Pawlenty Hits Obama's Middle East Policy, Warns of Republican Isolationism
11:26 AM, Jun 28, 2011 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
In a speech on the Middle East at the Council on Foreign Relations this morning, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty strongly criticized President Obama's "murky policy" of "engagement." But he also took aim at unnamed "parts of the Republican Party" that "now seem to be trying to out-bid the Democrats in appealing to isolationist sentiments."
Pawlenty began his critique by panning Obama's policy of engaging Iran, Egypt, and Syria.
On Iran, Pawlenty said:
Turning to Egypt, Pawlenty said that Obama's engagement policy "meant that when crisis erupted in Cairo this year, as tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Tahrir Square, Secretary Clinton declared, 'the Egyptian Government is stable.' Two weeks later, Mubarak was gone. When Secretary Clinton visited Cairo after Mubarak’s fall, democratic activist groups refused to meet with her. And who can blame them? The forces we now need to succeed in Egypt -- the pro-democracy, secular political parties -- these are the very people President Obama cut off, and Secretary Clinton dismissed."
And regarding Syria, Pawlenty said that Obama's engagement policy "led the Administration to call Bashar al Assad a 'reformer.' Even as Assad’s regime was shooting hundreds of protesters dead in the street, President Obama announced his plan to give Assad 'an alternative vision of himself.' Does anyone outside a therapist’s office have any idea what that means?" Pawlenty said he'd enforce tough sanctions on Syria and call for Assad to go.
Pawlenty went on to discuss different measures that should be taken to promote democracy throughout the region, and he criticized Obama for treating Israel "as a problem, rather than an ally."
Although many Republicans are in favor of ceasing U.S. involvement in the NATO-led campaign against Libya, Pawlenty said that we should "stop leading from behind and commit America’s strength to removing Ghadafi, recognizing the TNC as the government of Libya, and unfreezing assets so the TNC can afford security and essential services as it marches toward Tripoli."
While warning against Republican isolationism, Pawlenty said that those who disagree with his views on Libya or Afghanistan are not necessarily isolationists. He closed by saying: