Today you step into a different world.
That is what President Barack Obama told graduating Air Force Academy students in Colorado Springs Wednesday afternoon in a commencement speech that boasted of his foreign policy achievements and his vision to lead the country into an American century.
Obama told the graduating class of 2012 that different world includes fewer military deployments, stronger alliances and a greater role in global affairs where the United States of America is more respected and safer than ever -- implying a stark contrast between the attitudes of George W. Bush's administration.
Four years ago, you arrived here at a time of great challenge to our nation, Obama said. Our forces were engaged in two wars. Al Qaeda ... was entrenched in their safe havens, many of our alliances were strained, and our standing in the world had suffered.
Four years ago, of course, Obama was not yet president.
Today, Obama said, the world is free of the threat of Osama bin Laden, there are no U.S. troops in Iraq and more exports that boast three proud words: Made in America.
There's a new confidence in our leadership, Obama said. When people around the world are asked what country they most admire, one nation comes out on top: the United States of America.
America's improved global reputation has been touted by the Obama administration as an achievement in foreign policy speeches before. At the Air Force Academy, the president prefaced, of course the world stage is not a popularity contest, but explained how stronger alliances would benefit the country.
When people around the world see us as partners, they're more likely to work with us, Obama said, citing the collaboration among NATO allies in last year's mission in Libya as an example.
Obama also highlighted two foreign policy achievements that have become hallmarks in his time as commander-in-chief: bringing all the troops home from Iraq and killing al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
For a decade we have labored over the dark cloud of war, Obama said. Now we see the light of a new day on the horizon.
Obama, who has also been making a strong effort to appeal to the women's vote, said this year's class had more female graduates than ever before.
Mitt Romney and Republicans are less than thrilled with the different world Obama has planned out, claiming that the president has made the U.S. and the world more unsafe rather than safer by being soft on Iran and North Korea.
After a foreign policy speech by Vice President Joe Biden last month, the Republican National Committee accused the Obama administration of alienating Israel and emboldening adversaries like Iran and Syria that seek to undermine our nation's security.
In a foreign policy speech last October, Romney also used the term American century when describing his vision for the country's role in the world.
Before going into serious policy discussion, Obama brought out some laughter from the Air Force grads while thanking them for their service.
While commending Air Force One pilot Scott Turner and other Air Force Academy graduates in the White House, Obama said, I'd tell you a joke about Scott, but he's my ride home.
After the commencement speech, Obama shook the hand of every graduating Air Force Academy student.
UPDATE: In a statement, Former Republican U.S. Sen. Hank Brown of Colorado said it was ironic for Obama to make the commencement speech because statistics show that college tuition has gone up 25 percent since the president began his term and about half of recent graduates are unemployed or underemployed. Additionally, [Obama] refuses to address the problem with our entitlements and that's a big problem for college students because the growing entitlement demand on the state of Colorado funds has literally sucked the life blood out, sucked the funding away from colleges and universities, he said.