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Obama: National security

“In many ways, Mr. Obama’s remarks at the State Department two weeks ago — and the ones he will make before the General Assembly on Tuesday morning, when he addresses the anti-American protests — reflected hard lessons the president had learned over almost two years of political turmoil in the Arab world: bold words and support for democratic aspirations are not enough to engender good will in this region, especially not when hampered by America’s own national security interests,” the New York Times reports. “In fact, Mr. Obama’s staunch defense of democracy protesters in Egypt last year soon drew him into an upheaval that would test his judgment, his nerve and his diplomatic skill. Even as the uprisings spread to Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria, the president’s sympathy for the protesters infuriated America’s allies in the conservative and oil-rich Gulf states. In mid-March, the Saudis moved decisively to crush the democracy protests in Bahrain, sending a convoy of tanks and heavy artillery across the 16-mile King Fahd Causeway between the two countries. That blunt show of force confronted Mr. Obama with the limits of his ability, or his willingness, to midwife democratic change. Despite a global outcry over the shooting and tear-gassing of peaceful protesters in Bahrain, the president largely turned a blind eye. His realism and reluctance to be drawn into foreign quagmires has held sway ever since, notably in Syria, where many critics continue to call for a more aggressive American response to the brutality of Bashar al-Assad’s rule.”

AP: “Campaign politics shadowing every word, President Barack Obama on Tuesday will challenge the world to confront the root causes of rage exploding across the Muslim world, calling it a defining choice ‘between the forces that would drive us apart and the hopes we hold in common.’”

Here’s the kicker of another New York Times piece: “Mr. Obama was scheduled to attend a reception for world leaders at the United Nations on Monday night. But a campaign adviser acknowledged privately that in this election year, campaigning trumped meetings with world leaders. ‘Look, if he met with one leader, he would have to meet with 10,’ the aide said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.”

In a web video, the RNC blasts Obama for the events in the Arab world, calling it a “crisis of leadership.”