— From NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan
GREENBURG, PA -- Barack Obama promised that his foreign policy would be
a return to what he says was the realist approach practiced by George
H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.
"My foreign policy is actually a return to the traditional realistic
policy of George Bush's father, of John F. Kennedy, of in some ways
Ronald Reagan," he said Friday. A voter at the town hall in Greenburg
had asked Obama to respond to charges that his foreign policy was
"It is George Bush who has been naïve and it's people like John McCain
and unfortunately some democrats that have facilitated him acting in
these naïve ways that have caused us so much damage in our reputation
in the world," Obama said.
Drawing on the example of the first Gulf War, Obama said that the first
President Bush had "conducted a Gulf War with allies that ended up
costing twenty billion dollars and left us stronger because they were
"Remember, people were saying why didn't you go into Baghdad and
overthrow Saddam Hussein? The realists understood that that would be a
nightmare. And it wasn't worth our national interests," Obama added.
He described this President Bush's world view on foreign policy as a big stick approach.
"Certainly George Bush's foreign policy has been dominated by the idea that because we are so militarily powerful we can dictate events around the world," he said. "If people don't like it doesn't matter because we are the biggest, toughest thing on the block. Now that is naïve."
Obama claimed that since 9-11, the way foreign policy was viewed had turned from one that understood the limits of military power and had placed a greater emphasis on diplomatic and economic strength to one that placed its sole emphasis on country's military might.
He described the conventional thinking in Washington on foreign policy as "bipartisan" and this "both ideological and highly political."
That foreign policy he argued operated from the assumption that United States could act "as a lone super power" and said that "Senator Clinton is as captive to it in some ways as John McCain and George Bush."
"I do think that Senator Clinton would understand that George Bush's polices have failed," Obama added. "But in many ways she has been captive to the same politics that lead her to vote for the war in Iraq. Since 9-11 the conventional wisdom has been you have to look tough on foreign policy by voting and acting like the republicans. And I disagree with it."
The answer on foreign policy was one of many questions on health care, energy, jobs and even what to do with the penny that Obama took at the first town hall of his six day bus tour.
He refused to let Illinois take the blame for stopping the production of pennies, and promised that he would look into it promised that he would look into it with one condition.
"I will seriously consider eliminating the penny as long as we can find Lincoln another place to land. Because Lincoln's a pretty important guy," Obama said.
And he told the crowd that they were "lucky" to get him on the first day of the bus tour.
"By the sixth day I'm all unshaven and my suits are all wrinkled," he said.