Mitt Romney indicted President Barack Obama’s foreign policy today in a speech delivered at the Virginia Military Institute.
The Republican presidential nominee repeatedly described aspects of Obama’s foreign policy as “failed.” But Romney’s critique was far less bellicose than his previous forays into foreign policy and was delivered in a statesman-like tone and with a formal, presidential backdrop on VMI’s Lexington, Va., campus as opposed to a campaign atmosphere.
“It is our responsibility and the responsibility of the president to use America’s greatest power to shape history, not to lead from behind, leaving our destiny at the mercy of events,” Romney said. “Unfortunately, that’s exactly where we find ourselves in the Middle East under President Obama.”
“I know the president hopes for a safer, freer and more prosperous Middle East, allied with us,” Romney also said. “I share this hope. But hope is not a strategy.”
Romney added his voice to the chorus of Republican politicians and conservative pundits who have accused the Obama administration of mischaracterizing the facts surrounding the circumstances of the Sept. 11 attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that ended in the assassination of the U.S. ambassador.
“This latest assault can’t be blamed on a reprehensible video insulting Islam, despite the administration’s attempts to convince us of that for so long,” Romney said. “No, as the administration has finally conceded, these attacks were the deliberate work of terrorists.”
This approach played much differently than the controversial written statement Romney issued as the attack in Libya was unfolding. Furthermore, Romney insinuated that enough has not been done in retribution for the attack.
“In Libya, I’ll support the Libya people’s efforts to forge a lasting government that represents all of them, and I’ll vigorously pursue the terrorists who attacked our consulate in Benghazi and killed our fellow Americans.”
This could be an attempt to mitigate the political impact of Obama’s crowning national security achievement: the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Romney touched on a common theme in his campaign, “American exceptionalism,” but he shied away from rhetoric like the title of his book, “No Apology.”
In fact, he quoted Gen. George Marshall, saying, “The only way human beings can win a war is to prevent it.”
That line could be seen as a response to recent comments Obama made to CBS about Romney’s foreign policy. Obama accused Romney of seeming “to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later.”
“So if Gov. Romney is suggesting that we should start another war, he should say so,” the president also said to CBS.
On other fronts, Romney was critical of the president’s relationship with Israel, the administration’s reliance on unmanned drones, and what Romney described as “deep and arbitrary” military cuts.
Romney also sought to re-articulate his view of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
“I’ll recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state, living side-by-side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel,” he said.