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Posts tagged "Afghanistan"

President Obama made the right decision to release Bowe Bergdahl home to the USA.
As of this moment, he is innocent until proven guilty, despite the fact that many conservatives and right-wing hacks are already saying that “Bergdahl is a ‘traitor’ or ‘deserter.’” 

h/t: Igor Volsky at Think Progress World

Sgt. Bergdahl Is Freed By Taliban In Prisoner Exchange

Bergdahl Handed Over To American Special Operations After Prisoner Exchange. Bergdahl, who was captured by Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan in June 2009, was released on May 31 in exchange for five Taliban detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. [The New York Times5/31/14]

Media Disparage Deal To Release Bergdahl

Fox Regular Donald Trump: “This Was A Terrible Deal We Made.” On the June 2 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, Trump asserted that the U.S. made a “terrible deal to secure Bergdahl’s release: “This was a terrible deal we made, by the way. This was a terrible deal. Every soldier and every American is at risk right now.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/2/14]

Breitbart's Gorka: We Have Sent Message To “Jihadists”: “Capture An American And America Will Do Your Bidding.” On June 1, Breitbart.com National Security Affairs Editor Dr. Sebastian Gorka criticized the Obama administration for securing Bergdahl’s release saying, “Now we have sent a message to all jihadists around the world: capture an American and America will do your bidding.” [Breitbart, 6/1/14]

Daily Caller: “Obama Submits to Taliban Demands.” The Daily Caller framed the Obama administration trade of Guantanamo Bay prisoners to secure Bergdahl’s release by stating in a headline “Obama Submits to Taliban Demands.” [The Daily Caller, 6/1/14]

ABC News Contributor Bill Kristol: We Shouldn’t Have Made Trade Because It’s Possible Bergdahl Wasn’t A “Real POW.” On the June 2 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, ABC News contributor and conservative pundit Bill Kristol slammed the deal that secured Bergdahl’s release by citing the ‘anger’ expressed by other soldiers and stating, “it’s one thing to trade terrorists for a real P.O.W., for someone who’s taken on the battlefield fighting honorably for our country. It’s different to trade five high ranking terrorist for someone who walked away”:

KRISTOL: Secondly, what about Bergdahl? Everyone’s happy to see him back and all that. The fact is Susan Rice said on TV yesterday that he was taken in battle. Taken on the battlefield and he served the United States with honor and distinction. There’s a lot of reporting that he wasn’t taken in battle. He seems to have deserted or at least gone AWOL, he may have cooperated with the enemy. Soldiers died trying to find him. His own platoon and his own battalion seem to have come under a lot more attacks after he was taken. The degree of anger among soldiers on e-mail and listservs is unbelievable. And that needs to be taken seriouslyThat’s not just people, those are the people who fought in the same company in some cases. And who feel like they sacrificed a lot to get this guy back who may have behaved vastly irresponsibly or worse. And we need to have honesty about that. There was a big army investigation. What did Susan Rice know what did President Obama know about the investigation about Bergdahl? It’s one thing to trade terrorists for a real P.O.W., for someone who’s taken on the battlefield fighting honorably for our country. It’s different to trade five high ranking terrorist for someone who walked away. [MSNBC, Morning Joe6/2/14]

The U.S. Military Has Committed To Gaining Release Of POWs

Military Code Of Conduct: U.S. Govt. “Will Use Any Practical Means To Contact, Support And Gain Release” Of POWs. A Department of Defense military code of conduct and ethics dating back to 1954 states that the U.S. government has an explicit obligation and responsibility to “stand by” POWs and that the government “will use every practical means to contact, support and gain release for you and for all other prisoners of war” (emphasis added):

As a member of the armed forces of the United States, you are protecting your nation. It is your duty to oppose all enemies of the United States in combat or, if a captive, in a prisoner of war compound. Your behavior is guided by the Code of Conduct, which has evolved from the heroic lives, experiences and deeds of Americans from the Revolutionary War to the Southeast Asian Conflict.

[…]

Just as you have a responsibility to your country under the Code of Conduct, the United States government has an equal responsibilityto keep faith with you and stand by you as you fight for your country. If you are unfortunate enough to become a prisoner of war, you may rest assured that your government will care for your dependents and will never forget you. Furthermore, the government will use every practical means to contact, support and gain release for you and for all other prisoners of war. [American Civil Liberties Union, accessed 6/2/14]

U.S. National Security Adviser: “We Have A Sacred Obligation” To Bring Back POWs. On the June 1 edition of ABC’s This Week, U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice pointed out that the U. S government has a “sacred obligation that we have upheld since the founding of our republic to do the must to bring back our men and women who are taken in battle.” Rice argued that the government has a responsibility to “do our utmost to bring our prisoners-of-war home”:

RICE: Sergeant Bergdahl wasn’t simply a hostage; he was an American prisoner of war, captured on the battlefield. We have a sacred obligation that we have upheld since the founding of our republic to do the most to bring back our men and women who are taken in battle, and we did that in this instance. If for some reason we took a position now in the 21st century, when some of our adversaries may not be traditional state actors, that we would not do our utmost to bring our prisoners of war home, that would break faith with the American people and with the men and women in uniform, so regardless of who may be holding an American prisoner of war, we must do our best to bring him or her back.[ABC, This Week6/1/14]

Secretary Of Defense Chuck Hagel Securing Release Was Necessary To Save Bergdahl’s Life. On June 1, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel argued that the administration had to act quickly in securing Bergdahl’s release once an “opening” with the Taliban was found, citing concerns about Bergdahl’s health:

Believing that his health was deteriorating, the United States acted quickly to save his life after years of work to free him from being a prisoner of war, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Sunday.

"It was our judgment that if we could find an opening and move very quickly with that opening, that we needed to get him out of there essentially to save his life," Hagel said. "I know President Obama feels very strongly about that, I do as well." [CNN.com, 6/1/14]

h/t: Michelle Leung at MMFA

mediamattersforamerica

h/t: DrillSgtk at Daily Kos

thepoliticalfreakshow:

Updated — 2:57 p.m. ET

AP Photo/ Evan Vucci, File

President Barack Obama speaking during a troop rally on May 25 after arriving at Bagram Air Field for an unannounced visit, north of Kabul, Afghanistan.

President Obama announced Tuesday that he wants to keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan after the U.S. combat mission ends this year, according to a senior administration official.


The White House issued the following statement Tuesday ahead of the president’s announcement:

This afternoon the President will make an announcement about the next steps in winding down the war in Afghanistan. He will announce that our combat mission will be over by the end of 2014. He will make clear that we are open to continued efforts in Afghanistan on two narrow missions after 2014: training Afghan Forces and supporting CT operations against the remnants of al Qaeda. We will only sustain a military presence after 2014 if the Afghan government signs the Bilateral Security Agreement. Both Afghan presidential candidates recently reiterated their intentions to sign the agreement quickly if elected. Assuming a BSA is signed, at the beginning of 2015, we will have 9,800 U.S. service members in different parts of the country, together with our NATO allies and other partners. By the end of 2015, we would reduce that presence by roughly half, consolidating U.S. troops in Kabul and on Bagram Airfield. And one year later, by the end of 2016, we will draw down to a normal Embassy presence with a security assistance office in Kabul, as we have done in Iraq.

The announcement comes just two days after Obama made an unannounced visit to the troops at Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul, Afghanistan.

The announcement comes just two days after Obama made an unannounced visit to the troops at Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul, Afghanistan.
AP

On a conference call Tuesday, senior administrative officials said the White House hopes to cut the 9,800 troops in Afghanistan “by roughly half” at the end of 2015 and further reduce to a “normal embassy presence” by 2016.

Officials reiterated that the combat mission will conclude at the end of 2014, and U.S. military efforts will focus on training and counterterrorism thereafter.

The White House praised the Afghan national security forces for “stepping up” at this time and “growing in not only size but capability.”

On the issue of what message the U.S. is sending to Al Qaeda and Taliban with this draw down, officials said “there will be violence, there will be challenges in Afghanistan” and they acknowledged that there continue to be Al Qaeda threats in the region. However, the White House believes now is the time for the Afghans to be responsible for securing their own country and they believe Afghan forces are “prepared to step forward.”

“This is a moment of some momentum in Afghanistan,” a senior administration official said on the conference call.

President Obama is expected to elaborate on U.S. counterterrorism in Afghanistan when he speaks from West Point on Wednesday.

Source; Mike Hayes for Buzzfeed

Embedded image permalink

thepoliticalfreakshow:

The U.S. will leave 9,800 troops in Afghanistan following the troop withdrawal slated for December, if Afghanistan’s new president will agree to a bilateral security agreement. 

A senior White House official broke the news today, adding that President Barack Obama will formally make the announcement later this afternoon. The plan is for the remaining troops to be stationed in the country through next year, focusing on training and advising the Afghan military as well as, according to the official,fighting the “remnants of al Qaeda.” In 2016, the number of troops in Afghanistan will be reduced by half, and by the end of the year only a defense group will remain in the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. 

Afghan President Hamid Karzai spent much of last year waffling on whether or not to sign the agreement and ultimately decided not to do so, making it difficult for Washington to figure out a withdrawal plan. But now Karzai is on his way out, and the two candidates who will face each other in runoff elections slated for June have both said they will sign the agreement — allowing the Obama administration to finally decide on steps for the future. 

Source: Danielle Wiener-Bronner for The Wire

h/t: Joe Hagan at NYMag.com


(via On CBS’s Face The Nation, Marco Rubio Accuses Obama Of ‘Emboldening The Taliban’)

WASHINGTON — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Sunday charged President Barack Obama with “emboldening the Taliban,” citing details from a new book by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates that harshly criticizes the president’s leadership in the war in Afghanistan.

"I don’t think we can ignore what’s in that book, and I think for many of us it confirms our worst fears," Rubio said on CBS’ "Face the Nation." "And that is that this is an administration full of people that either have the wrong convictions or, in the case of former Secretary Clinton, lack the courage of her convictions."

Rubio pointed to parts of Gates’ book that suggest Obama didn’t feel that the war in Afghanistan was his war, and that his decision to pull out troops was political.

"You saw that reflected in the decision that [Obama] made," Rubio continued. "At the same time that he announced the surge, he also announced an exit date and strategy, thereby emboldening the Taliban to believe they could wait us out.”

The Florida senator, whose name has been floated as a 2016 presidential contender, said Obama’s actions on Afghanistan have had international repercussions.

"Our allies see us as unreliable, and our enemies feel emboldened," Rubio said. "I think that this confirms our worst fears, that this is an administration that lacks a strategic foreign policy and, in fact, is largely driven by politics and tactics."

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration says it might leave no troops in Afghanistan after December 2014, an option that defies the Pentagon’s view that thousands of troops may be needed to contain al-Qaida and to strengthen Afghan forces.

"We wouldn’t rule out any option," including zero troops, Ben Rhodes, a White House deputy national security adviser, said Tuesday.

"The U.S. does not have an inherent objective of ‘X’ number of troops in Afghanistan," Rhodes said. "We have an objective of making sure there is no safe haven for al-Qaida in Afghanistan and making sure that the Afghan government has a security force that is sufficient to ensure the stability of the Afghan government."

The U.S. now has 66,000 troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak of about 100,000 as recently as 2010. The U.S. and its NATO allies agreed in November 2010 that they would withdraw all their combat troops by the end of 2014, but they have yet to decide what future missions will be necessary and how many troops they would require.

At stake is the risk of Afghanistan’s collapse and a return to the chaos of the 1990s that enabled the Taliban to seize power and provide a haven for Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network. Fewer than 100 al-Qaida fighters are believed to remain in Afghanistan, although a larger number are just across the border in Pakistani sanctuaries.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said he foresees a need for a U.S. counterterrorism force in Afghanistan beyond 2014, plus a contingent to train Afghan forces. He is believed to favor an option that would keep about 9,000 troops in the country.

His statement could be interpreted as part of an administration negotiating strategy. On Friday Afghan President Hamid Karzai is scheduled to meet President Barack Obama at the White House to discuss ways of framing an enduring partnership beyond 2014.

The two are at odds on numerous issues, including a U.S. demand that any American troops who would remain in Afghanistan after the combat mission ends be granted immunity from prosecution under Afghan law. Karzai has resisted, while emphasizing his need for large-scale U.S. support to maintain an effective security force after 2014.

In announcing last month in Kabul that he had accepted Obama’s invitation to visit this week, Karzai made plain his objectives.

"Give us a good army, a good air force and a capability to project Afghan interests in the region," Karzai said, and he would gladly reciprocate by easing the path to legal immunity for U.S. troops.

Karzai is scheduled to meet Thursday with Panetta at the Pentagon and with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the State Department.

Without explicitly mentioning immunity for U.S. troops, Obama’s top White House military adviser on Afghanistan, Doug Lute, told reporters Tuesday that the Afghans will have to give the U.S. certain “authorities” if it wants U.S. troops to remain.

Rhodes said Obama remains committed to further reducing the U.S. military presence this year, although the pace of that withdrawal will not be decided for a few months.

h/t: AP.org

Throughout Monday night’s presidential debate on foreign policy, President Obama used past positions that Mitt Romney has taken over the course of the campaign to depict him as the wrong candidate to run U.S. foreign policy.

Obama used the tactic both to defend his own initiatives — particularly his Libya policy — and to characterize Romney as an untrained foreign policy hand who has been wobbly and inconsistent.

“I know you haven’t been in a position to execute foreign policy,” Obama said, in summarizing his theme of attack, “but every time you have offered an opinion, you have been wrong.”

Russia

Obama took the chance to needle Romney on his adversarial position on Russia. “I’m glad that you recognize al Qaeda is a threat. Because a few months ago when you were asked the biggest threat facing America, you said Russia,” Obama said. “The Cold War has been over for 20 years. But governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s.”

Later Obama said directly to Romney, “You indicated that we shouldn’t be passing nuclear treaties with Russia, despite the fact that 71 senators, Democrats and Republicans, voted for it.”

Libya

Regarding Romney’s campaign positions on the revolution in Libya, Obama said, “[T]o the governor’s credit, you supported us going into [L]ibya and the coalition that we organized,” Obama said. “But when it came time to making sure that Moammar Gaddhafi did not stay in power, that he was captured, governor, your suggestion was that this was mission creep.”

Syria

Responding to Romney’s call for arming Syrian opposition and his critique of the Obama administration’s more cautious policy, Obama noted that “to get more entangled militarily in Syria is a serious step. And we have to do so making absolutely certain that we know who we are helping, that we’re not putting arms in the hands of folks who eventually could turn them against us or allies in the region. I’m confident that Assad’s days are numbered. But what we can’t do is simply suggest that as governor at times as suggested that giving heavy weapons, for example, to the Syrian opposition is a simple proposition that would lead us to be safer over the long-term.”

Osama bin Laden

Obama reprised a familiar line based on Romney’s position in the 2008 campaign that locating and killing Osama bin Laden would not be a top priority.

“[Y]ou said we shouldn’t move heaven and earth to get one man,” Obama said. “If we would have asked Pakistan for permission, we wouldn’t have got him.”

Iraq

“You say that you’re not interested in duplicating what happened in Iraq, but just a few weeks ago, you said you think we should have more troops in Iraq right now,” Obama said pointedly. “You said we should have gone into Iraq despite the fact there were no weapons of mass destruction. You said that we should still have troops in Iraq, to this day.”

Afghanistan

You said that first we should not have a timeline in Afghanistan, then you said we should. Now you say maybe or it depends. Which means not only were you wrong, but you were confused and sending mixed messages to our troops and allies.”

h/t: Brian Beutler at TPM

Mitt Romney has spent considerable effort trying to avoid foreign policy and national security this campaign season. But when he’s had to engage, he’s forced to strike a delicate balance between satisfying his neocon advisers and right-wing war base on the one hand — while speaking to the rest of the country, which has no appetite for the militaristic Republican policies that have plagued this country since 2001, on the other.

In recent weeks, Romney made good on a promise he made earlier this year to a wealthy donor that he would try to exploit a foreign policy crisis for political gain. “If something of that nature presents itself,” Romney said, referring to the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979, “I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity.” With the attack that killed four Americans at the U.S diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya last month, Romney has done just that.

The basis of Romney’s foreign policy critique of President Obama is that Obama went around the world and apologized for America after he became president. Of course, this never happened, but the baseless attack has been a hallmark from Romney’s campaign with respect to foreign policy.

– Romney accused President Obama of “mission creep” and “mission muddle” in Libya. “Military action cannot be under-deliberated and ad hoc,” he said. Libyan rebels ousted then-Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi five months later. (In his book, Romney attacked Obama for appeasing Qaddafi.) [4/21/2011]

– Romney announces he is officially running for president and, in doing so, chides Obama for “leading from behind” in Libya. One wonders if Romney would criticize Nelson Mandela, who once said: “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.” [6/02/2011]

– Romney says he will let the generals dictate his Afghanistan policy. “I want those troops to come home based upon not politics, not based upon economics, but instead based upon the conditions on the ground determined by the generals,” he said. [6/13/2011]

– Romney continues his call for Obama to ramp up the war rhetoric on Iran. [9/15/2011]

– Romney said the U.S. should “reconsider” its relationship with countries that supported Palestine’s bid for U.N. recognition: that could have included Russia, China, India, Brazil, South Africa and the Non-Aligned Movement, a U.N. block consisting of 118 members, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Pakistan, Chile and Peru. [9/28/2011]

– Romney said he would start foreign aid for every country “at zero” and call on them to make their case for U.S. financial assistance. [11/10/2011]

The Washington Post fact-checker debunks Romney’s oft-repeated claim that Obama “went around the world and apologized for America.” “Take it from us,” the Post concluded, “The apology tour never happened.” [12/10/2011]

– Mitt’s Cold War mentality continues. Russia “is without question our number one geopolitical foe,” he says on CNN, sparking ridicule from foreign policy experts of all stripes. [3/26/2012]

– Vice President Biden states the obvious: Romney “seems to be uninformed” on foreign policy. [4/01/2012]

– Former Bush administration Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell asks Romney to be more “mature” when talking foreign policy and criticized Romney for calling Russia America’s “number one geopolitical foe.” “Come on Mitt,” Powell said, “think.” Powell also said of Mitt’s advisers: “I don’t know who all of his advisers are but I’ve seen some of the names and some of them are quite far to the right.” ThinkProgress took an in-depth look into some of Romney’s far-right foreign policy advisers here. [5/23/2012]
– The Romney Stimulus: military spending creates jobs, other government spending does not. [7/25/2012]

– Romney breaks with every GOP president, pledging to never criticize Israel. [7/29/2012]

– Romney Shambles. Romney ventures to Europe and Israel in an effort to boost his standing on foreign policy issues. But the trip turns out to be a disaster. Romney ends up offending the Britishre-living the Cold War in Poland and claiming Israelis are superior to Palestinians. [7/27 - 8/1/2012]

– International media criticize Romney’s foreign trip. ‘The Republican has done damage.” Even Republicans mock his trip: “Seemed like a good idea at the time.” Another Republican says “it made him look like Rip Van Winkle.” [7/31/2012]

– Romney refuses to condemn Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) widely criticized anti-Muslim witch hunt. Bachmann claimed that a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is part of a Muslim Brotherhood plot to infiltrate the U.S. government. [8/3/2012]

– Romney spends just 202 words on foreign policy during his Republican National Convention speech. Most of Romney’s foreign policy claims were false and misleading. [8/30/2012]

– Romney accuses President Obama of “sympathizing” with the attackers that killed four Americans in an assault on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. Romney had said at a fundraiser in early 2012 that he would try to capitalize politically on a future foreign policy crisis. “If something of that nature presents itself, I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity,” he said. (Romney himself had previously warned against placing blame after a terror attack.) [9/11/2012]

– Romney doesn’t back away from that statement the next day and his campaign even blamed Obama for the attacks. Romney is widely criticized for politicizing the event, even by Republicans. [9/12/2012]

– In a newly released video from a fundraiser in early 2012, Romney is caught saying “there’s just no way” to achieve Middle East peace and that his policy will be to “kick the can down the the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.” [9/18/2012]

– The head of the Office of Legal Counsel under President George W. Bush concluded that any return to the use of torture or any other so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” would be both “indisputably illegal” and strongly opposed by the interrogators who would be tasked with the torturing. [10/03/2012]

– ThinkProgress outlines four key areas where Romney’s alleged “new” foreign policy is identical to Obama’s. [10/08/2012]

– Top Romney surrogate Rudy Giuliani says Romney “should be exploiting” the Libya attack for political gain. [10/15/2012]

– The Romney team claims the Obama administration is deliberately misleading the public on the Libya attack. [10/16/2012]

– CNN’s Candy Crowley fact checks Romney’s false claim during his debate with Obama that Obama waited 14 days to call the Libya attack an “act of terror.” (Obama actually called the incident terrorism well before Romney did.) [10/16/2012]

– Obama is still outpacing Romney in military donations. [10/17/2012]

– Romney is again widely criticized for again politicizing the Libya attacks. Richard Clarke, who served as the top counter-terror official in Republican and Democratic administrations, lambasted Romney: “If there were not a presidential campaign going on, a campaign in which the incumbent has a stellar record of fighting terrorism, I doubt Romney would care about the details of what happened in Benghazi.” [10/17/2012]

h/t: Ben Armbruster at Think Progress Security

CHARLOTTE — Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), considered a shortlist candidate to be secretary of state if Democrats hold the White House, offered a robust defense of President Obama’s national security record and an equally blistering critique of Mitt Romney’s limited resume.

“We’ve all learned Mitt Romney doesn’t know much about foreign policy,” Kerry said. “But he has all these neocon advisers who know all the wrong things about foreign policy. He would rely on them — after all, he’s the great outsourcer.”

For Kerry, the speech was at least in part an exorcism of his own foreign policy demons. As the Democratic nominee two election cycles back, Kerry was savaged as a “flip flopper” at the Republicans’ 2004 convention. This time, Kerry clearly relished the chance to do the same to another Massachusetts nominee often tagged with the same epithet.

In the most brutal section of his speech, Kerry highlighted Romney’s mixed messages on a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan and military intervention in Libya.

“It isn’t fair to say Mitt Romney doesn’t have a position on Afghanistan — he has every position,” Kerry said. “He was against setting a date for withdrawal, then he said it was right and then he left the impression that maybe it was wrong to leave this soon. He said it was ‘tragic’ to leave Iraq, and then he said it was fine. He said we should’ve intervened in Libya sooner. Then he ran down a hallway to duck reporters’ questions. Then he said the intervention was too aggressive. Then he said the world was a ‘better place’ because the intervention succeeded.”

He didn’t let up on the flip-flop theme, waiting for the applause to subside before delivering one of the best received lines at the convention.

“Mr. Romney — here’s a little advice,” he said. “Before you debate Barack Obama on foreign policy, you better finish the debate with yourself!”

“Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from Alaska,” he said. “Mitt Romney talks like he’s only seen Russia by watching ‘Rocky IV.’”

As for Obama, Kerry praised him for his combination of diplomacy to bring America’s allies closer and military force to repel its enemies. Equally as important, he contrasted him with Romney as an honest broker who kept his promise to leave Iraq, will keep his promise to leave Afghanistan,and wasn’t kidding around when he said in 2008 he’d take the war to al-Qaeda.

“After more than 10 years without justice for thousands of Americans murdered on Sept. 11, after Mitt Romney said it would be ‘naive’ to go into Pakistan to pursue the terrorists, it took President Obama, against the advice of many, to give that order to finally rid this earth of Osama bin Laden,” Kerry said. “Ask Osama bin Laden if he is better off now than he was four years ago!”

While the election has overwhelmingly focused on the economy, with some social issues popping up, Mitt Romney has been a strong critic of the White House on foreign policy. His book “No Apology” in its title alone was a rebuke of what Republicans claim was an “apology tour” by Obama to repair relations abroad after President Bush’s unpopular administration. Romney and other Republicans also frequently suggest Obama doesn’t believe in “American exceptionalism,” a phrase that’s come into vogue on the right.

H/T: Benjy Sarlin at TPM

Here’s solid irrefutable proof that Dumbya destroyed the economy.

Indeed, the country is still reeling from Bush’s disastrous economic stewardship. His irresponsible tax cuts and deregulatory policies have contributed significantly to the slow recovery and are partly responsible for the nation’s economic plight. Here are 5 reasons why:

1. Deregulated Wall Street: It was a great time to be a Wall Street executive during the Bush administration. Sweeping financial deregulation helped build the housing bubble and allowed financial institutions to pursue risky trades unchecked. In fact, Bush eliminated the rules that allowed Wall Street to cause the financial crash that plunged the nation into the Great Recession.

2. Cut Taxes For The Wealthy: The Bush tax cuts — over 50 percent of which benefited the richest 5 percent of American taxpayers — cost about $2.5 trillion over the decade after they were enacted. Ten years later, Bush’s tax cuts are still the main driving factor of the national debt:

3. Ran Up A Tab On Two Wars: The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost the country trillions of dollars. Combined with Bush’s tax cuts, war spending was amain factor in blowing up the deficit and spending the surplus accumulated under Clinton. Lawmakers now use the deficit as an excuse for inaction.

4. Left Homeowners In A Lurch: While Bush was happy to help out the banks in the wake of the housing crisis, he did little to assist struggling homeowners.Hope For Homeowners, Bush’s proposal to assist those struggling with their mortgages, was a colossal failure; in its first six months, it helped just one homeowner renegotiate his mortgage. Many mortgage holders — 15.7 million or, one in three — are still underwater today.

5. Weakened Workers: Bush weakened worker safety regulations and collective bargaining rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Department of Labor throughout his time in office. Today, corporations are back to making record profits, while workers’ incomes are falling.

h/t: Tara Culp-Ressler and Annie-Rose Strasser at Think Progress Economy