Romney delivers major foreign policy speech 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)
WASHINGTON – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney pledged Monday to
stop Iran before it reaches nuclear weapons capability, an earlier benchmark
than that generally specified by the Obama administration.
In a major
foreign policy speech delivered in Virginia devoted almost entirely to the
Middle East, Romney also promised not to allow any daylight between Israel and
the United States and to recommit to fostering peace talks between Israelis and
Romney’s speech, however, was largely composed of critiques
of rival US President Barack Obama. He charged that “hope is not a strategy” and
argued that the threats American faces in the Middle East are greater now than
when Obama took office. He particularly pledged to lead with
Romney repeatedly attacked Obama on Iran, referring to Tehran’s
marked increase in uranium enrichment and other aspects of what the West sees as
a drive for nuclear weapons under Obama’s watch.
“Iran today has never
been closer to a nuclear weapons capability,” Romney said.
“And it has
never acted less deterred by America.”
If elected president, Romney
declared, “I will put the leaders of Iran on notice that the United States and
our friends and allies will prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons capability.”
He called for tougher sanctions and stationing more aircraft carrier task forces
in the region.
Romney also said he would increase military aid and
coordination to Israel, reaffirming the ties between the two countries in place
of the “great strains” he said had arisen between Obama and Prime Minister
He also took Obama to task for comments he made to
Jewish leaders early in his administration, in which he told them that the lack
of daylight between the US and Israel hadn’t brought peace under former
president George W. Bush and suggested that a different approach might be
necessary to advance the peace process.
Romney countered: “The world must
never see any daylight between our two nations.”
Asked about Obama’s
daylight comments, which were confirmed by participants in the closed meeting
but never stated publicly by the president, Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt
declined to “read out” the meeting.
But Madeleine Albright, who served as
secretary of state under Bill Clinton and participated with LaBolt in an Obama
campaign conference call with media following Romney’s speech, stressed the
close ties between the US and Israel and how much the US had bolstered Israeli
security assistance under Obama.
She also slammed Romney for a
“flip-flop” on the peace process.
On Monday, the Republican nominee
lambasted Obama for having “failed” in peace-making and vowed to “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.” Those words
contrast with what he said to donors at a closed-door fundraiser in May caught
on tape, in which he said that no progress could be made on the
Albright charged, “He obviously doesn’t track even the things he
In his speech at the Virginia Military Institute, Romney
also called for arming the Syrian opposition and conditioning aid to Egypt more