Obama and Romney spar
At a surprise appearance at the daily White House press
conference on Monday, President Barack
Obama addressed a number of foreign-policy issues, notably Syria and
Afghanistan. On Syria, the president seemed to rule
out U.S. military intervention to topple Bashar al-Assad's regime, though he also issued a stark warning on
the use of chemical or biological weapons. "We have been very clear to the
Assad regime but also to other players on the ground that a red line for us is,
we start seeing a whole bunch of weapons moving around or being utilized. That
would change my calculus," he added. That would change my equation."
He also said the U.S. military needs to beef
up its vetting process for Afghan troops following a series of lethal "green
on blue" attacks on U.S. troops by their Afghan counterparts. There have been
32 such incidents this year. "We have got to make sure we are on top of
this," the president said, promising to discuss the problem with Afghan
President Hamid Karzai. (Karzai
later blamed the attacks on foreign
Mitt Romney criticized
the president on his handling of the war this week, telling
a gathering in New Hampshire, "When
our men and women are in harm's way, I expect the president of the United
States to address the nation on a regular basis and explain what's happening
and why they're there, what the mission is, what its purpose is, how we'll know
when it's completed."
The Obama campaign struck back, with spokesperson Lis Smith saying that Romney has
refused to detail his own plan for withdrawing from the war. "If he does have
some secret plan, he owes it to our men and women in uniform to tell them," she
Ryan on the attack
At the same New Hampshire rally, Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan spoke
at length on foreign policy for the first time. He called Iran "an
existential threat to Israel'' as well as "our own national security" and
discussed the Middle East peace process, arguing that "when President Obama
made the 1967 borders the precondition for the beginning of negotiations, it
undercut our ally." Ryan was referring to a speech last year in which Obama made
the case that "the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the
1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps," comments that led to a minor kerfuffle
with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
On Thursday, the Romney campaign unveiled
a new energy plan that the candidate says will allow the U.S. to achieve
energy independence by 2020. The plan involves deregulating the oil and gas
industry, opening up more federal lands and offshore waters to drilling, and
approving the Keystone XL pipeline between the United States and Canada. In a policy
paper released this week, the campaign accuses Obama of having
intentionally "sought to shut down oil, gas and coal production in pursuit of
his own alternative energy agenda."
Beating the Iran
signs emerging this week that Iran is continuing -- or even accelerating --
work on its nuclear program, despite covert sabotage efforts, Romney's campaign
advisors have been ratcheting up the calls for military action, though as FP's Josh Rogin notes,
they differ on the specifics. In an article for the Weekly Standard, former White House aide and Romney campaign
advisor Elliot Abrams argues that
the time has come for Obama to ask Congress for an authorization for the use of
military force against Iran, as a way of reassuring Israel that he is serious
about preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. "This is the way for him
to show seriousness of purpose, and for Congress to support it -- and send an
unmistakable message to the ayatollahs," he
Meanwhile, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John
in the Washington Times that Israel
should not count on the United States to take action and should instead "make
its own military decision, preferably one based on physics, not politics."
Bolton also suggested that U.S. policy may not change fast enough for Israel
even if Romney wins, prompting an Obama campaign spokesperson to suggest
he had gone "off message."
What's in the GOP
The GOP platform prepared last week will be released on
Monday, ahead of the GOP convention. Other than a
last-minute change from "Czechoslovakia" to Czech Republic, the
foreign-policy sections of the platform have gotten less attention than what
the document says about abortion and Medicare. FP's Uri Friedman runs
down what we know about the platform so far. It includes a section on "Unequivocal Support for Israel," including recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli
capital after the creation of a Palestinian state, support for increasing the U.S.
military budget -- over the howls of the party's libertarian wing -- and the first-ever
GOP plank on "Internet freedom."
The latest from FP:
argues that Romney's plan still won't
free America from Mideast oil.
Lawrence Korb, Max
Hoffman, and Robert Ward say Ryan's
defense budget plan is actually closer to Obama's than Romney's.
Peter Feaver asks
rarely talks about the war in Afghanistan anymore.
Josh Rogin reports
on the inflammatory
Facebook postings of the former Navy Seal leading attacks on Obama.