Afghanistan Symbolizes Foreign Policy Advantage for Obama

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President Barack Obama leaves Buckley Air Force Base on April 25, 2012. (credit: CBS)

President Barack Obama leaves Buckley Air Force Base on April 25, 2012. (credit: CBS)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

With six long months between now and Election Day, Colorado voters will be reminded of many criticisms of both President Obama and Mitt Romney. From the economy to social issues and from big oil to big corporations, mud will be slung in all directions.

Every issue will be free game, from the serious to the silly. However, only a few issues will make a difference to the middle of the road voters that will decide the election.

President Obama’s trip to Afghanistan to sign an accord with the Afghan government and to address the nation from a warzone should remind his Republican opponents that foreign policy attacks will be tough to stick to Obama in the fall campaign.

Certainly GOP leaders have a variety of criticisms with Obama’s foreign policy moves. However, the big difference is how many of those critiques will matter to those elusive and far easier to please independent voters. The answer? Not many.

When looking at the foreign policy scorecard, GOP officials may want to crow about things that have gone wrong, but the fact of the matter is that unaffiliated voters are going to go down a fairly short checklist that leans very positively toward President Obama.

1. American troops are home from Iraq
2. Osama bin Laden is dead
3. Moammar Qaddafi was deposed and killed without the loss of one American solider.
4. Although true success is debatable, there is a timetable for the end of the war in Afghanistan

Usually, the Republican Party enjoys a significant advantage when it comes to foreign policy in Presidential races. The last time that a Democratic President was defeated after one term, foreign policy was one of the main keys to the election. If the GOP wishes to repeat that feat, they will not be able to count on that same advantage.

There remains a foreign policy wildcard out there that could effect the situation, but it shouldn’t be able to tilt the entire issue towards the GOP. That wildcard, of course, is Iran.

But even Iran and its unpredictability can’t give the GOP much hope. First, it’s not like Republicans can openly wish for Iran to officially go off the deep end, mainly because if they do, it will mean that thousands of people, if not more, may perish. But secondly, George W. Bush proved that Americans are not fond of switching out Commanders in Chief during a war. And if Iran were to truly go off the rails, we would very likely be in a state of war with them. Even if Obama doesn’t handle each decision perfectly, even Iran shouldn’t give him a significant disadvantage in foreign policy.

The good news for everyone involved is that Obama’s clear advantage in foreign affairs should keep the campaign focused on the economy, which is what most voters still see as the most important issue. It should also mean that the influence of the campaign should stay within our borders and not with the whims various foreign leaders, not that many of them won’t try.

By marking the one year anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden with a speech from Afghanistan, President Obama reminded voters and his GOP opponent that while many issues are up for grabs this fall, the GOP should use caution when going after him on foreign policy issues.
About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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