Obama Led From 'Behind' on Mideast, Mitt Says

Romney Challenges President on Israel Policy

By JTA

Published October 09, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

President Obama has led “from behind” on the Middle East, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney charged in a foreign policy speech.

Romney, in a speech Monday at the Virginia Military Institute, said the attacks last month in Libya that left four American diplomats dead “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.”

“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.” Romney called out Obama for failing “to use America’s great power to shape history - not to lead from behind, leaving our destiny at the mercy of events.”

Romney called the strain on the relationship between the president of the United States and the Prime Minister of Israel “a dangerous situation that has set back the hope of peace in the Middle East and emboldened our mutual adversaries, especially Iran.”

“The President explicitly stated that his goal was to put ‘daylight’ between the United States and Israel. And he has succeeded,” Romney said.

Romney also discussed Iran and its nuclear weapons program. “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,” he said.

Romney also discussed the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, and the uncontrolled violence by the Assad regime in Syria, concluding that “it is clear that the risk of conflict in the region is higher now than when the President took office.”

“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,” Romney said.

Romney pledged to impose new sanctions on Iran, and to increase military assistance and coordination with Israel.

“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,” he added.

In a press call on behalf of Obama following the speech, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told reporters that “I know from my own conversations with Israelis, that they basically are very satisfied with President Obama’s policies towards Israel.”

“But the bottom line from my conversations with Israelis is that they believe the relationship between the United States and Israel is as good as ever. I mean as good as it gets, very good, excellent, on the same wave length,” Albright said.

Albright referred to Romney’s visit last summer to Israel. during which he said that Israel’s economic success was borne out of the power of culture, one that he implied Palestinians lack, as an example of his lack of Middle East experience.

Ben LaBolt, national press secretary with Obama for America, also said that Obama has spent more time talking to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that any other world leader.

The speech came on the same day that the Pew Research Center released the results of its latest poll, showing that registered voters are evenly split between Obama and Romney at 46 percent each.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Why genocide is always wrong, period. And the fact that some are talking about it shows just how much damage the war in Gaza has already done.
  • Construction workers found a 75-year-old deli sign behind a closing Harlem bodega earlier this month. Should it be preserved?
  • "The painful irony in Israel’s current dilemma is that it has been here before." Read J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis of the conflict:
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.