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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
peopleGerman paper published pictures of 18-month-old daughter
Arts and Entertainment
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush
musicKate Bush set to re-enter album charts after first conerts in 35 years
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams' life story will be told in a biography written by a New York Times reporter
arts + ents
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
Voices
voices
Sport
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
News
peopleJustin Bieber accuses paparazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Merger and Acquisition Project Manager

£500 - £550 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 - £55 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN TAWe are looking to recrui...

Technical Manager – Heat Pumps

£40000 Per Annum dependent on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: They ...

Test Job

TBC: Test Recruiter for iJobs: Job London (Greater)

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis