News Analysis: Obama To Make Foreign Policy Speech Amid Charges Of Weakness

U.S. President Barack Obama is slated to make a speech on Wednesday outlining his foreign policy goals, as critics cast him as a foreign policy paper tiger.

Obama's foreign policy approval ratings stand at a mere 39 percent, and critics say the president's repeated "red line" remarks -- that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would cross a line that could invite U.S. military intervention -- have caused countries worldwide to see him as a leader who fails to follow words with action.

Indeed, critics called his "red line" statements tantamount to giving Moscow a green light to deploy troops to the Crimea in recent months, although Russia said the move was intended simply to protect ethnic Russians there.

Some critics call the U.S. response to Russia almost comical. After Obama lambasted Moscow for what he said was acting contrary to international law, he merely slapped travel bans on a handful of Russians, which was viewed as a lackluster response by those who advocated much harsher sanctions. 

Moreover, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday publicly mocked Obama. In a move that made many Americans cringe, Putin asked why "doesn't (Obama) get a job in a court or something," in an interview with the CNBC in St. Petersburg.

Obama's speech, to be made at the West Point commencement ceremony, is expected to counter suggestions that the president lacks resolve in the foreign policy realm. U.S. media reported Tuesday that Obama will explain his brand of foreign policy is international, rather than isolationist.

Republican strategist Ford O'Connell told Xinhua that the main criticism of Obama's foreign policy "is his aversion to military action that makes it harder for the U.S. to levy credible threats that force international foes to change their behavior."

Read more from Matthew Rusling at Xinhua

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Analysis & Political Strategy