In a major foreign policy address in New York on Tuesday, 2012 Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty accused the Obama administration of failing to pursue American interests during the Arab Spring, CNN reported.

President Barack Obama, D-Ill., has failed to formulate and carry out an effective and coherent strategy in response to popular uprisings across the Middle East, Pawlenty told an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations.

He has been timid, slow, and too often without a clear understanding of our interests or a clear commitment to our principles, Pawlenty said of Obama.

The former Minnesota governor was also skeptical of the president's handing of the 2009 Iranian protests, in which thousands protested in the streets after a disputed election that saw the return of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power. Iran's opposition Green Party argues that massive voter fraud occurred and Ahmadinejad did not receive a majority of the votes cast.

Pawlenty said when the Iranian ayatollahs stole an election, the Iranian people rightly fought back, and the president held his tounge.

His silence validated the mullahs, despite the blood on their hands and the nuclear centrifuges in their tunnels, Pawlenty said.

But Pawlenty also had some tough words for some Republicans, namely rival former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who advocated reducing U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. And he issued a warning to fellow Republicans: do not shrink from the challenges of American leadership in the world.

History repeatedly warns us that in the long run, weakness in foreign policy costs us and our children much more than we'll save in a budget line item, Pawlenty said. America already has one political party devoted to decline, retrenchment, and withdrawal; it does not need a second one.