Pawlenty: Obama has 'failed' in the Middle East
June 28th, 2011
10:00 AM ET
10 years ago

Pawlenty: Obama has 'failed' in the Middle East

Washington (CNN) - In what his campaign billed as a major foreign policy address Tuesday in New York, Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty accused the Obama administration of dithering on Iran and failing to pursue American interests during the so-called "Arab Spring."

President Barack Obama "has failed to formulate and carry out an effective and coherent strategy in response" to popular uprisings across the Middle East, Pawlenty told an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations.

"He has been timid, slow, and too often without a clear understanding of our interests or a clear commitment to our principles," Pawlenty said of the president.

The former Minnesota governor also questioned Obama's handling of the Iranian protests of 2009, when thousands protested in the streets after a disputed election that returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power. Dozens were killed during a violent government crackdown.

Pawlenty said that when the Iranian ayatollahs "stole an election," the Iranian people rightly protested while Obama "held his tongue."

"His silence validated the mullahs, despite the blood on their hands and the nuclear centrifuges in their tunnels," Pawlenty said.

Pawlenty also took a thinly veiled poke at Republican primary foes like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who have expressed skepticism about the ongoing American military commitment in Afghanistan.

He warned fellow Republicans not to "shrink from the challenges of American leadership in the world."

"History repeatedly warns us that in the long run, weakness in foreign policy costs us and our children much more than we'll save in a budget line item," Pawlenty said. "America already has one political party devoted to decline, retrenchment, and withdrawal; it does not need a second one."

Filed under: 2012 • Foreign Policy • Tim Pawlenty
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. roscoe

    Has Obama failed Waterlou or Winterset? Middle east or middle's all the same to the tea baggers.

    June 28, 2011 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  2. BeverlyNC

    President Obama has not "failed" at anything. Republicans are so desperate and solutionless all they can do is just Obama bash. Not a single job, not a single solution, not a single idea, not a single help to boost the economy – in fact they have blocked EVERY piece of legislation to restore America for the past 2 years.

    Republicans are HYPOCRITES and cannot lead or govern They waste all their time being contrary to whatever position President Obama takes – even if they were for it before!

    Republicans introduced "individual responsibility" healthcare – the individual mandate – and now they rail against it. They introduced the DREAM Act back in 2003 so children brought to America could become American citizens. Now that President Obama has embraced it – Republicans are totally against it. Republicans were for raising the debt ceiling without question 17 times and now that it is time to raise it so we do not default on our foreign loans and bring down our economy – they are totally against it and stormed away from talks.

    Republicans are INTENTIONALLY SABOTAGING OUR ECONOMY FOR POLITICAL GAIN. These are NOT people we want running our nation, holding seats in Congress, or representing America. They are liars, haters, racists, hypocrites, and destroyers of the America we love. NO MORE REPUBLICANS in 2012. They are traitors and betrayed the PEOPLE.

    Republicans don't deserve our respect or our votes.

    June 28, 2011 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  3. Debbie

    LOL Pawlenty from a state that has a population smaller than some large cities in the US. At least Obama as a Senator voted on foreign policy legislation. Pawlenty has almost zero foreign policy experience.

    June 28, 2011 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  4. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    "He has been timid, slow, and too often without a clear understanding of our interests or a clear commitment to our principles," Pawlenty will say of the president.

    Isn't that exactly how he reacted when face to face with Mitt Romney, and asked about his Obamnycare childsh remarks?

    June 28, 2011 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  5. John in Cal

    I guess Bush failed to then right?

    June 28, 2011 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  6. frank from Indiana

    As opposed to the GOP who tromped all over the region and stole elections. Gotcha. Not to mention Bush kissing Saudi princes and holding hands in more than one photo. And need we mention how Bush smoked a cigar on the roof of the WH with the Saudi Ambassador while the Pentagon still smouldered?

    June 28, 2011 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
  7. thomas

    Tim Pawlenty has as much understanding of foreign policy as he dose experience " none" !

    June 28, 2011 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  8. Boo hoo Baynor

    First Bachmann, now you Pawlenty. Thanks u Minnesota.

    June 28, 2011 03:26 am at 3:26 am |
  9. VIceMan

    "Obama has 'failed' in the Middle East" Really? So what are we calling the Bush doctrine these days?? Who ordered the mission that killed Osama Bin Laden? When it come to defense matters our current president has stood head and shoulders above everyone else. Of course we know that if president Obama brought ALL the troops home tomorrow conservatives would still find reason to complain. Go back to the economy because we all know that repugs only have a chance with those who remember who was in charge when the financial crisis started. I'll give you a hint, it was a president who was really good friends with various executives at Enron!

    June 28, 2011 03:52 am at 3:52 am |
  10. Marie MD

    Maybe it's because we are NOT the police of the world. Let somebody else take care of the problems. We have two wars still running and thousands of lives lost because of the shrub and his shoot from the hip attitude to then tell u s that he doesn't think about the monster who killed over 3,000 people in NYC, DC and Pennsylvania.
    I kind of like a president that thinks before he speaks and acts.
    Go build a bridge in MN will ya'

    June 28, 2011 06:19 am at 6:19 am |

    Who cares? This guy's campaign is on life support . Herman Cain and Lizard Gingrich are belly up too . This is so much fun to watch!

    June 28, 2011 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  12. Sandy

    Sorry little Timmy, but you cannot convince me that you know more about foreign affairs than Obama. That ship has sailed! LOL Try another topic.

    June 28, 2011 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  13. johnmenacherjr

    Gee this is new the republicans like this dueche blaming Obama for failed policies in the mid east, the black plague, knowledge, all things evil including backmann, dinasuaer extinction and so on. Gee ya see a pattern here? And you keep listening wondering why we just keep sliding deeper in a hole? I wonder why???

    June 28, 2011 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  14. Nancy

    Guess what got an F on your latest presidential debate. Please step aside and stop talking. Also, aren't you supposed to win the primaries first before you start racing against the president? What a bunch of clowns the GOP candidates are....they just keep on ranting about how Obama failed but in terms of solutions and how they differ from other GOP candidates, then zip, zero. Again what could we expect?

    June 28, 2011 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  15. The Greedy Old Pigs have lost their minds!

    Poor wittle Timmy wants us to think he's a foreign affairs expert when he's really just another bedwetting neocon. I bet he can see Canada from his house!

    June 28, 2011 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  16. Bob Ramos

    Woe to the American public. The media fully intends to inflict upon us the insane rantings of clowns like Pawlenty, Brackman, Romny, Gingrich and the like. None of them can, or have thus far, made any constructive suggestions. Their sole programs are to demonize Obama. Unless a real candidate shows up, the Repubs should just go fishing and give up on the 2012 Presidential race.

    June 28, 2011 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  17. w l jones

    If every D.....Harry wont to be spokeperson for the US government no wonder foriegn country do not trust us they wonder who running thing over here, some none office holder.

    June 28, 2011 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  18. denice

    Pawlenty is a "Blowhard"(please vote for me) "thinks Americans are stupid enough to believe his Punch the President Rehtoric????? If it was President Pawlenty, "World War III would be in progress!!!!! If he were Potus,there will be enough "Calamity" in Americas Streets,to keep him busy for 4 yrs. What a Ditz???? lol

    June 28, 2011 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  19. lgny

    Pawlenty's comments about Iran show his ignorance of foreign affairs. Obama was correct to remain silent during the protests. Had the US expressed support for the protesters in Iran, it would have enabled the govt to label the protesters as foreign agents and then suppressed the protests even more violently. Basically, open support would be a death knell for the protesters.

    Go to Wikipedia and search for "operation ajax". In the 50's, the CIA and its British counterparts hired crowds to enable them to overthrow the democratically elected government in Iran and restore the Shah to the throne. It would be silly to do anything that resurrects hatreds that were created by that operation.

    June 28, 2011 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  20. Dale

    Does the Republican party have anything to offer besides criticism, fear and anger? Nope.

    June 28, 2011 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  21. carrotroot

    The last thing we need is another jingoistic President like Bush who is all to eager to send in the troops. That sort of thinking has lead to us occupying one country for 10 years, and another for over 8 years with trillions of dollars spent and thousands of lives lost.

    June 28, 2011 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  22. WatchDawg

    If by failed Pawlenty means a reduction in troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. By letting the Arab summer unfold without Western involvement (less Libya). I will take President Obama's failure over anything the GOP'rs have proposed. WAIT!! the GOP'rs haven't proposed anything....

    June 28, 2011 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  23. tgwoe

    He has pal len ty of experience...

    June 28, 2011 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  24. A disgusted former Republican

    Pawlenty is a child trying to play with the adults. Go back to your sandbox, Timmy, and learn about life before you try to join the adults again.

    June 28, 2011 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  25. Hot Dog

    What presidental administration was successful at all the issues during their era? The racism and partisan politics in this country is sickening. If the tructh was really told just look at all of the damaging things that the white politicians did that not serve the best interest of this country.

    June 28, 2011 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
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