Romney to deliver foreign policy speech
October 8th, 2012
12:01 AM ET
10 years ago

Romney to deliver foreign policy speech

(CNN) – Mitt Romney will seek to bolster his foreign policy credentials in a major speech Monday, two weeks before the GOP presidential nominee takes part in a presidential debate focused on security.

In his remarks, set to take place at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Romney will address the ongoing unrest in Syria, calling for the U.S. to "work with our partners" to help the opposition and "ensure they obtain the arms they need."

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He will further state, according to excerpts of his prepared remarks, a need to continue working "no less vigorously with our international partners" to support Syrians who stand against Iran.

Romney will also argue that last month's consulate attack in Benghazi, Libya, "should not be seen as random acts." Instead he will say the violence "was likely the work of the same forces that attacked our homeland on September 11th, 2001." The Benghazi attack left the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans dead.

Last month, Romney sharply criticized the Obama administration's handling of the situation and its immediate aftermath. Some political observers, however, hounded Romney for speaking too critically and too soon about the violence, before the facts were known.

The Republican candidate will also address issues concerning Afghanistan, Egypt and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Romney will focus on Iran in particular, warning that he 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."

In the third and final presidential debate on October 22, Romney will face off against President Barack Obama on matters of foreign policy and national security.

Read the excerpts below:

“The Mantle of Leadership”
Foreign Policy Address
October 8, 2012
Virginia Military Institute—Lexington, VA

Of all the leaders who have called Lexington, Virginia their home, none is more distinguished than George Marshall—the Chief of Staff of the Army who became Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense, who helped to vanquish fascism and then plan Europe’s rescue from despair. His commitment to peace was born of his direct knowledge of the awful costs and consequences of war.

General Marshall once said, “The only way human beings can win a war is to prevent it.” Those words were true in his time—and they still echo in ours.


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—a region that is now in the midst of the most profound upheaval in a century. And the fault lines of this struggle can be seen clearly in Benghazi itself.

The attack on our Consulate in Benghazi on September 11th, 2012 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. No, as the Administration has finally conceded, these attacks were the deliberate work of terrorists who use violence to impose their dark ideology on others, especially women and girls; who are fighting to control much of the Middle East today; and who seek to wage perpetual war on the West.


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. 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. …

… It is time to change course in the Middle East. …

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. I will not hesitate to impose new sanctions on Iran, and will tighten the sanctions we currently have. I will restore the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf the region—and work with Israel to increase our military assistance and coordination. For the sake of peace, we must make clear to Iran through actions—not just words—that their nuclear pursuit will not be tolerated. …

… I will champion free trade and restore it as a critical element of our strategy, both in the Middle East and across the world. The President has not signed one new free trade agreement in the past four years. I will reverse that failure. I will work with nations around the world that are committed to the principles of free enterprise, expanding existing relationships and establishing new ones.

I will support friends across the Middle East who share our values, but need help defending them and their sovereignty against our common enemies.

In Libya, I will support the Libyan people’s efforts to forge a lasting government that represents all of them, and I will vigorously pursue the terrorists who attacked our consulate in Benghazi and killed Americans.

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.

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. Iran is sending arms to Assad because they know his downfall would be a strategic defeat for them. We should be working no less vigorously with our international partners to support the many Syrians who would deliver that defeat to Iran—rather than sitting on the sidelines. It is essential that we develop influence with those forces in Syria that will one day lead a country that sits at the heart of the Middle East.

And in Afghanistan, I will pursue a real and successful transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014. President Obama would have you believe that anyone who disagrees with his decisions in Afghanistan is arguing for endless war. But the route to more war – and to potential attacks here at home – is a politically timed retreat that abandons the Afghan people to the same extremists who ravaged their country and used it to launch the attacks of 9/11. I will evaluate conditions on the ground and weigh the best advice of our military commanders. And I will affirm that my duty is not to my political prospects, but to the security of the nation.

Finally, 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. On this vital issue, the President has failed, and what should be a negotiation process has devolved into a series of heated disputes at the United Nations. In this old conflict, as in every challenge we face in the Middle East, only a new President will bring the chance to begin anew.


I believe that if America does not lead, others will—others who do not share our interests and our values—and the world will grow darker, for our friends and for us. America’s security and the cause of freedom cannot afford four more years like the last four years. I am running for President because I believe the leader of the free world has a duty, to our citizens, and to our friends everywhere, to use America’s great influence—wisely, with solemnity and without false pride, but also firmly and actively—to shape events in ways that secure our interests, further our values, prevent conflict, and make the world better—not perfect, but better.


Sir Winston Churchill once said of George Marshall: “He … always fought victoriously against defeatism, discouragement, and disillusion.” That is the role our friends want America to play again. And it is the role we must play.

The 21st century can and must be an American century. It began with terror, war, and economic calamity. It is our duty to steer it onto the path of freedom, peace, and prosperity.

Filed under: 2012 • Foreign Policy • Mitt Romney • Virginia
soundoff (84 Responses)
  1. Blinded by the republican lie

    After that disaster during the olympics...Not much that he has to say will mean much, other than code to start a few more wars for his rich buddies to rape the country again like his buddy Dick and Co.

    October 8, 2012 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  2. Paul

    Amen! I'm all in this for Romney now! Amen! He is like Reagan reborn!

    October 8, 2012 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  3. Dbo

    Can't trust this man no matter what. He's not genuine and I'm not apologizing for it either.

    October 8, 2012 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  4. Darrell

    Clueless! Absolutely clueless abort foreign policy. This speech shows he is a total novice when it comes to foreign policy.

    October 8, 2012 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  5. enough

    Explain to me how effective his foreign trip during the olympics was?

    October 8, 2012 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  6. ted rutherford

    Oh goodie. Maybe he can tell us all about how Russia is our biggest enemy.

    October 8, 2012 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  7. Thomas

    U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy gave a speech titled America's Retreat from Victory: The Story of George Catlett Marshall (1951), in which he argued that General Albert Coady Wedemeyer had prepared a wise plan that would keep China a valued ally, but that it had been sabotaged. He concluded that "If Marshall were merely stupid, the laws of probability would dictate that part of his decisions would serve this country's interest. He suggested that Marshall was old and feeble and easily duped but did not charge Marshall with treason.

    Mitt Romney
    I will
    I will
    I will

    I think Romney has a lot of gaul to use the legacy of George Catlett Marshall .

    As Secretary of State, Marshall strongly opposed recognizing the state of Israel. Marshall felt that if the state of Israel was declared that a war would break out in the Middle East (which it did in 1948 one day after Israel declared independence). Marshall saw recognizing the Jewish state as a political move to gain Jewish support in the upcoming election, in which Truman was expected to lose to Dewey. He told President Truman in May 1948, "If you (recognize the state of Israel) and if I were to vote in the election, I would vote against you.

    Men like Romney only use what they want of people , they never really get there hands dirty, I wonder what General Marshall would have thought of Romney's five sons avoiding military service , wars they supported ?

    October 8, 2012 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  8. Mantha

    I'm stunned that he would think about arming the rebels in Syria. Haven't we tried this strategy before? I'm also suspicious of arming an Arabic nation next to Israel. How many of those weapons will find their way into the hands of Palestinians to be used against Israel?

    Fighting proxy wars with Iran in an extremely volatile place in the world that we can't afford. Romney is stuck in some sort of Cold War time warp.

    October 8, 2012 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
  9. bam

    he aint president and never will be president... needs to s i t down and s h u t his gold sp o o ned m o uth.

    October 8, 2012 02:50 am at 2:50 am |
  10. Lois Epole

    Romney I'm waiting for that day. Debate number 2 , foreign policy speech. Dot run.

    October 8, 2012 03:01 am at 3:01 am |
  11. Donkey Party

    Sick, pathetic, shameless, and despicable. Romney using 911 for political gain is a new low for him and the GOP. Worst candidate for president, ever.

    October 8, 2012 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  12. DP

    Four weeks before an election? What a joke!

    October 8, 2012 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
  13. Dave

    And I'll give a speech on what it is like to be a resident of Jupiter.

    October 8, 2012 03:07 am at 3:07 am |
  14. scallions1

    His big announcement about Iran is the same thing Obama has been saying all along – we will not allow Iran to have nuclear weapons. I can't wait to hear his other "new" ideas about foreign policy. Bet they match Bush's.

    October 8, 2012 03:09 am at 3:09 am |
  15. scallions1

    Romney's big announcement about what he'd do about Iran's nuclear capability is the same thing Obama has been saying all along – they will not be allowed to have nuclear weapons. I can't wait to hear his other "new" ideas about foreign policy.

    October 8, 2012 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  16. Nametate

    rommey sucks he is nothing but a crook trying to pull his way in he dont care bout america and our poor people he only for his self and da rich

    October 8, 2012 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
  17. smithdp

    Mitt sure seems presidential to me lately. He no longer thinks that I am a victim. I thought the three jobs I work was proof of that but now that he has recanted his 47 percent comments, I somehow can hold my head up again. Thanks Mitt. You're swell.

    October 8, 2012 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
  18. ouch

    omg u liberals...........RU serious?? ur messiah ur jesus ur HOLYMAN OF LIBERALISM just got shown for what he was.a fraud a bag of hot air........a fake....and now u still stand beside wait u dont !u go to attack romney...ur all pathetic just like we told u 4 years ago..haha hope u feel dumb now :D:D

    October 8, 2012 03:26 am at 3:26 am |
  19. Name ssd

    I can feel another war coming if Romney is elected. How does he plan to fund another war? Someone should ask him.

    October 8, 2012 03:27 am at 3:27 am |
  20. Ben

    Romney has changed his positions so many times that it is impossible for me to say whether or not this speech represents what he really intends to do if elected.

    October 8, 2012 03:37 am at 3:37 am |
  21. brothersulayman

    What a bunch of utter baloney. Romney was caught on camera during his 47% speech where he said Palestinians have "no interest in peace" (false), and that he will do absolutely nothing on Israel-Palestine, and will leave it to whoever comes after him. "... and these thorny issues, and I say there's just no way."

    I can't trust anything he says, since this entire speech is different than his campaign promises during the Primaries. He'll say anything to get elected, and not the truth.

    October 8, 2012 03:38 am at 3:38 am |
  22. Peg

    Romney will be given a speech that someone wrote for him. He has no clue about foreign affairs or the security of this country. He is happy when bad things happen so he can have a "talking point". He should stay out of politics altogether. It will be a sad day in America for our kids, seniors and the poor if he is elected president. Yes he may balance the budget but it would definitely be on the backs of the most vulnerable.

    October 8, 2012 03:47 am at 3:47 am |
  23. Phil Thomas

    I can't wait until this proven liar is off the airwaves, how can some one just be so dishonest. This guy has tons of coch brother money along with a few other millionaires, fox news, constant attacks. Yet hes still losing, look i sound liberal but I'm independent but this guy lost me with the Libya thing and gleefully celebrating bad economic news. Obamas not perfect but I'll take him any day over this clown

    October 8, 2012 03:53 am at 3:53 am |
  24. myway

    That's all we need. He already put his foot in his mouth in front the US population several times. Now Mitt wants to expand his infamy world wide. All I can say is, duck and cover...

    October 8, 2012 03:59 am at 3:59 am |
  25. imvotingforobama

    I'm sure he has his Etch a sketch ready to change his past policies again. What a horrible candidate.

    October 8, 2012 04:01 am at 4:01 am |
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