(Photo: REUTERS/Aaron Bernstein)
Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan argued Sunday that the current unrest in the Middle East is the result of President Barack Obama's foreign policy.
"We're seeing the ugly fruits of Obama foreign policy unravel on our TV screens," Ryan said in a "Fox News Sunday" interview. "Syria – you got 20,000 dead people. Iran is closer to a nuclear weapon. The Middle East peace process is in shambles and we have our flags being burned all around the world. Russia is thwarting us at every stage in the process. This is a weak foreign policy with terrible results, which makes us less safe."
On foreign policy issues, surveys indicate that voters prefer Obama. When a recent Pew Research Center poll asked registered voters which candidate would do better at "making wise decisions on foreign policy," 53 percent answered Obama while only 38 percent answered Mitt Romney, a 15 percentage point advantage for Obama.
The Obama campaign has touted Obama's decision to assassinate Osama bin Laden and his aggressive use of drone strikes to attack the al Qaeda terrorist network.
Obama has been criticized recently, though, for what some view as misleading statements about the recent terrorist attack on a U.S. embassy in Libya. That attack led to the death of a U.S. diplomat and three other U.S. citizens. The attack occurred on the Sept. 11 anniversary, a Tuesday. The administration initially said it was due to a spontaneous demonstration in reaction to a YouTube video. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on five talk shows the following Sunday and repeated this argument. It turns out, though, that U.S. intelligence knew less than 24 hours after the attack that it was a planned al Qaeda attack.
"Nothing about the constantly evolving tale the Obama administration has been weaving about the attacks in the Middle East makes sense, unless it is seen as a deliberate attempt to mislead Americans into believing al Qaeda has been decimated, as President Obama has been known to assert," Kirsten Powers, columnist for The Daily Beast, wrote Friday.
When asked if he thinks Obama has engaged in a cover up regarding the attack, Ryan answered, "Well, I'll let others decide that," and encouraged a congressional investigation.
"There are Republicans and Democrats in Congress calling for an investigation as we need to have. Their response was slow, it was confused, it was inconsistent. ... If this was one tragic incident, that would be a tragedy in and of itself. The problem is, it's part of a bigger picture of the fact that the Obama foreign policy is unraveling, literally before our eyes on our TV screens," Ryan said.
He also called Obama's foreign policy one of "weakness" and said Romney's foreign policy would be one of "strength."
On NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday, senior White House adviser David Plouffe said that "in the days afterwards it wasn't clear that this was a terrorist attack."
Host David Gregory then asked Plouffe to respond to the Romney campaign criticism that "the president failed to level with the American people and call this a terrorist attack because you had to be concerned about another terrorist attack from al Qaeda in the Middle East after the president said that al Qaeda had been defeated."
"That is preposterous and really offensive to suggest that," Plouffe answered. "As information was received from the intelligence community, it was distributed. The president's record on terrorism takes a back seat to no one. We, obviously, took out their number one leader in Osama bin Laden, the leadership of al Qaeda has been decimated, just as the president promised in 2008."