WASHINGTON -- Chief among the slew of Rick Santorum's objections to President Barack Obama's foreign policy is his failure to call a spade a spade -- or, rather, a jihadist a jihadist.
In a half-hour speech Thursday at the National Press Club, the former Pennsylvania senator, who is weighing a campaign to challenge Mr. Obama, leveled a detailed critique of the president's world view and sounded more like his predecessor, George W. Bush.
Comparing past presidents' approaches to fascism and Marxism, Mr. Santorum said the current threats to America are ill-defined.
"Today our leaders have opted for political correctness, referring to our theologically motivated enemies as simply terrorists," he said.
"But terrorism is a tactic, not an ideology. This new existential threat to America, Sharia and its violent iteration jihadism, has yet to be adequately explained by our leaders -- except in using the term terror to describe its military profile that it's violent, widespread and fanatical. But it's more, including non-violent efforts to insinuate Sharia law in Western countries, including our own."
Later asked to expand on Sharia in the United States, Mr. Santorum claimed that Sharia-compliant financial arrangements could be a security threat because banks are helping fund "suspect" groups and relying on "less than reputable people" to bless the transaction.
Mr. Santorum criticized Mr. Obama for apologizing for the country's actions under Mr. Bush and for not pursuing a clear strategy in the Middle East -- in particular not backing Iranian protesters in 2009 but supporting protesters in Egypt this year, while being indecisive on Libya.
"Now we have caused two very dangerous things on the world stage: confusion and doubt," Mr. Santorum said. "We now have a confused foreign policy in the hottest spots in the world, especially in the Middle East."
The no-apologies, pursue-the-evildoers stance sounded like the Bush Doctrine, but Mr. Santorum had a few beefs with Mr. Bush as well.
Mr. Santorum -- whose blowout loss in his 2006 Senate re-election campaign was due in part to his close association with the unpopular then-president -- said Mr. Bush failed to implement the Iran Freedom Support Act when it could have helped topple the theocracy there, ignored the threat of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and erred in equating immediate democracy with freedom.
Mr. Santorum declined to detail solutions to the most pressing international crises. In Afghanistan, Mr. Santorum said there is a path to victory and he's not fond of Mr. Obama's planned drawdown of troops. In Libya, he criticized Mr. Obama for going in too late but then said the U.S. shouldn't have intervened at all.
Mr. Santorum said he's not in favor of military intervention in another nation unless our national security is at risk, meaning the professed "humanitarian" mission in Libya didn't meet the standard.