Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Monday that President Barack Obama’s Middle East strategy is perceived as “not one of partnership, but of passivity” and that Obama has distanced the U.S. from Israel, its “closest ally in the region.”
Romney, speaking on foreign policy at the Virginia Military Institute, said America “can’t support our friends and defeat our enemies in the Middle East when our words are not backed up by deeds.”
“The president is fond of saying that ‘the tide of war is receding,’” he said. “And I want to believe him as much as anyone else. But when we look at the Middle East today, with Iran closer than ever to nuclear weapons capability, with the conflict in Syria threatening to destabilize the region and with violent extremists on the march, and with an American ambassador and three others dead—likely at the hands of al-Qaida affiliates—it’s clear that the risk of conflict in the region is higher now than when the president took office.”
The former Massachusetts governor said Obama’s relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “has suffered great strains.”
“The president explicitly stated that his goal was to put ‘daylight’ between the United States and Israel, and he’s succeeded,” Romney said. “This is a dangerous situation that has set back the hope of peace in the Middle East and emboldened our mutual adversaries, especially Iran.”
Romney said it would be his policy to “work with Israel to increase our military assistance and coordination” and “reaffirm” America’s ties to the Jewish state. “The world must never see any daylight between our two nations,” he said.
Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki responded to the Republican’s remarks by calling them evidence of his tendency for “chest-pounding rhetoric” and “saber-rattling.” That is something “we think the American people should take a look at,” she told reporters.