President Obama's "open hand" foreign policy came under a blistering assault Tuesday from Richard Perle, a neoconservative architect of the Iraq war.
"President Obama has made a fetish of a cliché and the cliché is engagement," Perle said during a symposium on the Obama Doctrine at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C.
Watch the full discussion HERE.
During Tuesday's symposium, Perle was in full hawkish mode, arguing that President George W. Bush's technique of "fighting fire with fire" was appropriate even if one can argue about how those policies turned out.
"Sometimes fires are put out by setting a fire," said Perle.
Citing Obama's handling of Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, Raul Castro of Cuba, and Vladimir Putin of Russia, Perle said that Obama's efforts to reverse the "Bush psychology" have weakened the U.S. and its allies.
"That open hand has not been received by an open hand by our adversaries," said Perle.
Perle's specific gripe on Iran, which he discusses in the current issue of the American Interest journal, is that the Obama administration has been "practically begging the Iranians to talk while appeasing them with near indifference to the theft of an election, brutality against the regime's opponents and continuing support for terrorism."
Perle's criticism of Obama on Russia is that Moscow "gleefully accepted the abandonment of the Polish missile defense deployment and shortly thereafter conducted an in-your-face military exercise in which Russia 'invaded' Poland."
On Venezuela, Perle jabbed Obama for being "all smiles" with Chavez when the Venezuelan leader presented him with a "gift" which -- unbeknownst to Obama at the time -- turned out to be an "anti-American diatribe."
On Cuba, Perle noted that Obama was recently accused by the communist regime of "lying" despite taking steps earlier this year to ease restrictions on Cuban-Americans who want to travel and send money to the island nation.
Perle ended his assessment of Obama on a note of optimism, saying that the president's decision to send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan and his spirited defense of "just war" during a recent speech in Oslo were possible signs that he is learning that engagement is sometimes not feasible.
While accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, Obama made it clear that the U.S. is willing to wage war, despite the fact that his heroes -- Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. – were believers in non-violence.
"We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes," said Obama. "There will be times when nations -- acting individually or in concert -- will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified. As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King's life work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there's nothing weak -- nothing passive -- nothing naive -- in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King, but as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone.
"I face the world as it is and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people," Obama continued. "For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms."