Romney Criticizes Obama Middle East Policy

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    U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Monday that he would be a strong president internationally if elected next month.  He used a speech at the Virginia Military Institute in the southeastern state of Virginia to accuse his Democratic rival President Barack Obama of weakness in foreign affairs.  

    The Obama campaign immediately responded with criticism of its own.
     
    Romney sought to clarify for voters how he would conduct U.S. foreign policy as president - in contrast to what he calls President Obama's weak leadership in global affairs.
     
    Mitt Romney Pledges to:
    • Put Iran on notice that the United States and its allies will prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons capability.
    • Support the Libyan people's efforts to forge a lasting representative government and pursue terrorists who attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
    • Work to ensure Syrian opposition members who share U.S. values obtain arms needed to defeat the Assad regime.
    • Pursue a transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014.
    • Reform foreign assistance to create incentives for good governance, free enterprise and greater trade.
    • Require recipients of aid to respect rights of all citizens, ensure a free media, and an independent judiciary.
       
    He focused mostly on the Middle East, where Mr. Romney said attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities, including one that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya, were not random acts, but "expressions of a larger struggle" playing out in the region.
     
    The former Massachusetts governor said that after some time, President Obama "finally conceded" that the Libya attack was likely the work of terrorists.  Romney accused the president of failing to lead.
     
    "I want to be very clear.  The blame for the murder of our people in Libya and the attacks on our embassies in so many other countries lies solely with those who carried them out, no one else.  But it is the responsibility of our president to use America’s great power to shape history, not to lead from behind, leaving our destiny at the mercy of events.  Unfortunately, that is exactly where we find ourselves in the Middle East under President Obama," he said. 
     
    Romney said that, as president, he would support friends who share America's values and set "clear conditions" for U.S. foreign aid.  
     
    On Egypt, he said he would encourage the government to represent all Egyptians, build democratic institutions, and maintain its peace treaty with Israel.
     
    Romney accused Obama of failing to lead with respect to Syria.  He stopped short of saying he would directly arm rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad's government.  But Romney said he would do everything to facilitate such aid and build influence with Syria's  future leaders.
     
    "I will work with our partners to identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values, and then ensure that they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad’s tanks, helicopters and fighter jets," he said. 
     
    Romney also criticized President Obama on the standoff with Iran over its nuclear program, and on U.S. relations with Israel.  He accused Obama of seeking to distance the United States from Israel.
     
    The Republican presidential candidate vowed to make clear to Iran that its pursuit of a nuclear weapon "will not be tolerated."  President Obama also has vowed that Iran will not be permitted to develop a nuclear weapon.
     
    Romney said he would permit no flexibility with Russia on the issue of missile defense.  He also criticized Obama administration policies toward what he called an "assertive" China, and vowed to rebuild global U.S. military strength.
     
    Romney said the "abrupt withdrawal" of U.S. troops from Iraq has brought more violence there and an eroding of democracy.  And he accused Obama of a "politically timed retreat" in Afghanistan. 
     
    There were swift White House and Obama campaign responses to the Romney speech.
     
    Obama campaign official Ben LaBolt said public opinion surveys show Obama leading Romney on leadership in national security, among other things, because of the responsible ending of the Iraq war, and the decimation of al-Qaida and the killing of Osama bin Laden.
     
    Madeleine Albright, who served as U.S. Secretary of State under Democratic President Bill Clinton, called some of Romney's points, particularly on trade issues, "dead wrong."
     
    On the Middle East, she said Romney's speech raised questions about "what he would do differently and whether he understands what is going on in the Arab world and how to deal with it."
     
    "It is probably a speech that to those who are not totally into foreign policy sounds pretty good.  But I think it is really full of platitudes and free of substance - you know, peace through strength, clarity, resolve.  Those [ideas] really are not foreign policy," she said. 
     
    Analysts say it is unclear whether Romney's foreign policy address will boost his public opinion ratings in a campaign where the U.S. economy is dominant issue.
     
    Romney has benefited from President Obama's weak performance in last week's presidential debate.  Surveys show him narrowing Obama's lead nationally and in key political swing states.
     
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    Comments page of 2
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    by: Rick from: Altus, OK
    October 08, 2012 5:53 PM
    I'm not sure how killing Osama Bin Laden or Moammar Gaddafi is something worth criticizing, Mitt. He seems to think the anger of the Arab Spring is something new, it has been going on for years, doesn't he watch TV?
    There are no problems between Obama and Netanyahu, even Netanyahu says this is just election year politics and he wants to stay out of it until January.
    I would like to hear more specifics about Romney's plan. There's not much on paper other than a few grand sweeping gestures he talks about in speeches.
    In Response

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    October 10, 2012 12:28 PM
    If you say because Netanyahu says it's election year politics and therefore means Obama has an iota of love for Israel or himself, then you must be daft. Obama practically walked out on him - if you do not understand the politics of diplomacy between USA and Israel. Obama is the first to do it and the wrath of God is pronounced for that. If you want to hear more specifics of Romney's come his victory, refer to his business and governorship successes. Rick (Altus) are you there?

    by: JerryBall
    October 08, 2012 4:45 PM
    This draft dodger is just one among many who avoid fighting for their country and now want to command the biggest armed military in the world, and by throwing gasoline onto the fire and then calling it foreign policy? And the delivery of this disrespectful speech, like announcing his vice president candidate in front of a U.S. warship, now touts this sad little foreign policy in front of untested military cadets to boot? He would then let others put out the fire at risk of their lives? This just might be the ticket and catalyst to bring guerilla warfare onto our shores again.What? Does he want HIS 9/11 moment of "honor"? Just like Texas George Bush, Utah Mormon Mitt follows the GOP mantra of spear shakers and chest pounders and foolishly rushing into the fray. He truly is a "shoot first, aim later" kinda fool. I don't trust any Commander In Chief that touts a vulgar disparity of life and doesn't respect strength but does respect power. The GOP can sure pick 'em, huh???? Trying to flame up the 100-year-world-war III, guys? Scorched Earth is not a plan for foreign policy. That policy tends to come back and scorch outselves in the rear. And Washington D.C. isn't immune to that kind of action, so beware of what you wish. It's very easy for a couch warrior sitting behind the lines all their life to disrespect someone who is in the midst of the fray. Ask Britain about the Middle East early last century and how they had to install dictators to calm the area. Ask Lawrence of Arabia about how to soothe the Arab temperament of hot headedness. These scorpion-like tribal rivalries are straight out of the 8th century and are STILL going on. The man who tames the ancient longlived rivalries of the Middle East will probably be born around the year 2199, if ever.

    by: AlanJB from: New Jersey
    October 08, 2012 2:34 PM
    Mitt stated in his speech today "But it is the responsibility of our President to use America’s great power to shape history—not to lead from behind, leaving our destiny at the mercy of events."

    Yet in the videotape at his May fundraising he states the following strategy for dealing with Israel, he said: " what you do is, you say, you move things along the best way you can. You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem…and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.”

    Is this leadership? kicking the ball down the field....
    Shouldn't a world leader, especially the President of the US, look to facilitate peace. Not just dismiss because trying is too difficult or unlikely.

    Mark my words...Romney would have put feet on the ground in Libya rather than facilitate the regime change President Obama did by supporting Nato efforts, and if elected, rest assured, we'll be a third war with Iran.
    In Response

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    October 10, 2012 12:35 PM
    I have not heard anyone criticize Obama - an American president - for quisling before the Russian president. The gaff that an American president is grovelling to someone and cannot tell the whole truth, or do the right thing, because it is election year isn't good enough reason to lift Obama's head, yet for saying that some Americans refuse to work but prefer to depend on charity becomes an election issue. Habba America!
    In Response

    by: kristin from: minnesota
    October 08, 2012 4:40 PM
    Obama has failed in Mitt's eyes to be a zionist extremist who puts Israel first and a hostile war mongering bully.
    In Response

    by: JimT from: Virginia
    October 08, 2012 4:19 PM
    And will the 'boots on the ground' be Mitt Romney Jr. or some child of the 47% who refuses to take responsibility?
    Comments page of 2
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