In a potential preview of the 2016 presidential contest, Senator Ted Cruz lit into the “Obama-Clinton foreign policy” in a speech before the conservative Heritage Foundation on Wednesday.
“Today, the consequences of the Obama-Ciinton foreign policy is that our friends no longer trust us and our enemies no longer fear us,” Cruz said.
In closing his remarks, Cruz added that he was “hopeful and optimistic that two years form now we will see a very different president whose word can be trusted by friend and foe alike.”
Cruz and former Hillary Clinton are both considered potential, perhaps probable, presidential candidates in 2016. The latter’s time as secretary of state under President Obama would play a central role in her campaign, for good or ill, making Cruz’s remarks a good indicator of how he and other Republican candidates might take her on.
The senator suggested Obama and Clinton had too much “empathy” to effectively confront the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) even as the president, with Clinton’s support, oversees a campaign of airstrikes to destroy the group.
“In the Obama-Clinton foreign policy all members of the international community are equal, be they nations or not, and should be dealt with respectfully and with empathy,” he said. “Let me be very clear: When it comes to radical Islamic terrorists who are crucifying Christians, who are beheading children, what our foreign policy needs is not additional empathy. It needs clarity and force and resolve to defend the United States of America.”
Cruz devoted the most attention to the administration’s handling of Russia and Iran, mocking Clinton for declaring a “reset” in relations with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. He called on the administration to provide arms to Ukraine to battle Russian-backed separatists, withdraw from the START missile treaty with Russia the Senate ratified in 2012, and install new missile defense systems in Eastern Europe.
Russia’s economy is currently backsliding into recession thanks to weak oil prices and a suite of international sanctions organized by Obama. Cruz waved away the administration’s efforts to punish Putin with only a passing mention, saying they “had no discernable effect.”
He accused the administration of playing into Iran’s hands by engaging in negotiations over its nuclear program, instead proposing instituting new sanctions attached to a demand that the country dismantle any semblance of a nuclear program unilaterally.
“Here’s a hint: if a nation calls you the Great Satan, it ain’t good,” he said.
Cruz tied the Iran sanctions to reports in the Israeli press, recently dismissed by the State Department as “unfounded,” that the United States was considering sanctions against Israel over its announcement of new settlements in Palestinian territories.
“It’s difficult to imagine a more stunning indictment of the Obama/Clinton foreign policy than the notion that they might believe we should be sanctioning the nation of Israel and lifting sanctions on the nation of Iran,” he said.
In a Q&A with audience members afterwards, Cruz also weighed in on the recent bombshell report by the Senate Intelligence Committee that accused the CIA of engaging in, and covering up, a widespread program of torture against detainees. Cruz said torture is “wrong, unambiguously” and Congress was right to ban the practice, but accused the Democratic Senators behind the report of harming America’s image abroad by releasing it.
“It endangered Americans across the globe and the risk of retaliation, of violence is real,” he said. “But even more broadly it demonstrates an approach that has characterized this administration for six years, which is that everything everything everything is George W. Bush’s fault.”