Romney Attacks Obama Middle East Policy

Posted October 8th, 2012 at 1:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Mitt Romney delivered a speech Monday attacking President Barack Obama for failing to exercise American global leadership — which, he said, has heightened the risk of conflict, particularly in the Middle East.

In the 30-minute address at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, the Republican presidential nominee accused Mr. Obama of seeking to put “daylight” between the United States and Israel. This, he said, has “set back to hope of peace in the Middle East and emboldened our mutual adversaries, especially Iran.”

He said that, if he is elected, he will “put the leaders of Iran on notice that the United States and our friends and allies will prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons capability.” He added that he would not hesitate to impose new sanctions on Iran and will restore the “permanent presence “of aircraft carrier task forces in the Eastern Mediterranean and Persian Gulf.

In his foreign policy remarks, President Obama has touted his counter-terrorism record, and the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. Mr. Obama has also emphasized his decisions to wind down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, Mr. Romney criticized what he called the “abrupt withdrawal” of U.S. combat forces from Iraq — where, he said, U.S. military gains are being eroded by “rising violence,” a “resurgent” al-Qaida, the weakening of democracy and growing Iranian influence.

He also called the Obama administration's decision to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2012 a “politically timed retreat,” but gave no indication he would change that timetable if elected president.

Mr. Romney also promised to “recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security” with Israel.

Mr. Romney also accused President Obama of failing to lead in Syria, saying the conflict there threatens stability in the region. He said, as president, he would help those members of the Syrian opposition “who share our values” obtain arms.

The risk of conflict in the Middle East, he said, “is higher now than when the president took office,” declaring that it is “time to change course” in the region.

The U.S. presidential campaign has largely focused on economic and domestic issues. The election is November 6.