Embassy attacks cast shadow over Barack Obama’s re-election hopes

 

The smooth running of Barack Obama's re-election machine looked under some strain last night as images of smoke rising from US embassies across the Arab world dominated news bulletins at home, capping a grim foreign policy week that saw four Americans killed in Libya including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

The escalation in anti-American violence, sparked by a promotional video for a film shot in California ridiculing the Muslim faith, and its spread to more Arab capitals yesterday helped to embolden Republicans, who claim that Mr Obama's broader approach to foreign policy and to the managing of the Arab Spring in particular had fallen apart. 

“Look across that region today, and what do we see?” Republican running mate Paul Ryan asked a conservative conference in Washington, offering a withering Obama foreign affairs scorecard. “The slaughter of brave dissidents in Syria. Mobs storming American embassies and consulates. Iran four years closer to gaining a nuclear weapon. Israel, our best ally in the region, treated with indifference bordering on contempt by the Obama administration.”

Accompanied by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the president went to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland to receive the bodies of Ambassador Stevens and the other three victims of the Libyan attack. Meanwhile the Pentagon revealed that an elite unit of Marines was being sent to Yemen which has seen some of the worst unrest.

The White House meanwhile last night denied that the US had had any knowledge prior knowledge of the assault on the US consular complex in Benghazi, Libya, before it happened.  It added however that Mr Obama had ordered a security review for all US diplomatic facilities worldwide.

Mr Obama may yet prove immune to the Republican assaults, however, particularly if after yesterday's Friday prayer protests in countries as far apart as Tunisia and Pakistan, the violence begins to ebb. He has hitherto enjoyed a very wide lead over his opponent Mitt Romney when pollsters ask voters to rate them on foreign affairs. A trump card no one can take away: the killing of Osama bin Laden last year.

His campaign may also see something of a turning point in a new NBC-Wall Street Journal poll showing the president opening a significant 50- to 43-point lead over Mr Romney in Ohio and holding on to five-point advantages in Virginia and Florida.  The numbers suggest an important post-convention bump for the president. Mr Romney needs to snag two of those battleground states in November to have a decent chance of winning the White House.

And Mr Obama continues to benefit from an opponent who, when he sees an open window, manages to break panes while passing through it. Seemingly knee-jerk criticism of the president at the start of this week's unrest and before the killing of Ambassador Stevens continues to earn Mr Romney opprobrium, including from on the right. 

Some circling of the wagons around Mr Romney is under way, however, for example by Washington Post conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer. “What we are seeing on the screen is the meltdown, the collapse of the Obama policy on the Muslim world,” he told Fox News, adding: “What we're seeing now is 'al-Qaidastan' developing in Libya, the meltdown of our relations with Egypt.”

The top foreign policy advisor to the Republican campaign, Richard Williams, suggested yesterday meanwhile that Mr Romney, he were president, would not have let this week's events happen. “A Romney administration would be there, would be more active trying to work with civil society, with reformer movements, so we would be partners in this evolution, not running behind,” he contended.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'