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FOREIGN POLICY DOSSIER: Michele Bachmann FOREIGN POLICY DOSSIER: Michele Bachmann

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CAMPAIGN 2012

FOREIGN POLICY DOSSIER: Michele Bachmann

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., often hints at her vast knowledge of classified information due to her position on the House Intelligence Committee, and has consistently referred to herself as the candidate “who understands problems that are going on internationally.” She's unequivocally in support of Israe l-- going so far as to say the United States will be cursed if it doesn't support the Jewish state -- and insists that both Iraq and Libya should pay Washington back for its military operations.

AFGHANISTAN VIEWS SHIFTED. Bachmann told CNN in May that she was “tired of Afghanistan, and Iraq too.” She said the U.S. needs to “get out” of Afghanistan because “on many, many levels, it doesn’t seem like we’re gaining any ground.” While Bachmann said the commanders on the ground should be the experts on troop decisions, she did insist: “I want to reduce U.S. exposure in Afghanistan. So, let's get them out as quickly as we can.”

 

In an interview with the Weekly Standard a month later, Bachmann said she “firmly” believes the U.S. is “at a point where we’ve got to stay the course, and we’ve got to finish the job” because “we are making great progress.” Once Obama announced his plan to withdraw 33,000 surge troops by the end of next summer, Bachmann said in a statement: “Announced deadlines for withdrawing forces from any battle enables the enemy to simply wait until we leave to reconstitute itself. By undercutting our security objectives in Afghanistan with ill-advised timelines and accelerated troops withdrawals, President Obama apparently listened to his political consultants rather than his military commanders."

IRAQ SHOULD FEAR AMERICA. Bachmann blasted both Baghdad and Obama after he announced the withdrawal of virtually all 43,000 U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of the year. “We've put a lot of deposit into this situation with Iraq,” she said on CBS's Face the Nation. “To think that we are so disrespected and they have so little fear of the United States that there would be nothing that we would gain from this." American troops were slated to leave the country under a 2008 agreement signed  during the Bush administration, but talks to leave a small number of troops past deadline fell apart due to Baghdad’s non-starter demands that they should be subject to prosecution under Iraqi law. "The Obama administration has said they got everything they wanted," Bachmann said. "They got exactly nothing."

IRAN IS "WAITING IN THE WINGS." Bachmann told a tea party audience Iraq will be “utterly defenseless” without U.S. troops. “We all know what’s about to happen. Iran is waiting in the wings. Iran cannot wait to penetrate. And when that occurs, they want to make sure that there is no United States presence to be able to push back that influence…. We had won the peace in Iraq, now President Obama will be giving away, giving up, and giving in to defeat in Iraq.”

 

IRAQ SHOULD PAY U.S. BACK. "I believe that Iraq should reimburse the United States fully for the amount of money that we have spent to liberate these people," Bachmann said on CBS. "They're not a poor country; they're a wealthy country."

COMPLICATED RELATIONSHIP WITH PAKISTAN. In an interview with Fox’s Greta van Susteren shortly after Osama bin Laden was killed, Bachmann demonstrated an understanding of the complex situation by pointing out there are two scenarios as to whether Pakistani officials knew the al-Qaida leader was hiding in a compound in a garrison town not far from Islamabad. “One is the Pakistanis knew and they were double-dealing with us, or No. 2, they just didn't have a clue and maybe it was just incompetence. Either way, the Pakistanis don't look very good right now,” Bachmann said, defending Obama’s choice to carry out the raid without prior approval from Pakistan. 

A "CURSE' IF U.S. "REJECTS" ISRAEL.  In almost every speech, Bachmann stresses that she will “stand with Israel,” making the Jewish State the centerpiece of her foreign-policy platform. The Atlantic’s Jeff Goldberg says Bachmann’s "nuance-free defense of Israel" is in large part because the Bible states that God will curse those who betray it. “I am convinced in my heart and in my mind that if the United States fails to stand with Israel, that is the end of the United States,” she said at a recent Republican Jewish Coalition event. “We are inextricably entwined.... As a nation we have been blessed because of our relationship with Israel, and if we reject Israel, then there is a curse that comes into play.” 

THE CASE AGAINST PALESTINIAN STATEHOOD. Bachmann has been full-throated in her disapproval of the Palestinian cause, saying on the stump their charter believes in the killing of all Jews and that they're not a peaceful nation that should be given statehood status. She's also firm in her support of Israeli settlement-building in the West Bank, saying at an Iowa event: “All we’re talking about is Israel building apartments on their own land…. This is their land. The word 'occupy' is a word that’s used by the Palestinians. This is Israeli land. End of sentence. Period." Bachmann released a statement entitled "The Case against Palestinian Statehood," blaming Palestinians for failing to commit to serious negotiations with Israel or demonstrating any commitment to eradicating terrorism before seeking a bid at the UN for statehood. At an Iowa Baptist conference, Bachmann said that on her first day in office as president, she would move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

 

CAN'T GIVE A DEFINITIVE ANSWER ON IRAN STRIKE. While the Iran threat is one of Bachmann’s foremost foreign-policy talking points on the trail, she doesn’t go so far to directly say if she would support an Israeli or U.S. strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. “I can't give you a definitive answer, because that would be foolish to do so. But I will give you this principle. As president of the United States, I will stand with Israel,” Bachmann said in an interview with ABC/Yahoo. She did say she would put “every military option we have on the table to deal with an Iran that seeks a nuclear weapon.”  

GET OUT, AHMADINEJAD. Bachmann in late September called on Obama to bar Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from the UN General Assembly meeting in New York. “Ahmadinejad has demonstrated himself to be an enemy not only of the state of Israel, but also of the United States of America," she said at a Des Moines news conference. "In his reported statements that he wishes to see another sovereign nation 'wiped off the face of the map,' he has proven that he is in violation of the United Nations charter, and of international law. Since he is, in the most literal sense, an outlaw and he should be not be allowed in the United States of America.”

TERRORISTS IN LIBYA'S OPPOSITION. Even after Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi was taken down after a NATO airstrike on his convoy, Bachmann has decried U.S. action in Libya. Bachmann, who now says the Libyans should pay back the U.S. for its expenditures during the military operation with oil revenues, insists there was no American vital interest in Libya to justify military intervention and claims the U.S. didn’t know who the rebels were. "The only reports that we have say that there are elements of al-Qaida in North Africa and Hezbollah in the opposition forces," Bachmann told a crowd of tea party activists in April. "Let me ask you this: What possible benefit is there to the United States by lifting up and creating a toehold for al-Qaida in North Africa to take over Libya?"

Fact: NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe, Adm. James Stavridis, testified in March there were potential "flickers" of al-Qaida in Libya's opposition, but no significant presence. "The intelligence that I'm receiving at this point makes me feel that the leadership that I'm seeing are responsible men and women who are struggling against Col. Qaddafi," Stavridis said.

OPPOSITION TO THE ARAB SPRING. Blaming Obama for the "hostilities of this Arab Spring," Bachmann says the pro-democracy protest movement means the U.S. is looking at the “rise of radical elements all across the Middle East region and we're also seeing a tentativeness now with the peace treaty that Israel and Egypt have enjoyed for the last 30 years. These are very perilous times.”

SUPPORT MUBARAK, NOT DEMOCRACY. Bachmann slammed Obama at a GOP banquet dinner in Los Angeles for “[sitting] on his hands” when Hosni Mubarak fell and doing "nothing" to help the U.S. ally crush the demands of hundreds of millions of his people calling for him to step down. "Although [Mubarak] wasn't a perfect actor, he still was America's ally, and he also maintained the peace treaty with Israel," Bachmann said. "Today, it looks quite likely that the Muslim brotherhood could come in and take over that region. Already we have seen the Israeli [embassy] compound attacked in Egypt and the Coptic Christians have been under tremendous attack as well. This is very, very dangerous.”

CHINA IS 'A VERY BAD ACTOR'. Bachmann believes China is a threat, calling Beijing a "very bad actor" what with its "widespread intellectual property theft" and "industrial espionage against the West" and "cyberattacks both on our military and on our commercial companies." In an interview with Laura Ingraham, Bachmann said: "I’m not sharing something I shouldn’t, but China has blinded United States satellites with their lasers.... They’ve also supplied arms to the Taliban, and they’ve helped North Korea deliver missiles to Iran and Pakistan. And they’ve assisted Iran with their nuclear program.”

As far as the lasers go, as The Atlantic points out: "In 2006, China tested a laser on one American satellite, but did no damage to it, USA Today reported at the time. It's unclear if that test actually blinded the satellite."

BORDER FENCE IS NO LAUGHING MATTER.  Bachmann has been a staunch supporter of building a fence along the entire border between the United States and Mexico. In October, she became the first presidential candidate to sign “The Pledge,” a declaration of support for the construction of a border fence promoted by the national advocacy group Americans for Securing the Border. 

HEZBOLLAH IN ... CUBA? Bachmann has cited "reports" that the Lebanese militant group established training camps in the Cuba and might set up missile sites, apparently referring to a report that ran in an Italian newspaper. “Hezbollah has been potentially looking at wanting a part of missile sites in Iran,” she said in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “So of course when you’re 90 miles offshore from Florida, you don’t want to entertain the prospect of hosting bases or sites where Hezbollah can have training camps or perhaps have missile sites or weapons sites in Cuba. This would be foolish.”

Sarah Huisenga contributed contributed to this article.

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