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McCain, Rogers: Obama’s policy of 'disengagement' led to attack on US posts

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Arizona Sen. John McCain and Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers, Republicans. (AP)

Capitol Hill Republican leaders said Sunday the Obama administration’s foreign policy of “disengagement” in the Middle East led to the attacks on U.S. posts in the region.

Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers and Arizona Sen. John McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Armed Services, suggested President Obama pulling troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq, while offering less than total support for Israel’s effort to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, has left an exploitable void in the region.

“The Middle East believes there is a disengagement policy with the U.S.,” Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said on “Fox News Sunday."

He argued Obama has made no significant foreign policy speech since the one in Cairo, Egypt, in 2009 and acknowledged the region poses “difficult” problems -- including the absence of stabilized, democratic governments to replace the recently deposed dictatorships.

“But you cannot solve (the problems) by stepping back,” Rogers said. “It has to be a combination of showing strength and showing up.”

He also questioned why the United States appears to be in an “open fight” with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about how far the country will go to help stop Iran from achieving nuclear capability.

“Shouldn't we be telling Iranians that there are lines they can't cross?” he asked.

The campaign for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said the administration faced serious questions Sunday about its record of leadership in the world.

Campaign spokesman Ryan Williams said those questions include concerns about "America’s waning influence abroad, and the failure of its outreach efforts in the Middle East and North Africa."

McCain said he had "no doubt" the attacks last week on roughly 20 U.S. Middle East posts -- including the fatal one Libya -- were the result of America's shift in foreign policy to one of "disengagement."

"Prior to 9/11, we had a policy of containment,” McCain said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”  “Then after 9/11, it was a confrontation with the terrorists and Al Qaeda. Now it's disengagement. We're leaving Iraq. We're leaving Afghanistan. We're leaving the area. The people in the area are having to adjust. And they believe the United States is weak, and they are taking appropriate action."

McCain argued members of the Obama administration and others who right now think the attacks were sparked by an anti-Muslim video on the Internet are “ignoring the facts.”

"Most people don't bring rocket-propelled grenades and heavy weapons to a demonstration,” he said. “That was an act of terror. And for anyone to disagree with that fundamental fact, I think, is really ignoring the facts. … And they used pretty good tactics: indirect fire, direct fire, and obviously they were successful."

McCain said the real underlying cause is the struggle within the Arab world between the Islamists and the forces of moderation.

“And they want America disengaged," he said.

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