Doug Bandow: Washington's Mideast Follies

Roundup: Media's Take

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is the author of several books, including Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire.

An American ambassador murdered. A consulate ransacked. Multiple embassies under siege. A U.S. school looted. Protests in “liberated” Afghanistan and Iraq. Americans again wondering: Why do they hate us?
Yet some Washington policy makers never learn. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said the latest attacks on Americans resulted from a lack of U.S. “leadership.” GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan blamed administration weakness and Pentagon spending cuts. The cause, according to the last Republican presidential nominee, Senator John McCain, was President Obama’s “weakness” and “feckless foreign policy,” most notably Washington’s failure to impose its will on the Muslim world—by intervening in Syria, coercing Egypt, continuing to occupy Iraq and more.
Although the administration reacted more responsibly, it sent drones, ships and Marines to Libya in an attempt to track down the Benghazi killers. It’s a worthwhile objective, but striking back blindly would be worse than doing nothing. Extensive drone campaigns in Pakistan and Yemen have inflamed anti-American sentiments. In fact, the Benghazi airport was closed after hostile militias fired missiles at U.S. drones.
The GOP attack on the Obama administration’s foreign policy reeked of desperation. Republicans offered no plan of their own. Nevertheless, Romney aide Rich Williamson claimed: “There’s a pretty compelling story that if you had a President Romney, you’d be in a different situation.” Yes, the situation likely would have been worse.
In practice, there is very little difference between the Bush and Obama administrations on foreign policy...

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