Mitt Romney had barely left the podium after making a foreign policy address at Virginia Military Academy this morning when the Obama campaign announced he was “to the right of George W. Bush.”
How predictable. Funny, too, because now they’re saying the always maligned 43rd president wasn’t as bad as they characterize. He got us into two wars, but with Romney it will be more, more, more!
That wasn’t the Romney I heard this morning.
His address was calm and sensible; I don’t know how any American could disagree with what he said.
Romney began by acknowledging VMI graduate General George Marshall. Marshall, famous for his post war plan that spared Europe, believed in preventing war, according to Romney. He then went on to elaborate.
Statesmen like Marshall, Romney said, wanted to “prevent today’s crises from becoming tomorrow’s conflicts.” In Benghazi, he said, the attack on our embassy and murder of our ambassador was not a random act prompted by a video. It was done by people “who seek to wage perpetual war on the West. It’s a struggle between liberty and tyranny (nice plug for Mark Levin’s book), justice and oppression, hope and despair.”
Romney argued the way to prevent more Benghazis is leadership. “Leadership is America at its best and the standard by which we measure any president and anyone who wishes to be president.” Then came the whoop ass for Obama.
Presidents, he said, have “to shape history, not to lead from behind, leaving our destiny at the mercy of events.” This is where we are under Obama, Romney believes. He lashed out at him for dissing Netanyahu and saying his goal is
“to put daylight between the US and Israel – and he succeeded!” Then, “in 2009 when Iranians took to the streets and cried out ‘are you with us or with them?’ the American president was silent.”
Romney listed the other failures Obama has made: “Iran is closer than ever to nuclear weapons; the conflict in Syria is threatening to destabilize the region; and violent extremists are on the march. And with an American ambassador dead likely at the hands of Al Qaeda affiliates, it’s clear that the risk of conflict in the region now is higher than when the president took office.
“Hope is not a strategy. We cannot support our friends and defeat our enemies in the Middle East when our words are not backed up by deeds; when our defense spending is being arbitrarily and deeply cut; when we have no trade agenda to speak of and the perception of our strategy is not one of partnership, but of passivity.
“The greater tragedy of it all is that we’re missing an opportunity to make new friends in the Middle East.” People there feel that “our president is indifferent. One Syrian woman said ‘we will not forget that you forgot about us.'” He castigated Obama for abandoning Afghanistan to our enemies.
“It’s time to change course in the Middle East.”
Romney insists he’d back up words with deeds. That means putting the leaders of Iran “on notice, put new sanctions on them and tighten existing ones.” He would “restore a permanent presence of air craft carrier task forces in the Middle East, restore ties to Israel and our abiding commitment to its security. We must never see any daylight between them and us.”
He called for a Palestinian state, but one living side by side in peace with Israel. He got in a jab at Obama saying there would be no “flexibility with Vladimir Putin” and he would not give up missile defenses.
He blasted the cuts in defense. “Our navy is nearing the size it was in 1915,” a situation he would reverse.
Romney never did any chest thumping. He didn’t call for military interference throughout the world. He called for leadership, something he will provide.
“Our allies ask where does America stand? Are we still capable of leading? If we don’t, others will who don’t share our interests and our values and the world would grow darker for our friends and ourselves. The leader of the free world has a duty to use America’s great influence, wisely with solemnity and not false pride in ways that will prevent conflicts.”
In short, peace through strength, a policy another Republican president whose name began with an R insisted upon as well.
Romney ended citing Winston Churchill’s call to find faith in ourselves. I loved that zinger to Obama who sent the bust of Churchill packing after he went into the Oval.
It was a solid speech.