By Justin Sink - 05/28/14 10:04 AM EDT
The White House is mounting a concerted defense of President Obama’s foreign policy against criticism that he has weakened U.S. influence around the globe.
The full-court press hinges on a speech Obama will give Wednesday at West Point’s commencement, where aides say the commander in chief will argue that the U.S. can continue to exert meaningful influence through diplomacy and multilateralism.
The push appears motivated in part by the president’s personal frustration with hawkish critics of his foreign policy, who argue he has eroded American power and left a leadership vacuum filled by rivals such as Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It also encompasses an Asian pivot that critics say has yet to take hold. A deal last week in which Russia agreed to supply natural gas to China reinforced arguments that Obama is being outpaced by events.
Obama and his aides have openly bristled at criticisms that he is not leading on foreign policy, and the president on Tuesday pointedly said it is harder to end a war than begin one in announcing all U.S. troops will leave Afghanistan by the end of 2016.