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Benghazi attack: Why the White House changed its story

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To be sure, when President Obama in 2009 offered a “new beginning” for US-Mideast relations based on “mutual respect and mutual interest,” he also acknowledged that turmoil in the region had historical antecedents that “go beyond any current policy debate.”

But emerging information about the attack and the continuing protests, some of which have turned deadly in recent days, have contrasted the President’s lofty hopes for the region with the impact of that policy, and whether it really quells tensions by reducing hatred for the US and the West among radical Muslims. Favorable views in Muslim countries toward the US dropped from 25 percent in 2009 to 15 percent in 2012, according to a Pew Global Attitudes survey released in June.

To some analysts, the seismic cultural and political convulsions in the past year, including protests in 20 nations over the YouTube clip, is testing the central premise of adjusting American interests while wielding softer power in the region.

“On … big issues that help define U.S.-Muslim relations – Iran, the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and the Arab Spring – the President has seen a combination of setback, stalemate, and frustration,” writes Ben Feller of the Associated Press in a detailed analysis.

Overall, President Obama continues to receive significantly higher marks from Americans than his GOP challenger, Mitt Romney, when it comes to foreign policy.

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