By Justin Sink
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) delivered a harsh indictment of President Obama's foreign policy on Sunday, saying that a “lack of American leadership” had disappointed allies and emboldened the country’s enemies.
"The rest of the world watches in desperation and hope that America will realize and act upon once again its indispensable place in the world," Christie said Sunday at the Champions of Jewish Values International Awards Gala in New York, according to The Associated Press. "We must lead."
“We see Russian activism once again rearing its head in the world, we see an America that backed away from a commitment made by the president of the United States in Syria, we see a country, our country, permitting even a thought of a terrorist state like Iran having nuclear capability,” Christie said.
“It's unthinkable that the America that has led in the way that it has always led this world would permit that to happen,” he continued. “Yet we are sitting in a world, we are watching the vacuum that the lack of American leadership has created being filled and it is almost never filled by virtue, it is almost always filled by evil.”
He added that sometimes standing up for American values would require "sacrifice."
"We need to stand once again loudly for these values, and sometimes that is going to mean standing in some very messy, difficult places and standing strong and hard for those things that we believe in," Christie said, according to CNN. "And it will mean sacrifice from the people of our country."
For Christie, a potential 2016 presidential contender, the appearance was a chance to address doubts about his foreign policy prowess.
In a speech earlier this spring in Las Vegas to a pro-Israel GOP group, he made a reference to "occupied territories.” Many supporters of Israel object to referring to areas where Palestinians live but Israel maintains a military presence as “occupied territories” because they believe the term implicitly suggests that Israeli troops should not be in the area.
Christie subsequently apologized to Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson, who was also in attendance at the event on Sunday.
The New Jersey governor also used the appearance to criticize lawmakers and gridlock in Washington.
"We are and have become a dysfunctional government that even our own people snicker, laugh at, ignore and are disgusted by," Christie said.
President Obama has defended his foreign policy in recent weeks, arguing that GOP critics who have advocated more intervention on the world stage failed to learn the lessons of the Iraq War.
During a press conference in the Philippines last month, Obama said that while his foreign policy efforts “may not always be sexy,” his work paid real dividends.
“If you look at the results of what we've done over the last five years, it is fair to say that our alliances are stronger, our partnerships are stronger, and in the Asia-Pacific region, just to take one example, we are much better positioned to work with the peoples here on a whole range of issues of mutual interest,” Obama said.
“And that may not always be sexy,” he continued. “That may not always attract a lot of attention, and it doesn’t make for good argument on Sunday morning shows. But it avoids errors.
"You hit singles; you hit doubles; every once in a while, we may be able to hit a home run,” said the president. “But we steadily advance the interests of the American people and our partnership with folks around the world.”