US President Barack Obama offered a direct rebuttal Wednesday of Mitt Romney’s foreign policy critique, saying his leadership had forged a “different world” in just four years.
In a sweeping survey of his diplomatic worldview, Obama implicitly rejected claims he is wedded to national decline, and said he had restored US values and alliances and paved the way to a new “American Century.”
In parts, the address was a point-by-point rebuttal of a foreign policy speech given by his Republican election foe Romney in October, and previewed likely clashes between the two men at presidential debates later this year.
Referencing the killing of Osama bin Laden, Obama claimed to have put Al-Qaeda on the path to defeat and to have offered a clear exit from Afghanistan.
The fact that the president chose to deliver the survey of US foreign policy at graduation ceremonies at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs could open him to charges of politicizing the armed forces he leads.
In a highly political passage of his address, Obama unapologetically strove to create a new feeling of national optimism.
Romney has argued that Obama’s foreign policy is characterized by weakness and “appeasing” Iran, and says the president has weakened ties with US allies rather than strengthened them.
Last year at the Citadel military college, Romney savaged Obama’s “feckless” diplomatic strategy, warning of new threats from Russia and China and said Obama was “profoundly mistaken” as he did not believe in the concept of American exceptionalism.
Obama directly repudiated those points on Wednesday.
He also took aim at the view that US forces were not to the fore in the operation to protect Libyans from Moamer Kadhafi, popularized by a quote, “leading from behind,” which an anonymous official gave to the New Yorker.
He credited US forces for helping to prevent “a massacre in Libya with an international mission in which the United States — and our Air Force — led from the front.”