Politics: Romney pounds on Obama's foreign policy failures in a remarkable speech

Published by: Robert Laurie on Monday October 8th, 2012

Robert Laurie

By ROBERT LAURIE – Romney sets the stage for his second debate

In an intense, wide-ranging foreign policy speech, Mitt Romney managed to tear into Obama’s record of foreign policy appeasement, present a vision of what his own administration would look like, and set the stage for his second debate.  It was a masterful performance – focused, nuanced, and filled with the kinds of specifics for which the electorate has been clamoring.

“The attacks against us in Libya were not an isolated incident.” Romney began. “They were accompanied by anti-American riots in nearly two dozen other countries, mostly in the Middle East, but also in Africa and Asia.  Our embassies have been attacked.  Our flag has been burned.  Many of our citizens have been threatened and driven from their overseas homes by vicious mobs, shouting “Death to America.” These mobs hoisted the black banner of Islamic extremism over American embassies on the anniversary of the September 11th attacks.” 

“As the dust settles, as the murdered are buried, Americans are asking how this happened, how the threats we face have grown so much worse, and what this calls on America to do.”

The attack on our Consulate in Benghazi on September 11th, 2012 was likely the work of forces affiliated with those 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.  No, as the Administration has finally conceded, these attacks were the deliberate work of terrorists who use violence to impose their dark ideology on others, especially women and girls; who are fighting to control much of the Middle East today; and who seek to wage perpetual war on the West.” 

Compare this seemingly obvious statement to the Obama administration’s official line over the last two weeks.  Where Obama blames a video, Romney blames terrorism and extremism. Where Obama seeks to coddle our enemies in an attempt to lull them into inaction, Romney understands that will never happen.  The problem at hand is bigger than just Benghazi or even the World Trade Center.

Clearly, Romney grasps this, and he’s well aware of America’s historical importance on the world stage.  He likened our position now to the one we occupied in the last century, as the world came to a breaking point and was forced to choose – and fight - for its own destiny.

“We have seen this struggle before,” He said. “It would be familiar to George Marshall.  In his time, in the ashes of world war, another critical part of the world was torn between democracy and despotism.  Fortunately, we had leaders of courage and vision, both Republicans and Democrats, who knew that America had to support friends who shared our values, and prevent today’s crises from becoming tomorrow’s conflicts.”

“Statesmen like Marshall rallied our nation to rise to its responsibilities as the leader of the free world.  We helped our friends to build and sustain free societies and free markets.  We defended our friends, and ourselves, from our common enemies.  We led.  And though the path was long and uncertain, the thought of war in Europe is as inconceivable today as it seemed inevitable in the last century.” 

 “This is what makes America exceptional: It is not just the character of our country—it is the record of our accomplishments.  America has a proud history of strong, confident, principled global leadership—a history that has been written by patriots of both parties.  That is America at its best.  And it is the standard by which we measure every President, as well as anyone who wishes to be President.

How utterly refreshing.  Here, we have an inherent understanding of American greatness, as well as our place on the world stage.  It’s a concept that Obama is either incapable of grasping, or worse, one he outright rejects.

Romney seems to understand this as well, since he wasted no time in attacking Obama’s deficient leadership.

“Unfortunately, this President’s policies have not been equal to our best examples of world leadership.  And nowhere is this more evident than in the Middle East.”

Romney went on to chronicle Obama’s four year history of alienating Israel, his relentless appeasement of Ahmadinejad, and the fact that he turned his back on the 2009 Iranian uprising. 

In Syria, he accused the President of a failure to lead, and throughout the greater Middle East, he charged the commander in chief of ignoring hotspots as the global danger they represent continues to build.

“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.  We cannot support our friends and defeat our enemies in the Middle East when our words are not backed up by deeds, when our defense spending is being arbitrarily and deeply cut, when we have no trade agenda to speak of, and the perception of our strategy is not one of partnership, but of passivity.”

Romney then leveled a promise at the rest of the globe, and outlined a plan for the future.

“It is time to change course in the Middle East.  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.”

“I will reaffirm our historic ties to Israel and our abiding commitment to its security—the world must never see any daylight between our two nations.”

“I will deepen our critical cooperation with our partners in the Gulf.” 

“And I will roll back President Obama’s deep and arbitrary cuts to our national defense that would devastate our military.”

Without a doubt, this speech was designed to set the stage for the second Presidential debate, which will focus on foreign policy. What made it so impressive was not just the merciless attack on Barack Obama’s shortcomings, but also its willingness to look to a better future.  Once again, Romney has shown that he can achieve the perfect balance between highlighting past mistakes and leading to a better future.

In short, should Mitt Romney become President Romney, the grown-ups will be back in charge.