(Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
Conservative critics are still pressuring the Obama administration's foreign policy in the wake of continued Arab unrest in the Middle East, arguing that the protests are more an indication of weakened U.S. resolve than a reaction to a You Tube video.
After taking office, President Obama went to Egypt with a message that under his administration there would be a "mutual" respect between the U.S. and its Arab allies. But since the killings of four American diplomats in Libya and unrest throughout most of the Middle East, those who see no dividend to a U.S. investment are challenging Obama.
"What we are seeing on the screen is the meltdown, collapse of the Obama policy on the Muslim world," columnist Charles Krauthammer said on the panel segment of Fox News' "Special Report" Monday night.
"The irony is that it began in Cairo, in the same place where the speech he made in the beginning of his presidency in which he said, you wanted a new beginning with mutual respect, implying under the other presidents, particularly Bush, there was a lack of mutual respect. Which was an insult to the United States, which had gone to war six times in the last 20 years on behalf of oppressed Muslims, in Kuwait, in Kosovo, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere."
The speech that Krauthammer referenced in his comments took place on June 4, 2009, when President Obama was visiting the country for the first time when 75 percent of Egyptians had an "unfavorable" opinion of the U.S. Today that number stands at 79 percent.
"I've come here ... to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition," President Obama said in his speech in Cairo. "Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings ... Let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America."
Depending on whose side they are on, political pundits and foreign policy experts remain engaged in a tug-of-war over what ignited the Sept. 11 outbreaks in the Middle East. Administration officials such as Ambassador Susan Rice still point to a movie trailer posted on YouTube by a man using the alias of Sam Bacile and promoted by a Quran-burning minister in Florida by the name of Terry Jones.
"What sparked the recent violence was the airing on the Internet of a very hateful, very offensive video that has offended many people around the world," said Rice, a leading candidate to be secretary of state in a second Obama term, on "Fox News Sunday."
Yet conservatives say the video is merely an excuse, citing evidence that the attacks were planned hours, if not days in advance.
Arizona Sen. John McCain, who lost to President Obama in 2008, offered some advice to Mitt Romney, encouraging him to stay on the offensive. McCain was in New Hampshire campaigning for Romney and encouraged the former Massachusetts governor to remain steadfast in this comments on the Middle East.
"When Americans' lives are taken or at risk, it's incumbent upon all of us who think it's due to a failure of leadership to speak up. If that's criticized by the media, we cannot be muzzled by liberals in the media," McCain told the Union Leader.
The paper also reported that McCain encouraged Romney "to give an overall foreign policy speech, beginning in 2009 when [Obama] refused to speak up for the million-and-a-half demonstrators in Tehran who were chanting, 'Obama, Obama. Are you with us or are you with them?'"