Obama's Pragmatism Will Strengthen Foreign Relations and National Security

President Obama learned the lessons from past mistakes.

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In the last seven months, the president has reintroduced America to the world, restoring our standing with European allies and reaching out to Muslim people everywhere. These steps help undercut the anti-U.S. sentiments that sustain the ideology of terrorists. Pew Research survey data show that people around the globe now believe that "Obama will do the right thing in foreign affairs," a stark contrast with the confidence levels about our foreign policy just one year ago. The fight against terrorism is a war of ideas; more global confidence in our president means fewer young people in the Middle East will sign up with their local terrorist group.

Foreign policy is not a popularity contest, and well-honed speeches get us only so far. Clearly we cannot be everybody's friend, but when the majority of world public opinion was against us, it was much more difficult to accomplish our goals of maintaining a secure and prosperous America. The president has engaged with allies and adversaries alike to advance our national security interests.

Difficult decisions remain. Do we increase our involvement in Afghanistan? How do we confront Iran? How do we respond if Iraq's security situation deteriorates? What steps should we take to deal with a more powerful China and India? Answering these complex questions will require a deft understanding of global realities and an ability to leverage the systems that have protected us since the end of the Second World War. President Obama is working to unite our allies to credibly confront common threats and prove that the United States is back as a global leader.

Read an opposing view: Why the safety of America balances on Obama's high-risk decision-making, by Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, a California Republican and the ranking minority member of the House Armed Services Committee.

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