As noted earlier, this is foreign policy week, with President Obama’s big speech yesterday at West Point, and our previous post at Christie Watch where we took the occasion to analyze Hillary Clinton’s own foreign policy record, which we found wanting. Today, we’ll look at Chris Christie’s foreign policy ideas, and tomorrow the others in the GOP 2016 field.
Like many governors who’ve sought the presidency—including several who’ve won it, such as Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama—Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey appears to know very little about world affairs, and he has even less experience. Given that Clinton, Bush and Obama all made it to the White House despite lacking credibility in foreign policy, that’s not necessarily a handicap if Christie decides to enter the 2016 primary field. But what does he know? And when didn’t he know it?
A foray by the New Jersey governor into world affairs last week didn’t go well. Speaking at something called the Champions of Jewish Values International Awards Gala in New York last Sunday, Christie weighed in with a brief but sharp critique of President Obama’s foreign policy, sitting once again alongside Sheldon Adelson. (As Christie Watch reported back in March, Christie joined a handful of other GOP hopefuls at what was dubbed the “Sheldon Primary,” speaking at a meeting of the Adelson-backed Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas.) Here are some quotes from Christie’s remarks at the gala:
The rest of the world watches in desperation and hope that America will realize and act upon once again its indispensable place in the world. … We must lead.… [America is] the strongest moral power for what is good and what is right in the world.… We need to stand once again loudly for these values. And sometimes that’s going to mean standing in some very messy, difficult places. Standing long and hard for those things that we believe in.… We will either lead or disappoint. Those are the only two choices. Unfortunately, today, in my opinion, America is disappointing. But it’s not too late.
And he added: “No one understands any longer who America stands with or against.”
After scouring every account of Christie’s speech at the gala, it appears that the governor gave no specifics whatsoever about how he’d do anything new or different to “stand once again loudly for these values.” But it was clear to nearly all observers that Christie was delivering a neoconservative-like speech that echoed the critique of many hawks, Israel lobby types and pro-military advocates that the United States has to be more assertive, more aggressive, more willing to use force and more ready to pursue what the George W. Bush administration called “the freedom agenda.” Writing in the Newark Star-Ledger, Paul Mulshine reported that Christie “invoked all the stale phrases and discredited clichés associated with the so-called ‘neo’-conservative position on foreign policy,” adding that Christie ended his speech this way: