President Obama offered a full-throated defense of his foreign policy on Monday, accusing critics who argue that he has not been aggressive enough on the world stage of failing to learn the lessons of the Iraq war.

During a press conference in Manila, Obama said that while his foreign policy efforts “may not always be sexy,” he had strengthened partnerships and allegiances around the world that would pay dividends for years to come.“If you look at the results of what we’ve done over the last five years, it is fair to say that our alliances are stronger, our partnerships are stronger, and in the Asia Pacific region, just to take one example, we are much better positioned to work with the peoples here on a whole range of issues of mutual interest,” Obama said.

“And that may not always be sexy,” he continued. “That may not always attract a lot of attention, and it doesn’t make for good argument on Sunday morning shows. 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.”