Bush Criticizes Obama's Foreign Policy Remarks

(Los Angeles Times) - Setting aside his stated reluctance to enter the presidential campaign, President Bush strongly criticized Sen. Barack Obama's expressed readiness to meet with foreign leaders cast as tyrants, warning that such discussions "can be extremely counterproductive" and "send the wrong signal."

He also challenged Democrats' skepticism about the North American Free Trade Agreement, and reminded Obama that al-Qaida has been seeking to establish a base in Iraq "for the past four years."

At the same time, he said at a White House news conference that he was not yet willing to join the political fray, but his comments suggested otherwise. He worked beyond the edges of the debate, challenging for the first time -- and across a broad spectrum of issues -- some of the central tenets of Obama's and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaigns and the direction in which the Democrats would take the nation.

In the lively 46-minute session, during which Bush cheerfully bantered with reporters, he delivered a forceful plea for congressional support of his plan to renew anti-terrorist eavesdropping legislation. He attacked congressional critics of his Iraq policy, and expressed curiosity -- as well as uncertainty -- about Dmitri A. Medvedev, the all-but-certain successor to Russian President Vladimir V. Putin.

But it was in his challenge to Obama's readiness to meet with the pariahs of American foreign policy that Bush plunged most directly into the presidential campaign.

The president said that "sitting down at the table, having your picture taken with a tyrant such as Raul Castro" would lend the status of the American presidency to the new Cuban leader.

"He gains a lot from it by saying, `Look at me, I'm now recognized by the president of the United States,' " Bush said.

Bush's reluctance to speak publicly about the campaign serves a political purpose, given his low approval ratings and questions about whether his words can help or hurt Republican candidates.

However, with Obama and Clinton seeking to differentiate themselves from each other and from Bush on foreign policy, he may have helped make their point.

Bush has long objected to talking with adversaries -- notably from Cuba, Iran and North Korea. Asked why such talks, without preconditions, would be wrong, he said they would "give great status to those who have suppressed human rights and human dignity."

Obama, who has said that if elected he would be willing to meet U.S. enemies, including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, told reporters after Bush spoke that the United States should not fear engaging its foes.

Campaigning in Texas, he said he would enter such a meeting only after "a lot of preparation and diplomatic spadework," and would tell Ahmedinejad that Iran's development of nuclear weapons, its funding for Hezbollah and Hamas, and its anti-Israel rhetoric were unacceptable. In exchange for changes in its behavior, he said, Iran could expect eventual consideration of its bid to join the World Trade Organization and loosening of U.N. sanctions.

The controversy takes on new timeliness with the ascendance of Raul Castro to the Cuban presidency, replacing his brother Fidel.

"I'm not suggesting there's never a time to talk, but I'm suggesting now is not the time . . . to talk with Raul Castro," Bush said. "He's nothing more than an extension of what his brother did, which was to ruin an island, and imprison people because of their beliefs."

Even as Bush put up a wall between himself and certain foreign leaders -- he singled out Kim Jong-Il of North Korea -- he said it was "important to establish personal relations with leaders even though you may not agree with them."

Bush is expected to hold a farewell meeting with Putin, with whom he acknowledged having had "diplomatic head-butts," while in eastern Europe for a NATO summit in April, roughly four weeks before Putin leaves the presidency.

Asked whether he thought Medvedev, as the Russian president's hand-picked successor, would turn into a Putin puppet, Bush said: "I wouldn't say that."

Trade policy increasingly has become a focal point in the Democratic presidential race, particularly in Ohio. Texas and Ohio are the two biggest prizes -- and possibly the deciding factors in the Democratic race -- in Tuesday's primaries.

Clinton has called for renegotiating elements of NAFTA, which her husband's administration pushed through Congress after it was largely negotiated by the George H.W. Bush administration. Broadening her criticism of the current administration's trade policy, she said in Ohio Thursday that Bush had "turned a blind eye to all of the actions by China and others to dump steel into Ohio, hurting Ohio workers and the Ohio economy."

Defending the pact that in 1993 tore down barriers to U.S.-Canadian-Mexican trade, Bush said "the idea of just unilaterally withdrawing from a trade treaty because of trying to score political points is not good policy."

On other topics, Bush:

-- Criticized Obama's statement in a Democratic debate Tuesday that "if al-Qaida is forming a base in Iraq," then the United States would have to act to protect itself. "Well, that's exactly what they've been trying to do for the past four years," he said.

-- Said if eavesdropping legislation did not protect telephone companies from lawsuits -- a central issue in whether to renew a measure aimed at listening in on potential terrorists' conversations --litigation "would give al-Qaida and others a road map as to how to avoid the surveillance." He said the telephone companies' help was needed, but without government protection they would be exposed to lawsuits by "class-action plaintiffs attorneys" sensing "a financial gravy train."

Subscribe to Trend in Google News! Subscribe
Talks between Taliban and Western and Afghan representatives underway in Norway
Talks between Taliban and Western and Afghan representatives underway in Norway
Some 72 COVID-19 cases recorded among those arrived at Beijing Olympics
Some 72 COVID-19 cases recorded among those arrived at Beijing Olympics
Thai PM to visit Saudi Arabia as diplomatic relations thaw
Thai PM to visit Saudi Arabia as diplomatic relations thaw
Loading Bars
Latest
Georgia’s imports of copper ores from Azerbaijan down
Islamic State claims responsibility for attack in Herat, Afghanistan
Speaker of Armenian National Assembly to temporarily be Acting President
Georgia’s revenues from tourism to surge in 2022 – Galt & Taggart
Italy reports 138,860 COVID cases on Sunday, 227 deaths
Minister of Roads and Urban Development of Iran to visit Azerbaijan
Armenian president resigns
Iraq schedules crude shipments for March loading amid strong demand: Official
Italy's Berlusconi hospitalised in Milan since Thursday
Turkey sees increase in number of real estate purchased by Kazakh citizens in 2021
Talks between Taliban and Western and Afghan representatives underway in Norway
Azerbaijan shares data on number of vaccinated citizens
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price rebounds
Azerbaijan confirms 1,697 more COVID-19 cases, 526 recoveries
Some 72 COVID-19 cases recorded among those arrived at Beijing Olympics
Thai PM to visit Saudi Arabia as diplomatic relations thaw
US Navy says it detained ship delivering cargo for Houthis from Iran
Biggest problem with US is its support to YPG: Defense minister
Russia confirms over 63,200 COVID-19 daily cases
Azerbaijan prioritizes creation of food safety through local production
Azerbaijani Defense Ministry presents weekly review (VIDEO)
Expat doctors worked alongside Kuwaiti counterparts to revive Kuwaiti health sector: Dr Riyadh Khan
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for January 23
Weekly review of main events of Azerbaijani financial market
Weekly review of main events in Azerbaijan’s ICT sector
Iran discloses volume of electricity generated by Gilan Combined Cycle Power Plant
Weekly review of Azerbaijani precious metals market
Azerbaijan commissions new military facilities (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Tickets are available for two bus trips to Azerbaijan’s liberated Aghdam city
Tank and artillery shells found in Azerbaijan’s Samur-Absheron canal (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Bosphorus Strait temporarily closed in both directions
One person killed, two hurt in Budapest hospital fire -police
Intercity bus plunges into abyss in Turkey’s Istanbul city
An extra meal and snacks twice a day was all it took to improve falling nutrition levels in this tribal district
Almost all Kazakhstan remains in COVID-19 ‘red zone’
Nadal beats Mannarino in battle of left-handers to reach last eight
Azerbaijan holds training exercises in commando military unit (VIDEO)
Georgia reports 9,696 coronavirus cases, 5,408 recoveries, 28 deaths
Training session for reservists continues in Azerbaijan (VIDEO)
Iranian currency rates for January 23
Arab League delays annual summit as COVID-19 bites again
Turkey plans to hold next meeting within "3 + 3" format - Erdogan
New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern cancels her wedding amid new Omicron restrictions
S.Korea says Iran to regain UN vote after delinquent dues paid with frozen funds
Electricity generation of Iran’s Bandar Abbas TPP surges
Uz-Kor Gas Chemical opens tender for purchase spare parts for analyzers and gas detectors
SCO to consider draft program proposed by Uzbekistan
Iran-Russia annual trade to increase to $10 b from $4 b
Kazakhstan confirms 14,012 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hr
French EU lawmaker Collard joins far-right presidential candidate Zemmour
Pfizer, Moderna boosters up to 90% effective against Omicron: CDC
Turkey’s Turkovac to be tested as booster for Pfizer-BioNTech jab
Guinea junta establishes council to lead transition to elections
Visit aims to rebuild trust with Lebanon: Kuwait foreign minister
UK records 76,807 new COVID cases, 297 deaths
EU Commissioner for Energy to visit Azerbaijan
Pfizer CEO sees annual COVID vaccine rather than frequent boosters
US Dept of State plans to begin evacuation of US embassy staff from Kiev on Jan 24
Blast hits western Afghan city of Herat, killing at least six
Georgia’s coal imports from Kazakhstan triple
Presidential administration of Georgia submits candidates for election commission to parliament
Remittances to Uzbekistan in 2021 totaled USD 8 bln
Iran seeks long-term, all-out ties with Turkey - Raeisi
Massive California wildfire triggers evacuations, closes highway
Italy's Berlusconi decides against running for president
Azerbaijan, Iran talk military cooperation
Azerbaijani chess player continues to lead in Tata Steel Masters tournament
Serviceman of Azerbaijan Army dies in non-combat conditions
Number of Turkish jobseekers in Uzbekistan revealed for 2021
UAE stops all private drone activities, light sports aircrafts
Airbus cancels $6bn contract with Qatar Airways
German conservatives elect right-winger Merz as new party leader
Non-hydro renewables overtake hydro for first time in Turkey
Record-breaking indicators in non-oil sector - what is secret to success of Azerbaijan's economic strategy?
Iran shares data on exports from Aras Free Trade Zone
Kazakhstan names damage caused to business as result of large-scale rallies
Georgia publishes COVID-19 data for January 22
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price dips
India now allows 6 people to register on one number for Covid vaccination
Azerbaijan shares data on number of vaccinated citizens
Azerbaijan confirms 1,614 more COVID-19 cases, 610 recoveries
Azerbaijan changes rules for quarantine control of Covid-19
India's Karnataka approves design & launch of nano-satellite by govt school students at Rs 1.9 Cr
‘One Modi cannot change a country, need more icons like him’: Himanta Biswa Sarma
Seizing of illegally stored weapons from citizens continues in Kazakhstan - interior minister
Azerbaijani border serviceman commits suicide in military hospital
Iran unveils details of agricultural export
Kazakh Armed Forces performing tasks to ensure public order in regions with “red” level of terrorist threat
Tokyo hits record 10,000 COVID cases, Japan over 50,000 for first time
Number of COVID-19 infections in Russia surpasses 11 mln since pandemic began
Kazakhstan developing measures to reform Samruk-Kazyna Fund's activities
PMO records surge in load/unload operations at Iranian ports
S&P predicts gas production growth in Azerbaijan through 2025
Turkmen medical enterprise discloses production data
Azerbaijan to hold auction for Ferrum Kapital CJSC's bonds
Kazakh president talks need to continue work to reveal all circumstances of recent riots
Kazakh oil and gas company to purchase helium via tender
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for January 22
Oil price spikes likely in 2022 amid inventory tightness midyear
7 killed, 16 injured in massive fire in central Mumbai high-rise
All news