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Posted at 2:00 PM ET, 12/10/2010

New foreign affairs player arrives on the scene

By Jennifer Rubin

Over the last week, I've expressed skepticism about the ability of Senate and House Republicans to impact the administration's foreign policy. As we saw during the Bush administration, even a president whose popularity is skidding enjoys wide latitude in the conduct of foreign policy. And at a time when domestic issues are paramount, there are few Republicans willing to devote time and energy to foreign policy. But there is a big exception: Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.).

Ros-Lehtinen was named chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee this week. To say that critics of the Obama foreign policy are thrilled to have her on the scene would be an understatement. If you talk to Cuba democracy advocates, friends of Israel, supporters of Georgia against Russian aggression, and human rights activists, they will uniformly express praise for Ros-Lehtinen.

In her opening remarks after being named chair, she demonstrated why she may well become the darling of conservatives and the bane of the Obama administration. She issued a multi-pronged attack on the administration. She promised "a number of cuts to the State Department and Foreign Aid budgets. There is much fat in these budgets, which makes some cuts obvious." She is looking not only to cut but to reform: "We must shift our foreign aid focus from failed strategies rooted in an archaic post-WWII approach that, in some instances, perpetuates corrupt governments, to one that reflects current realities and challenges and empowers grassroots and civil society." But she does not intend to focus solely on budgets. She described what amounts to an ideological offensive against the administration, describing her plan to use "U.S. contributions to international organizations as leverage to press for real reform of those organizations, such as the United Nations, and... to call for withdrawal of U.S. funds to failed entities like the discredited Human Rights Council if improvements are not made."

She also talks in terms that are rarely heard from the White House. It is the language of American exceptionalism, and she has confidence of an advocate of a forward-leaning foreign policy. She explained that her "worldview is clear: isolate and hold our enemies accountable, while supporting and strengthening our allies. I support strong sanctions and other penalties against those who aid violent extremists, brutalize their own people, and have time and time again rejected calls to behave as responsible nations. Rogue regimes never respond to anything less than hardball."

In sum, using the power of the purse and oversight hearings, Ros-Lehtinen is expected to push back on policies that have under-delivered. We can expect her to scrutinize the gap between rhetoric and results. What have we gained from "reset"? Why are we giving $1.5 billion to Hosni Mubarak in light of an election rampant with fraud? Why aren't we more robustly supporting the Green Movement? After two years, many of the assumptions that formed the basis of the Obama foreign policy have proven faulty. Democrats have been reluctant to query administration officials, but Ros-Lehtinen will not be shy.

Oversight hearings and budgetary control do not guarantee that the Obama administration will reverse course on its approach to Russia, Israel, Cuba or any other country. But Ros-Lehtinen can, and I predict will, make a difference. Many of the Obama foreign policy gambits will not stand up to scrutiny, and nations that have been neglected or undercut by this administration will have a chance to make their case. She, as well as the 2012 presidential candidates, can begin to lay out the case against Obama foreign policy and describe what an alternative vision -- robust on human rights, supportive of our allies, candid in the description of the war against Islamic jihadism, and assertive in advancing U.S. interests rather than the nebulous goal of "engagement" -- would look like. That is no small thing.

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 10, 2010; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  House GOP, foreign policy  
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Comments

This is great news. I would like to see a more active congress. It is long past time that the voters of America held their legislators accountable for fulfilling thier responsibilities.

Making sure that our tax dollars are put to effective use is a very, very good start.

Lets call the massive bureaucracy to account for its performance. Let's expose the government to the very best disinfectant: sunlight.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | December 10, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Since the role of the House in foreign affairs is minimal, my guess is that Ros-Lehtinen is on the road to oblivion. She obviously has a strong constituency for actions involving Cuba and Mexico, but no one is going to pay any attention to her opinions about Georgia and Russia, least of all her constituents.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 10, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

54465446

The role of the House in foreign affairs is not minimal

There is significant oversight responsibilities -


And the House has the power of the purse, important in wartime.


Anyway, again you can't get this past too many people

Posted by: RainForestRising | December 10, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Why is everything all about Obama, since the Bush administration made such an unholy mess out of foreign policy?

Posted by: 54465446 | December 10, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Why the cheap date? She supports the radical homosexual agenda (at least most of it) and amnesty.

Posted by: fraudbust2011 | December 10, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

RFR:

Yes, there's always money but that hasn't stopped the mess in Iraq or Afghanistan has it?

Posted by: 54465446 | December 10, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

So, Ros-Lehtinen believes in American exceptionalism, supports our allies, is a fiscal conservative, speaks frankly about Islamic and secular despots...I think I'm in love.

Posted by: hancock1 | December 10, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

It isn't her opinion that I'm concerned with. It is her ability, via a majority for her party in the house, to summon representatives of the various government agencies to hearings. That is what matters.

I'd like to watch the state Department explain a few things. I'd like to see a comprehensive review of the bleeding wound that is USAID for example.

I think that the House should become a thorn in the side of the standing Federal government. I think these nameless, unelected bureaucrats who are stealing our liberty and wasting our money should stand, sweating, under the glare of the TV lights. Let them explain where the billions go.

then let the congress face the wrath of the people if the waste continues.

This will have significant impact on foreign affairs. Here's a perfect example: many of the 9/11 bombers came to America via a fast track visa program promoted by liberals in the state department. When it was revealed that this program's lackluster checks on visa applicants allowed murderers into our country the state department refused to abandon the program.

congressional oversight, and carefully crafted funding bills makes that kind of defiance more difficult.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | December 10, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

skipsailing:

I think we can waterboard them if you want. I'll have to check with Justice first.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 10, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

It is embarrassing that Republicans such as Ros-Lehtinen continue to advocate for the ridiculous Cuba embargo and travel ban, both of which are failures and a restriction on my personal liberty to trade with and visit Cuba. We do ourselves no favors by increasing the misery of the Cuban people and making them more dependent on their despotic government.

You can be in favor of engagement and trade with China -- which has been a huge success -- and you can be in favor of the Cuba embargo, but you can't rationally be for both. GOP policy in this area is simply incoherent and does not keep with its ethos of limited government.

Posted by: grabowcp | December 10, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

skip:

You never answered me on the McCain thread whether you personally were willing to go fight and possibly die in Georgia, Latvia, Estonia, etc. or have your son or daughter do so.

I'll take that as a no!

Posted by: 54465446 | December 10, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

grabowcp:

You don't see the big picture. Normalization of relations with Cuba and recognition would end the dream in the Cuban exile community of going back "home" and taking over vast amounts of land and business interests, decrepit though they may be, that were expropriated by Castro.

Castro and his brother will die and then you will see the migration and all kinds of suits fighting (the civil type that is) over this issue.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 10, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Why are we giving $1.5 billion to Hosni Mubarak in light of an election rampant with fraud?
___________________________________

Because his opposition promotes aggression towards Israel. I would have thought someone as pro-Israel as Rubin would have worked that out on her own.

Posted by: veritasinmedium | December 10, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

veritas:

You have some of the devil in you don't you?

Since when have human rights mattered in Egypt? We're talking Russia, Georgia and other places that are somehow Obama's fault.

Can't you focus here for just one minute? LOL

Posted by: 54465446 | December 10, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

54465446


Bush did NOT make a mess out of foreign policy.

If you watch carefully, Obama has quietly adopted many of Bush's foreign policy positions - because they were the correct course of action to begin with.


Bowing to foreign leaders is a DISGRACE. Obama is an embarrassment to the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.


Obama has little to point to as accomplishments in foreign policy. And there is an uptick in terrorist incidents.


Obama is doing a horrible job - and actually PROVING that Bush did a good job overall.


.

Posted by: RainForestRising | December 10, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

54465446


When Obama closes Gitmo without bribing foreign nations to take the detainees, you can get back to us about how fantastic Obama's foreign policy is.


It is a DISGRACE to bribe foreign countries to try to get them to take Gitmo detainees, also known as TERRORISTS.


.

Posted by: RainForestRising | December 10, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

RFR:

Obama has had to continue some of them because their is simply no way out of some of these messes consider the Bush administration:

1) starting but not ending two wars that cost over a trillion dollars and have now gone on longer than any American war ever.

2) Endangering our ally Israel by aiding and abetting the promotion of Iran to super power status in the Middle East, and expanding their hegemony to include Iraq, in SPITE of warnings from other nations against this course of action

3) creating a prison at Gitmo with no end in sight and no plan for what to do with the prisoners other than to keep them there after a military tribunal, FOREVER

4) completely ignoring the end of democracy in Russia and not even launching a whisper of protest about it

5) conducting endless negotiations over North Korea, that have led to more endless negotiations over North Korea today.

6)expanding NATO to include Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia Countries where we have few important interests and no ability to militarily defend them whatsoever.

7)Creating IPAP with Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kasakhstan, Moldova, Bosnia Herzegovina, and Montenegro, creating an implied relationship with nations that again have no important American interests

That should do to launch a flurry of responses!

Posted by: 54465446 | December 10, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

"If you talk to Cuba democracy advocates, friends of Israel, supporters of Georgia against Russian aggression, and human rights activists, they will uniformly express praise for Ros-Lehtinen."

These countries made their own beds, let them sleep in them. Of course, they are all over whoever might give them a US taxpayer-financed handout. "You're real purty, Ileana. Tell us more!"

Posted by: fzdybel | December 10, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

"It is a DISGRACE to bribe foreign countries to try to get them to take Gitmo detainees"

Why? Think of it as out-sourcing.

Posted by: fzdybel | December 10, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

well this is a stupid question:
=====================
skip:

You never answered me on the McCain thread whether you personally were willing to go fight and possibly die in Georgia, Latvia, Estonia, etc. or have your son or daughter do so.

I'll take that as a no!

========================

How's that for an answer sonny?

Posted by: skipsailing28 | December 10, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

skip:

You're not really Dick Cheney are you?

Posted by: 54465446 | December 10, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Ros-Lehtinen will definitely make a difference on Israel. Engel and Ackerman have already publicly breathed sighs of relief. I expect no more appropriations to fund UNRWA in Gaza.

Most of what J-Ru speculates on above is purely J-Ru's wish list, like Egypt where the aid is tied to the peace treaty, and Georgia which is no one's priority, and Iran's Green movement where it remains unclear if U.S. aid in any way will boomerang.

Imam Rauf just took his last outreach junket funded by the U.S. State Department :)

Russia is a tough call, for everyone, not just the U.S.

As to Cuba? The Obami failed to even start indirect talks, which I found quite useful as a point to anyone from the left who was whining about the Obami push for indirect talks with Israel: why did Obama not lead by example in dealing with Cuba as a priority instead of Israel?

The embargo may be out-of-date, but such is the legacy of true American colonialism, and Castro's confiscation of so much private property.

disclsoure: I grew up in the heart of what is now Little Havana as it became Little Havana, and it really is complicated.

Ileana's clarity is refreshing.

Posted by: K2K2 | December 10, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Nothing like having a House Foreign Affairs chair who supports terrorists i.e Orlando Bosch, who was involved in the 1976 mid-air bombing of a Cubana Airlines flight that killed 73 people, including members of the Cuban national fencing team. He was pardoned in 1992 by the elder Bush after the urging of Ros-Lehtinen. His co-conspirator Poseda is still hanging out in Miami as a fugitive from justice. It's a shame nobody in the media calls her out on this.

Posted by: MerrillFrank | December 11, 2010 12:03 AM | Report abuse

Nothing like having a House Foreign Affairs chair who supports terrorists i.e Orlando Bosch, who was involved in the 1976 mid-air bombing of a Cubana Airlines flight that killed 73 people, including members of the Cuban national fencing team. He was pardoned in 1992 by the elder Bush after the urging of Ros-Lehtinen. His co-conspirator Poseda is still hanging out in Miami as a fugitive from justice. It's a shame nobody in the media calls her out on this.
Posted by: MerrillFrank

Here's an update,Posada is not a fugitive from justice,he is living in Miami,originally under the protection of the Bush contingency,and now under the protection of the Obama people. His nickname is Bambi/the Bin Laden of S. America. I guess the War on Terror doesn't work in the direction of old school,anticommunist,terrorists.

Posted by: rcaruth | December 11, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Jennifer, here's a good topic for Monday. Glenn Back now claims that 10% of the world's Muslims are terrorists. That works out to about 157,000,000 people!

I think somebody hasn't been getting enough media coverage lately.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 11, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Charles Krauthammer - Swindle of the year
(6,749) people shared this

But not at RIGHT TURN,we;re way past that sort of thing.

Posted by: rcaruth | December 11, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

RC:

For all the Krauthammerians, he's a pyschiatrist, not a finance guy.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 11, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Rubin accuses Ros-Lehtinen of American exceptionalism, and then give no examples.

Posted by: eroot1 | December 12, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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