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Hemmer to Van Hollen: Can You Name a Foreign Policy Success On Behalf of Obama?

• June 19, 2014 11:22 am

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Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.) struggled to name any foreign policy successes while being interviewed by Fox News Channel's Bill Hemmer Thursday morning.

Hemmer said "there are a number" but had a problem naming anything specific.

"First of all, I think the president and the White House, as you know, have said that as we continue to monitor, engage in the Middle East, we need to really focus on east Asia, and the president's trip out there and the president's policies out there, I think have succeeded in bringing together that alliance which has always existed," Van Hollen said.

"Listen, I know this is a tough question to answer," Hemmer replied," but I'll just go through the list. Middle East peace process. Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Ukraine, Russia, Iraq, Egypt. I mean, that's just a handful."

Van Hollen smiled as Hemmer rattled off the list of countries where strife, war and bloodshed have reigned during the Obama administration, and he said the U.S. shouldn't have to "babysit" countries in the Middle East.

Hemmer then asked how he could explain Obama's 37 percent approval rating in a new Wall Street Journal NBC poll on foreign policy, which Van Hollen blamed on partisanship.

"I think you can explain it because unfortunately what used to be more of a national consensus in foreign policy has now become an automatic partisan issue," he said. "That's what you're seeing from Republican senators in the Senate today. It's not an effort to solve problems."

"37 percent is more than just Republicans, as you well know, sir," Hemmer said.

Full exchange:

BILL HEMMER: Can you name a foreign policy success on behalf of this administration?

CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: Oh, yes. There are a number. First of all, I think the president and the White House, as you know, have said that as we continue to monitor, engage in the Middle East, we need to really focus on east Asia, and the president's trip out there and the president's policies out there, I think have succeeded in bringing together that alliance which has always existed.

HEMMER: Listen, I know this is a tough question to answer, but I'll just go through the list. Hang on one sec. Middle East peace process. Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Ukraine, Russia, Iraq, Egypt. I mean, that's just a handful.

VAN HOLLEN: Wait a minute, Bill.

HEMMER: Is any of those situations, any of those countries now considered a foreign-policy success?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, here's the question. Do we really think the United States can micromanage events in of each of these areas, and are you really suggesting that because after we got Gaddafi, which was a success, we didn't stay on a on the ground in Libya and make sure that we had a stable country in Libya. Libya's stability came about partly because they had a ruthless dictator where there was bipartisan consensus that we needed to get rid of him. So, unless the argument is that we should have the United States military babysitting Libya and babysitting all these countries in the region, which I don't think the American public wants to do–

HEMMER: You have to be able to forecast what comes next in those countries, especially if you're going to engage in an air war over Libya. 37 percent in the "Wall Street Journal" poll, 37 percent of Americans believe that the foreign policy now is something they approve of. How can you explain a number like that? I'll give you the last answer, and we've got to run.

VAN HOLLEN: I think you can explain it because unfortunately what used to be more of a national consensus in foreign policy has now become an automatic partisan issue. That's what you're seeing from Republican senators in the Senate today. It's not an effort to solve problems.

HEMMER: 37 percent is more than just Republicans, as you well know, sir.

VAN HOLLEN: But it's because of this constant, constant rant that divides the country when we should be coming together on these issues.

Published under: Chris Van Hollen, Iraq, Libya