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Is Obama's foreign policy failing in the Muslim world?
Obama still enjoys a political advantage over Mitt Romney on national security. But as violence grips the Mideast, the president is coming under new scrutiny
Muslim protesters in Chennai, India, hold a caricature of President Obama during a protest against a film they consider blasphemous to Islam.
Muslim protesters in Chennai, India, hold a caricature of President Obama during a protest against a film they consider blasphemous to Islam.
REUTERS/Babu
T

he anti-U.S. protests that have swept the Muslim world in the last week have triggered aggressive GOP attacks on President Obama's foreign policy. Obama's 2008 opponent, Sen. John McCain, blamed rioting at U.S. diplomatic posts on Obama's policy of "disengagement" from the region, including troop drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan. The campaign of Obama's current GOP rival, Mitt Romney, said the Mideast turmoil exposes the failure of Obama's "outreach efforts in the Middle East and North Africa," and the loss of America's ability to influence the governments of the Muslim world. Is Obama's overseas record as bad as Republicans say?

Obama's failure is undeniable: The president's "Middle East policies are in shambles," says Michael Barone at Human Events. The facade crumbled the day rioters tore down the American flag at our Cairo embassy, and Islamist militants killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Libya. As historian Walter Russell Mead put it, Obama's effort to win over moderate Muslims has "angered Israel without reducing Islamist bitterness against the United States."
"The consequence of Obama's bungled Mideast policy"

Obama is still strong on foreign policy: When it comes to overseas issues, polls show that voters trust Obama more than Romney, and they haven't forgotten that under Obama, America killed Osama bin Laden and ended the Iraq war, says Steve Kornacki at Salon. Of course, it's possible that the "obvious volatility" in the Middle East could prompt voters to "reconsider Obama's leadership," More likely, though, Romney will regret trying to "portray the unrest as an indictment" of Obama's policies. Voters trust the man in the White House, and remember the many successes he presided over.
"How Obama stole the GOP's issue"

At least now we'll get a debate on foreign policy: So much for a campaign dominated by the economy, says Doyle McManus at the Los Angeles Times. Now voters will also have to weigh the differences between Obama's combination of outreach with limited use of power, and Romney's "costlier, but bolder" approach, which includes more defense spending and a possible strike to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb. The contrast is sharp, and now voters know it.
"Romney vs. Obama on foreign policy"

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.

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