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Romney sees retreat in Obama’s foreign policy


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romney-sees-retreat-obamas-foreign-policyWashington Post:

LEXINGTON, Va. — Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said Monday that President Obama has embraced a passive foreign policy that retreats from the bipartisan consensus that has governed for generations, and said that under Mr. Obama the United States no longer shapes events on the global stage.

Speaking at the Virginia Military Institute, Mr. Romney said in his campaign’s first major address on foreign policy that the world wants a strong America to underpin a stable world order, but said that with Mr. Obama in the White House, U.S. allies have been left wondering how the country will react. Too often, Mr. Romney said, the Obama administration has failed to take the lead in shaping events overseas that could threaten American interests or allies.

“Hope is not a strategy,” the former Massachusetts governor told the audience here.

The GOP nominee pointed to last month’s attacks on U.S. diplomatic posts in Libya and across the Middle East as symbolic of the Democratic administration’s failed approach to the region, where he said the president has abandoned the nation’s tradition — “written by patriots of both parties” — of taking a more forceful role to prevent “today’s crises from becoming tomorrow’s conflicts.”

“It is time to change course in the Middle East,” Mr. Romney said. “That course should be organized around these bedrock principles: America must have confidence in our cause, clarity in our purpose and resolve in our might. No friend of America will question our commitment to support them, … no enemy that attacks America will question our resolve to defeat them, and no one anywhere, friend or foe, will doubt America’s capability to back up our words.”

Mr. Romney vowed to pursue democratic reforms in the Arab world and reaffirm the nation’s “historic ties to Israel.” He also said he would commit America to the goal of a “prosperous Palestinian state” and support opposition groups fighting against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime by making sure they have access to arms.

Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign launched a pre-emptive strike ahead of the speech, saying Mr. Romney has already failed the commander-in-chief test — in part by taking positions “outside of the mainstream and often to the right of even George W. Bsuh.”

“This isn’t surprising,” two former top Obama national security advisers — Michele Flournoy and Colin Kahl — said in a memo. “After all, Romney is advised by the same people who were responsible for some of the worst foreign policy failures in American history, including the Iraq War. And now he wants to take us back to the same with-us-or-against-us approach that got us into wars without getting us out of them.”

The Obama camp also challenged Mr. Romney “to move beyond swagger and slogans” and spell out how exactly his foreign policy approach would differ from the current occupant of the White House.

“Governor Romney still can’t say what he’d do differently on Iran other than taking us to war,” the memo says. “He continues to criticize the president’s timeline [for troop withdrawal] in Afghanistan, even while saying he’d pursue it as president. His position on Libya has no credibility since he’s been both for and against our Libya policy. And he offers no way forward on Syria other than suggesting that the United States should get more deeply involved in the conflict without defining a strategy.”

The Romney camp has pounced on the administration’s response to the Sept. 11 attacks on diplomatic posts overseas that led to the death of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya, and accused the White House failing to stop Iran’s push for a nuclear weapon.

In his speech here, Mr. Romney said that he wants to believe Mr. Obama’s assertions that the “the tide of war is receding.”

“But when we look at the Middle East today — with Iran closer than ever to nuclear weapons capability, with the conflict in Syria threatening to destabilize the region, with violent extremists on the march and with an American ambassador and three others dead likely at the hands of al Qaeda affiliates — it is clear that the risk of conflict in the region is higher now than when the president took office,” Mr. Romney said.




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