A Black Republican's Memo to Democrats

Will President Obama be feared and not liked abroad? Or will he be liked and not feared?

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Speaking today in the aftermath of hushed diplomatic talks in Geneva about Iranian nuclear ambitions, President Barack Obama told Iran: “Our patience is not unlimited.”

Mr. and Mrs. America: Here we go again.

The rogue nation (yes, I said rogue) is making promises to “talk” and to allow in International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, yada, yada, yada.

Been here; done this.

Mr. President: Please don’t fall for their ruse—Iran has no intention of complying with your demands.Why would they? After all, it was not until last week’s disclosures by President Obama and other world leaders of a hidden Iranian enrichment facility inside a guarded mountain near the holy city of Qom, that they came clean about even having such a facility.

This dialogue resembles the back and forth we had with Saddam Hussein in the months before we made the decision to unilaterally invade his country based on our intelligence reports that Iraq had nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction. Although those reports turned out to be wrong, today we know for a fact that Iran’s facility exists and is a threat to the stability of the region and U.S. national security. The question on the table, folks: Will President Obama be feared and not liked abroad; or will he be liked and not feared?

I must confess I borrowed the question from former GOP congresswoman Susan Molinari, who posed it when asked what she thought our response should be to Iran’s latest actions. But it’s exactly the right way to frame current U.S. foreign policy. There's the recent announcement that the U.S. will not build a missile shield in Eastern Europe. Also, President Obama is not sure he wants to give General Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, the additional troops he is expected to request. Add to that Iran’s recent bellicose and defiant behavior regarding long-range missiles—not to mention being caught red-handed building a nuclear facility. I am starting to be concerned that President Obama is showing indecisiveness and fear in America’s foreign policy.

Some have suggested that if only Washington had dropped its belligerent tone and extended an olive branch during the presidency of George W. Bush, bad actors like North Korea, Cuba and Iran would have responded in kind. Well, as of Jan. 20, 2009, that's exactly what the U.S. has done, offering serious “engagement” with Tehran and others—only to be met with North Korean missile launches, the capturing and imprisonment of U.S. journalists, and now with the shocking disclosure of a second Iranian enrichment facility, new ballistic missile tests, arrests and killings of protesters, and defiant language from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about their determination to press ahead on the nuclear front.

The question in my mind is not whether or not I think President Obama has the resolve to respond in kind if America is attacked, but rather the question is whether his new style of “engagement” is one that will make him well liked but not rightly feared abroad. An American president must be both feared and respected all at once. I am too young to remember the Carter presidency very well, but I do remember hearing my parents discuss it at the dinner table. I remember the Iranian hostage situation and how embarrassed and deflated America was during that time. I hope that President Obama does not allow his desire to “build bridges” and engage rogue nations like Iran to cloud his better judgment. I think that we do so at our peril and also endanger our relationship with our long-standing ally Israel.

In short, here is my memo to Democrats: If you continue down this course of a weak and indecisive foreign policy, as well as more government and higher taxes here at home, you will be setting the course for the next Republican Revolution—for the next Ronald Reagan to emerge like the phoenix from the ashes. Be careful: As they say, the past is prologue.