Romney: Obama undermines Israel's global standing, Israelis deserve better
Speaking ahead of his planned visit, Republican presidential candidate says U.S. president fond of 'lecturing Israeli leaders,' adding Israel will never again be criticized by Washington at UN.
The people of Israel deserve better diplomatic protection than that they have been receiving from the United States under President Barack Obama, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said in an address on Tuesday.
Speaking at the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention in Reno, Nevada on his upcoming visit to Israel, Romney accused the incumbent president of being "fond of lecturing Israel’s leaders."
He also added a reference to Obama's "hot mic" gaffe late last year, when French President Nicolas Sarkozy called Netanyahu "liar" and Obama replied "You're fed up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you."
"He has undermined their position, which was tough enough as it was. And even at the United Nations, to the enthusiastic applause of Israel’s enemies, he spoke as if our closest ally in the Middle East was the problem," Romney added.
The Republican presidential candidate then said that the "people of Israel deserve better than what they have received from the leader of the free world. And the chorus of accusations, threats, and insults at the United Nations should never again include the voice of the President of the United States."
Vice President Joe Biden responded to Romney's statement in a press release rejecting his claims of the administration's record on Israel saying: "We’ve provided record levels of security assistance, funding for the Iron Dome missile defense system that intercepted nearly 80 percent of the rockets recently fired from Gaza, close collaboration on longer range missile defense systems, the largest joint military exercises in history, the most consistent and comprehensive exchanges ever between our top political, defense, security and intelligence officials. And, contrary to Governor Romney’s outrageous accusation that the President joined in the chorus of insults levied against Israel at the United Nations, President Obama has stood up repeatedly, publicly and often alone against efforts to delegitimize Israel at the UN and around the world."
Obama's reelection campaign strongly criticized Romney ahead of his planned arrival in Israel on Sunday, charging that Republican presidential candidate’s planned visit to Britain, Israel and Poland centers more on “photo-ops and fundraising” than issues of substance.
Robert Gibbs, a former White House spokesman who is currently a senior adviser at Obama for America, recalled the nine-day, eight-country tour Barack Obama made as a candidate in 2008, which took in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Israel, Jordan, France, Germany and Britain.
“Each leg of the [Obama] trip outlined specific foreign policy ideas,” Gibbs said, noting that Obama held news conferences in France, Jordan and Israel.
“Governor Romney should live up to the standard set in 2008, unless it’s the long photo-op and fundraising trip.”
Further in his speech, Romney promised to be unapologetic of the American power, saying he didn't "view America as just one more point on the strategic map, one more power to be balanced."
"I believe our country is the greatest force for good the world has ever known, and that our influence is needed as much now as ever. And I am guided by one overwhelming conviction and passion: This century must be an American century," he said.
Talking about the Arab Spring, Romney said he plans to conditions on any U.S. assistance. "Unifying our collective influence behind a common purpose will foster the development of a government that represents all Egyptians, maintains peace with Israel, and promotes peace throughout the region,” said Romney.
“The United States is willing to help Egypt support peace and prosperity, but we will not be complicit in oppression and instability,” he added.
On Iran, Romney warned that "there is no greater danger in the world today than the prospect of the ayatollahs in Tehran possessing nuclear weapons capability.“
He continued by asking, ”Yet for all the talks and conferences, all of the extensions and assurances, can anyone say we are farther from this danger now than four years ago?”
On Iran, Romney stated “a clear line must be drawn: There must be a full suspension of any enrichment, period. It is a mistake – and sometimes a tragic one – to think that firmness in American foreign policy can bring only tension or conflict. The surest path to danger is always weakness and indecision," said Romney.
"If you do not want America to be the strongest nation on earth, I am not your President. You have that President today," he added.
Romney also lashed out at Obama's plans for "radical cuts in the military."
"Look around the globe. Other major powers are rapidly adding to their military capabilities, some with intentions very different from ours. The regime in Tehran is drawing closer to developing a nuclear weapon,” said Romney.
Governor Romney added that “The threat of radical Islamic terrorism persists. The threat of weapons of mass destruction proliferation is ever-present. And we are still at war and still have uniformed men and women in conflict. And yet the President has chosen this moment for wholesale reductions in the nation’s military capacity.”
Romney also criticized Obama's abandonment of deploying anti-missile systems in Europe. Romney said that Poland and the Czech Republic, "had courageously agreed to provide sites for our anti-missile systems, only to be told, at the last hour that the agreement was off. As part of the so-called reset in policy, missile defenses were sacrificed as a unilateral concession to the Russian government.”
“If that gesture was designed to inspire good will from Russia, it clearly missed the mark,” said Romney. “The Russian government defended the dictator in Damascus, arming him as he slaughtered the Syrian people. We can only guess what Vladimir Putin makes of the Obama administration,” he added.
Speaking about Afghanistan, Romney promised that "As president, my goal in Afghanistan will be to complete a successful transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014. I will evaluate conditions on the ground and solicit the best advice of our military commanders.”
He added, “and I will affirm that my duty is not to my political prospects, but to the security of the nation.”
Regarding China, the candidate said that “it is in our mutual interest for China to be a partner for a stable and secure world, and we welcome its participation in trade. But the cheating (currency manipulation) must finally be brought to a stop. President Obama hasn’t done it and won’t do it. I will."
Truman National Security Project spokesman David Solimini released the following statement in response to Mitt Romney’s remarks at the VFW convention in Las Vegas:
“Today, Governor Romney had the opportunity to define his approach to foreign policy and national security and failed to take it. Beyond predictable political pabulum and a barrage of false statements, he outlined no new policy positions today.”
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