Republican nominee Mitt Romney gave a highly pumped-up foreign policy speech

Republican nominee Mitt Romney gave a highly pumped-up foreign policy  speech Monday that hammered President Barack Obama’s foreign policy direction,  including his handling of the recent attacks in Libya that left a U.S. ambassador  dead.


Here’s the full text of Romney’s speech:

“I particularly appreciate the introduction from my good friend and tireless  campaign companion, Gov. Bob  McDonnell.  He is showing what conservative leadership can do to build  a stronger economy.  Thank you also Congressman Goodlatte for joining us  today. And particular thanks to Gen. Peay. I appreciate your invitation to be  with you today at the Virginia Military Institute.  It is a great privilege  to be here at an Institution that has done so much for our nation, both in war  and in peace.

For more than 170 years, VMI has done more than educate students.  It  has guided their transformation into citizens, and warriors, and leaders.   VMI graduates have served with honor in our nation’s defense, just as many are  doing today in Afghanistan and other lands.  Since the September  11th attacks, many of VMI’s sons and daughters have defended  America, and I mourn with you the 15 brave souls who have been lost. I join you  in praying for the many VMI graduates and all Americans who are now serving in  harm’s way.  May God bless all who serve, and all who have served.

Of all the VMI graduates, 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 planned 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.

Last month, our nation was attacked again.  A U.S. Ambassador and three  of our fellow Americans are dead—murdered in Benghazi, Libya.  Among the  dead were three veterans.  All of them were fine men, on a mission of peace  and friendship to a nation that dearly longs for both.  President Obama has  said that Ambassador Chris Stevens and his colleagues represented the best of  America.  And he is right.  We all mourn their loss.

The attacks against us in Libya were not an isolated incident.  They  were accompanied by anti-American riots in nearly two dozen other countries,  mostly in the Middle East, but also in Africa and Asia.  Our embassies have  been attacked.  Our flag has been burned.  Many of our citizens have  been threatened and driven from their overseas homes by vicious mobs, shouting “Death to America.” These mobs hoisted the black banner of Islamic extremism  over American embassies on the anniversary of the September 11th  attacks.

As the dust settles, as the murdered are buried, Americans are asking how  this happened, how the threats we face have grown so much worse, and what this  calls on America to do.  These are the right questions.  And I have  come here today to offer a larger perspective on these tragic recent events—and  to share with you, and all Americans, my vision for a freer, more prosperous,  and more peaceful world.

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 forces affiliated with those 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.

We saw all of this in Benghazi last month—but we also saw something else,  something hopeful.  After the attack on our Consulate, tens of thousands of  Libyans, most of them young people, held a massive protest in Benghazi against  the very extremists who murdered our people.  They waved signs that read, “The Ambassador was Libya’s friend” and “Libya is sorry.” They chanted “No to  militias.”  They marched, unarmed, to the terrorist compound.  Then  they burned it to the ground.  As one Libyan woman said, “We are not going  to go from darkness to darkness.”

This is the struggle that is now shaking the entire Middle East to its  foundation.  It is the struggle of millions and millions of people—men and  women, young and old, Muslims, Christians and non-believers—all of whom have had  enough of the darkness.  It is a struggle for the dignity that comes with  freedom, and opportunity, and the right to live under laws of our own  making.  It is a struggle that has unfolded under green banners in the  streets of Iran, in the public squares of Tunisia and Egypt and Yemen, and in  the fights for liberty in Iraq, and Afghanistan, and Libya, and now Syria.   In short, it is a struggle between liberty and tyranny, justice and oppression,  hope and despair.

We have seen this struggle before.  It would be familiar to George  Marshall.  In his time, in the ashes of world war, another critical part of  the world was torn between democracy and despotism.  Fortunately, we had  leaders of courage and vision, both Republicans and Democrats, who knew that  America had to support friends who shared our values, and prevent today’s crises  from becoming tomorrow’s conflicts.

Statesmen like Marshall rallied our nation to rise to its responsibilities as  the leader of the free world.  We helped our friends to build and sustain  free societies and free markets.  We defended our friends, and ourselves,  from our common enemies.  We led.  And though the path was long and  uncertain, the thought of war in Europe is as inconceivable today as it seemed  inevitable in the last century.

This is what makes America exceptional:  It is not just the character of  our country—it is the record of our accomplishments.  America has a proud  history of strong, confident, principled global leadership—a history that has  been written by patriots of both parties.  That is America at its  best.  And it is the standard by which we measure every President, as well  as anyone who wishes to be President. Unfortunately, this President’s policies  have not been equal to our best examples of world leadership.  And nowhere  is this more evident than in the Middle East.

I want to be very clear:  The blame for the murder of our people in  Libya, and the attacks on our embassies in so many other countries, lies solely  with those who carried them out—no one else.  But it is the responsibility  of our President to use America’s great power to shape history—not to lead from  behind, leaving our destiny at the mercy of events.  Unfortunately, that is  exactly where we find ourselves in the Middle East under President Obama.

The relationship between the President of the United States and the Prime  Minister of Israel, our closest ally in the region, has suffered great strains.  The President explicitly stated that his goal was to put “daylight” between the  United States and Israel.  And he has succeeded.  This is a dangerous  situation that has set back the hope of peace in the Middle East and emboldened  our mutual adversaries, especially Iran.

Iran today has never been closer to a nuclear weapons capability.  It  has never posed a greater danger to our friends, our allies, and to us.   And it has never acted less deterred by America, as was made clear last year  when Iranian agents plotted to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador in our nation’s  capital.  And yet, when millions of Iranians took to the streets in June of  2009, when they demanded freedom from a cruel regime that threatens the world,  when they cried out, “Are you with us, or are you with them?”—the American  President was silent.

Across the greater Middle East, as the joy born from the downfall of  dictators has given way to the painstaking work of building capable security  forces, and growing economies, and developing democratic institutions, the  President has failed to offer the tangible support that our partners want and  need.

In Iraq, the costly gains made by our troops are being eroded by rising  violence, a resurgent Al-Qaeda, the weakening of democracy in Baghdad, and the  rising influence of Iran. And yet, America’s ability to influence events for the  better in Iraq has been undermined by the abrupt withdrawal of our entire troop  presence. The President tried—and failed—to secure a responsible and gradual  drawdown that would have better secured our gains.

The President has failed to lead in Syria, where more than 30,000 men, women,  and children have been massacred by the Assad regime over the past 20 months.  Violent extremists are flowing into the fight.  Our ally Turkey has been  attacked.  And the conflict threatens stability in the region.

America can take pride in the blows that our military and intelligence  professionals have inflicted on Al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, including  the killing of Osama bin Laden.  These are real achievements won at a high  cost.  But Al-Qaeda remains a strong force in Yemen and Somalia, in Libya  and other parts of North Africa, in Iraq, and now in Syria. And other extremists  have gained ground across the region.  Drones and the modern instruments of  war are important tools in our fight, but they are no substitute for a national  security strategy for the Middle East.

The President is fond of saying that “The tide of war is receding.”  And  I want to believe him as much as anyone.  But when we look at the Middle  East today—with Iran closer than ever to nuclear weapons capability, with the  conflict in Syria threating [sic] to destabilize the region, with violent  extremists on the march, and with an American Ambassador and three others dead  likely at the hands of Al-Qaeda affiliates— it is clear that the risk of  conflict in the region is higher now than when the President took office.

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.

The greater tragedy of it all is that we are missing an historic opportunity  to win new friends who share our values in the Middle East—friends who are  fighting for their own futures against the very same violent extremists, and  evil tyrants, and angry mobs who seek to harm us.  Unfortunately, so many  of these people who could be our friends feel that our President is indifferent  to their quest for freedom and dignity. As one Syrian woman put it, “We will not  forget that you forgot about us.”

It is time to change course in the Middle East.  That course should be  organized around these bedrock principles:  America must have confidence in  our cause, clarity in our purpose and resolve in our might. No friend of America  will question our commitment to support them… no enemy that attacks America will  question our resolve to defeat them… and no one anywhere, friend or foe, will  doubt America’s capability to back up our words.

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 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 reaffirm our historic ties to Israel and our abiding commitment to its  security—the world must never see any daylight between our two nations.

I will deepen our critical cooperation with our partners in the  Gulf.

And I will roll back President Obama’s deep and arbitrary cuts to our  national defense that would devastate our military. I will make the critical  defense investments that we need to remain secure.  The decisions we make  today will determine our ability to protect America tomorrow.  The first  purpose of a strong military is to prevent war.

The size of our Navy is at levels not seen since 1916. I will restore our  Navy to the size needed to fulfill our missions by building 15 ships per year,  including three submarines.  I will implement effective missile defenses to  protect against threats. And on this, there will be no flexibility with Vladimir  Putin. And I will call on our NATO allies to keep the greatest military  alliance in history strong by honoring their commitment to each devote 2 percent  of their GDP to security spending. Today, only 3 of the 28 NATO nations meet  this benchmark.

I will make further reforms to our foreign assistance to create incentives  for good governance, free enterprise, and greater trade, in the Middle East and  beyond. I will organize all assistance efforts in the greater Middle East under  one official with responsibility and accountability to prioritize efforts and  produce results.  I will rally our friends and allies to match our  generosity with theirs.  And I will make it clear to the recipients of our  aid that, in return for our material support, they must meet the  responsibilities of every decent modern government—to respect the rights of all  of their citizens, including women and minorities… to ensure space for civil  society, a free media, political parties, and an independent judiciary… and to  abide by their international commitments to protect our diplomats and our  property.

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.

There is a longing for American leadership in the Middle East—and it is not  unique to that region.  It is broadly felt by America’s friends and allies  in other parts of the world as well— in Europe, where Putin’s Russia casts a  long shadow over young democracies, and where our oldest allies have been told  we are “pivoting” away from them … in Asia and across the Pacific, where China’s  recent assertiveness is sending chills through the region … and here in our own  hemisphere, where our neighbors in Latin America want to resist the failed  ideology of Hugo Chavez and the Castro brothers and deepen ties with the United  States on trade, energy, and security.  But in all of these places, just as  in the Middle East, the question is asked:  “Where  does America stand?”

I know many Americans are asking a different question: “Why us?”  I know  many Americans are asking whether our country today—with our ailing economy, and  our massive debt, and after 11 years at war—is still capable of  leading.

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.

Our friends and allies across the globe do not want less American  leadership.  They want more—more of our moral support, more of our security  cooperation, more of our trade, and more of our assistance in building free  societies and thriving economies.  So many people across the world still  look to America as the best hope of humankind.  So many people still have  faith in America.  We must show them that we still have faith in  ourselves—that we have the will and the wisdom to revive our stagnant economy,  to roll back our unsustainable debt, to reform our government, to reverse the  catastrophic cuts now threatening our national defense, to renew the sources of  our great power, and to lead the course of human events.

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.

The torch America carries is one of decency and hope. It is not America’s  torch alone. But it is America’s duty – and honor – to hold it high enough that  all the world can see its light.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.”

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