Foreign and Defense Policy

And you thought Joe Biden was a liar

Image Credit: Marc Nozell (Flickr) (CC BY 2.0)

Image Credit: Marc Nozell (Flickr) (CC BY 2.0)

Check this out.

Here’s Barack Obama at the foreign policy debate on Monday night:

“First of all, the sequester is not something that I’ve proposed. It is something that Congress has proposed. It will not happen.”

Here’s his interview with the Des Moines Register one day later:

“So when you combine the Bush tax cuts expiring, the sequester in place, the commitment of both myself and my opponent — at least Governor Romney claims that he wants to reduce the deficit — but we’re going to be in a position where I believe in the first six months we are going to solve that big piece of business.”

Here’s Barack Obama at the foreign policy debate on Monday night:

Schieffer: “[a]s you know, there are reports that Iran and the United States a part of an international group, have agreed in principle to talks about Iran’s nuclear program. What is the deal, if there are such talks? What is the deal that you would accept, Mr. President?

Obama: “Well, first of all those are reports in the newspaper. They are not true.”

And here’s Obama later in the debate:

“I’m pleased that you now are endorsing our policy of applying diplomatic pressure and potentially having bilateral discussions with the Iranians to end their nuclear program.”

So, actually, the sequester will happen. And a bonus lie: It was Obama’s idea.

And actually, the bilateral talks with Iran are happening.

Awesome. Next thing we’ll learn it wasn’t a movie that prompted that attack in Benghazi. Oh wait.

One thought on “And you thought Joe Biden was a liar

  1. I think Ms. Pletka has some reading comprehension problems – again. (I’ve noted elsewhere her lack of understanding that “reputable” is a subjective, not objective term).

    On the sequester: the question that elicited the remarks was not how Obama was going to get the budget in balance. It was how he was going to break the gridlock so that a deal could be struck. Just before the part she quoted, Obama said, “the good news is that there’s going to be a forcing mechanism…”. In that context, the more honest interpretation of his comment on the sequester is not that it’s going to happen, but it’s going to force the two sides to reach a deal to avoid it.

    Of course, Obama could be wrong in his confidence that the threat of sequester will force a compromise. Never underestimate the stupidity of politicians. But being wrong is not the same as lying. (Perhaps this is another subtlety of language that Ms. Pletka does not understand. And in any event we can’t know if Obama is wrong until the sequester clock strikes midnight.)

    As to who proposed the sequester, I invite Ms. Pletka to produce her evidence that Obama was the first person to propose the sequester. Was she an eyewitness to all the negotiations? John Boehner of course claims this, but that’s one person’s word against the other. Is there a law of physics that says that Republicans are incapable of lying? Is there independent confirmation from someone without a partisan axe to grind?

    On the talks with Iran, Ms. Pletka apparently doesn’t understand the meaning of the word “potentially”. That word does not mean that the thing is actually happening right now. It does not even mean that an agreement is in place for the thing to happen. It only proves that we are willing, under some set of circumstances, to have such talks. To an honest and literate native speaker of the English language, it is not an admission that the nuclear talks are happening, or that an agreement has actually been struck to have such talks. It _is_ possible that talks about having talks (not talks about the nuclear program itself) are underway, without Obama being a liar. A careful reader will notice that Obama only denied that an agreement in principle had been reached to have the substantive talks. If the US and Iran are in talks-about-having-talks, but have not ironed out all their differences about the ground rules for having those substantive talks, then Obama’s denial would the literal truth. An agreement in principle has not been reached.

    It is of course _possible_ that Obama is lying. Countries have frequently conducted diplomacy in secret while denying that anything was happening, whether to avoid outrage from the denier’s own citizens or to permit the other party to save face with its own constituents. But evidence that Obama’s denial is a lie, and that we have reached an agreement with Iran to have such talks, cannot legitimately be found in Obama’s debate comment.

    And there is evidence that while the attackers were not a random mob, but a bunch of heavily-armed Islamic extremists with some sort of tie to Al Qaeda, that nevertheless the attack was not pre-planned – they really were set off by the movie. It was a terrorist attack in the sense that it was an attack by a bunch of terrorists, but there is testimony that it was not a terrorist attack in the sense that it was motivated by a coldly-calculated desire to cause terror. See:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/16/world/africa/election-year-stakes-overshadow-nuances-of-benghazi-investigation.html

    “To Libyans who witnessed the assault and know the attackers, there is little doubt what occurred: a well-known group of local Islamist militants struck the United States Mission without any warning or protest, and they did it in retaliation for the video. That is what the fighters said at the time, speaking emotionally of their anger at the video without mentioning Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden or the terrorist strikes of 11 years earlier. And it is an explanation that tracks with their history as members of a local militant group determined to protect Libya from Western influence.

    “’It was the Ansar al-Shariah people,’ said Mohamed Bishari, 20, a neighbor of the compound who watched the assault and described the brigade he saw leading the attack. ‘There was no protest or anything of that sort.’”

    If Ms. Pletka has evidence that Mr. Bishari is lying, or that the attackers lied to their fellow Libyans about why they were doing it, she should present it.

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