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The Hill - U.S. Must Lead from Position of Strength, Not Weakness

Op-Ed

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By Senator James Inhofe

The abhorrent attacks on our U.S. embassy in Cairo and consulate in Benghazi, suspiciously timed on the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks refocuses the spotlight on America's need for a dramatic shift to a new foreign policy.

Obama's handling of our nation's economy has been repeatedly compared to President Jimmy Carter's economic failures of the 1970s. These attacks are sadly reminiscent of the 1979 attack on our embassy in Tehran under Carter's watch.

In June 2009, just months after Obama travelled the globe in what some have dubbed an Apology Tour, Obama traveled to Cairo, to give a "reset button" speech to the Middle East titled A New Beginning.

Three years later, after multiple foreign policy missteps by the Obama administration, Cairo is now a vastly different city. The once promising Arab Spring has been hijacked by extremists who seek to advance their radical agenda and stand in the way of democracy in the region.

This week's attack that resulted in the tragic murder of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans was coordinated and well planned, not unlike attacks on our embassies in Africa in 1998.

Such a coordinated attack raises concerning questions about our intelligence gathering, the security provided to the Ambassador and these U.S. missions, the security response by the host nations, and the efforts being made against those responsible.

Congress should exercise its oversight responsibility to get the answers to these questions.

Furthermore, Obama's failure of leadership on the world stage has lessened America's stature. Since the beginning of his presidency, Obama has sent a message of weakness to the world by signaling that he is decreasing the size and funding of our military, while refocusing our attention with a much more limited budget on the Pacific region rather than maintaining a global focus that includes the Middle East. In the world of our enemies, perceived weakness is an open invitation to violence against our innocent citizens both at home and abroad. This vacuum in American leadership allows countries like Iran to continue to pursue a nuclear weapon along with the means to deliver it to Western Europe and the U.S. East Coast.

Hours before the embassy attacks, the media reported that Obama had snubbed America's strongest and closest Middle East ally -- Israel -- by balking at a requested meeting from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Obama's foreign policy failures not only put America at greater risk, but also increases risk to Israel. If true, the president's refusal to meet with Netanyahu comes at a time when they need our support more than ever.

Obama's own caught-on-tape candid whisper to Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev gives insight into the future of Obama's foreign policy.

"This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility," Obama whispered to the Russian leader. In other words, if you disagree with Obama's foreign policy approach now, four more years will be much worse.

This year's election gives Americans the opportunity to decide on a new direction both for our nation and our nation's position in the world. As a nation, we must lead from a position of strength rather than from a position of weakness.

Inhofe is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.


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