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Obama's national security record not much political help for him

The White House sees the death of Muammar Qaddafi and the end to US war in Iraq as major successes for the US and, not incidentally, for President Obama. But most Americans are more interested in the economy than foreign policy.

By Staff writer / October 22, 2011

In this 2010 photo, U.S. Army soldiers board a C-17 aircraft in Baghdad as they begin their journey to the United States. President Barack Obama on Friday announced that all American troops would be withdrawn from the country by year's end.

Maya Alleruzzo/AP

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From the White House point of view, this week’s major foreign policy developments – the death of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi and the announced end to US war in Iraq – should be seen as major successes for the United States and, not incidentally, for President Obama.

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Obama said as much in his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday. The two events were, he said, “powerful reminders of how we’ve renewed American leadership in the world.”

“I was proud to announce that – as promised – the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of this year,” Obama said. “And in Libya, the death of Muammar Qaddafi showed that our role in protecting the Libyan people, and helping them break free from a tyrant, was the right thing to do.”

IN PICTURES: Troops come home

That’s surely a matter of opinion.

Not surprisingly, Republicans were quick to take exception. Most derided Obama’s “lead from behind” approach to letting NATO countries Britain, France, and Italy see most of the military action that eventually allowed rebel forces in Libya to topple Qaddafi. Apparently, they did not appreciate the value of getting Arab League and United Nations approval before enforcing a no-fly zone with missiles and bombs (most of which initially came from US ships and aircraft).

And on Iraq, Obama’s presidential election challengers were quick to criticize the decision to remove the rest of US forces there by year’s end.

Mitt Romney called it an “astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq.” Rick Perry accused Obama of “putting political expediency ahead of sound military and security judgment.” Michele Bachmann said it had been a “political decision and not a military one.”

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