October 8, 2012
October 8, 2012
Mitt Romney will call for a U.S. change of course in the Middle East on Monday, saying President Barack Obama’s muddled strategy has failed to confront the challenges of extremism.
The Republican White House hopeful, offering a foreign policy vision that he and his campaign believe differs sharply from Obama’s, said he would keep Iran in check, chase terrorists in Libya, put conditions on U.S. aid to Egypt and help arm Syrian rebels.
His speech at Virginia Military Institute highlights the need to put adversaries on notice that a Romney administration would not tolerate the anti-American unrest that has been allowed to fester under Obama.
“I know the president hopes for a safer, freer and a more prosperous Middle East allied with the United States. I share this hope. But hope is not a strategy,” Romney says in excerpts provided by his campaign, according to AFP.
“It is time to change course in the Middle East,” according to Romney.
“We cannot support our friends and defeat our enemies in the Middle East when our words are not backed up by deeds… and the perception of our strategy is not one of partnership, but of passivity.”
Romney will use the tragedy in Benghazi, Libya, where the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed in a Sept. 11 attack on the consulate there, as an example of how extremists are exploiting perceived U.S. weakness.
“The attacks on America last month should not be seen as random acts. They are expressions of a larger struggle that is playing out across the broader Middle East,” Romney will say, adding that the Benghazi attack “was likely the work of the same forces that attacked our homeland on September 11th, 2001.”
“This latest assault cannot be blamed on a reprehensible video insulting Islam, despite the administration’s attempts to convince us of that for so long,” he will add, highlighting the Obama team’s shifting version of events.
Romney would “vigorously pursue the terrorists” who attacked in Benghazi, “recommit America” to the goal of a two-state solution with Israel and the Palestinians, and take a tougher line with Iran.
“For the sake of peace, we must make clear to Iran through actions, not just words, that their nuclear pursuit will not be tolerated.”
In Egypt, Romney said, he would use U.S. influence – “including clear conditions on our aid” — to lean on Cairo to embrace democracy and maintain its peace treaty with Israel.
In Syria, Romney would seek to ensure that rebels fighting strongman Bashar al-Assad’s regime “obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad’s tanks, helicopters, and fighter jets.”
Romney will pledge that his administration would work to find elements of the Syrian opposition who share U.S. values and ensure they obtain weapons needed to defeat Syrian leader Assad’s forces and end his brutal crackdown. Syrian rebels have accused the United States and Western allies of sitting on the sidelines of the conflict.
“Iran is sending arms to Assad because they know his downfall would be a strategic defeat for them. We should be working no less vigorously with our international partners to support the many Syrians who would deliver that defeat to Iran — rather than sitting on the sidelines,” Romney will say, according to Reuters.
Romney will say electing a new U.S. president will offer a fresh opportunity to try once again to reach a peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians. Romney is a strong supporter of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
And in Afghanistan, he will express support for a “real and successful transition” to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014, but warned against a “politically timed retreat.”
“I will evaluate conditions on the ground and weigh the best advice of our military commanders,” he will say.
Romney’s backers said Obama has departed from the “peace through strength” posture that has been embraced by nearly every U.S. president since Harry Truman.
“It’s a recognition that strength is not provocative; it is weakness that’s provocative,” Rich Williamson, a former U.S. ambassador to Sudan under president George W. Bush, told reporters Sunday.
With the slowly improving U.S. economy providing less of a clear-cut case for new leadership barely four weeks from the Nov. 6 election, Romney is seeking to muscle in on turf largely seen as the dominant preserve of the president.
Obama cites the killing of Osama bin Laden, extraction from Iraq, standing up to China, and the winding down of war in Afghanistan as foreign policy accomplishments, but Romney’s campaign insists the president has come up short.
“Benghazi shows that while drone attacks are helpful and the world is certainly better off that Osama Bin Laden is dead, the struggle between radical extremism and those who want moderation isn’t over,” Williamson said.
Obama’s campaign on Sunday had a message for Romney should he wish to have a foreign policy debate: “Bring it on.”
“To date, all Mitt Romney has offered is bluster and platitudes,” Obama spokeswoman Lis Smith said, adding that Romney has “erratically shifted positions on every major foreign policy issue.”
Smith said Romney’s desire to keep troops in Iraq, backing plans to explode defense spending levels for the Pentagon, and “insulting our allies and partners around the world on the campaign trail” is not mainstream policy.
Romney has ruffled feathers by denouncing countries like Greece and Spain as examples of why America should avoid European economic policies.
Source: Al Arabiya