News / USA

Romney Adviser Discusses Foreign Policy Plans

Suzanne Presto
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is known for his abilities in the corporate world, but he has been criticized for lacking foreign policy experience.  Dov Zakheim, who served at the Department of Defense during the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, is among Romney's foreign policy advisers.

Middle East

Romney has said his first foreign trip as president would be to Israel.  During his visit there in July, he lashed out against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"The dictator in Damascus, no friend to Israel and no friend to America, slaughters his own people as he desperately clings to power," Romney told an audience in Jerusalem.  

Syrian security forces and rebels have been battling for more than a year. The United Nations estimates that at least 20,000 people have been killed in the bloodshed.

Adviser Dov Zakheim says the Republican nominee would aid the rebels.

"Romney has made it very clear that he would do all that it takes to get arms to the rebels -- that means money, that means equipment," said Zakheim.  He added that to achieve this goal, the U.S. likely would work more closely with other countries that support the rebels.

Iran's Nuclear Ambitions

During his visit to Israel, Romney also had strong words for Iran's leaders.

"We should employ any and all measures to dissuade the Iranian regime from its nuclear course, and it is our fervent hope that diplomatic and economic measures will do so," said the nominee.

Iran is pursuing a nuclear enrichment program, despite United Nations sanctions. Tehran says the program is peaceful, but it has not given U.N. nuclear inspectors access to disputed sites.  

Zakheim says Romney would make sure Iran does not have even the capability to make a nuclear weapon.  

"Mr. Romney, as a fresh face, as a new start, would come in and say 'no enrichment, no exemptions' and, of course, back that up with a serious promise of the use of force, which frankly we hope we won't have to use," Zakheim said.


At the Democratic Party presidential convention, President Barack Obama criticized his challenger's foreign policy credentials.

"After all, you don't call Russia our number one enemy -- not al-Qaida, Russia -- unless you're still stuck in a Cold War mind warp," said Mr. Obama, prompting cheers from the crowd.

Romney has referred to Russia as America's "number one geopolitical foe."  Zakheim says it is because Russia's behavior is "not conducive to improving the world situation."  

At the U.N. Security Council, Russia has blocked U.S.-supported resolutions on Syria aimed at stopping the fighting there, and Russia also has opposed stronger actions to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions.

"Our concern with Russia again is not that we see them as an enemy because we don't," explained Zakheim.  "Our concern with Russia is that they seem to be backsliding in terms of human rights, in terms of aggressiveness toward their neighbors."

South Asia

As the political campaign season in the United States ramps up ahead of the November election, the war in Afghanistan is winding down.  The United States plans to withdraw its combat forces in 2014.

If elected, Romney is not bound to adhere to that 2014 withdrawal timetable.  

"As of now, 2014 is on the schedule and Mr. Romney is prepared to abide by it, if the military is comfortable," said Zakheim.

To get supplies into Afghanistan, the U.S. relies on routes through neighboring Pakistan, but tensions remain heightened between Washington and Islamabad.  

The U.S. has long been frustrated with insurgent havens in Pakistan.  The U.S. has used drones to strike suspected terrorist targets there, which Islamabad says violates its sovereignty.  Last year, U.S. Navy Seals raided a compound in the Pakistani garrison city of Abbottabad and killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.  

Pakistan remains a major recipient of U.S. foreign aid.
The U.S.-Pakistani relationship calls for "a much more sophisticated approach," Zakheim says.

"That means not cutting off aid entirely but maybe directing it in more effective and efficient ways," the policy adviser explained.  "It means still maintaining a relationship with the military, but what that relationship is like, how we give them money, in what sense and to what purpose and to what end and to whom -- those are very important questions that need to be answered."


Romney has repeatedly said he would designate China a currency manipulator, a label that could lead to sanctions.  The Republican nominee also pledged to counter what he says are abusive Chinese practices in the areas of trade and intellectual property.  Zakheim says  Romney does "not see China as a natural enemy."  


In Africa, foreign policy adviser Zakheim says Romney would continue to support programs that battle terrorism and those that promote development and health.  Zakheim highlighted the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, known as PEPFAR, which began under President George W. Bush and continued under President Obama.

Zakheim noted that bipartisan foreign policy is possible, if the policies are good ones.

You May Like

Afghanistan, Pakistan Leaders to Hold Icebreaking Talks in Paris

Two sides are expected to discuss ways to ease bilateral tensions and jointly work for resumption of stalled peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban officials

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Jay from: Ohio
September 12, 2012 12:13 PM
Just what we need to get rid of the deficit, another war monger. Trillions of dollars spent on the longest war in american history, and Romney wants to start pointing fingers on the way to an election. Not good....He doesnt see china as an enemy because they have made him alot of money with all those jobs hes given to their slavery based economy. He is in the same class as all of those ceo's that care about nothing more than thier own wallets and not the good of the american people. From the outside in, the democratic party allways has seemed to be for the people, and the republicans for war and business with a side of what do the "conservatives" want to hear. We wont allow abortions(got the churches vote), but we will send our children to needless wars to die so we can get rich..oops i mean conquer terrorists....communists..or whatever the excuse is that era.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs