Special Report

Michele Bachmann’s Foreign Policy

Congresswoman representing Minnesota's 6th District

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Foreign-policy credentials: Bachmann currently serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Overview: The Tea Party favorite is great at delivering applause lines on standing with Israel and countering radical Islamism, and her membership on the House Intelligence Committee gives her a bit more credibility on international issues than candidates Rick Perry or Herman Cain have. But from Hezbollah missile sites in Cuba to al Qaeda’s new toehold in Libya, her rhetoric has at times bordered on conspiracy theory and could be a turnoff to voters outside her base.

Advisors: Unclear as of yet.

On the issues:

Afghanistan/Pakistan: Bachmann told CNN in May that "we need to get out" of Afghanistan and that "it doesn’t seem we’re gaining any ground." Just a month later, however, she told the Weekly Standard that "we are at a point where we’ve got to stay the course" and that "we are making great progress." She has accused Barack Obama’s administration of acting "more on political strategy than military strategy."

During Nov. 12’s debate, Bachmann said that though Pakistan is a "difficult area" and "they have been housing terrorists," she does not believe in cutting all aid to the country.

Military spending: Bachmann has been tentatively supportive of defense cuts and has backed the idea of looking for savings in the defense budget by refining the military procurement process. "We have a situation where we reward those who are designing and making our weaponry based upon the length of time that they take to produce it," she said in Nov. 12’s debate. Nonetheless, she has criticized the Obama administration’s defense cuts, which she has at times massively exaggerated.

Immigration/borders: Bachmann has focused heavily on immigration in her campaign, describing the securing of the southern U.S. border as her "job one." She has signed a pledge pushing for the building of a fence along the entire U.S.-Mexico border — criticizing Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s opposition to such a plan — and says she would "not do anything" to help the children of undocumented immigrants. She also favors a law barring citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants born in the United States, saying "We’ve got to end this anchor-baby program."

Israel/Palestine: Bachmann has taken great pains to emphasize her support for Israel, which she calls "our greatest ally," particularly when speaking to Jewish audiences. In the Nov. 12 presidential debate, she predicted that "the table is being set for worldwide nuclear war against Israel," and criticized Obama for being "more than willing to stand with Occupy Wall Street, but he hasn’t been willing to stand with Israel." She strongly opposes U.N. recognition of Palestinian statehood, saying, "The Palestinians are not in a position to become a sovereign nation."

China: "With all the money we owe China, I think we might rightly say, ‘Hu’s your daddy!’" Bachmann said at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, referring to Chinese President Hu Jintao, while warning that the accumulation of U.S. debt would make the United States beholden to "our friendly Chinese bankers." All the same, Bachmann has expressed some odd admiration for the Chinese Communist Party’s domestic policies saying, "If you look at China, they don’t have food stamps…. They save for their own retirement security; they don’t have AFDC [Aid to Families with Dependent Children]; they don’t have the modern welfare state — and China’s growing."

Foreign aid: Bachmann differed from the aid-cutting enthusiasm of many of her GOP opponents in Nov. 12’s debate, saying, "I would not agree with that assessment to pull all foreign aid from Pakistan … because Pakistan has a nuclear weapon." She opposes cutting aid to Israel, though she has suggested that "We should look to Iraq and Libya to reimburse us for part of what we have done to liberate these nations."

Iran/nukes: Bachmann describes Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon as "the fundamental problem in the Middle East today." She has described the alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States as evidence that Iranian leaders "fail to respect the United States and our presence, and they see the weakening of U.S. presence."

Trade: Bachmann generally supports free trade agreements, including the recent U.S. deal with South Korea, writing that they "help spur economic growth; improve efficiency and innovation; create better, higher-paying jobs for hard-working Americans; and increase the availability of lower-priced products here in the United States." She criticized her fellow members of Congress for taking so long to approve recent trade deals.

War on terror/detainees: Bachmann supports the use of waterboarding; she’s called it "very effective" and has likened it to President Harry Truman’s decision to use nuclear weapons on Japan to end World War II. She has accused the current administration of "allowing the ACLU to run the CIA." She has opposed holding civilian trials for terrorist suspects such as former al Qaeda operative Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Russia/reset: Bachmann’s most notable statement on Russia so far has been an unfortunate gaffe in which she took Cold War rhetoric to a new level: "What people recognize is that there’s a fear that the United States is in an unstoppable decline. They see the rise of China, the rise of India, the rise of the Soviet Union, and our loss militarily going forward."

Arab Spring: Of all the candidates, Bachmann was the most stridently opposed to U.S. intervention in Libya, criticizing the administration’s lack of due diligence on the opposition rebels and saying that the NATO intervention was "creating a toehold for al Qaeda in North Africa to take over Libya." She has blasted the Obama administration for supporting the "radical" opposition movement in Egypt, saying, "We saw President [Hosni] Mubarak fall while President Obama sat on his hands."

Other issues: On the campaign trail, Bachmann has repeatedly warned of the threat of Islamist terrorist groups’ making inroads in Latin America. Most curiously, she has suggested that "Hezbollah could have training camps or perhaps have missile sites or weapons sites in Cuba."

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