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He took office promising to sit down with the world’s worst despots and attempt to reason with them. He began with what Mr. Romney said was his “apology tour” of Muslim countries, which did not include Israel, our closest ally in the region. The United States, he said, had been dismissive of the Middle East and he was going to change that.

However, after four years, Iran is closer to building a nuclear bomb and threatens to wipe Israel off the map. “Now there are some 10,000 centrifuges spinning uranium, preparing to create a nuclear threat to the United States and to the world,” Mr. Romney said.

At another point in the debate, Mr. Obama weakly insisted — as he has many times before in this election season — that under his leadership, al Qaeda is on the run.

Mr. Romney shot back, “Is al Qaeda on the run? No.” The evidence is clear that he is right.

Al Qaeda in Iraq and its affiliates have moved into Syria to exploit the civil war there and infiltrate Syrian insurgent forces. They have spread their terrorist war across the region, in Lebanon, Nigeria, Mali, Yemen, Egypt and elsewhere, and now in Benghazi, Libya.

There are increasing reports of a newly resurgent al Qaeda in Iraq, a post-Iraq withdrawal problem Mr. Obama never mentions.

Even here at home, there have been a growing number of attempted terrorist attacks and plots that were foiled by our intelligence and homeland security agents. What is alarming, however, is that these incidents are increasing.

If anything, al Qaeda’s forces have grown during the past four years and have become more emboldened under the president’s weak foreign policy, which is in disarray across the Middle East.

But all Mr. Obama could say in Monday night’s debate was that everything’s fine, al Qaeda is in retreat and Americans should re-elect him to another four years.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and former chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.