With turbulence in the Middle East and controversy surrounding the Obama administration’s response to the fatal attacks on the American consulate in Benghazi, Mitt Romney will outline Monday his foreign policy approach toward the Middle East in what his campaign is billing as a major address at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va.
The Romney campaign is stressing that the choice between President Obama and a Romney administration on foreign policy is stark. Romney will present a “bold choice between what we’ve seen these past four years and what he would bring in the next four years,” Alex Wong, foreign and legal policy director for the Romney campaign, told reporters on a conference call Sunday previewing the VMI speech.
The Romney campaign cast Obama as an outlier president who failed to continue a bipartisan tradition of a strong military and leadership in the world. Several times on the call, his advisers described Romney as following a tradition that included Presidents Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton while President Obama’s approach, they said, was similar to Jimmy Carter’s. Romney’s approach is “a restoration of a strategy that served us well for over 70 years” and will renew a “bipartisan vision” of foreign policy, Wong said. “[Obama’s] foreign policy is marked by passivity, by delay and by indecision.”
According to excerpts of Romney’s speech released in advance, Romney will propose a new approach to both the crisis Syria and the post-Mubarak regime in Egypt, but will offer few other specifics that directly depart from the Obama administration’s policies for the region.
Romney will continue to critique the administration’s response to the attacks in Libya that resulted in the death of four Americans, including the Ambassador Christopher Stevens. “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,” Romney says in the speech, as prepared for delivery.
With respect to the new regime in Egypt, Romney said that aid should come only with “clear conditions.” Romney asserts: “In Egypt, I will use our influence — including clear conditions on our aid — to urge the new government to represent all Egyptians, to build democratic institutions, and to maintain its peace treaty with Israel. And we must persuade our friends and allies to place similar stipulations on their aid.”
On the conflict in Syria, Romney will come out in favor of providing arms to the rebels, according to excepts of his speech. “In Syria, I will work with our partners to identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values and ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad’s tanks, helicopters, and fighter jets,” he will say.
Finally, Romney will stress that his administration would bring new hope for a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine. “I will 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,” Romney will say. “[O]nly a new President will bring the chance to begin anew.”
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.