Wesley Clark Slams GOP On Defense
Democrats have three words for Republican presidential candidates who attack President Obama as weak on defense in Tuesday’s foreign policy debate: Osama Bin Laden.
Three of the leading military minds in the party, former NATO Commander General Wesley Clark, former Navy Secretary Richard Danzig, and retired Major General Paul Eaton, lit into the Republican field for their shifting positions and made clear that Obama’s military achievements — including the Al Qaeda leader’s death — will be fair political game in 2012.
“I think he is remarkably strong,” Danzig said of Obama’s national security record. “The more this election is about security issues the more advantageous that is to this president.”
The trio accused top Republicans of waffling on the major national security issues of the day, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the conflict in Libya, and efforts to prevent Iran from going nuclear.
“While President Obama has kept his promises across the globe, the leading Republicans have been all over the map, offering sound-bite critiques and shifting positions with every change in the headlines as they seek partisan advantage,” Clark said.
Much of his fire was focused on Romney, who authored a book, No Apology, that fiercely criticized the president’s foreign policy as weak and ineffective. He cited a 2007 quote from Romney downplaying Bin Laden’s capture in which the governor said “it’s not worth moving heaven and earth [and] spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.”
“But like all of us, [Romney] cheered his demise,” Clark added.
On Libya, they referenced Romney’s initial support for military action, his subsequent criticism that efforts to remove Qaddafi were “mission creep,” and finally his praise for the fall of the longtime dictator.
“If you took any six of those candidates, you might find sixteen positions on any issue,” Danzig said. “If you added Governor Romney you’d probably find forty six positions.”
The generals pushed back against recurring criticism that Obama was risking national security by withdrawing from Iraq, noting that the decision was up to the Iraqi government and a legally binding timetable had been negotiated under President Bush in 2008. Regarding Afghanistan, Clark said criticism of revealing a “timetable” missed the mark, since it was impossible to withdraw in practice “without the Taliban hearing about it.” On Iran, mocked Gingrich’s recent demand that the US pursue covert actions to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon “as if he invented the idea.”
“I have no doubt the United States and our allies are doing everything possible…because they understand how high the stakes on this are,” Clark said.
Obama backers have been increasingly playing up his foreign policy credentials, especially the demise of Bin Laden and Qaddafi and the end of the war in Iraq. The election is still overwhelmingly focused on the economy, but they clearly think they have a strong hand here. Don’t be surprised if national security gets plenty of focus come convention time.