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Santorum Slams Obama in Foreign Policy Speech

Santorum Slams Obama in Foreign Policy Speech

By Scott Conroy - April 28, 2011

In a wide-ranging foreign policy speech, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum on Thursday accused President Obama of coddling America's enemies while harming relationships with allies and suggested that the president did not believe in the longstanding American mission of promoting freedom worldwide.

"A president who doesn't understand the greatness of the American experiment cannot confidently advance her interests," Santorum said in his speech at the National Press Club in Washington.

Immersed in the familiar rhetoric of American exceptionalism -- a doctrine in which he said Obama does not believe -- Santorum offered his own perspective on international hotspots ranging from Hugo Chavez's regime in Venezuela to the "militant socialism" that he called a "main threat to the world," along with violent jihadism.

Santorum borrowed from an expression coined by Samuel Huntington in the early 1990s when he said that the United States was involved in a "clash of civilizations" and that the threat of radical Islam was "extending its tentacles" from Africa to America.

Santorum also delivered a stark warning about the imposition of Sharia law in the United States.

"Understanding this conflict is crucial to understanding why jihadists are trying to kill us," Santorum said. "They know what we stand for: freedom and equality. They have a worldview that opposes freedom of conscience, whereas our worldview is built on it. They oppress women and minorities, whereas we view them as equals that we must respect. They abuse and kill Christians, Jews, and even other Muslims who affirm that freedom to believe is as important as belief itself."

Santorum, a likely Republican presidential candidate, highlighted his experience in the Senate and his subsequent work to highlight international threats at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Breaking with some members of his party, Santorum said that the U.S. should make further investments in humanitarian aid, particularly in Africa.

"200,000 babies do not have AIDS today who otherwise would have, and millions of people are alive today due to American-provided anti-viral drugs," he said. "This is what I call a pro-life foreign policy."

Though his speech was billed as a comprehensive foreign policy address, Santorum did not even mention Afghanistan in his remarks, which lasted over a half-hour.

Asked during a Q-and-A session for his views on the conflict in which about 100,000 U.S. troops remain engaged, Santorum raised concerns about Obama's handling of the war in Afghanistan but said that he did see a path to victory there.

Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at sconroy@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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