President Obama's foreign policy is remarkably similar to President Bush’s, said James Carafano, the conservative Heritage Foundation’s leading expert on defense and homeland security, in a lecture Thursday in Social Sciences that critiqued the President. The talk was organized by the College Republicans.
Carafano said Obama’s foreign policies have been a continuation of the Bush Administration’s on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo detainees, and hard interrogation techniques. He added that, despite Obama's rhetoric during the campaign, rhetoric took a backseat to viable national security policies when the President entered the White House.
Carfano said phasing forces out of Iraq was Bush’s next course of action. “If the U.S. left Iraq tomorrow, [Iraq] would survive,” Carafano said. With an improved Iraqi government and security situation, phasing troops out was the optimal choice. Carafano also said the Obama administration had essentially taken the pullout plan from the Bush administration and added a few details to it.
Obama’s announcement to close Guantanamo Bay was also a continuation of Bush policy. “Bush wanted to close Guantanamo,” Carafano said, because the U.S. no longer needed that large a facility to hold terror suspects. However, the Bush administration realized they needed to figure out what to do with the detainees prior to closing the facility. This is the main roadblock the current administration is facing now, he said.
Obama has taken a very active role in domestic issues like the economic crisis and what Carafano called the “front burner” security issues, like Iraq, that Americans care most about. “Obama is still in campaign mode,” Carafano said. “The President chooses the thing that campaigns well and not the hard decisions.”
However, when it comes to “backburner” security issues like the missile defense system, Obama has been putting them off in hopes to deal with them later, Carafano said.