In a speech that attempts to stake out his position as the GOP presidential field's leading hawk, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Tuesday accused President Obama of turning his back on democracy movements across the Middle East, saying the president has "retreated from freedom's rise" just as grassroots activists leading the "Arab Spring" needed him the most.
Pawlenty, speaking in New York at the Council on Foreign Relations, laid out an aggressive vision for his own foreign policy, calling for direct military intervention in Libya and the ousting of Syrian leader Bashar al Assad. And he said Obama has turned its back on Israel, treating it as an enemy instead of the country's closest ally in the region.
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"The Middle East is changing before our eyes--but our government has not kept up," Pawlenty said, according to prepared remarks provided by his campaign. "It abandoned the promotion of democracy just as Arabs were about to seize it. It sought to cozy up to dictators just as their own people rose against them. It downplayed our principles and distanced us from key allies."