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The Hiller Instinct

On the Issues: Foreign Policy

Once again, a terrorist attack against the United States on September 11th has made foreign policy a major issue in a presidential race.

This time, it was the murder of U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, including Glen Doherty of Winchester.

Initially, the Obama administration blamed the attack on an American-made anti-Islam viral video that spurred many Muslim protests.

The day after the attack, the president used the words "acts of terror," but did not directly call it "terrorism."

"The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack," Obama said.

But as evidence mounted that it was in fact an act of terrorism, Romney attacked Obama for misleading the American public, an argument he continues to make: "I want to be very clear. The blame for the murder of our people in Libya and the attacks on our embassies in so many other countries lies solely with those who carried them out--no one else."

Before Benghazi, foreign policy was no problem for President Obama.

The capture and killing of Osama bin Laden was his calling card, and it was strong enough to give the Democrats a rare advantage over the Republicans on foreign policy.

But the combination of Benghazi, nuclear threat in Iran, unrest throughout the Middle East, and the increasing isolation of Israel weakened the president's position, giving Romney an opening.

The candidates' final debate focused on foreign policy. During the debate, both said that they would stand by Israel, stand behind the rebels in Syria, and stand strong on sanctions on Iran. They also both oppose current Chinese trade policies.

But that wasn't enough to hide their fundamental disagreement:

"America is stronger now that when I came into office," said Obama.

"Nowhere in the world in America's influence greater than it was four years ago," refuted Romney.

Americans are famous for ignoring international news, and focusing on what happens here. The world is now telling us that we can't do that anymore.