Last week the 11 hopefuls in the Republican presidential nomination took to the world stage to make their case to the American people and wider global community.
The administration of President Barack Obama and its failed policy, or indeed lack of a policy in the Middle East means that foreign affairs is playing a central role in the upcoming U.S. election.
Carly’s sentiments are refreshing in a Washington climate where the Obama administration seems divorced from reality.Caitlin Miller
During Obama’s presidency, the world has seen stability and security in the Middle East deteriorate at an exponential rate. In Syria, over 250,000 people have perished, four million refugees have fled the country, and another seven million have been displaced internally.
The global migration crisis is the worst the world has seen since WWII. President Barack Obama has touted Libya as a success story. He has alienated U.S. allies in the region with his infamous “red line” policy in Syria. In a part of the world deeply rooted in tradition and fidelity, a profound distrust in Obama and America was perpetuated by his inaction in Syria. This weariness was further exasperated by Obama’s deal with Iran signed in July of this year.
Winning back trust
Republican presidential hopefuls have their work cut out to win back the trust of the American people and of U.S. allies. The American people no longer want to be viewed as weak on the international stage, especially in the Middle East. During last week’s debate, the candidates felt the pressure to emerge as strong leaders, especially on foreign policy.
Carly Fiorina, the only female candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, asserted that this election is about leadership, “challenging the status quo, solving problems, producing results.” Carly espoused that if she is elected as the next President of the United States, “every ally and every adversary will know America is back in the leadership business.” This message was well received by the American people. On Monday, CNN announced that Carly shot to number two in the polls following her strong performance in the debate.
However, U.S. allies in the region need more than good intentions from the future president. They need clear assurances that the next president is true to their word with a decisive plan to cultivate global security and stability. Perhaps sensing the need to be resolute, Carly laid out her plan for the Iran deal in clear terms. She stated that on day one in the Oval Office she would call the Supreme Leader and tell him “that unless and until he opens every military and every nuclear facility to real anytime, anywhere inspections by our people, not his, we, the United States of America, will make it as difficult as possible and move money around the global financial system.”
Carly’s sentiments are refreshing in a Washington climate where the Obama administration seems divorced from reality. Shortly after signing the nuclear deal with Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei tweeted a picture of President Obama with a gun to his head and the accompanying words: “We welcome no war, nor do we initiate any war, but if any war happens, the one who will emerge loser will be the aggressive and criminal U.S.” In spite of such rhetoric, the Obama administration - either ignorantly at best, or calculating at worst - continues to embrace Iran.
Carly went on to challenge Hillary Clinton, whom she could potentially be up against in the presidential primary. Clinton has been careful not to highlight her record as Secretary of State due to her overall ineffectiveness and ineptitude. Carly noted Clinton’s alleged “lying about Benghazi, of lying about her e-mails, about lying about her servers.” One Republican presidential hopeful, Senator Ted Cruz, even went so far as to claim, “If you vote for Hillary, you are voting for the Ayatollah Khamenei to possess a nuclear weapon.”
Carly was not the only candidate with a strong debate performance last week. Governor Jeb Bush had a good night, too. During the debate, Trump challenged Bush on his brother’s track record. Bush retaliated, “There's one thing I know for sure. He kept us safe.” Bush went on to say that his brother “sent a clear signal that the United States would be strong and fight Islamic terrorism.”
Even those who disagree with President George W. Bush’s policy in the Middle East can concur that he was resolute and transparent with U.S. allies in the region. As Bush famously said, “Every nation in every region now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” This steadfast and stoic leadership is a far cry from Obama’s wavering “red line.” Governor Bush reminded the debate audience what happens when America leads from behind and when America fails to provide military and political support to our allies in the region: voids are created. And the void in Iraq created a vacuum for the emergence of ISIS.
In this election anything is possible, but one thing is certain. In order to make the world a safer and more stable place, America needs a strident leader. The next U.S. president must be a champion for justice, not afraid to stand up to brutal adversaries and to support long-term allies. As we enter the next phase of the election, America and the world will be watching to see which candidate has the fortitude to steer America forward. And after her most recent performance, everyone should take note of Carly.
Caitlin Miller is the founder of CEM | COM, a strategic communications consulting firm in Washington, D.C. She has worked for the International Institute for Strategic Studies - Middle East, and Republican members of Congress in both the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate. Caitlin received her Juris Doctor with a concentration in international law from the Duquesne University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from Loyola Marymount University. You can follow her on Twitter here: @cait_elizabeth1