Commentary by James Turnage
Like most Independent voters, I approve of many of the policies and practices of President Obama, and disapprove of just as many. His domestic policy is better than most, and far superior to his predecessor, but has not gone far enough to help the working class. The ‘one-percent’ continue to benefit most by our government’s actions. Obama’s foreign policy is a mixed bag.
None can deny that George W. Bush was decisive regarding foreign policy; but most of his decisions were poor and some illegal. The cause of his inability to keep America’s reputation untarnished resulted in the alienation of other nations, many of them former close allies. While President Obama has restored the respect of many countries, his mistakes are evidentiary of a lack of pre-planning.
A recent poll taken of mostly right wing voters give the President an unfavorable foreign policy rating of 55 percent. I would grade his overall performance a B- at best. For example; I agreed with removing our troops from failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we should not have left any of our military behind; they don’t want us there. In a very real sense we continue to occupy two Mideast nations. I agreed with his position of minimal involvement in Syria. It is a situation which is far too complicated. There are at least three factions engaging in a civil war; The Assad regime, rebel forces who are citizens of Syria, and Al Qaeda. I criticize him for any United States involvement in the war against ISIS. This is a war that is and should be a battle between Islamic idealists. Little was done to help the government and people of Ukraine; that’s because there was not much America could do short of going to war with Russia. The fact that we are doing very little to help our neighbor to the south, Mexico, distresses me. Mexico’s government is corrupt from the top to the bottom, and tens of thousands of innocent people have been slaughtered by the drug cartels. Human rights violations are massive, and women are murdered daily by husbands and lovers without recourse from their government.
Criticism for not attending the recent march in Paris is entirely unfair. If one understands the difficulty of Obama, or any president, traveling overseas, there would have been no condemnation at all. The march was not a planned event. It was generated only a few days after the slaughter at Charlie Hebdo. There were no formal invitations, and insufficient time to arrange for an appearance by Mr. Obama. In addition, as the President said, his presence and the necessary security involved would have been a distraction to the purpose of the march. However, why John Kerry did not change his plans, or why Eric Holder, who was already in France, did not attend, asks questions.
What is fair is that Obama has been criticized about foreign policy by both Democrats and Republicans; and this is where the party’s differ. Not once was George W. Bush questioned by a Republican for his actions; Democrats openly attack decisions by their President.
Questions must be asked about the most probable choices for the Republican nomination in 2016. The three leading contenders are Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie; Romney and Bush are former state governors, and Christie is the current Governor of New Jersey. What makes a governor qualified to make United States foreign policy? George Bush was a former governor; look what that got us into.
By James Turnage