VIDEO: In foreign policy speech, Santorum leans on exceptionalism to ‘re-establish America’s greatness’

VIDEO: In foreign policy speech, Santorum leans on exceptionalism to ‘re-establish America’s greatness’

Since his announcement of an exploratory committee for a possible 2012 presidential campaign, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum has been carving out a campaign platform that simultaneously paints President Barack Obama as a failed leader who has no faith in his nation while portraying himself as the hopeful successor whose belief in American “exceptionalism” will fix all the nation’s economic and national security issues.

“America in a nutshell is all about you, and you’re free,” Santorum said Thursday during a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where Santorum is a senior fellow and director of the EPPC’s Program to Protect America’s Freedom.

The bulk of Santorum’s speech –- dedicated entirely to his foreign policy stance –- focused on President Obama and his lack of faith in the American people.

“What I see is a consistent policy of leading from behind,” Santorum said, calling out the country’s handling of events in Libya and Syria as examples. “I don’t know if anybody can successfully lead from behind, particularly if you’re talking about deploying our military. … It’s clear to me that this president is trying to hide so that he doesn’t take political heat. This is a president that believes that our [former] policies were wrong and should be apologized for. And anyone who was complicit with us in our policies by their very nature is suspicious and therefore not to be trusted and not to be supported.”

Santorum asserted that thanks to Obama, America’s relationships with all of its traditional allies have worsened. He criticized Obama for not believing in American exceptionalism and recently making the argument that other nations also believe they are exceptional.

Watch Santorum responding to a question asking, “What is so wrong with having to say there are nations that are exceptional, too?”

“Open terrorism [has been] rewarded by this president,” Santorum said. “Our allies are seen by this administration as complicit with our past sins. … As for Libya it’s a morass. If we were going to support rebel forces we should have acted swiftly in the early days.”

He continued criticizing the administration on its continued reliance on foreign oil (“We need more liquid fuels here in America”), on sitting “idly by” in the face of drug-trafficking trends in Venezuela and for looking more and more like Europe (“Soft economic socialism is turning much of Europe into toothless tiger.”)

As for what he would do as president, Santorum suggested a 10-point plan to “reverse our course” and re-establish America’s greatness:

1. See the world the way it truly is: “See evil for what it is and confront it; see decency for what it is and nurture it.” This point involves increasing the country’s military preparedness, which Santorum expounded upon later in the talk, saying America should employ missile defenses.

“There’s some real threats to our country that nobody talks about that I believe are serious electromagnetic pulses … something that could be debilitating to our country,” he said. “There’s no reason not to protect us from such an ominous and consequential threat. And that’s just one missile threat.”

2. Understand that America is in a war. “The failure to define our foes lest we be politically correct does not dissuade them.”

3. Reinvigorate human intelligence in the Middle East. Santorum spoke at length about the need to fight Sharia law, which he sees infiltrating this country:

4. Change foreign policy abroad to promote freedom, equality and democracy.

5. Cease our verbal diplomatic model as good and evil

6. Support conditions of liberty abroad.

7. Resume America’s commitment to humanitarian aid in Africa. Santorum, who helped author a global AIDS bill during President George W. Bush’s term, said that thanks to this policy, there are now more than 200,000 babies in Africa who don’t have AIDS. “This is what I call pro-life foreign policy,” he said. But Santorum said his focus on giving money to fight AIDS in Africa is primarily a national security policy. “States that are dysfunctional … particularly in that area of the world which borders … large Islamic populations, is a breeding ground for terrorists and state sponsors of terrorists. When your population’s being decimated by a disease, it’s very hard to be a successful economic enterprise as a state. … Given the enormity of our budget, it’s a relatively small amount of money, and I think it has been a great investment not just in keeping these states from becoming terrorist havens and state based sponsors of terrorists but in fact promoting the very ideals of who America is.”

8. America must stand by Israel.

9. Work for the release of dissidents in foreign prisons jailed for their beliefs.

10. Restore the teaching of America in school, establishing “youth-informed patriotism.”

Santorum said it is time for America to resume its role as a world leader, and he blamed the current president for kowtowing to the United Nations.

“The world has no leadership,” Santorum said after quoting Pope John Paul II, “Freedom itself needs to be set free.”

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Sofia Resnick

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