Sen. Joseph Lieberman says President Barack Obama’s foreign policy record has been “mixed” and that former President George W. Bush deserves more credit for improving U.S. relations with Asia.
The Connecticut Independent, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, made the comments in an interview
with the Heritage Foundation’s Rob Bluey earlier this week, shortly after delivering a lecture at Heritage on American leadership in the Asia-Pacific region.
Asked to rate Obama’s overall foreign policy performance, Lieberman said, “mixed.” But he quickly added that both Bush and Obama have followed the same consistent policy “to a remarkable degree.”
“Because we were so focused after 9/11 on the threat of Islamic terrorism in the Middle East, I don’t think President Bush got the credit he deserved for a dramatic improvement in our relationship with Asia in many ways,” Lieberman told Bluey. “But it’s to President Obama’s credit that he’s continued to improve relations, and I appreciate it.
“So I would say in terms of foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific, that’s been good,” Lieberman continued. “In some other areas, such as the drawdown plans in Iraq and Afghanistan, I have been troubled a lot.”
Lieberman said he’s particularly concerned about the possibility of stepped-up withdrawal from Afghanistan, which he said might be seen as a retreat by U.S. allies, including those in Asia, and could diminish American credibility.
On the issue of the supercommittee’s ongoing efforts to trim even more federal spending, Lieberman expressed concern as well about the potential for more defense cuts —possibly as much as $500 billion to $600 billion over 10 years if the panel fails to reach an agreement and automatic spending reductions kick in.
“The world is a dangerous place. The Pentagon has a term for it: An era of persistent conflict,” he said. “In an era of persistent conflict, you don’t decimate your defense budget and expect that it’s not going to affect the security and prosperity of the American people.”
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