Mitt Romney is calling for tougher sanctions against Iran and arms for the rebels in Syria in a speech the Republican presidential candidate prepared for delivery at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington Monday, CBS News reported Monday morning. Romney charges Obama with weakness and "passivity" in Middle East conflicts.
The GOP candidate also knocks the Obama administration for its initial assessment that the September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans, was inspired by an anti-Muslim video posted on the Internet. The administration has since concluded that attack was planned to coincide with the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States and was carried out by terrorists with connections to al-Qaeda.
The attack took place the same day a mob in Egypt invaded the grounds of the U.S. embassy in Cairo and desecrated the U.S. flag and raised a black al-Qaeda banner. Those events have been followed by a series of anti-American demonstrations and attacks on U.S. embassies throughout the region, events Romney is describing as "expressions of a larger struggle that is playing out across the broader Middle East" that call for a change of course in that part of the world.
"Hope is not a strategy," Romney said, mocking the "hope and change" theme of Barack Obama's campaign for president in 2008. Yet as the former Massachusetts governor sets out to define differences between himself and the President on foreign policy, an area in which Romney has had little direct experience, the differences appear to be more of tone and emphasis than in distinct policy directions. On Libya, for example, Romney promises to support "the Libyan people's efforts to forge a lasting government that represents all of them," while pursuing those who attacked the consulate, a position identical to Obama's pledge.
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Photo of Bashar Assad (right) and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: AP Images