Since the Arab Spring erupted in December 2010, President Barack Obama has struggled to chart a course, "leading from behind" in Libya, slow to react as Egypt careens between crises, and now planning military action in Syria.
However, Obama's supporters on the left and many in the media have praised his approach to the Middle East ever since his speech the previous year in Cairo, where he said he was seeking "a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect."
Here are words of praise for Obama's foreign policy and approach to the Arab Spring:
MSNBC Anchor Chris Matthews, Feb. 2011: Obama "comes into office, and this jubilant situation in Egypt, with the first time in our lives we get to see people from the Arab world in a very positive democratic setting. Not as terrorists or not as people fighting Israel, or whatever. ... In a way it's like it took Obama to have this happen."
Newsweek Editor Evan Thomas, June 2009: Reacting to Obama's Cairo speech, "I mean in a way Obama's standing above the country, above – above the world, he's sort of God."
Brian Katulis, senior fellow at Center for American Progress, Sept. 2012: "Since 2009, the Obama administration has undertaken the mother of all foreign policy cleanup jobs -- rebuilding U.S. power and credibility with a pragmatic and reality-based policy in the Middle East."
Elizabeth H. Prodromou, affiliate scholar at Harvard University, Sept. 2012: "The president clarified the liberal, democratic principles and security priorities that are nonnegotiable for continuing U.S. support for the Arab Spring movements."
Marc Lynch, director of the Institute for Middle East Studies at the George Washington University, Sept. 2012: "President Barack Obama has handled the uprisings in the Arab world very well. Indeed, his pragmatic but principled approach has proven far more effective than any of the alternatives offered by his critics."
Huffington Post contributor Stewart J. Lawrence, July 2012: "By any reasonable standard, Obama's first-term foreign policy record is nothing short of astounding."
Democratic Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, Nov. 2011: "Many revolutionary movements … have been driven more by ideology, whether it's communism or some al-Qaida-inspired vision of Islamism, or nationalism, but these [Arab Spring] movements … are clearly and unequivocally democratic and people-driven. And number one, we need to embrace that and understand that that is a very, very good thing for us.… And it's a major, major blow to al-Qaida and similar ideologies."
Obama foreign policy spokesman Colin Kahl, Sept. 2012: "As the Arab Spring emerged in places like Tunisia and Egypt, should the United States have stood on the sidelines? Clearly the Republicans don’t think that because they think we should be 'leading' on these issues, and, of course, that's what the president did, which was to get on the right side of history."
John Kerry, Sept. 2012: "We have a president who has made America lead like America again."
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