The Great Midterm Foreign Policy Comeback
Kim Jong-un took power and is just as crazy as we feared, with the commander of U.S. forces in Korea warning on Oct. 24 that not only is the North developing a better cyber-warfare program but is suspected to be at the point of being able to build and deliver a warhead.
And though the administration hammers away at its desire to nail down a Mideast peace agreement -- a legacy issue both Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry want -- it's perpetually in a state of mid-teeter or full collapse. The past four years of AIPAC conferences in Washington have also seen a decided change in tone to deeper frustration with a White House trying to pressure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into "peace" at any cost.
Brown hasn't been the only candidate to focus on the issue this year, though he's certainly given it higher priority than most. Questions on ISIS or Ebola were at least omnipresent in Senate-level debates.
In an Oct. 15 debate, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) and independent challenger Greg Orman were quizzed on their approaches to the latest terror threat.
"I do think we need to be aggressive in terms of routing out ISIS. I do believe we need to follow the air campaign that we're doing," said Orman, who is tied with Roberts and has suggested he'd caucus with the majority party. "We need to protect our diplomatic assets on the ground and we need to train the Iraqis to be able to solve that problem in their country with our support."
Roberts said it went to the deeper problem of Obama's "lead by following" strategy.
"When there is a vacuum, bad people fill it," the senator said. "And if you don't deal with the bad people, then it gets worse, much worse. And that's where we are today. We have a situation in Iraq where just today the president said we're winning with regard to ISIS. We're not. The ISIS savage terrorist group is within about 20 miles of the Baghdad Airport."
Orman rebutted by attempting to refight whether the U.S. should have gone into Iraq during the George W. Bush administration. "I believe that ISIS and the war against ISIS have got to change and no longer be considered a U.S. war against Muslims," he said. "It's got to be considered a Middle Eastern war to route out extremism."
"We're losing with regard to Iraq and ISIS," Roberts said. "Intelligence report shows that that is a very dangerous situation for our national security."
Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who has steadily surpassed Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) in the polls and early voting, jumped on Obama after his September address to the nation to rip the president's "mishandling of our nation’s foreign policy and his failure to formulate a clear strategic vision to confront these threats," which "has led us to the tragic series of events unfolding across the Middle East and the world." Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), hoping to unseat Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), touted his endorsement from former UN Ambassador John Bolton.
Foreign policy has made a comeback in 2014. But can it be sustained?
While Americans are consistent about keeping the economy and jobs at the forefront, voters famously run hot and cold on other issues. Case in point: In 2006 immigration was the huge issue, with massive protests, Minutemen at the border and passion on both sides we haven't seen since.
Unfortunately, it could be the sheer threat to America and her allies -- through a revitalized al-Qaeda network, ISIS, and alliances between ill-intentioned actors such as Iran and Russia -- that reminds voters that foreign policy can't retreat to oblivion in 2016 or beyond.