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By Mr. Curmudgeon:
When President Obama was meeting with members of his administration to decide whether to intervene in Libya’s civil war in 2011, he polled everyone in the room – including low-level staff. “Of the choice not to intervene he says, ‘That’s not who we are,’ by which he means that’s not who I am. The decision was extraordinarily personal. ‘No one in the Cabinet was for it,’ says one witness. ‘There was no constituency for doing what he did,’” writes Michael Lewis in Vanity Fair.
The Lewis puff piece intended to show a president willing to translate personal compassion into a foreign policy to bridge the cultural gap between the people of the United States and the Arab Street. Ironically, the Vanity Fair story hit the newsstands Tuesday – the day Islamic militants murdered U.S. Ambassador to Libya John Christopher Stevens and three others. The terrorists concealed themselves among an Arab-Street mob demonstrating outside the U.S. mission in Benghazi.
If this has the ring of familiarity, that’s because we’ve been down this road before. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter met with the Shah of Iran to discuss the unease he felt over the Iranian leader’s human rights record, a matter of personal concern for Carter. Carter told the Shah that “disturbances have arisen among the mullahs and other religious leaders, the new middle class searching for more political influence, and students in Iran and overseas,” recalled Carter in his memoir.
When human rights, Carter’s personal hobbyhorse, became official U.S. foreign policy, and the Shah’s government fell, Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski met with Iranian Islamic revolutionary representatives to assure them “of American acceptance of their revolution, … the need to cooperate on security matters relating to the Soviets, and left open the possibility of resuming military sales,” wrote Brezinski aide Robert Gates in a White House memo.
The very students that were a focus of Carter’s human rights concerns later stormed the U.S. Embassy in the Iranian capital and seized our diplomatic personnel.
“It is perhaps ironic that Jimmy Carter, arguably the most devoutly religious occupant of the White House in modern times, would be confronted by a religious revolution that neither he nor any of his advisers adequately anticipated or understood,” writes Robert Strong in his book Working in the World: Jimmy Carter and the Making of American Foreign Policy.
Later, when a U.S. military mission to rescue the hostages failed, resulting in the death of 8 American servicemen, Carter aide, Hamilton Jordan, had the unenviable task of reviewing calls to the White House switchboard by angry Americans who described the mission as “stupid” and the Carter administration as “inept.”
“Many call for the President’s resignation,” said Jordan in a memo, “Some of the people express the thought that the rescue attempt was a means for the President to win votes for re-election. Others express a fear that the hostages will be killed and war will result.”
In 1980, Americans took matters into their hands and voted Ronald Reagan the nation’s 40th President. Our hostages were released after 444 days, while a downtrodden Carter watched Reagan take the oath of office, and war with Iran was avoided. Reagan replaced Carter’s personal foreign policy with one that saw the world as it is.
It was one of Reagan’s foreign policy triumphs to supply Iraq with weapons to wage a bloody war with Iran. Israel secretly provided Iran with the same. The eight-year Iran-Iraq war resulted in the deaths of 300,000 Iranians, and the Islamic Revolution’s debt to America was paid.
“I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world,” said President Obama in his speech at Cairo University in 2009, “one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect … they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”
When, in 2011, mass uprisings toppled governments across the Middle East and North Africa, the president tried to sell the Arab Spring as a reinterpretation of the familiar, “In America, think of the defiance of those patriots in Boston who refused to pay taxes to a King or the dignity of Rosa Parks as she sat courageously in her seat.”
“Those shouts of human dignity are being heard across the region,” the president continued, “And through the moral force of nonviolence, the people of the region have achieved more change in six months than terrorists have accomplished in decades.”
Recent events clearly show that the “moral force” of Arab-Spring demonstrators and the aims of violent jihadists are one and the same.
At the Democratic National Convention last week, former President Carter spoke to his party’s delegates in a video address. “Overseas, President Obama has restored the reputation of the United States within the world community. Dialogue and collaboration are once again possible, with return of a spirit of trust and good will to our foreign policy …,” said Carter.
“The biggest challenges and problems that we face don’t lend themselves to quick fixes nor to the snappy rhetoric of a television commercial,” continued Carter, “Solutions are complex and difficult requiring the judgment, skill and patience to pursue the right policies for the right reasons. There’s a clear choice facing voters this November …”
Iran’s Islamic terrorist dictatorship blossomed under Carter’s watch. A nuclear Iran will surely occur on Obama’s. A clear choice, as Carter said, faces voters this November.
That choice is Mitt Romney.