyond — "circumstances where our desperate efforts to try to make ourselves liked rather than respected have come home to roost," he said.

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Wurmser said Obama has sidelined American military might under the mistaken notion that enemies will appreciate the gesture and respond in kind.

This "administration has made it very clear from the beginning that it sees the exercise of power to have been one of the causes of [global] anti-Americanism," said Wurmser.

Obama's theory of foreign policy, according to Wurmser, is that America turned neutral parties or potential allies into enemies by humiliating them with arrogant and reckless displays of American might around the world.

But Wurmser argued that the latest upheavals in Syria, Iraq, Gaza, Ukraine, and elsewhere have put the lie to that assumption.

What "we're beginning to see around the world is that, in many cases, there are simply people who see the vacuum of American power as an opportunity to assert themselves," he said.

Wurmser said past U.S. presidents have differed over how necessary it is for America to be liked while also being respected for military power and a willingness to use it. But he said most presidents have been able to grasp that managing world affairs requires some combination of popularity and respect.

He said the last Democrat in the White House, President Bill Clinton, understood that "there are times when, as an American government, you have to defend the American interest, and being liked by everybody isn't as important."

Wurmser cited airstrikes that the Clinton administration launched against Iraq in 1993 after learning that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was plotting to assassinate former President George H.W. Bush, his nemesis in the first Gulf War that drove Iraq out of Kuwait.

"That builds respect, and people then find ways to like you because you're respected," said Wurmser. "So that's a very critical sort of wisdom that almost all presidents up until now have had."

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