MARY KISSEL, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: It's interesting, as you're reading the news reports coming out a week later, you're starting to see unnamed officials and unnamed State Department officials start to cover themselves, saying, look, we had an attack, for example, in June, and that worked just fine. It's not easy to get the Marines at the drop of a hat. They're not sitting there drinking coffee at the airport.
But I think to Bret's point, the evidence I think is building up here and it's very damning. John McCain said, after he was briefed this week, says it shows an abysmal level of knowledge out of the administration of terror attacks. And you know, if you're sitting in an embassy a consulate or a compound like this overseas, I think you've got to be pretty worried.
GIGOT: Dan, let's broaden this out. A lot of foreign policy news coming out, the demonstrations across the Arab world against the United States. You've got events elsewhere. Foreign policy is supposed to be a big, big Barack Obama advantage in these campaigns. Are these events changing that perception?
HENNINGER: I think they are and I think they should be. One might ask, what is Barack Obama's foreign policy? The part of the problem is there's no sense that there's any sort of strategic idea --
GIGOT: I disagree with that. He would say to you, he would say, look, we're tough on terror, we got bin Laden, we've decimated the Al Qaeda, and meanwhile, we've approached the Islamic world in a different way, we've reached out, we've put on a better American face --
GIGOT: -- the war like Bush. So my foreign policy has been to engage the world. They like us a lot more. And, meanwhile, we're killing the really bad guy.
HENNINGER: Tactical, it's not strategic.
GIGOT: But is that wrong?
STEPHENS: But the foreign policy -- Barack Obama's foreign policy is, I'm Barack Obama.
He came to Cairo in June of 2009 and says, hi, I'm Barack Obama. I'm not George W. Bush. We're going to have a nice conversation. I speak, you know, your language or wish I did. I grew up in Indonesia. I have Muslim relatives. So therefore, his analysis of the problem with the Bush administration is that essentially George W. Bush gave America big, bad PR problem, that Barack Obama himself could solve. And the lesson four years later, after -- after all of this time of Barack Obama's healing glow over the Muslim world, is that we're every bit of detested as we were before, but considerably less feared.
HENNINGER: He has essentially lowered our profile. Specifically, and consciously, it was to pull back and lower the U.S. profile in these areas of the world. What has happened is you've, in effect, created a vacuum in all of the areas and they're all exploding -- the Middle East, the South China Sea, Africa. The pulling back has allowed people, the bad actors, to step forward and fill the vacuum with what we're seeing on television right now.
KISSEL: It's also -- look at Iraq. It's also reduced our leverage on players that are inclined to help us. There was news again just this week of over-flights from Iran to Syria. And the Iraqi government basically can't do anything about it because we don't have a U.S. presence there anymore.
GIGOT: Well, Joe Biden expressly asked the prime minister of Iraq, please stop these flights, and he's been rebuffed. And John Kerry, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is saying, look, we may have to withdraw the aid if you don't stop the flight. But they don't have --
KISSEL: The leverage.
GIGOT: We have a lot less leverage with them.
Bret, should Mitt Romney make foreign policy more an issue in the campaign?
STEPHENS: I think that Obama is actually vulnerable on foreign policy. There's an image that Obama got Usama therefore he's invulnerable, he's beyond criticism. But you have a Russia reset that's a complete failure. As Dan pointed out, a very bad position, increasingly aggressive enough on the part of the Chinese and a Middle East that's in flames. And by the way, an Iran rushing towards a nuclear weapon.
GIGOT: OK, well, he can do that. He's going to have an opportunity, one of the debates, almost all on foreign policy.
I know Bret can't wait for that.
Well, forget the Middle East. If you're following presidential campaign, you may think that China is our biggest threat. On the heels of some harsh criticism from Mitt Romney, the president announced new trade sanctions against that country this week. But is China-bashing a solid strategy for either campaign?
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PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Hello, Cincinnati.
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OBAMA: These are some things that harm men and women on the assembly lines in Ohio and Michigan, and across the Midwest, and we're going to stop it.
OBAMA: It's not right, it's against the rules, and we will not let it stand.
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GIGOT: That was President Obama, announcing this week that he'll seek trade sanctions for China for illegally subsidizing exports of automobiles and automobile parts, and putting U.S. manufacturers at a disadvantage.
The announcement, made in the swing state of Ohio, comes on the heels of attacks by the Romney campaign, accusing the administration of being soft upon China.
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AD ANNOUNCER: This is America's manufacturing when President Obama took office. This is China's. Under Obama, we've lost over half a million manufacturing jobs and for the first time, China is beating us. Seven times Obama could have stopped China's cheating. Seven times he refused.