(CNN) – President Barack Obama's sweep through Asia has been peppered with one international crisis after another and has left critics questioning whether the United States is losing its footing abroad.
Noting the ongoing mess in Syria, Russia's power stance on the border of Ukraine, and the breakdown of progress toward an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, CNN's Candy Crowley asked lawmakers and White House officials on Sunday - where does the United States stand?
"Right now, worldwide, our enemies don't fear us, our friends don't trust us. And when we show weakness, it emboldens people around the world who are our enemies, whether they are in Iran, Syria, Russia or North Korea," said Sen. John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, appearing on CNN's "State of the Union."
But while some have blamed the White House for failure to control the ongoing crises, Tony Blinken, Obama's deputy national security adviser, said the President's trip to Asia has proven the opposite is true.
"We are stronger now than we were five years ago," he said.
Putin's broken promises
Blinken said economic isolation of Russia is growing by the day, thanks in part to Obama's leadership role in rallying G7 leaders to put additional pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin's and the Russian economy.
Blinken said Crimea, a region with strong Russian ties recently annexed from Ukraine by Russia, has become a "dead weight on Russia." He said Putin has broken a promise of economic security for his people.
"He had a compact with this people and the compact is this - I'll deliver economic growth for you if you remain politically compliant. Right now, he's not delivering growth. The pressure that we’re putting on him, in coordination with other countries around the world, is forcing that choice on him," Blinken said.
Barrasso said the pressure hasn't gone far enough. Sanctions, he said, "need to be consequential," and he pushed for the United States to supply lethal weaponry to Ukraine.
Sen. Ben Cardin, who also sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, opposed the idea that the United States should supply weapons and underscored what the Obama administration has already provided Ukraine from a military preparation standpoint.
"The key thing is that you can't believe anything that Putin says, so we have to be prepared. We have NATO responsibilities of countries that are on the borders, so there's presence that we have in that region," the Democrat from Maryland said.
Israeli-Palestinian peace, crisis in Syria and nuclear Iran
The consensus is split on where the United States should focus its efforts in an area of the world fraught with turmoil, the Middle East.
After the Palestinians announced they would combine rival movements Fatah and Hamas to form a unity government, Israel's Security Cabinet announced last week the country won't hold peace negotiations with a Palestinian government backed by the militant Hamas movement.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CNN, "We're not going to negotiate with a government backed by Hamas unless Hamas changes its position and says it's willing to recognize Israel."
"I call on President Abbas: Tear up your pact with Hamas," Netanyahu said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."
Cardin agreed with Netanyahu's stance that there should be two separate states, but said the more pressing issue is in Syria.
"We need to have two states - one representing that Palestinians and one representing a Jewish state, so it's important that we keep focus on the Palestinian-Israeli issue. But also Syria is an area that we have to continue to make sure (not only) that they don’t have chemical weapons, but that we have a government that's responsive to all the people in Syria."
Just last week, the Syrian army dropped barrel bombs on a vegetable market in Aleppo, killing 24 people, according to opposition activists. That came days after several U.S. officials said the Syrian government may have used chlorine gas in a deadly attack on its people.
Blinken said there's no way forward in Syria with President Bashar al-Assad in power.
"Assad has forfeited any right he has to lead his country, and it's clear that there is no way that Syria can find peace and stability with Assad in power."
Barrasso said Iran and the U.S. effort to roll back parts of its nuclear program are a "bigger pivotal point in that area of the world.”
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