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On Fox News last month, Mr. Romney said: “The president has a foreign policy which has failed once again. He underestimated the extent of the threat represented by terror in the world, and specifically ISIS.”

Said Brookings’ Mr. O'Hanlon: “The JV comment was most unfortunate. I don’t think he’s under any such illusion now.”

Syrian President Bashar Assad

As the civil war in Syria began in March 2011 and Mr. Assad began a crackdown, the Obama administration portrayed him as a different kind of Middle East leader who would not resort to brutal tactics.

Then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said: “There’s a different leader in Syria now. Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.”

At the same time, then-Sen. John F. Kerry, Mrs. Clinton’s successor at the State Department, said: “President Assad has been very generous with me in terms of the discussions we have had. So my judgment is that Syria will move. Syria will change as it embraces a legitimate relationship with the United States and the West and economic opportunity that comes with it and the participation that comes with it.”

The praise heaped on Mr. Assad was a major departure from the George W. Bush policy. The Bush administration considered Mr. Assad a bad actor for promoting terrorism and for allowing foreign al Qaeda fighters to funnel through Syria into Iraq to kill Americans.

Meanwhile, Mr. Assad has fought a brutal war for survival, resorting to using chemical weapons to kill hundreds of civilians. Mr. Kerry ended up calling him a “thug and a murderer,” but then complimented the regime for giving up its chemical weapons components.

Al Qaeda

During his 2012 re-election campaign, Mr. Obama repeatedly said al Qaeda is “on the run” and on a “path to defeat.” The network’s core operations in tribal areas in Pakistan were “decimated,” he said.

In February, Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, asked James R. Clapper, Mr. Obama’s top intelligence official, if al Qaeda is on the run or on a path to defeat.

“No, it is morphing and franchising itself not only here but [in] other areas of the world,” Mr. Clapper said.

“They are not [on the run],” added Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, then-director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Mr. Obama has defended his national security policies. At one point, he blamed social media for making things look more chaotic than they actually are.

“Apparently, people have forgotten that America, as the most powerful country on earth, still does not control everything around the world,” Mr. Obama said at a press conference last month. “Our diplomatic efforts often take time. They often will see progress and then [take] a step backwards. That’s the nature of world affairs. It’s not neat, and it’s not smooth.”

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