PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad – Defending his brand of world politics, President Barack Obama said Sunday that he "strengthens our hand" by reaching out to enemies of the United States and making sure that the nation is a leader, not a lecturer, of democracy.
Obama's foreign doctrine emerged across his four-day trip to Latin America, his first extended venture to a region of the world where resentment of U.S. power still lingers. He got a smile, handshakes and even a gift from incendiary leftist leader Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, and embraced overtures of new relations from isolated Cuban President Raul Castro.
"The whole notion was that if we showed courtesy or opened up dialogue with governments that had previously been hostile to us, that that somehow would be a sign of weakness," Obama said, recalling his race for the White House and challenging his critics today.
"The American people didn't buy it," Obama said. "And there's a good reason the American people didn't buy it — because it doesn't make sense."