With Barack Obama in the midst of his Middle East tour, the McCain campaign is making a concerted effort to cast him as a danger to the region. The latest attempt came on a conference call in which Congressman Peter Hoekstra, a hardline Republican, suggested that had Obama been president these past two years, the Syrian government would be measurably closer to achieving a nuclear weapon.
Referencing Obama's pledge to meet, unilaterally, with international leaders (both friend and foe), Hoekstra speculated that such a policy would have somehow jeopardized the October 2007 air strike that Israel launched against Syria's nuclear plant.
"By September the world knew that Syria at that time was building a nuclear plant clearly as part of the nuclear weapons program, that it was a North Korean design, and that it was uncertain as to where exactly the funding was coming from," said the Michigan Republican. "So when Senator Obama made those comments, there was a lot of activity going on and a lot of strategy that was designed to negate or limit the activities of North Korea, Syria and Iran.... With Syria we were clearly working closely with the Israelis in trying to identify the best course of action in how to deal with the emerging threat at that time. What Sen. Obama talked about was not having negotiations with these countries but having presidential negotiations unilaterally with the leaders of each of these countries and also saying he would do it with Cuba and Venezuela. He has set himself up for a policy direction that undercuts our allies and undercuts those who are working with us who are trying to restrain the activities of these countries."
The congressman was apparently unaware of the interview Obama gave on CBS the night before, in which he specifically said that he thought Israel's strike was legitimate.
"Yes, I think that there was sufficient evidence that they were developing-- a site using a nuclear-- or using a-- a blueprint that was similar to the North Korean model," Obama said. "There was some concern as to what the rationale for that site would be. And, again, ultimately, I think these are decisions that the Israelis have to make."
Hoekstra also claimed that Obama's diplomatic approach would persuade every single controversial world leader to demand (and presumably) receive a presidential summit the day he took office.
"You can bet that on January 21 in the afternoon, that Iran, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela and Cuba will all invite then President Obama to visit," he said. "That would be an untenable position for the President of the United States to be put in, especially after he has made the commitment in his campaign that he would meet with these leaders unconditionally. It would undercut our allies and foreign policy and would put a Senator Obama, then President Obama, in a very weak position."
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more