(CNN) – President Barack Obama once again lamented the limits of his power on the world stage, expressing regret in a speech Wednesday night that he was unable to stop recent atrocities against children in Nigeria and Syria.
"I have this remarkable title right now - President of the United States - and yet every day when I wake up, and I think about young girls in Nigeria or children caught up in the conflict in Syria - when there are times in which I want to reach out and save those kids, having to think through what levers, what power do we have at any given moment" Obama said in a speech at the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation's gala in Los Angeles.
"I think, 'drop by drop by drop,' that we can erode and wear down these forces that are so destructive; that we can tell a different story," the President added.
The President's comments appeared to be a continuation of an argument he laid out just days ago on the last leg of his trip to Asia when he defended his more measured, cautious approach to foreign policy. That strategy, Obama said, "avoids errors" and prevents the pitfalls of committing U.S. military forces to too many hot spots around the world.
"That may not always be sexy. That may not always attract a lot of attention, and it doesn't make for good argument on Sunday morning shows," Obama said in the Philippines. "But it avoids errors. You hit singles, you hit doubles; every once in a while we may be able to hit a home run. But we steadily advance the interests of the American people and our partnership with folks around the world."
Critics of the President's remarks in Asia wondered whether Obama was too focused on playing "small ball."
"The world needs strong, effective American leadership as well; for all our mistakes like Iraq, the U.S. is the one nation that still has the power to keep world order," former presidential adviser and CNN political contributor David Gergen wrote in an op-ed on CNN.com following the president's trip to Asia. "But in the twinkle of an eye, we have gone from being indispensable to indisposed."
In his most recent remarks in Los Angeles, at a star-studded event founded by director Steven Spielberg after his film, "Schindler's List" won an Oscar for its depiction of the Holocaust, Obama took note of the modern-day horrors unfolding in Nigeria and Syria.
"We only need to look at today's headlines - the devastation of Syria, the murders and kidnappings in Nigeria, sectarian conflict, the tribal conflicts - to see that we have not yet extinguished man's darkest impulses," Obama said.