Romney on Middle East: Neutral is not an option
July 24, 2012 1 Comment
By Lauren Appelbaum, Political Director
Washington, July 24 – America cannot be neutral in the Middle East, Mitt Romney said during an address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention.
“We must clearly stand for the values of representative government, economic opportunity and human rights,” the presumptive Republican nominee said Tuesday during the convention in Reno, Nev. “And we must stand against the extension of Iranian or jihadist influence.”
Speaking ahead of his upcoming trip to England, Israel and Poland, Romney addressed a variety of international issues with a focus on Iran.
“There is no greater danger in the world today than the prospect of the ayatollahs in Tehran possessing nuclear weapons capability,” Romney said. “Sanctions must be enforced without exception, cutting off the regime’s sources of wealth. Negotiations must secure full and unhindered access for inspections. As it is, the Iranian regime claims the right to enrich nuclear material for supposedly peaceful purposes. This claim is discredited by years of deception. A clear line must be drawn: There must be a full suspension of any enrichment, period.”
“And at every turn, Iran must know that the United States and our allies stand as one in these critical objectives. Only in this way can we successfully counter the catastrophic threat that Iran presents. I pledge to you and to all Americans that if I become commander-in-chief, I will use every means necessary to protect ourselves and the region, and to prevent the worst from happening while there is still time.”
While Romney has said he will not address current American foreign policy during his upcoming trip abroad, Romney did criticize President Obama’s foreign policies with regards to the Middle East during Tuesday’s speech. “President Obama is fond of lecturing Israel’s leaders. He was even caught by a microphone deriding them. He has undermined their position, which was tough enough as it was. And even at the United Nations, to the enthusiastic applause of Israel’s enemies, he spoke as if our closest ally in the Middle East was the problem.”
“The people of Israel deserve better than what they have received from the leader of the free world,” Romney continued. “And the chorus of accusations, threats and insults at the United Nations should never again include the voice of the President of the United States.”
Romney and Obama have been sparring over the upcoming trip to Israel. Obama’s reelection campaign held a conference call with reporters Monday, announcing Obama will travel to Israel during his second term should he be re-elected, and criticizing Romney, calling his trip one of “photo-ops and fundraising” instead of focusing on issues of substance.
The Romney campaign has called this trip one for the former governor to listen and learn, not to announce foreign policy specifics.
“This trip is really an opportunity for the governor to learn and listen,” Lanhee Chen, the campaign’s policy director,told reporters on a conference call this week. “There are a number of different challenges that the world faces today, and it’s an opportunity for him to visit three countries that have a strong and important relationship with the United States.”
Yet Robert Gibbs, senior adviser for Obama for America, criticized Romney for this.
“Each leg of the [Obama] trip outlined specific foreign policy ideas,” Gibbs said. Obama visited Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Israel, Jordan, France, Germany and Britain during the summer of 2008 when Obama was a candidate for president. “Governor Romney should live up to the standard set in 2008, unless it’s the long photo-op and fundraising trip.”