Romney on foreign policy: ‘Hope is not a strategy’

Mitt Romney looks at the world today and sees it as a more dangerous place than it was four years ago.

That was the theme of a foreign-policy speech delivered by the Republican presidential nominee at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington on Monday.

“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,” said Romney, attempting to knock Obama on what could be perceived otherwise as a strength in the president’s resume.

Obama has overseen a successful drawdown of troops from the untenable war in Iraq and ordered the operation that led to the execution of Al Qaeda leader and 9/11 terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.

“The president is fond of saying that ‘the tide of war is receding,’ and I want to believe him as much as anyone.  But when we look at the Middle East today – with Iran closer than ever to nuclear weapons capability, with the conflict in Syria threating 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,” Romney asserted.

Romney himself has come under fire for suggesting an overly aggressive approach in the Middle East that crtiics say would win the United States more enemies in the region. He didn’t disappoint with the tough talk on Iran that has been a staple on the campaign stump, echoing the drumbeat to the war in Iraq from the early years of the George W. Bush administration.

“I 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. I will not hesitate to impose new sanctions on Iran, and will tighten the sanctions we currently have. I will restore the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf region – and work with Israel to increase our military assistance and coordination.  For the sake of peace, we must make clear to Iran through actions – not just words – that their nuclear pursuit will not be tolerated,” Romney said.

To an America weary after a decade of war, Romney pledged a return to the interventionist approach of the Bush years that led to the protracted engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I know many Americans are asking a different question: “Why us?”  I know many Americans are asking whether our country today – with our ailing economy, and our massive debt, and after 11 years at war – is still capable of leading,” Romney said.

“I believe that if America does not lead, others will – others who do not share our interests and our values – and the world will grow darker, for our friends and for us.  America’s security and the cause of freedom cannot afford four more years like the last four years.  I am running for president because I believe the leader of the free world has a duty, to our citizens, and to our friends everywhere, to use America’s great influence – wisely, with solemnity and without false pride, but also firmly and actively – to shape events in ways that secure our interests, further our values, prevent conflict, and make the world better – not perfect, but better.”

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