RENO - In a sweeping defense of his foreign policy record, President Barack Obama said this afternoon that the United States is "safer and stronger and more respected in the world" than when he took office.
"Four years ago, I made you a promise," Obama told the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. "I pledged to take the fight to our enemies, and renew our leadership in the world. As president, that's what I've done."
The Democratic president defended the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq and the draw-down in Afghanistan, and his mention of the killing of Osama bin Laden drew applause from several thousand veterans gathered in Reno. Obama said the sanctions his administration has applied to Iran and North Korea are the strictest ever.
"Because we're leading around the world, people have a new attitude toward America. There's more confidence in our leadership," he said. "So this is the progress that we've made. Thanks to the extraordinary service of our men and women in uniform, we're winding down a decade of war; we're destroying the terrorist network that attacked us; we're strengthening the alliances that extend our values. And today, every American can be proud that the United States is safer and stronger and more respected in the world."
Obama's remarks came on one of the bloodiest days in Iraq in recent years, with a series of coordinated bombings and shootings killing more than 100 people in the country Monday.
Obama did not address the violence, but he defended his withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq, fulfilling a campaign promise he made in 2008.