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Obama's foreign policy under fire: Is it in 'freefall'?

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A Democrat called it "too cautious." One Republican said it's in "absolute freefall."

As President Obama faces major decisions about how to respond to ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and to Russia's further incursion into Ukraine, the reviews of the president's foreign policy strategy are in — and they're not positive.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, a Republican, used the harshest terms Sunday, saying that Obama's "foreign policy is in absolute freefall."

"If you look at China, you look at ISIS, you look at Russia, you look at Iran, North Korea, we have a serious host of problems presenting itself, and our traditional allies are now standing up and saying, 'Well, maybe America is not the best ones to lead us through these troubles,'" Rogers said. "That is an issue that we are going to have to deal with."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was more diplomatic in her assessment of the president, but no less critical of Obama's response to ISIS in particular.

"I think I've learned one thing about this president, and that is he's very cautious," the California Democrat said in an interview on NBC's "Meet The Press." "Maybe in this instance, too cautious."

This week, Obama drew criticism from both parties when he said he has "no strategy" in place to take on ISIS, the jihadist group seeking to establish a caliphate across Syria and Iraq. The White House later walked back this remark, but has said it is waiting for the Pentagon to hash out potential military strategies before reaching a decision; meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel plan to meet with European allies at next week's NATO summit to begin to build a coalition.

But there remains concern among lawmakers that the United States will not act swiftly enough, or forcefully enough, to stamp out ISIS.

"A full-blown strategy would be recognizing that we now are facing the largest, most powerful, wealthiest terrorist organization in history," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on CBS's "Face the Nation," "and it’s going to require some very strong measures to defeat them."

Obama is only now fully coming to terms with the threat posed by ISIS. Earlier this year, in an interview with the New Yorker, Obama compared the terrorist group to a junior varsity sports team. But, Sunday, Feinstein disputed that assessment.

"I think it's a major varsity team, if you want to use those kinds of monikers," Feinstein said.

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Rebecca Berg

Political Correspondent
The Washington Examiner

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