MITT ROMNEY: A NEW COURSE FOR THE MIDDLE EAST

The Wall Street Journal on September 30, 2012, published an article by Mitt Romney on a new course for the Middle East. Disturbing developments, he wrote, are sweeping across the greater Middle East. In Syria, tens of thousands of innocent people have been slaughtered. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has come to power, and the country’s peace treaty with Israel hangs in the balance. In Libya, our ambassador was murdered in a terrorist attack. U.S. embassies throughout the region have been stormed in violent protests. And in Iran, the ayatollahs continue to move full tilt toward nuclear-weapons capability, all the while promising to annihilate Israel. Excerpts below:

These developments are not, as President Obama says, mere “bumps in the road.” They are major issues that put our security at risk.

Yet amid this upheaval, our country seems to be at the mercy of events rather than shaping them. We’re not moving them in a direction that protects our people or our allies.

The first step is to understand how we got here. Since World War II, America has been the leader of the Free World. We’re unique in having earned that role not through conquest but through promoting human rights, free markets and the rule of law. We ally ourselves with like-minded countries, expand prosperity through trade and keep the peace by maintaining a military second to none.

But in recent years, President Obama has allowed our leadership to atrophy.

By failing to maintain the elements of our influence and by stepping away from our allies, President Obama has heightened the prospect of conflict and instability. He does not understand that an American policy that lacks resolve can provoke aggression and encourage disorder.

The Middle East is a case in point.

The same incomprehension afflicts the president’s policy toward Israel. The president began his term with the explicit policy of creating “daylight” between our two countries.

In this period of uncertainty, we need to apply a coherent strategy of supporting our partners in the Middle East—that is, both governments and individuals who share our values.

This means restoring our credibility with Iran. When we say an Iranian nuclear-weapons capability—and the regional instability that comes with it—is unacceptable, the ayatollahs must be made to believe us.

It means placing no daylight between the United States and Israel. And it means using the full spectrum of our soft power to encourage liberty and opportunity for those who have for too long known only corruption and oppression.

–.

But this Middle East policy will be undermined unless we restore the three sinews of our influence: our economic strength, our military strength and the strength of our values. That will require a very different set of policies from those President Obama is pursuing.
The 20th century became an American Century because we were steadfast in defense of freedom.

Our challenges are different now, but if the 21st century is to be another American Century, we need leaders who understand that keeping the peace requires American strength in all of its dimensions.

Mr. Romney is the Republican Party candidate for president.

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