Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told an audience at Virginia Military Institute today the United States has a duty to exercise its influence to positively affect the world, particularly in the Middle East and other troubled spots.
During a speech to more than 500 people, including about 400 cadets, Romney said that President Barack Obama has failed to use his office to boost freedom and safety in the world during his term in office.
“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,” Romney said. “America’s security and the cause of freedom cannot afford four more years like the last four years.”
Romney’s speech comes less than a week after a debate against Obama that many observers believe he won, and in advance of two more debates that will include discussions of foreign policy.
Romney cited VMI graduate Gen. George Marshall, who led U.S. forces in World War II and helped set policy afterward, as an example of a positive force for good in the world.
“Gen. Marshall once said, ‘The only way human beings can win a war is to prevent it,’” Romney said. “Those words were true in his time—and they still echo in ours.”
Romney cited the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, as example of what can happen when the country doesn’t take an active role overseas.
“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.
He called for more support of opposition forces in Syria and said the U.S. should use trade policies and foreign aid as leverage in Egypt and elsewhere.
Romney also called for a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine, arguing that Obama has failed to lead there and that only a new president has the chance to make meaningful progress.
Romney will appear at a rally in Newport News later today.
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