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baltimoresun.com

U.S. stronger, safer under Obama

4:00 PM EDT, October 24, 2012

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Four years ago, Osama bin Laden was at large, the U.S. and world economies were in free-fall, America was bogged down in two wars, and the Bush Administration had lost friends — governments as well as ordinary people — for America around the world.

Under President Barack Obama's and Vice President Joe Biden's leadership, all these dangers have been eliminated or reduced. We still have more than enough foreign policy challenges, but in terms of our country's security and economic prospects, we are much better off than we were four years ago.

First, with hard power, President Obama has taken out bin Laden and other terrorist enemies of America. He has reoriented our military from occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan to promoting security for our allies and ourselves in east Asia. He has stood up a world class, 21st century cyber-security force and is deploying missile defense in Europe. Militarily, the U.S. is simply stronger today than we were four years ago.

Second, with soft power, he has put the U.S. on a path of economic growth, while the economies of Europe, Asia, and Latin America are in recession or slowing. This is good for the American people but it's also critical to our respect in the world. When I was U.S. Ambassador to Romania in the late 1990s and I would ask Romanians what they thought of the U.S., they would repeatedly mention our economic growth under President Bill Clinton. Success earns respect. It is human nature to want to be with winners, not losers. And President Obama's pro-growth policy, particularly in contrast to Europe's failed austerity plans, is winning back respect for America lost under President George W. Bush. In addition, President Obama's respect for our allies and for other cultures, from Europe to China and from Africa to Latin America and the Middle East, is winning the U.S. friends where the Bush Administration lost them.

And third, with smart power, he has engaged our friends and our enemies. Iran's anti-American leaders are now threatened by the serious impact of broad economic sanctions. Building on President Bush's initiative, President Obama has drawn India closer to the U.S. than ever before. China has strengthened its currency, while Asian nations from Japan to Australia are strengthening their security ties to the U.S. And, in the Middle East, he has kept our strong alliance with Israel while adjusting America's relations with Arab states which are democratizing.

Much work remains for his second term — keeping the heat on Iran, managing our relationship with China's new leaders, keeping the U.S. economy growing, helping the Arab Spring countries consolidate democracy and make the region safer, and keeping America's lead in cyber-security.

Based on their performance the past four years, President Obama and Vice President Biden are ready for the challenges.

Sen. Jim Rosapepe, Annapolis

The writer, a Democrat, represents District 21 Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties in the Maryland Senate. He served as U.S. Ambassador to Romania under President Clinton.