First one of Obama’s top foreign policy advisors, Susan Rice, criticizes Hillary Clinton for not being tough enough in regard to the Musharraf dictatorship in Pakistan. Then, another Obama advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, said that “the United States should not get involved in Pakistani politics.” And then, to put the proverbial icing on the proverbial cake, after Clinton called for an independent, international investigation into Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, Obama himself disagreed with her (H/T: TalkLeft):
Clinton also called for an independent, international investigation into Bhutto’s death, “perhaps along the lines of what the United Nations have been doing with respect to the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri in Lebanon.” Obama said he doesn’t share that view. “It is important to us to not give the idea that Pakistan is unable to handle its own affairs,” he said.
Could Obama’s foreign policy be any less consistent? It seems that it is based simply on disagreeing with Hillary Clinton. This is the kind of reckless politicizing that one might expect from someone who has virtually no foreign policy experience, and it seems that Obama is proving everyone who has mentioned his lack of experience as a concern exactly right.
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And as much as Obama may want to pontificate about his foreign policy superiority on the Pakistani issue now, when Katie Couric asked the candidates on December 12 which country frightened them the most, Obama toed the Bush terror line and answered Iran. It was Hillary Clinton who answered Pakistan:
Well, right now I am most worried about Pakistan. I think Pakistan is very unstable. I believe President Musharraf has failed to deliver on either democracy or a rising standard of living for his people. You know, democracy has to be carefully nurtured. I would put the United States firmly on the side of the Pakistani people and on behalf of those who are agitating for democracy and for rights. I mean, it’s almost touching to see lawyers, well-dressed lawyers, in the streets protesting and demonstrating for democracy, for the rule of law. I think the United States should be supporting those kinds of voices inside Pakistan, the nongovernmental organizations that they are part of.
John Edwards also had different concerns:
China. Because I think China presents huge challenges for America because of their size, because of their population, and because of their not paying attention to human rights, because of their support of dangerous regimes around the–around the world: Sudan, Iran, places that China gets its fuel supply, its energy supply. And they’re growing their military. And we need to put pressure on them economically; not allow them to manipulate their currency; not allow them to continue to dump dangerous goods on American consumers, which I think they’re doing today. I would ratchet up pressure on them diplomatically in terms of what they’re doing around the world. I think they’re enabling genocide in Sudan, in Darfur, with their economic policies with Sudan and Bashir. But I–those are the things I think that need to be done.
Contrast this with Obama’s answer on Iran:
I think Iran poses a significant threat to stability in the Middle East. So I think we have to talk to Iran directly. And when we talk to Iran directly, even if there are profound disagreements there, that will send a signal to the world that we are not simply seeking to impose our will without paying attention to what other countries think. And that kind of dialogue has not taken place. This president has refused to do it. I think it’s a profound mistake. JFK once said we should never negotiate out of fear, but we should never fear to negotiate.
Although suggesting direct diplomacy with Iran, Obama is still operating within the basic neoconservative framework of the Bush administration. He is concentrated on the Middle East and on Shi’ite Iran, a natural enemy of Sunni al-Qaeda, instead of on our actual terrorist enemies in Afghanistan and, increasingly, Pakistan. At least Clinton and Edwards realize that our foreign policy needs to be a comprehensive one that deals with threats everywhere, a foreign policy that isn’t obsessed with the Middle East. Again, I fail to see how Obama represents the “change candidate.” What I see is a candidate working within the Bush, neoconservative, Middle East-centric framework.