June 15th, 2011
03:00 PM ET

Michele Bachmann's foreign policy

Editor's Note: Dr. James M. Lindsay is a Senior Vice President at the Council on Foreign Relations (where he blogs), co-author of "America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy" and a former director for global issues and multilateral affairs at the National Security Council.

By James M. Lindsay

Michele Bachmann made some news at Monday night’s GOP presidential debate.  For those of you who are curious, here's some more information about her foreign policy views.

Bachmann is a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. She says that foreign affairs is “an area of fascination and study for me”:

"I think a person is well served to be perennially a student of foreign policy because we live in an interconnected world. It’s important we understand each other."

Bachmann thinks that President Obama needs to be tougher on foreign policy:

"Our Peace Prize-winning president is very busy bowing these days to kings. He is bending down to dictators, and he is brown-nosing the elites that are in Europe, and he’s babying the jihadists who are following Sharia-compliant terrorism… And he’s accomplishing something nobody thought even possible: He’s making Jimmy Carter look like a Rambo tough guy."

But Libya was not the right place to get tough in Bachmann’s view. The day before Operation Odyssey Dawn began, she said:

"There’s no question that Gadhafi is not a great guy, that the people of Libya would be better off without him. However, on that score I’m reluctant to go in, and I’ll tell you why: We don’t know who the opposition is. We have no idea, and no intelligence community will tell you that we know who the opposition is."

Earlier this month, Bachmann was one of eighty-seven Republicans who voted for the resolution that Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) introduced to require President Obama to end U.S. involvement in Libya within fifteen days. The measure failed 148-265. Bachmann also voted for the resolution that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) introduced to ban the use of ground forces in Libya and scold President Obama for intervening without congressional approval.

Bachmann is skeptical of the value of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq:

"I’m tired of Afghanistan and Iraq, too. I think we need to get out. I think Afghanistan is — on many, many levels, it doesn’t seem we’re gaining any ground. I want to reduce U.S. exposure in Afghanistan. So, let’s get them out as quickly as we can. But at the same time, I don’t want to tell the generals when they’re going to get out. That [sic] really needs to be the experts."

So what criteria would a President Bachmann use when deciding when to intervene militarily overseas?

"My view of foreign policy is that we need to be careful and circumspect about United States intervention in any foreign nation. Number one, does that nation pose a threat to the United States? Number two, have they attacked the United States? Number three, are there vital American national interests at stake? Number four: the security of the American people."

Bachmann spent a summer working on a Kibbutz in Israel after high school. She summarized her support for Israel at last year’s AIPAC policy conference:

"I have been a long time supporter of Israel…I have a tremendous love for Israel, and great admiration for the Israeli people. I am a Christian, but I consider my heritage Jewish, because it is the foundation, the roots of my faith as a Christian."

Bachmann thought Obama’s speech last month on U.S. policy in the Middle East constituted “a shocking display of betrayal towards our ally.” She added:

"America has stood with Israel since President Harry Truman recognized Israel a mere eleven minutes after Israel became a state in 1948. But during his tenure as President of the United States, President Obama has initiated a policy which shows contempt for Israel’s concern and safety. In an era dubbed the “Arab Spring” we have seen increased volatility in the Middle East region, and President Obama has only added to the heightened hostility by calling on Israel to return to the 1967 borders. I disagree with President Obama and I stand with our friend Israel 100 percent. I am saddened and disappointed deeply by President Obama’s statement."

Bachmann has sometimes gotten her foreign policy facts mixed up. In 2007 she told a Minnesota newspaper that the United States should stay the course in Iraq because:

"Iran is the trouble maker, trying to tip over apple carts all over Baghdad right now because they want America to pull out. And do you know why? It’s because they’ve already decided that they’re going to partition Iraq.

"And half of Iraq, the western, northern portion of Iraq, is going to be called the Iraq State of Islam, something like that. And I’m sorry, I don’t have the official name, but it’s meant to be the training ground for the terrorists. There’s already an agreement made.

"They are going to get half of Iraq and that is going to be a terrorist safe haven zone where they can go ahead and bring about more terrorist attacks in the Middle East region and then to come against the United States because we are their avowed enemy."

Bachmann later said that her comments had been “misconstrued.” Northern Iraq is dominated by Sunni Kurds, and western Iraq by Sunni Arabs. Neither group has much interest in allying with Shiite Persians.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of James M. Lindsay.

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Topics: Politics • United States

soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. SarahPalin

    Foreign policy my big a$$. She can't see Russia from her back yard like me! Give me a break.

    June 15, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Reply
  2. j. von hettlingen

    My God! Michelle Bachmann wants to run for presidency, does she mean it? How can the international community take her seriously. I pray for you Americans!

    June 15, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Reply
    • chiguy83

      Don't feel sorry for "us Americans," we'll be fine. It is the leftists that have taken control of Europe that you should be worried about. Your countries do nothing but appease Muslims and people that hate the west. It will be the downfall of many European nations.

      June 15, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Reply
    • opus512

      The 'leftists,' please. The corporatists have ruined this country.

      See, I can make things up too.

      June 17, 2011 at 6:37 am | Reply
    • Sonja

      I can't think she could hurt America anymore than and destruction that the present administration has done. I do hope that the world starts to pray for America because the present course is not working and is driving this country into an abyss.

      June 17, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Reply
      • Barbara Lou Townsend


        June 18, 2011 at 12:33 am |
  3. Onesmallvoice

    I'd like to impress on Michele Bachman that Isolationism is an extremely good idea whose time has come. In fact, we practised it quite successfully for the first 150 years of this country's existance and that led to the Belle Epoch in Europe(1880-1914). We soarly need to try that again!

    June 15, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Reply
    • RVAN48

      Asleep during high school history, were you? There were many foreign adventures during the period you describe... probably the most substantial was the Spanish American War in which we basically took over and administered the Phillippines and many other spanish territories. Isolationism is not the way to go in a global economy.

      June 17, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Reply
  4. Reuel

    "Council on Foreign Relations" has an agenda that violates the US constitution.

    Since Bachmann is for the US constitution & a true christian, she won't be controlled by the unelected "Council of Foreign Relations" which IMHO is a conspiration bad organisation.


    WE THE PEOPLE should discern the real agenda of people like Dr. James M. Lindsay


    June 15, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Reply
    • Mac Qurashi

      It is amazing to hear people talk about being good to their faith and ONE NATION UNDER GOD while do whatever they can to divide the nation by bowing down to those who have the mighty $$. Christ's teaching called for taking care of the poor and the unfortunate. The God fearing Republican and the Tea Pary, on the other hand, are hell (oops) bent on cutting the life line of the poor so they can cut taxes for the already wealthy.

      June 17, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Reply
      • Barbara Lou Townsend

        Also the Republican agenda seems to be all tied up with anti – labor movement now in favor of the fat cats.

        June 18, 2011 at 12:35 am |
      • alsmeer1

        Not all Republicans, nor all Christians think the same – as not all Dems ..... I as a Christian first then as a Republican. . . support these United States and her Constitution. it is sad indeed that man has come so far away from the Constitution and forgets that these United States was built on blood and sacrifice and morals. now, we have twisted each statement of it to mean what 'sounds best' oh and lets change it if we dont like it. some of us 'republicans live on a very small budget and barely make ends meet – I think it is both Republicans and Democrats alike who sit in the big places that support each other. they forget that the Constitution says WE the People. the Pres, the Senate, the Congress, all of them are "supposed" to listen to us, not do what 'they' think should be....
        I dont like the way things are in this country, but it is US the voters who can make the difference by voting in or out who we think is best. I am a Rep. but sometimes I vote different depending. we make our voice heard only by how we vote.
        before I do any voting, I pray.

        June 19, 2011 at 9:02 am |
  5. bobalu

    She complains about Obama's "Leading from behind" tactic in Lybia. That's because she is ignorant of the middle eastern dynamics and doesn't understand that they are very resistant to American lead intervention. Leading from behind is working. Ghaddafi is going down and the US is not suffering major resentment for their actions. Good Job Obama. 4 more years please.

    June 16, 2011 at 9:20 am | Reply
    • Barbara Lou Townsend

      Yes we need Obama for 4 more years. I do worry about this country if he does not get the four years.
      There is a big reactionary, cannot separate Church from State, anti feminist, anti labor and anti progressive movemnet in this country. Basically good people just being dupes for the fat cats.

      June 18, 2011 at 12:37 am | Reply
  6. great another pro Israel politician

    Do we need another full supporter of Israel in power? Does anyone here wonder how so many positions in politics are held by such a small minority in the USA? Ask the average person in the USA where their support lies, and not surprisingly they will put their country first over Israel somehow our politicians seem to reverse this.

    June 16, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Reply
    • bobalu

      Again Obama is right here and the republican party line is wrong. A peace agreement based on the 1967 border is not a deviation from current American policy. It was the basic principle in Oslo. It is obvious that the Israelis need some pressure from the US to make some meaningful compromises to get to a peaceful solution. Unconditional support has gotten no where. The political situation is changing. Democracies are arrising. Now is the time to press for real change.

      June 16, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Reply
    • Derrick

      Nobody American politician is putting Israel before America. They just feel it's important to show support for a country that is the only democracy in the Middle East.

      June 23, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Reply
  7. Laila

    I am always happy when I see a women in higher power and I always wanted to see a woman run for president...but when I see someone like like sarah palin or this lady talk tough while no experience or don't know anything about outside of US..she is judging obama.......Obama has more respect around the world than u can dream about.

    June 16, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Reply
    • Barbara Lou Townsend

      I know it makes me cringe to hear these powerful Repub women. What a gigantic step backward.

      June 18, 2011 at 12:38 am | Reply
  8. Laila

    She is fake and talking tough just to get elected just like the rest of them.....the only candidate who is genuine and smart is Ron Paul

    June 16, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Reply
  9. brad

    Another bimbo Republican.

    June 16, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Reply
  10. Mr Baloonhands

    She is one scary lady. As scary as the people who put her there.

    June 16, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Reply
  11. John

    She is not qualified to be President.

    June 16, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Reply
    • Barbara Lou Townsend

      Agreed. She may have a fairly high IQ after all she is a lawyer and in the House but she has a very limited world view and sees what she chooses to see. I do not call that being truly honest. It's all agenda- driven.

      June 18, 2011 at 12:39 am | Reply
  12. john leddy

    this woman is a creationist. she believes the biblical account of the creation of the universe. this is reason enough not to vote for her for any poilitical office.

    June 16, 2011 at 11:57 pm | Reply
  13. Bystander

    She is called the hottest woman in politics after the Monday TV show. She is hot, with so much high-sounding-nothing hot air. Only a slight improvement from Palin. Not impressed.

    June 17, 2011 at 12:25 am | Reply
  14. She wants to abolish the EPA?

    She wants to abolish the EPA? The corporations already corrupted them to look the other way (or not look at the worst offenders anyway). We don't want or need those types of jobs here and if corporations race to other countries that allow them to corrupt their government and pollute their environment (environment belongs to all of us)...that's wrong also. They need to be forced to deal with it correctly or they will just find another place to dump until everyone tells them to stop that.

    June 17, 2011 at 1:26 am | Reply
  15. opus512

    The simple fact that this broad is anyone in politics is sad enough.

    June 17, 2011 at 6:36 am | Reply
  16. Jill-IN

    What a bunch of hog wash – perennial student, foreign expert indeed! She is scary on many many levels.

    June 17, 2011 at 11:02 am | Reply
    • Barbara Lou Townsend

      Thes Republi-broads look like they have ice water in their veins. Scary.

      June 18, 2011 at 12:43 am | Reply
  17. MTATL67

    Oh my God if this women ever became President, I hope the world would pray for us.

    June 17, 2011 at 11:58 am | Reply
  18. John

    At least on the Domestic front, she knows we don't have 57 States like our current president stated while in running for President. How quickly the Dumbocrats forgive other Dumbocrats. I guess the bar is Much lower for Libs!

    June 17, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Reply
    • Barbara Lou Townsend

      On a very rare occasion he may flub but it's probably because his mind is moving on to another thought.
      His IQ tested out a 162-170 two different tests when he was a young child. He went to a special gifted high school.
      I think he might have been doing a tally in head including some protectorates which probably should be states. He thinks on his feet, works a really long hard day... no way can you ever call him a dumbocrat. He's in the top few percentage points of IQ on this planet.

      June 18, 2011 at 12:43 am | Reply
  19. Sheri

    Michelle Bachman needs to reconsider this presidency dream!! This woman is extremely scary. So that everyone is aware .... she is pushing to take the terrorist group MKO off the terror list since she could care less what they have done and lobbys for them in the US. Let us not be fooled by dangerous people like Michellle Bachman. US will go down really fast with her or the likes of her in power. PLEASE PEOPLE >>> GET EDUCATED ON WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON AND WHAT MICHELLE AND THE LIKES OF HER REALLY HAVE AS THEIR AGENDA. She will be the death of US super power status and will drag all of us into hell. Heed my words.

    June 20, 2011 at 1:51 am | Reply

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