Mitt Romney: Obama lacks "clear and convincing" foreign policy

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Mitt Romney speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, Friday, Feb. 11, 2011.
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Mitt Romney took aim at President Obama's international leadership on Monday night, arguing that "thus far, the president has been unable to construct a foreign policy" - and that America was being perceived as weak in the global arena as a result.

"His inability to have a clear and convincing foreign policy made him delegate to the United Nations and the Arab League a decision about our involvement [in Libya]," Romney argued in a radio interview with conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt on Monday night. On Saturday, the U.S. military launched attacks against Muammar Qaddafi's forces in Libya as part of a coalition.

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"I've heard from individuals abroad is that in the past, America has been feared sometimes, has been respected, but today, that America is seen as being weak," Romney told Hewitt, according to a transcript posted on Hewitt's site. "We're following the French into Libya. I appreciate the fact that others are participating in this effort, but I think we look to America to be the leader of the world."

Romney, a likely candidate for the GOP nomination in the 2012 presidential election, criticized Mr. Obama's leadership style as "tentative, indecisive, timid and nuanced," and argued that America had waited too long in taking action against Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.

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Mr. Obama has come under criticism from both the right and the left in the days since he announced American involvement in attacks against Libya. Many lawmakers argue that Mr. Obama should have consulted with Congressbefore authorizing the strikes, while others say the plan lacks clarity and foresight. A number of Republicans have also criticized Mr. Obama for being a "follower"of France, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy calling the shots. 

Romney, who criticized the Obama administration's actions in Libya on the last two counts, attributed this alleged weakness to what he perceives as Mr. Obama's disbelief in American exceptionalism.

"We're watching a president and his team that seem unprepared and without direction," Romney argued. "Whether you agreed with President Bush or not, in his foreign policy, he at least had a foreign policy. And that is something which is sort of lacking, and I think it flows from a, if you will, a questioning as to whether America is an exceptional nation, and a sense that somehow we all have common interests in the world."

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"There's a lot going on in the world," he continued. "But you know, you can respond and act if you have a policy in mind, if you have a compass that guides your actions, if you are presented with the various possibilities of what might occur in regions of the world. You don't have to consider them for the first time when they're brought to your attention, but instead you can plan in advance. And if you have a foreign policy, as prior presidents have, then you know exactly how you're going to respond."