Obama administration's foreign policy blunder
Gordon Chang on the geopolitical ramifications of the successful al-Qaeda terrorist attack against four Americans
- Duration 13:39
- Date Sep 21, 2012
Gordon Chang on the geopolitical ramifications of the successful al-Qaeda terrorist attack against four Americans
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We begin with foreign policy obviously so much has been happening and it certainly roiled the presidential election season.
Overseas now we're talking about the unrest in the Middle East just today fifteen people at least have been killed in unrest in Pakistan.
But of course we've seen recently.
On September the eleventh.
The deadly attack on our consulate and a nearby facility in Benghazi Libya.
That killed our US ambassador to Libya Cris Stevens and three other Americans associated with our diplomatic mission there.
Here to discuss all of this is a face that it will be well familiar to Fox News viewers Gordon Chang.
The national security and foreign policy analyst who has lectured and -- that the State Department the Pentagon on the Central Intelligence Agency.
And other important venues Gordon thanks for joining us and I guess my first question to you is.
How big a deal are the events that we're seeing is this an epochal moment doors it is simply transitional one what do you make of it.
I think this is very important because we haven't seen a US ambassador killed since 1979.
Then also I think that it's it's not just what's going on in Ben Ghazi or even North Africa.
You know you have all of these dictators and terrorists sort of look and see what's going on.
And when they see that the administration is carrying a narrative that is obviously -- true.
It just really sort of under the roads.
The respect for the United States and I think that you know we're seeing international system fray right now and I actually don't think that that's a coincidence.
You mentioned just now in your answer the -- pounding of a narrative that has not been true by the Obama administration -- wanna play some sound.
For you and for viewers.
That gets at that lets hear the sound.
People gathered outside the embassy and then it's it grew very violent those with extremist ties and join the fray and came with heavy weapons which unfortunately are quite common in in post revolutionary.
Libya and and that then spun out of control but we don't see at this point.
Signs that this was a coordinated plan premeditated attack.
Let me begin by asking whether you would say that investors Stephens in the three other Americans died as a result of these terrorists that.
But certainly on that particular question I would say yes they were killed in the course of -- terrorist attack on our embassy.
All right two very different.
Pieces of information.
Being put out by the administration the first.
Of course was UN ambassador Susan Rice appearing on FOX News Sunday this past Sunday September 16.
And then the second sound -- you heard was an exchange between senator Lieberman on the homeland security committee.
And the witness saw this past Wednesday and that was September 19 Matt Olson.
The director of the National Counterterrorism Center and it was just one day after Olson testified as you saw there.
That white house Press Secretary Jay Carney came out and said that this had self evidently been a terrorist attack.
Whereas we just heard from Susan Rice on five Sunday shows that this was not premeditated or and not planned in the eyes of the administration so Gordon.
Gordon Chang rejoins us.
How damaging is this set of events where you have the administration.
Asserting one thing for a long time and then asserting essentially the direct opposite and and then in in so doing telling us it's been self evident all along.
Yeah I think the problem here is that the two narratives are are contradictory.
And obviously you know administrations can change their mind as they learn more facts on the ground.
But this one seems to be maintaining both narratives at the same time and that is damaging the credibility.
Because you know just live from the common sense of this it doesn't look like this was some spontaneous event.
You know you didn't have large demonstrations in -- Ghazi.
You had heavy weapons at the a scene from the get go.
This was September 11 after all in this YouTube video that people complain about this -- been around since -- so it would be really difficult to say that this was -- really just something that happened all of a sudden with no planning that doesn't happen in the Middle East these days on.
-- -- -- So Susan Rice the UN ambassador -- has been mentioned if President Obama were to win reelection as a potential nominee for secretary of state.
In her present role as the ambassador to the United Nations.
She represents us on that world body and particularly at the UN Security Council.
There have been great moments in American history in post war American history where the UN ambassador or house to.
In -- in essence persuade other countries to go along with us -- key moments for example one thinks about -- Stephenson at the at the height of the Cuban missile crisis.
-- is Susan Rice is credibility forever damaged by this episode now.
-- I think that it has certainly been damaged to some extent.
You know to.
I suspect that -- she maintains a slime because this is consistent with what the president has been saying.
I think probably most people at the UN would say that she was just carrying out the the government line.
But nonetheless of course it doesn't add to her credibility to her seriousness.
And largely because of what she is trying to say is at variance with what most people believe you know people -- -- Ghazi who have been talking about this.
Obviously believe that it was a premeditated attack by Islamic terrorists and is any Libyan government itself has said the same thing so I think is really hard for her to maintain that night.
Would hope that that she would at least step back and say we need more facts we got to really start to look at this because there might be something else to -- whole idea that it was premeditated.
Now in addition Gordon to maintaining that this was not premeditated that it wasn't really a terrorist attack.
And as we've established that's that's a line of of narrative that the administration is essentially abandoned at this point but along with that.
They kept saying something else which they haven't abandoned which is essentially that these these protests we've seen.
Just on the first two or three days for a from September -- to September 12 some 33 locales stretching from Western Europe.
To South Asia where there were.
Demonstrations protest riots killings.
Or some sort of unrest.
At American embassy's American consulates American installations western fast food chains and the like.
And the administration has been saying along all along that this is not and an outpouring of anti Americanism -- say.
But really truly.
An outpouring of sentiment about this inflammatory anti Muslim video do you buy that.
No I don't buy it obviously we're gonna need some time to sort out how all of these events occurred within hours of each other.
But it doesn't really look like everyone in the world decided to do the same thing at the same time on their own.
And so I've -- really at this point.
I think most people believe that this was premeditated it was around the time of a very sensitive anniversary that al-Qaeda wanted to make a point.
And -- at the end of the day.
Although we don't have the facts right now to maintain one position.
In the face of really what we know.
It is a mistake and -- that I'm really worried that that when you look around the world.
Others are gonna see this at at and really wonder about American policy -- American resolve any American willingness to deal with Islamic terrorism.
The question arises though as to whether or not President Obama -- our outreach to the Muslim world which famously began with his speech in Cairo in 2009.
Is a success or not what do you say based on what we're seeing presently.
Well obviously not a success I mean it's a very difficult task and so.
One would not expected to be solved within one administration or two administrations -- we're talking about a long term trend.
But the problem is that it seems that the administration is not really willing to deal with the concept of Islamic terrorism.
In a way that is really necessary in order to put this back in the box this so long term trend but I don't see the administration doing the right things.
For the most part we -- we -- all happy that he was able to get Osama bin Laden.
But you know it's not like that's done we can check the box there's so much more that has to be done.
At and the administration is sort of got a giving the impression that -- well you know.
We've done this already.
New heart for sandy.
Tweets us and chats with a slide to say really what is going on very simple to understand it was a terrorist attack.
On the anniversary of 9/11 just as you've been saying Gordon.
I know that your principally a foreign policy national security analyst.
And not a domestic political analyst.
But I wonder what thoughts you have on how how centrally if at all.
This this this this outbreak of a foreign news is going to affect people at the ballot box in November.
But you know everyone at the beginning of this year said that this economy -- dismissal of presidential election was going to be about the economy.
And a very well may not be just as in 2008 everyone said it was about national security matters and it ended up being about the economy.
This by itself you know tragic terrible.
May not affect the election but if it's one in a series of events -- it could very well or rode the administration's credibility on foreign affairs.
And we're seeing some pretty troubling events in Asia at the same time in Pakistan as you mentioned.
And we do see the international system unraveling this is going to be a problem for the United States and if it gets worse it will affect the election one way or another.
What do you mean by the international system unraveling explain that for us.
Well -- you see a series of troubling events that have occurred over the last several months.
What really occur in very quick succession with each other.
-- and because I focus on on Asia you know you -- for instance the Chinese and the Japanese.
In this increasingly ugly territorial dispute in the East China -- You see the north Koreans.
Defying the United States and South Korea the Iranians.
Are not paying any attention to the international community.
There are continuing to produce.
Enriched uranium and the Syrians even talk about using chemical weapons on their own people.
And you know the international community or at least the west is -- silent about this and so I think they're all taking their cues from each other and realizing.
That they can do what they want and they aren't going to see any push back.
From the western powers.
One major player that you did not mention in what was otherwise a very comprehensive survey.
Events right now I think was Russia.
And Mitt Romney the GOP presidential nominee recently notified Russia.
As I think the major threat to the United States.
How do you see that assessment then and how do you see the role that Vladimir Putin and in Moscow or playing in world events right now.
I think Vladimir Putin would like to be the number one challenger to the US but right now he isn't.
Right now you see a very troubling events in China with the military breaking free of civilian control.
Challenging Japan and we have a mutual security treaty -- Japan where we are obligated to defend those islands that have been the subject of these recent controversies.
And you see China pushing on other US allies in recent weeks including the Philippines.
Giving very difficult time to the South Koreans.
And China of course been supporting the Iranian economy as well as -- Iranian nuclear weapons program by transferring materials and technology.
In violation of all nonproliferation norms and obligations.
I wouldn't think that Romney is correct about that assessment regarding Russia.
You wrote a book a decade ago Gordon predicting that the collapse of the Chinese economy a correct me if I'm wrong.
Do you feel that that has been invalidated.
And if so or -- -- even without respect to that prediction.
How how do you size up the state of the Chinese economy right now.
China's growing at about zero when you look at the most reliable indicator of Chinese economic activity electricity production.
Or you look at the manufacturing surveys in price indices.
Using an economy which is X in -- distress.
You know I said in 2001 that the Chinese political system wouldn't survive.
Ten years and so I'm a little bit out of time.
But recently you know we've seen the economy falter the Communist Party splintering the authority of the central government -- -- that military as I mentioned before.
And all of these protests in China some of them directed against the government some of them are directed against Japan.
China is going off the rails and we just don't know where that country is headed but this is very important because it affects our allies and our friends in the region in a very critical part of the world.
And we only have about thirty seconds Gordon but do you regard.
On this downward trajectory of the Chinese as and in -- -- feature of their Communist system or simply.
Mismanagement on their part a little bit of both they've got an economy which is particularly ill suited for the current global environment.
They have not been willing to make the reforms that are necessary.
And of course you have a political system that doesn't have legitimacy.
So when you have people upset about the economy it can have political implications -- can reverberate.
Gordon Chang foreign policy and national security analyst -- Accomplish -- we thank you for helping us here in the fox hole to make sense of the world I hope you'll come back oh thank you so much.
Gordon Chang and so state.