by Austin Bay
November 3, 2010
Tea party-inspired candidates primarily stressed U.S.
domestic issues during the midterm elections, with special focus on the
economy. Though the tea party victors now headed for Capitol Hill are in many
respects a disparate group, an emphasis on free-market principles, a healthy
skepticism of big government and a confirmed populist faith in the wisdom of
average American voter were common themes in their campaigns.
These unifying themes indicate the new senators and
representatives are men and women who believe in American exceptionalism, the
idea that the U.S., as the planet's first working and most successful
representative democracy, plays a special role in world affairs.
Their faith in American exceptionalism will ultimately
influence their positions on a range of foreign policy issues. At times, they
will confront President Barack Obama head to head. However, there will be
several tough cases, such as Afghanistan, where the Obama administration will
discover many of the new arrivals are critical but reliable allies, unlike the
cut-and-run wing of his own party.
President Obama tends to operate in an information cocoon
spun by his Chicago pals and a fawning national media, so he may not even be
aware that two speeches given by Democrat leaders addressing international
issues have deeply offended American conservatives. In the next few months,
however, he will have to deal with the political outrage bred by these big-time
goofs as expressed by offended Americans who are now serving in Congress.
The first goof is Harry Reid's infamous utterance of April
2007, when he said of Iraq ?... that this war is lost, and that the surge is
not accomplishing anything ...? In the context of the moment, Americans
committed to winning the Global War on Terror identified the senator as an
American leader providing psychological and moral encouragement to an enemy in
time of war.
Moreover, Reid did it for partisan political advantage. He
continued the defeatist narrative Democrats had been pushing since 2003 as part
of their campaign to defeat their real enemy, George W. Bush. History has
proven Reid was dead wrong, but the heinous act is not forgotten or forgiven.
Obama himself used the defeatist narrative in 2008. Like Reid, Obama will now
pay for it.
The second speech is Obama's own 2009 Cairo apology to the
so-called Muslim world. American conservatives can make a strong case that the
U.S. has zip nada nothing to apologize for to any religious group, especially
one stuck with Iran's vicious clerics and several dysfunctional feudal
societies that export terrorists. Obama's speech came at what historians may
call the height of Obama's diplomatic narcissism, when he implied his very
existence bridged international divisions and moved tyrants to engage in
responsible nuclear disarmament negotiations. Yes, that's a laugh now, but a
bitter chuckle, coming as it did right before Iran's pro-democracy Green
Obama was slow to support the vulnerable Iranian protestors.
Expect the American exceptionalists in the new Congress to support them
The newbies will also clash with other Obama policies. They
may support nuclear weapons reduction but demand the U.S. maintain a reliable
nuclear deterrent, which could mean building new nuclear weapons. Obama's
foolish decisions regarding missile defense will be revisited.
Where will the new Congress and the president cooperate?
One of the biggest gripes among Obama's hard-left supporters
is they expected him to provide the denouement to the defeatist narrative and
pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq. So far, Obama has not made that mistake,
though Afghanis and Iraqis voice severe doubts about his commitment. Cynics
read Obama's ?rhetoric of doubt? as hooey to jive the defeatists in his
political base. They cite Iraq's air force as an example. It will require
training and logistics assistance until at least 2018. This suggests the U.S.
Air Force will help protect Iraqi skies for beyond 2011. Obama knows this. He
supports it because way down deep he really does not want to lose Iraq on his
watch. The new conservatives in Washington don't want him to lose it, either.
In Afghanistan, President Obama is pursuing a ?surge?
strategy led by Gen. David Petraeus, a man Senator Obama's party vilified in
2007 for pursuing the same strategy in Iraq. Obama will take deserved heat from
new congressional leaders for his blatant hypocrisy, but they will support his
Afghan initiatives. They will demand, however, he exhibit the resolve of a
committed commander in chief.