'President' Romney would arm Syria rebels

2012-10-08 13:02

Washington - Mitt Romney will call for a US change of course in the Middle East on Monday, saying President Barack Obama's muddled strategy has failed to confront the challenges of extremism.

The Republican White House hopeful, offering a foreign policy vision that he and his campaign believe differs sharply from Obama's, said he would keep Iran in check, chase terrorists in Libya, put conditions on US aid to Egypt and help arm Syrian rebels.

His speech at Virginia Military Institute highlights the need to put adversaries on notice that a Romney administration would not tolerate the anti-American unrest that has been allowed to fester under Obama.

"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," Romney says in excerpts provided by his campaign.

"It is time to change course in the Middle East," according to Romney.

"We cannot support our friends and defeat our enemies in the Middle East when our words are not backed up by deeds... and the perception of our strategy is not one of partnership, but of passivity."

Tough Romney

Romney will use the tragedy in Benghazi, Libya, where the US ambassador and three other Americans were killed in an 11 September attack on the consulate there, as an example of how extremists are exploiting perceived US weakness.

"The attacks on America last month should not be seen as random acts. They are expressions of a larger struggle that is playing out across the broader Middle East," Romney will say, adding that the Benghazi attack "was likely the work of the same forces 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," he will add, highlighting the Obama team's shifting version of events.

Romney would "vigorously pursue the terrorists" who attacked in Benghazi, "recommit America" to the goal of a two-state solution with Israel and the Palestinians, and take a tougher line with Iran.

"For the sake of peace, we must make clear to Iran through actions, not just words, that their nuclear pursuit will not be tolerated."

In Egypt, Romney said, he would use US influence - "including clear conditions on our aid" - to lean on Cairo to embrace democracy and maintain its peace treaty with Israel.

'Peace through strength'

In Syria, Romney would seek to ensure that rebels fighting strongman Bashar Assad's regime "obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad's tanks, helicopters, and fighter jets".

And in Afghanistan, he will express support for a "real and successful transition" to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014, but warned against a "politically timed retreat".

"I will evaluate conditions on the ground and weigh the best advice of our military commanders," he will say.

Romney's backers said Obama has departed from the "peace through strength" posture that has been embraced by nearly every US president since Harry Truman.

"It's a recognition that strength is not provocative; it is weakness that's provocative," Rich Williamson, a former US ambassador to Sudan under president George W Bush, told reporters on Sunday.

With the slowly improving US economy providing less of a clear-cut case for new leadership barely four weeks from the 6 November election, Romney is seeking to muscle in on turf largely seen as the dominant preserve of the president.

'Bring it on'

Obama cites the killing of Osama bin Laden, extraction from Iraq, standing up to China, and the winding down of war in Afghanistan as foreign policy accomplishments, but Romney's campaign insists the president has come up short.

"Benghazi shows that while drone attacks are helpful and the world is certainly better off that Osama Bin Laden is dead, the struggle between radical extremism and those who want moderation isn't over," Williamson said.

Obama's campaign on Sunday had a message for Romney should he wish to have a foreign policy debate: "Bring it on."

"To date, all Mitt Romney has offered is bluster and platitudes," Obama spokesperson Lis Smith said, adding that Romney has "erratically shifted positions on every major foreign policy issue".

Smith said Romney's desire to keep troops in Iraq, backing plans to explode defence spending levels for the Pentagon, and "insulting our allies and partners around the world on the campaign trail" is not mainstream policy.

Romney has ruffled feathers by denouncing countries like Greece and Spain as examples of why America should avoid European economic policies.

  • oscar.pretorius.52 - 2012-10-08 13:25

    Sounds like another warmongering republican. Because Iraq and Afghanistan went so well for the Americans

      whatda.fuqbro - 2012-10-08 13:33

      Correct. Romney would be devastating for the fragile US economy not just because he'd line the pockets of the rich even more, but because we'd see trillions of dollars being blown up in the Middle East yet again. The world doesn't need another W Bush.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-08 15:17

      Romney would be excellent for the US and world economies. He knows how to move the US out of the lackluster growth it is currently experiencing, and reduce the deficit. He would expand employment by reducing taxes on the 3% of small businesses that employ 50% of the US workforce. Expanding employment would increase revenue to the US fiscus, which would reduce the deficit.

      oscar.pretorius.52 - 2012-10-08 17:57

      sorry fred but anyone that believes any man can solve the current global financial crisis is wrong! The problem is global and won't go away by simple vote on november 6th. And by the sound of it it looks like if Romney makes it, more of the US budget will be swallowed up by military budget (as it it currently is). You don't get out of a 16 trillion dollar debt that easily.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-08 20:00

      I agree with you it's going to take more than just the vote, and time. On balance, though, I think Romney knows more about the economy than Obama and would move the US, and consequently the world, closer to resolving the current negative crises than Obama. I was a strong Obama supporter in 2008.

      denise.labuschagne.54 - 2012-10-08 20:17

      i wud arm myself with a bomb, and destroy the whole usa.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-08 20:18

      At least you're honest about your violent insanity.

  • cyanideandhappiness - 2012-10-08 13:40

    So will Obama, they are the same.

      Ryan Saunders - 2012-10-09 07:40

  • azereta - 2012-10-08 13:43

    Romney is retarded.

  • bachar.isaiah1 - 2012-10-08 14:08

    weak Obama must go

  • ari.potah - 2012-10-08 14:43

    "When I rule the world . . ."

  • paul.vieira.7792 - 2012-10-08 14:56

    These extremists(terrorists) that are promised many virgins in their afterlife are attacking an killing us supposed infidels all over the world. For one I'm not for war, but please get these bastards. Thanks

  • phahla.matwa - 2012-10-08 16:18

    U coward Romney. Y dnt u attack Russia or China.

      bart.mitchell.393 - 2012-10-08 16:38

      Need a Big history lesson here bud....

  • dave.kofang - 2012-10-08 18:40

    That will mean WAR with Russia.Romney is playing fire.

      duncan.gill1 - 2012-10-08 19:42

      Well uncle sam lost in Korea,lost in Vietnam and lost in Iraq and is losing in what they got to lose more if it weren't for the Russians they would have lost in the 2nd world war as well!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-08 20:06

      The election-slanting, neo-Soviet, ex-KGB officer Putin has more to lose by standing behind the unelected dictator of Syria, than allowing the rest of the world do the right thing by the Syrian people. It seems doing the right thing is beyond him altogether at the moment. The longer he holds onto his autocratic world view, the more certain he, and by extension the Russian people, will be shown the door when Assad is removed from power. Removed he will be.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-09 21:06

      Patrick, again, you do not speak for the majority of the world, notwithstanding what your Ego tells you.

  • diana.gill.18 - 2012-10-08 18:51

    So should do Russia and go arm the government troops. We will see how superior Russian weaponry is to the US creaky old junk!

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-08 19:24

      Diana, Wakey wakey!!!!!!! THAT is exactly what Russia been doing for many years !!!!!!! Or do you think they bought them at the local supermarket ????

      diana.gill.18 - 2012-10-08 19:50

      @Patrick you really have got him going! +10 to you.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-08 20:10

      Hello! It is common knowledge Putin is already arming the brutal, unelected dictator of Syria who is killing, detaining, torturing and raping tens of thousands of Syrians who want nothing more than to vote. In allowing this, the Russian people (that means you) are complicit in the murder of Syrians and their families by the illegitimate Syrian regime. You should feel ashamed, not celebrate your complicity.

      duncan.gill1 - 2012-10-08 20:40


      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-09 21:07

      You'd have to turn off the delusion you're currently watching, Patrick.

  • duncan.gill1 - 2012-10-08 19:40

    anthony and fred I just love to dislike you both thanks for the laughs though!!

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