Focus on foreign policy last week followed the president as he was globe-trotting overseas. Obama is at his best in these stage-managed forums. That said, the president had little to show for his stops in Russia, Italy, and Ghana.
Perhaps the greatest disappointment was Obama’s tête-à-tête in Moscow to jump start arms control negotiations. The Russians have now made scrapping missile defense sites in Western Europe a prerequisite. That’s a problem, because these sites would defend the United States as well as our military bases and allies in Europe from a missile attack by Iran. By not building defenses, we are encouraging the Iranians to accelerate their ballistic missile and nuclear research. Additionally, there is no practical alternative to building the European sites. They provide exactly the kind of “proven and cost-effective” defenses that the president has called for. Finally, the sites are no threat whatsoever to Russian security. Yet, according to Heritage scholar Sally McNamara, “By investing so much political capital in a new treaty and fudging uncomfortable issues such as missile defense, President Obama risks having to sacrifice this vital aspect of U.S. national security in order to advance the negotiations. Further, he has repeatedly sent the message that the third-site deployment is not important to him.“
The G-8 summit in Italy proved to be little more than an exercise in grip and grin, all the tough issues were pushed off to a meeting of the G-20 later this year. “The July 8-10 Group of Eight (G-8) summit in L’Aquila, Italy,” concluded one Heritage analysis, “was a waste of the world’s time. It ended up as nothing more than an instant replay of the G-20 talkfest/photo-op held just three months ago in London.”
President Obama ended his week abroad with a stopover in Africa where he delivered a speech. No surprise there. It is what he does best.
While the president traveled overseas, there were troubling signs here at home that the administration plans to rollback on promises for “tough and smart” enforcement of border security and immigration laws. The Homeland Security Secretary announced plans to rollback enforcement in the workplace and a controversial plan to restructure cooperation with state and local law enforcement.
In my column in the D.C. Examiner this week I’ll be previewing an upcoming speech by Newt Gingrich. Will he offer an alternative vision for keeping the nation safe, free, and prosperous?