President Obama staunchly defended his foreign policy record against Republican election-year criticism that he has overseen a decline in American power in the world.
Mitt Romney has accused the Democratic president of weakening America on the world stage, chiding Obama for setting a timeline for leaving Afghanistan and has called the Iraq withdrawal last year a premature move. The Iraq pullout followed a timetable put in place by former President George W. Bush.
Obama, in a weekend NATO summit in Chicago, acknowledged there were risks in withdrawing U.S. and allied forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. But while addressing graduating cadets of the Air Force Academy, he pushed back hard against Romney’s claim that America had lost ground under his leadership.
"Let’s start by putting aside the tired notion that says our influence has waned, that America is in decline. We’ve heard that talk before," he said, declaring that his policies were seeding the way to a new "American Century."
Credit: President Obama salutes as he arrives for the Air Force Academy commencement ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colorado, May 23, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque