In a much-anticipated foreign policy speech Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney at the Virginia Military Institute Monday morning, Romney focused heavily on White House mismanagement of affairs in the Middle East, promising that he would hold hostile nations more accountable and give support to those struggling under oppressive regimes.
Romney’s searing indictment of the administration’s failures capitalized on U.S. ineffectiveness at stopping nuclear advancement in Iran and the misinformation and botched handling of the aftermath of an attack in Benghazi, Libya last month that left four Americans dead. He made clear that he did not buy President Barack Obama’s repeated claim that the attacks were a reaction to an American-made amateur film satirizing the Islamic religion.
“The attack on our Consulate in Benghazi on September 11th, 2012 was likely the work of forces affiliated with those that attacked our homeland on September 11th, 2001,” he said. “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.”
Moreover, Romney said, the attacks were a symptom of a fault line running through the Middle East, where a dark and violent ideology struggles for supremacy over those who yearn for freedom and independence.
He faulted Obama for failing to stand with the latter.
“…when millions of Iranians took to the streets in June of 2009, when they demanded freedom from a cruel regime that threatens the world, when they cried out, ‘Are you with us, or are you with them?’—the American President was silent,” he said.
Romney promised to arm the Syrian opposition to the oppressive Assad regime and support the efforts of the Libyan people to established a free government, while putting the nation of Iran on notice and attaching clear conditions for U.S. aid to countries like Egypt, where civil rights are still being suppressed by new leadership.
“I know the President hopes for a safer, freer, and a more prosperous Middle East allied with the United States,” he said. “I share this hope. But hope is not a strategy.”