Mitt Romney Remarks on
U.S. Foreign Policy The Citadel Charleston, SC October 7,
2011 [AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY]
It's a great honor to be in South Carolina, where patriotism is a
passion that tops even barbeque and football.
And it's a great honor to be here at the Citadel.
great university and college produces future engineers, doctors,
lawyers and entrepreneurs. Here at the Citadel, you do all that but you
have another specialty - you produce heroes. Over 1400 of your
have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere fighting the war
against terrorism. And sixteen have paid the ultimate price.
1842, every tyrant, petty thug or great power that threatened America
learned that if you wanted to take on America, you were taking on the
Citadel. That's a line of heroes that's never broken and never
This is a true citadel of American honor, values and courage.
other day I heard the President say that Americans had gone "soft." I
guess he wasn't talking about how hard it is for millions of Americans
who are trying to get a job or stretch a too small paycheck through the
each of you looks beyond this great institution, to the life before
you, I know you face many difficult questions in a world fraught with
uncertainty. America is in an economic crisis the likes of which
have never seen in our lifetime. Europe is struggling with the greatest
economic crisis since the Cold War, one that calls into question the
very definition of the European Union.
the world we see tremendous upheaval and change. Our next President
will face extraordinary challenges that could alter the destiny of
America and, indeed, the future of freedom.
I want you to join me in looking forward. Forward beyond that next
Recognition Day, beyond Ring Weekend to four years from today, October
What kind of world will we be facing?
Iran be a fully activated nuclear weapons state, threatening its
neighbors, dominating the world's oil supply with a stranglehold on the
Strait of Hormuz? In the hands of the ayatollahs, a nuclear Iran
nothing less than an existential threat to Israel. Iran’s suicidal
fanatics could blackmail the world.
2015, will Israel be even more isolated by a hostile international
community? Will those who seek Israel's destruction feel emboldened by
American ambivalence? Will Israel have been forced to fight yet another
war to protect its citizens and its right to exist?
Afghanistan, after the United States and NATO have withdrawn all
forces, will the Taliban find a path back to power? After over a decade
of American sacrifice in treasure and blood, will the country sink back
into the medieval terrors of fundamentalist rule and the mullahs again
open a sanctuary for terrorists?
door, Pakistan awaits the uncertain future, armed with more than 100
nuclear weapons. The danger of a failed Pakistan is difficult to
overestimate, fraught with nightmare scenarios: Will a nuclear weapon
be in the hands of Islamic Jihadists?
has made it clear that it intends to be a military and economic
superpower. Will her rulers lead their people to a new era of freedom
and prosperity or will they go down a darker path, intimidating their
neighbors, brushing aside an inferior American Navy in the Pacific, and
building a global alliance of authoritarian states?
is at a historic crossroads. Vladimir Putin has called the
the Soviet empire the great tragedy of the 20th Century. Will he try to
reverse that tragedy and bludgeon the countries of the former Soviet
Union into submission, and intimidate Europe with the levers of its
our South, will the malign socialism of Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, in
tight alliance with the malign socialism of Castro’s Cuba, undermine
the prospects of democracy in a region thirsting for freedom and
stability and prosperity?
border with Mexico remains an open sore. Will drug cartels
the regions adjoining the United States, with greater and greater
violence spilling over into our country? Will we have failed to secure
the border and to stem the tide of illegal immigrants? And will drug
smugglers and terrorists increasingly make their way into our midst?
would be a troubling and threatening world for America. But it is not
unrealistic. These are only some of the very real dangers that America
faces, if we continue with the feckless policies of the past three
of course, it doesn't have to be this way. This isn't our destiny, it
is a choice. We are a democracy. You decide. In this campaign for
President, I will offer a very different vision of America's role in
the world and of America's destiny.
Our next President will face many difficult and complex foreign policy
decisions. Few will be black and white.
I am here today to tell you that I am guided by one overwhelming
conviction and passion: This century must be an American Century. In an
American Century, America has the strongest economy and the strongest
military in the world. In an American Century, America leads the free
world and the free world leads the entire world.
did not create this country to be a nation of followers. America is not
destined to be one of several equally balanced global powers.
must lead the world, or someone else will. Without American leadership,
without clarity of American purpose and resolve, the world becomes a
far more dangerous place, and liberty and prosperity would surely be
among the first casualties.
me make this very clear. As President of the United States, I will
devote myself to an American Century. And I will never, ever apologize
Some may ask, “Why America? Why should America be any different than
scores of other countries around the globe?”
believe we are an exceptional country with a unique destiny and role in
the world. Not exceptional, as the President has derisively said, in
the way that the British think Great Britain is exceptional or the
Greeks think Greece is exceptional. In Barack Obama’s profoundly
mistaken view, there is nothing unique about the United States.
we are exceptional because we are a nation founded on a precious idea
that was birthed in the American Revolution, and propounded by our
greatest statesmen, in our fundamental documents. We are a people who
threw off the yoke of tyranny and established a government, in Abraham
Lincoln’s words, “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
are a people who, in the language of our Declaration of Independence,
hold certain truths to be self-evident: namely, that all men are
endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. It is our
belief in the universality of these unalienable rights that leads us to
our exceptional role on the world stage, that of a great champion of
human dignity and human freedom.
was born in 1947, a classic baby boomer. I grew up in a world formed by
one dominant threat to America: the Soviet Union and Communism. The
“duck and cover” drills we learned in school during the Cuban Missile
Crisis resulted from a threat by a known, identifiable enemy, with
clear borders and established leaders. We needed spy planes to find the
hidden missile bases in Cuba but we didn’t need them to find Nikita
Khrushchev. President Reagan could negotiate with Soviet Premier
Mikhail Gorbachev and sign treaties for which each side could be held
accountable. And when we caught the Soviets cheating, we could bring
the world’s attention to their transgressions.
our world is far more chaotic. We still face grave threats, but they
come not from one country, or one group, or one ideology. The world is
unfortunately not so defined. What America and our allies are
is a series of threatening forces, ones that overlap and reinforce each
other. To defend America, and to secure a peaceful and prosperous
world, we need to clearly understand these emerging threats, grasp
their complexity, and formulate a strategy that deals with them before
they explode into conflict.
is far too easy for a President to jump from crisis to crisis, dealing
with one hot spot after another. But to do so is to be shaped by events
rather than to shape events. To avoid this paralyzing seduction of
action rather than progress, a President must have a broad vision of
the world coupled with clarity of purpose.
I look around the world, I see a handful of major forces that vie with
America and free nations, to shape the world in an image of their
choosing. These are not exclusively military threats. Rather,
determined, powerful forces that may threaten freedom, prosperity, and
America’s national interests.
First, Islamic fundamentalism with which we have been at war since
Sept. 11, 2001.
Second, the struggle in the greater Middle East between those who yearn
for freedom, and those who seek to crush it.
The dangerous and destabilizing ripple effects of failed and failing
states, from which terrorists may find safe haven.
The anti-American visions of regimes in Iran, North Korea, Venezuela,
and Cuba—two of which are seeking nuclear weapons.
these forces include rising nations with hidden and emerging
aspirations, like China, determined to be a world superpower, and a
resurgent Russia, led by a man who believes the Soviet Union was great,
is no one approach to these challenges. There is no Wall that the next
President can demand to be torn down. But there is one unifying thread
that connects each of these possible threats: when America is strong,
the world is safer.
Reagan called it “Peace through Strength” and he was never more right
than today. It is only American power—conceived in the broadest
terms—that can provide the foundation of an international system that
ensures the security and prosperity of the United States and our
friends and allies around the world.
strength rises from a strong economy, a strong defense, and the
enduring strength of our values. Unfortunately, under this
all three of those elements have been weakened.
President, on Day One, I will focus on rebuilding America’s
will reverse President Obama’s massive defense cuts. Time and
we have seen that attempts to balance the budget by weakening our
military only lead to a far higher price, not only in treasure, but in
My strategy of American strength is guided by a set of core principles.
American foreign policy must be prosecuted with clarity and resolve.
Our friends and allies must have no doubts about where we stand. And
neither should our rivals. If the world knows we are resolute, our
allies will be comforted and those who wish us harm will be far less
tempted to test that resolve.
America must promote open markets, representative government, and
respect for human rights. The path from authoritarianism to freedom and
representative government is not always a straight line or an easy
evolution, but history teaches us that nations that share our values,
will be reliable partners and stand with us in pursuit of common
security and shared prosperity.
the United States will apply the full spectrum of hard and soft power
to influence events before they erupt into conflict. Resort to force is
always the least desirable and costliest option. We must therefore
employ all the tools of statecraft to shape the outcome of threatening
situations before they demand military action. The United States should
always retain military supremacy to deter would-be aggressors and to
defend our allies and ourselves. If America is the undisputed
of the world, it reduces our need to police a more chaotic world.
the United States will exercise leadership in multilateral
organizations and alliances. American leadership lends credibility and
breeds faith in the ultimate success of any action, and attracts full
participation from other nations. American leadership will also focus
multilateral institutions like the United Nations on achieving the
substantive goals of democracy and human rights enshrined in their
charters. Too often, these bodies prize the act of negotiating
the outcome to be reached. And shamefully, they can become forums
the tantrums of tyrants and the airing of the world’s most ancient of
prejudices: anti-Semitism. The United States must fight to return these
bodies to their proper role. But know this: while America should work
with other nations, we always reserve the right to act alone to protect
our vital national interests.
my first 100 days in office, I will take a series of measures to put
these principles into action, and place America—and the world—on safer
these actions will be to restore America’s national defense. I
reverse the hollowing of our Navy and announce an initiative to
increase the shipbuilding rate from 9 per year to 15. I will
reversing Obama-era cuts to national missile defense and prioritize the
full deployment of a multilayered national ballistic missile defense
system. I will order the formulation of a national cybersecurity
strategy, to deter and defend against the growing threats of
militarized cyber-attacks, cyber-terrorism, and cyber-espionage.
will enhance our deterrent against the Iranian regime by ordering the
regular presence of aircraft carrier task forces, one in the Eastern
Mediterranean and one in the Persian Gulf region. I will begin
discussions with Israel to increase the level of our military
assistance and coordination. And I will again reiterate that Iran
obtaining a nuclear weapon is unacceptable.
will begin organizing all of our diplomatic and assistance efforts in
the greater Middle East under one official with the authority and
accountability necessary to train all our soft power resources on
ensuring that the Arab Spring does not fade into a long winter.
will launch a campaign to advance economic opportunity in Latin
America, and contrast the benefits of democracy, free trade, and free
enterprise against the material and moral bankruptcy of the Venezuelan
and Cuban model.
will order a full review of our transition to the Afghan military to
secure that nation’s sovereignty from the tyranny of the Taliban.
will speak with our generals in the field, and receive the best
recommendation of our military commanders. The force level
to secure our gains and complete our mission successfully is a decision
I will make free from politics.
I will bolster and repair our alliances. Our friends should never fear
that we will not stand by them in an hour of need. I will reaffirm as a
vital national interest Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. I will
count as dear our Special Relationship with the United Kingdom.
will begin talks with Mexico, to strengthen our cooperation on our
shared problems of drugs and security.
is America’s moment. We should embrace the challenge, not shrink
it, not crawl into an isolationist shell, not wave the white flag of
surrender, nor give in to those who assert America’s time has passed.
That is utter nonsense. An eloquently justified surrender of world
leadership is still surrender.
will not surrender America’s role in the world. This is very simple: If
you do not want America to be the strongest nation on Earth, I am not
You have that President today.
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. My hope is that our grandchildren will
remember us in the same way that we remember the past generations of
Americans who overcame adversity, the generations that fought in world
wars, that came through the Great Depression, and that gained victory
in the Cold War. Let future generations look back on us and say, they
rose to the occasion, they embraced their duty, and they led our nation
to safety and to greatness.
Greatest Generation is passing. But as their light fades, we must seize
the torch they carried so gallantly at such sacrifice. It is an eternal
torch of decency, freedom 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.
Believe in America.
Thank you, and God Bless the United States of America.
FACT CHECK – MITT ROMNEY’S
FOREIGN POLICY SPEECH AT THE CITADEL
Please see below a fact check of Mitt
Romney’s foreign policy speech today at The Citadel. Romney Claim: President Obama has
weakened America. FACT: PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS KEPT
AMERICA SAFE AND DECIMATED AL QAEDA Upon
Taking Office, President Obama Announced A Strategy To Refocus U.S.
Efforts In Afghanistan And Pakistan And “Disrupt, Dismantle And Defeat
Al Qaeda.” “As
my greatest responsibility is to protect the American people…So I want
the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused
goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and
Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the
future…And to the terrorists who oppose us, my message is the
will defeat you.” [President Obama, 03/27/09] More
Key Al Qaeda Leaders Have Been Eliminated In The Past Two And A Half
Years Than At Any Time Since September 11, 2001, Including Osama Bin
Laden. [President Obama, 06/28/11] President Obama Declared An End To
Combat Operations In Iraq.
[BBC News, 09/01/10] President Obama Has Withdrawn More
Than 100,000 Troops From Iraq Since Taking Office, [Brookings Institute, 09/30/11] Secretary Gates Said The US Military
Cannot Afford To “Perpetuate The Status Quo” And Has To Adapt To Face
“Our Navy has to be designed for new challenges, new technologies, and
new missions – because another one of history’s hard lessons is that,
when it comes to military capabilities, those who fail to adapt often
fail to survive.” [Secretary Gates, 05/03/10] FACT: PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS STOOD UP
FOR AMERICA AND IMPROVED AMERICA’S STANDING IN THE WORLD America’s Image Abroad Has Improved
Significantly Since President Obama Came Into Office. [Pew Global Attitudes Poll, 06/17/10] USW
International President Leo Gerard Said, “Today, President Obama Made
Clear That He Will Enforce America’s Trade Laws And Stand With American
Workers.” “For far too
long, workers across this country have been victimized by bad trade
policies and government inaction. Today, President Obama
that he will enforce America’s trade laws and stand with American
workers,” USW International President Leo W. Gerard said.”
International Press Release, 9/11/09] When Asked About the Obama
Administration, Defense Minister Barak Said He “Can Hardly Remember A
Period Of Better Support.” “Our
are good friends. And I'm the minister of defense, I can tell
you that I can hardly remember ... a better period of support, American
support and cooperation and similar strategic understanding of events
around us than what we have right now.” [Fox News, 08/03/11] The Washington Post Refuted Mitt
Romney’s False Claims That President Obama Went On An Apology Tour. “Republicans
may certainly disagree with Obama's handling of foreign policy or
particular policies he has pursued, but they should not invent a
storyline that does not appear to exist. Note to GOP speechwriters and
campaign ad makers: The apology tour never happened.” [Washington Post,
02/22/11] Romney Claim: “The
force level necessary to secure our gains and complete our mission
successfully is a decision I will make free from politics.” FACT: ROMNEY HAS TAKEN MULTIPLE
POSITIONS ON AFGHANISTAN FLIP: Romney: “It Is My Desire And My
Political Party’s Desire To Support The People Of Afghanistan And Not
“Although the media have not been invited to his events, a glimpse into
Romney’s thinking was provided by an individual who attended the
meeting between Romney and the young Afghans and who allowed a reporter
to view a video of the event. At one point, Romney said he supports a
longer-term US presence in Afghanistan and asked Afghans for their own
suggestions about how the United States can help overcome the raging
insurgency and endemic corruption here. President Obama’s
administration has said it plans to begin reducing the number of US
troops in July with the goal of handing over security to the Afghans by
the end of 2014. ‘It is my desire and my political party’s desire to
support the people of Afghanistan and not to leave,’ Romney said in
response to a question about whether the United States was going to
pull out of the country soon. ‘So we look to you to tell us the best
ways that we can support you.’” [Boston Globe, 1/14/11] ·FLOP:
Romney’s Went Middle Of The Road On President Obama’s Announcement Of
Troop Reductions In Afghanistan Saying “We All Want Out Troops To Come
Home As Soon As Possible.” “Some
the leading Republican presidential candidates offered dramatically
different reactions to President Obama’s announcement of troop
reductions in Afghanistan, a reflection of the schism in the Republican
Party over the future of the war… Mitt Romney, the former governor of
Massachusetts, is somewhere in the middle. In a statement, Mr. Romney
said that ‘we all want our troops to come home as soon as possible,’
but he stopped short of praising Mr. Obama’s speech.” [New York Times, 6/23/11] FLIP:
Romney Criticized President Obama’s Announcement Of A Troop Withdrawal
Timeline In Afghanistan Saying “The Taliban May Not Have Watches, But
They Do Have Calendars.”
“Romney praised the decision to send additional troops to Afghanistan,
but criticized President Obama’s announcement of when troops will
withdraw. ‘The Taliban may not have watches, but they do have
calendars,’ Romney said.” [Boston Globe, 6/3/11] ·FLOP:
“The Generals Actually Concur With The Idea That We Should
Bring Down The Surge Troops And Ultimately By 2014, Take Our Footprint
- Our Large Combat Footprint Out Of Afghanistan, That’s Something With
Which I Concur.”
On Moring Joe, Mitt Romney said: “The
actually concur with the idea that we should bring down the
surge troops, and ultimately by 2014, take our footprint -- our large
combat footprint out of Afghanistan, that's something with which I
concur.” [Morning Joe, MSNBC, 9/28/11] Romney
Said Of Afghanistan: “I Also Think We’ve Learned That Our Troops
Shouldn’t Go Off And Try To Fight A War Of Independence For Another
Nation.” At the New
Hampshire Republican primary debate Romney said of Afghanistan: “I also
think we've learned that our troops shouldn't go off and try and fight
a war of independence for another nation. Only the Afghanis can win
Afghanistan's independence from the Taliban.” [New Hampshire Debate, 6/13/11] Byron
York: Romney Seemed “Off Balance” When Asked What Strategy He Would
Employ In Afghanistan Saying “I’m Not In That Position.”
“Then there’s Afghanistan. ‘I’m a little surprised that, having made
Afghanistan the center of his anti-terrorist strategy, he says he
doesn’t have a strategy at this stage for what to do in Afghanistan,’
Romney says of the president. ‘I would have expected him to have
accomplished that by this point.’ As Romney sees it, Obama has a
choice. He can go along with Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s expected request
for more troops, or he can betray his own campaign promise of a firm
U.S. stand in Afghanistan. ‘I think his only choice, and the correct
choice, is the former,’ Romney says. But it might not be that simple.
When I ask Romney, ‘What would you have done?’ he seems slightly
off-balance. ‘I’m not in that position,’ Romney says. He pauses a
moment. ‘When you say, what would I have done, I, I – ‘ ‘Do you think
we needed a new strategy in Afghanistan?’ I ask. ‘I’m going to
Afghanistan and Iraq in a couple of months,’ Romney says. ‘I’ll get an
assessment of what’s happening there and what the prospects are. But I
certainly would support our troops with the additional troops which are
being called for by General McChrystal, and provide the equipment and
the manpower and the budgetary support which our troops deserve.’” [Byron York, Washington Examiner, 9/27/09] ·HEADLINE: Romney critical
of Obama’s Afghan policy—but hesitant himself [Byron York,
Washington Examiner, 9/27/09] Romney Claim: “I
will order the formulation of a national cybersecurity strategy, to
deter and defend against the growing threats of militarized
cyber-attacks, cyber-terrorism, and cyber-espionage.” FACT: PRESIDENT OBAMA CREATED THE
FIRST MILITARY COMMAND DEDICATED TO CYBER SECURITY In
2009, The Obama Administration Created The First Military Command
Dedicated To Cyber Security, Reflecting President Obama’s Commitment To
Elevating Computer Security As A National Security Issue. “Defense
Secretary Robert Gates created a new military command dedicated to
cyber security on Tuesday, reflecting the Obama administration's plans
to centralize and elevate computer security as a major
national-security issue… The decision follows President Barack Obama's
announcement last month that he will establish a new cyber-security
office at the White House, whose chief will coordinate all government
efforts to protect computer networks.” [WSJ, 06/24/09]