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. John "Mitt The Twit" wants to brag on his up the etch-a-sketch...

    October 8, 2012 04:02 am at 4:02 am |
  2. Andrew

    Romney is NOT Qualified for foreign policy! In fact Romney is NOT Qualified to be President of the United States! Romney just Flipflops too much on what he talks about! If it don't work start over is Romney ideas!

    October 8, 2012 04:05 am at 4:05 am |
  3. Name

    Romney sounds like he knows what hes taking about.....

    October 8, 2012 04:09 am at 4:09 am |
  4. Bev Varnado

    Obama has been just as bad on foretgn policy as he has been on the economy.

    October 8, 2012 04:21 am at 4:21 am |
  5. Guest

    another one from the GOP anxious to start a war. Been there, done that.

    October 8, 2012 04:26 am at 4:26 am |
  6. Bob Ramos

    So many things to comment on:

    1. By coming out with his comdenation of Obama after the attack on our consulate, and using the words he did, Romney approved of the video which was the catalyst for the anti American attacks.
    2. We can lead all right which we have always done. But this has been accepted by countries like England, France, Germany, etc. An example is the now extinct European Missile Defense System which was designed to protect Europe at our expense. It was not for our benefit since we already have a working system. We can reassume the role of the world's policeman but do we at the price we would have to pay?
    3. Syria is a terrible place for its people and Obama has kept us out of direct conflict. Now Turkey has a de facto war with Syria which it will win and thus bring relief to Syria's people.

    The list goes on and on. Romney is swimming aginist what the American people want.

    October 8, 2012 04:32 am at 4:32 am |
  7. Peg

    Romney has no clue about Foreign Policies. He would be reading a great speech that someone wrote for him. It would be a sad and frighting day if he becomes the president. He along with all the GOPs are very happy when bad things happen here and around the world so they can have a "talking point". They don't care about the needs of the middle class, the poor/disable or our seniors. The Republicans brought this country to its knees and even though they know that things are heading in the right direction they would rather spin it so that the people are so afraid of their future. But remember our Father in Heaven see everything!!!!

    October 8, 2012 04:42 am at 4:42 am |
  8. john

    this should be good. he has been eating at ihop i guess.

    October 8, 2012 05:00 am at 5:00 am |
  9. Swiss4u

    pres obama has the same exact approach, he just speaks differently

    October 8, 2012 05:01 am at 5:01 am |
  10. 111Dave111

    "our defense spending is being arbitrarily and deeply cut"
    No, Republican congressmen, like Ryan, have repeatedly refused to compromise to achieve national unity.
    On fiscal crisis after another. No sensible compromise. No leadership by Romney, either.

    October 8, 2012 05:07 am at 5:07 am |

    But who captured & killed bin laden, Bush or Obama? now this Rumney what to push the world into another crises as Bush.

    October 8, 2012 05:15 am at 5:15 am |
  12. Barry from Wisconsin

    The words will not be his…he is an empty suit. His only interest in foreign policy is how to avoid taxes and regulations by moving his money offshore.

    October 8, 2012 05:26 am at 5:26 am |
  13. Boner

    And how is he going to pay for all of this military spending? By cutting taxes?

    October 8, 2012 05:41 am at 5:41 am |
  14. Joseph Ranieri Jr

    Govenor Romney does not know in the slightest what our "friends and allies" want from us. He has not served one day in an Elected Office that would allow him to learn. In point of fact Senator/ DIrector Clinton has done an excellent job re-establishing in Americas allies the respect we deserve – and has raiised USA's profile and credibility significnatly from the last Presidents arrogance and his many actions ignoring the basest of our American ideals. As to the points concerning Israel and Iran – he has the significant benefit of not being a sitting President with the actual knowledge and control of a powerful military that should not be POLITICIZED nor his playing hand revealed before he has to do so – so anything Pres Obama says or does not say has to be taken in this context. He has done a credible – indeed incredible – job of getting America out of war and keeping American lives out of conflict while creating partnerships and allies. At best he is a successful banker. His statements up to the first debate prove that he is not a statesman nor is he a humanitarian. All one has to do is listen to his last 8 years of running for office – not his last three speeches.

    October 8, 2012 05:44 am at 5:44 am |
  15. Republicans; the "Not Intended to be Factually Accurate" Party

    I don`t know how any CREDIBLE journalist can form his/her mouth to say [or command his/her fingers to type] that TALKING about a subject that the speaker has no knowledge or background in [in this case, foriegn policy] translates into establishing CREDENTIALS or QUALIFICATIONS in that topic.

    To try to equate 2008 Barack Obama to 2012 Romney on this subject is a FALSE EQUIVALENCY and Americans should reject this narrative from Romney and the press. 2008 Obama was at least a member of the Senate`s Foriegn Relations committee AND had taken a stand opposing the war. When has Mitt Romney EVER taken a stand on ANYTHING? [except concealing his secretive tax returns and off shore bank accounts in the Cayman Isles?]

    October 8, 2012 05:53 am at 5:53 am |
  16. mark

    flip slop, etch-a, reset romey, liar that will cost the GOP the senate, house and president.

    October 8, 2012 05:53 am at 5:53 am |
  17. chuckwagonxx

    It took the President almost four years to reverse the chaos in our foreign policy caused by "W", now we have this self centered idiot mucking up the water with his childish observations about "what we'll do if the nations of the world do not do what we want" comments. Spare us and stick to the things you know best: Outsourcing jobs overseas, hiding your money in other countries, tax cuts for the super wealthy Koch Bros, etc.

    October 8, 2012 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  18. anonoymous

    How can you give a speech on foreign policy when all you know is the Prime minister of Israel? Obama 2012

    October 8, 2012 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  19. NoTags

    It seems to me that Willard first states he will support a sucessful transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014, but then "flips" and says it is a "politically timed retreat that abandons the Afghan people". I say, to hell with the 2014 timeline, declare victory and get out NOW.

    I was recently watching an actual video of a coalition firefight in Marjah, Helmand Province, Afghanistan and in some cases coalition troops basically had to force Afghan security forces to fight. There is little doubt in my mind the Afghan security forces will rejoin the Taliban as soon as coalition forces exit since we have already seen some of the Afghan security forces defect back to the Taliban. It's bad enough to be engaging the Taliban who you can see, but also never knowing if one of the Afghan security forces you have in training may shoot you on the battlefield. If you haven't noticed there are more and more attacks from Afghan security forces on coalition troops on almost a daily basis.

    In another video after a firefight the Afghan security forces decide that is a good time to partake of a little hash or opium. I know that it has to be unnerving for our troops to know they are going to be on the battlefield sith some Afghan security forces running around "stoned" with automatic weapons.

    In my opinion we are wasting lives and 6-8 billion dollars in the Afghanistan "hell hole" that could be used to rebuild our infrastructure and create jobs in the U.S. Whether Obama or Romney is elected they need to rethink the 2014 timeline and as I stated before, declare victory and get out NOW.

    October 8, 2012 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  20. chuckwagonxx

    It took the President almost four years to reverse the chaos in our foreign policy caused by "W", now we have this self centered neophyte mucking up the water with his childish observations about "what we'll do if the nations of the world do not do what we want" comments. Spare us and stick to the things you know best: Outsourcing jobs overseas, hiding your money in other countries, tax cuts for the super wealthy Koch Bros, etc.

    October 8, 2012 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  21. carltonb

    Looks like his policy is I want to increase defense spending so we can go to war soon as someone picks up a rock.

    October 8, 2012 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
  22. Chedar

    Day one of Romney in the whitehouse. Declare with Iran.

    October 8, 2012 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  23. JR

    This should be entertaining.

    October 8, 2012 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  24. Greg C.

    If Iran and its proxy the Hezbollah recently launched a drone to map out Israel's nuclear site, rest assured this will be a major escalation. Israel cannot wait until Iran has built a nuclear missile especially given Iran's stated intent to destroy Israel and those that oppose it's geo-political goals. We need a president that supports Israel and that doesn't waiver, doesn't send mixed messages, and that doesn't pander to Islamic extremists and regimes that tolerate and condone such violence and mayhem. Obama's administration has shown it doesn't understand the threat or chooses to ignore it as evidenced by recent events in Syria, Lybia, and Egypt. Obama's misguided policy of appeasement and practice of downplaying terrorism by its omission of the term and its attempt to imply Al Qaeda has been defeated has cost lives and his attempt to delay and deflect criticism by using the movie trailer as the reason for the attack and murder of our Libyan Ambassador and those caught up in the incident, is shameful.

    October 8, 2012 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  25. rconatser1

    Followed by "Jessica Simpson gives speech on nuclear physics."

    October 8, 2012 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
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