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

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

Report: US to Sail Warships Near Disputed S. China Sea Islands

Move will signal nonrecognition of Chinese territorial claims over area, Financial Times reports, citing senior US official More

Study Describes Ancient Deltas, Lakes on Mars

Research builds on recent NASA announcement that water flows on red planet today More

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.
Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanoni
John Owens
October 08, 2015 7:32 PM
Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs