Republicans said Tuesday the stark contrast between President Obama’s speech to the U.N. General Assembly Tuesday compared to his remarks a year ago — on Iran, Libya and the greater Middle East — are a measure of the administration’s foreign policy failures.
A year ago, they note, Mr. Obama was hailing the ouster of Libyan strongman Moammar Qaddafi and the series of democratic uprisings across the Arab world as hopeful signs of progress.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has argued that the recent violence in Libya, including the murder of U.S. Amb. Christopher Stevens, Iran’s bellicose statements over its nuclear programs and the government crackdown in Syria are evidence that Mr. Obama’s foreign policies have backfired.
“For nearly four years, President Obama’s foreign policy has left our closest allies alienated and our security threatened,” said Romney spokesman Andrea Saul. “Instead of delivering a ‘new beginning with Iran, the president’s failed policies have allowed Iran to move closer toward nuclear weapons capability. Out national security and allies in the Middle East can’t afford four more years like the last four years.”
Mr. Obama’s speech last year at the U.N.’s annual meeting touted his strategy of marshaling international support before taking military action or taking on state-building responsibilities. Credit for Libya’s liberation belongs to the Libyan people, Mr. Obama asserted during his 2011 speech, but Libya is also “a lesson in what the international community can achieve when we stand together as one.”
The Republican National Committee released a new video “A Crisis in Leadership” focusing on Mr. Obama’s recent comment during a “60 Minutes” interview that the recent clashes in the Middle East are “bumps in the road,” arguing that the violence and unrest reflects Mr. Obama’s “weak leadership.”
“President Obama promised that he would restore America’s moral standing in the world. But in the last four years, instead of standing up for America’s interests and values, this president has led from behind,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus says in the video. “President Obama may think that the recent attacks in the Middle East are just ‘bumps in the road,’ but in reality that are a serious national security crises that reflect his weak leadership.”
Mr. Obama’s schedule U.N. last year underscored what he believed was a strategic success in Libya as he met with Libyan Transitional National Council Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil, and later with the Libya Contact Group. He also sat down with 12 other world leaders including Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister of Turkey.
But this year, the president left the bilateral meetings to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton while taking a break in the afternoon to tape an appearance on ABC’s daytime talk show “The View,” prompting criticism that he cares more about his reelection efforts than the crisis in the Middle East.