Campaign Headlines July 24, 2012: Mitt Romney Blasts President Obama Over Security Leaks, Defense Cuts in a Speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Reno, Nevada

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Romney Blasts Obama Over Security Leaks, Defense Cuts

Source: ABC News Radio, 7-24-12

Saul Loeb/AFP/J.D. Pooley/GettyImages

On the eve of his week-long trip abroad, Mitt Romney today condemned President Obama’s handling of recent security leaks to the media, including details from the attack that led to the death Osama Bin Laden, describing it as “contemptible” and urging the president to accept responsibility for leaks that might have stemmed from his administration.
“This isn’t a partisan issue; it’s a national-security crisis,” Romney said in remarks delivered to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Reno, Nev. “This conduct is contemptible. It betrays our national interest. It compromises our men and women in the field. And it demands a full and prompt investigation, with explanation and consequence….READ MORE

Full Text Campaign Buzz July 24, 2012: Fact Sheet: Mitt Romney’s Foreign Policy & National Plan For An American Century

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

A brief look at Mitt Romney’s foreign policy plan

Source: AP, 7-24-12

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney outlined his vision of U.S. national security policy on Tuesday, challenging President Barack Obama over everything from classified information leaks to his handling of the war in Afghanistan….READ MORE

Fact Sheet: The Romney Plan For An American Century

Source: Mitt Romney, 7-24-12

Defense Policy

American military power is vital to the preservation of our own security and peace around the world. Mitt Romney will:

  • Reverse Obama-era defense spending cuts with the goal of setting a core defense spending floor of 4% of GDP.In his first 100 days, put our Navy on the path to increase its shipbuilding rate from nine per year to approximately fifteen per year.  Maintain a fleet of 11 aircraft carriers.
    Find efficiencies in the Department of Defense procurement process and bureaucratic staff to reinvest in the force.
  • Modernize and replace the aging inventories of the Air Force, Army, and Marines, and selectively strengthen our force structure.
  • Add 100,000 active duty troops.
  • In the first 100 days, begin reversing Obama-era cuts to missile defense and commit to a robust multi-layered national ballistic-missile defense system to deter and defend against nuclear attacks on our homeland and our allies.

Iran Policy

Mitt Romney believes it is unacceptable for Iran to possess a nuclear weapons capability and will adopt a comprehensive strategy to prevent that scenario.  He will:

  • In his first 100 days, make clear that the military option is on the table by ordering the regular presence of an aircraft carrier task force in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf region simultaneously. He will also begin talks with Israel to increase military coordination and assistance and enhance intelligence sharing.
  • Increase military coordination with Arab allies in the region and conduct more naval exercises in the region as a demonstration of strength and resolve.
  • Fully implement sanctions targeted at Iran’s Central Bank and its petroleum industry. Cease the Obama Administration’s practice of issuing exemptions from sanctions to nations such as China that fail to meaningfully reduce their oil imports from Iran.
  • Step up enforcement of existing U.S. laws that bar commerce with Iran, such as the exportation of refined petroleum products to Iran.
  • Increase diplomatic isolation of Iran and work to indict Iranian President Ahmadinejad for incitement to genocide under the Genocide Convention.
  • Support the Iranian opposition by improving the flow of information to the Iranian population about its own government’s repressive activities and refusing to stand silent while the Iranian regime ruthlessly terrorizes its own people.
  • Reaffirm that any negotiated agreement must entail the internationally recognized redline of full suspension of enrichment activities by the Iranian regime. In addition, call for intrusive and unannounced inspections, unfettered access to all officials and scientists who have participated in Iran’s nuclear program, removal of enriched uranium stockpiles from Iran, and a full accounting of past weaponization work.
  • Commit to the on-time completion of a fully capable missile defense system in Eastern Europe and retain the option of reverting to a swifter implementation plan. Mitt Romney will deny Russia any control or veto over the missile defense system.

Afghanistan & Pakistan Policy

Mitt Romney will cease President Obama’s practice of politicizing decisions on troop levels and transition timetables. Mitt Romney will:

  • In his first 100 days, order a full interagency review of our transition in Afghanistan toward the goal of a successful transition of combat operations by the end of 2014. He will review our military and assistance presence to determine the level required to secure our gains and to train Afghan forces to the point where they can protect the sovereignty of Afghanistan on their own. Withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan under a Romney administration will be based on conditions on the ground as assessed by our military commanders.
  • Work with the Afghan government and Pakistan and use U.S. leverage to ensure that those nations are fully contributing to the success of our mission. He will make clear to Afghan President Hamid Karzai that our commitment must be met with reciprocal efforts to crack down on corruption in his government, respect free and fair elections as required by the Afghan constitution, and coordinate with the United States on fighting the narcotics trade that fuels the insurgency. Mitt Romney will work with Pakistan to sever any connection between insurgent forces and Pakistan’s security and intelligence agencies.

China Policy

Mitt Romney will implement a strategy that makes the path of regional hegemony for China far more costly than the alternative path of becoming a responsible partner in the international system. Mitt Romney will:

  • Maintain robust military capabilities in the Pacific to guarantee that trade routes remain open and East Asia’s community of nations remains secure and prosperous.
  • Deepen cooperation among regional partners like India and build stronger ties to influential countries like Indonesia.
  • Defend human rights. Any serious policy must confront the fact that China’s Communist regime continues to deny its people basic political freedoms and human rights. Mitt Romney will support and engage civil society groups within China that are promoting democratic reform, anti-corruption efforts, religious freedom, and women’s and minority rights. These efforts will provide them with greater access to information through a stronger Internet freedom initiative.

Specifically on issues of trade, Mitt Romney will lay out a clear series of steps that the Chinese must take to become a responsible participant in the global economy, and a clear series of consequences that would accompany failure to make rapid progress down that path, such as:

If China continues to block government procurement from foreign firms:

  • End U.S. government procurement from China

If China continues to manipulate its currency:

  • Formally declare China to be a currency manipulator
    • Impose associated countervailing duties

If China continues to unfairly subsidize its domestic producers,  interfere with foreign competitors, and pursue an “indigenous innovation” policy by coercing and stealing from foreign firms:

  • Impose punitive tariffs on Chinese products for which China provides anti-competitive assistance
  • Work with other developed nations to impose intellectual property sanctions, blocking the transfer into China of technologies that China has prioritized

In response to all of these practices:

  • Use Reagan Economic Zone to confer benefits on genuine free trading nations from which China is excluded so long as its unfair practices continue

Middle East Policy

A Romney administration will pursue a strategy of supporting groups and governments across the Middle East to advance the values of representative government, economic opportunity, and human rights. And it will oppose any extension of Iranian or jihadist influence. Mitt Romney will:

  • Engage Congress to organize all diplomatic and assistance efforts in the greater Middle East under one regional director with unified budgetary and directive authority who will train our soft power on ensuring the Arab Spring does not become an Arab Winter.
  • Make available technical assistance to transitional governments to promote democracy, good governance, and sound financial management.
  • Convene a summit that brings together world leaders, donor groups, and young leaders of civil society groups in nations in transition.

Israel

Mitt Romney will restore our relationship with our closest ally in the Middle East. He will:

  • Make Israel the destination of his first foreign trip as president.
  • In the first 100 days, reaffirm as a vital U.S. national interest the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.
  • Work closely with Israel to maintain its strategic military edge and increase military assistance.
  • Reject any measure that would frustrate direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Mitt Romney will make clear to the Palestinians that the unilateral attempt to decide issues that are designated for final negotiations is unacceptable.
  • Reduce assistance to the Palestinians if they continue to pursue United Nations recognition or form a unity government that includes Hamas, a terrorist group dedicated to Israel’s destruction.

Egypt

Egypt is in many ways the fulcrum of the Arab world.  Mitt Romney will orient U.S. policy to encourage the development of an Egyptian government that represents all Egyptians, maintains peace with Israel, and promotes peace throughout the region. He will:

  • Condition the $1.3 billion in U.S. military assistance to Egypt on maintaining its peace agreement with Israel. Place conditions of good governance and peaceful relations on the $250 million in economic assistance, $1 billion in debt cancelation pledges, and $1 billion in OPIC loan guarantees the United States grants to Egypt.
  • Engage G-8 partners, the World Bank, and the European Investment Bank to use their collective influence and place conditions of good governance and peaceful relations on the billions they have pledged to Egypt.

Syria

Both America’s humanitarian and strategic interests would be served by the departure of Bashar al-Assad.  Mitt Romney will make clear that Assad must go and that no way forward in Syria will include Assad. He will:

  • Work with partners to call on Syria’s military to protect civilians rather than attack them, drive a wedge between the Assad regime and the wider Alawite minority and other minorities, assure them of a role in a post-Assad Syria if they abandon the regime, and increase the chances for reconciliation with the majority Sunni population after Assad’s fall.
  • Make clear that the United States and our allies will support the Syrian opposition when the time comes for them to forge a post-Assad government.
  • Work with partners to identify, organize, and arm opposition groups aligned with U.S. interests.

Russia Policy

Mitt Romney will reset President Obama’s “Reset” with Russia and implement a strategy to discourage aggressive or expansionist behavior on the part of Russia and encourage democratic political and economic reform. He will:

  • Review the implementation of the New START treaty and other decisions by the Obama Administration regarding America’s nuclear posture and arms-control policies to determine whether they serve the best interests and national security of the United States.
  • Pursue policies to reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian sources of energy. He will explore increasing technical assistance to the Eastern European nations currently developing the Turkey-to-Austria Nabucco natural gas pipeline and work with the private sector to spur access to untapped shale energy resources in Western Europe.
  • Deter Russian ambitions to its south by enhancing diplomatic ties, increasing military training and assistance, and negotiating trade pacts and educational exchanges with Central Asian states.
  • Forthrightly confront the Russian government over its authoritarian practices. Mitt Romney will increase the flow of information into Russia that highlights the virtues of freedom and a government free of corruption. He will bring more leaders of Russian civil society to the United States on exchange programs.

Latin America Policy

A Romney administration will support democratic allies and market-based economic relationships, contain destabilizing internal forces such as criminal gangs and terrorists, and oppose destabilizing outside influences such as Iran. Mitt Romney will:

  • In his first 100 days, launch a vigorous public diplomacy and trade promotion effort in the region—the Campaign for Economic Opportunity in Latin America (CEOLA)—to encourage trade and investment between the United States and Latin America and draw a stark contrast between the virtues of democracy and free trade and the ills of the authoritarian socialist model offered by Cuba and Venezuela.
  • Build on separate existing anti-drug and counterterrorism initiatives to form a unified Hemispheric Joint Task Force on Crime and Terrorism to coordinate intelligence and enforcement among allies to combat regional terrorist groups and criminal networks and sever connections to foreign terrorist entities like Hezbollah.
  • Explore with Mexico the need for enhanced military-to-military training cooperation and intelligence sharing to combat our mutual challenge of drug cartels and criminal gangs. Complete a high-tech fence to secure the southern border.

North Korea Policy

Mitt Romney will commit to eliminating North Korea’s nuclear weapons and its nuclear-weapons infrastructure. He will:

  • Work with allies to institute harsher sanctions on North Korea, such as cracking down on financial institutions that service the North Korean regime and sanctioning companies that conduct commercial shipping in and out of North Korea.
  • Step up enforcement of the Proliferation Security Initiative to constrain North Korean illicit exports.
  • Work to persuade China to commit to North Korea’s disarmament. Mitt Romney will discuss with China how the international community will address the humanitarian and security issues that will arise should North Korea disintegrate. And by reinvigorating our military and counter-proliferation relationships with South Korea, Japan, and others regional allies, he will demonstrate to the Chinese that they should join the coordinated effort or be left behind.

Diplomatic & National Security Institutions

Mitt Romney will empower our diplomatic, assistance, and national security institutions to best secure our enduring national interests and ideals. He will:

  • Reorganize our diplomatic and assistance agencies to foster joint regional strategic planning by placing unified budgetary and directive authority under one official responsible for all diplomatic and assistance programs within a particular region. This structure will mirror the regional military combatant command structure.
  • In the first 100 days, order a full interagency initiative to formulate a unified national strategy to deter and defend against the growing threats of militarized cyber-attacks, cyber-terrorism, cyber-espionage, and private-sector intellectual property theft.
  • Order an initiative to combat homegrown terrorism by redoubling efforts to work with state and local authorities to share intelligence “vertically,” enhance partnerships with Muslim-American communities to identify threats and suspicious activity, and develop our database of knowledge about the hallmarks of radicalization and recruitment. The strategy will contain measures to preserve privacy and our constitutional rights.
  • Work with Congress to update the chief source of statutory authority for the war on terrorism to authorize the use of force against any foreign terrorist entity that is waging war against the United States.
  • Work with Congress to unify the over 108 authorizing committees in Congress that oversee the Department of Homeland Security.

Setting a New Tone: Eight Actions for the First Hundred Days

  1. Restore America’s Naval Credibility

Announce an initiative to increase the naval shipbuilding rate from nine per year to approximately fifteen per year and sustain the carrier fleet at eleven. This will restore America’s presence and credibility on the high seas with a view toward deterring aggressive behavior and maintaining the peace.

  1. Strengthen and Repair Relationships with Steadfast Allies

Take swift measures to restore and enhance relationships with our most steadfast allies. Actions include reaffirming as a vital national interest Israel’s existence as Jewish state, declaring the U.S.-U.K. special relationship to be a foundation for peace and liberty, and beginning talks to strengthen cooperation with Mexico on the shared problem of drugs and security.

  1. Enhance Our Deterrent Against Iran

Reaffirm that Iran’s possession of a nuclear weapon is unacceptable. Order the regular presence of a carrier task force in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf region. Begin discussions with Israel to increase levels of military and intelligence coordination and assistance.

  1. Commit to a Robust National Missile Defense System

Begin process of reversing Obama-era budget cuts to national missile defense and raise to a top priority the full deployment of a multilayered national ballistic-missile defense system.

  1. Establish a Single Point of Responsibility for All Soft Power Resources in the Middle East

Work with Congress and relevant Executive branch agencies to organize all diplomatic and assistance efforts in the greater Middle East under one Regional Director with unified budgetary and directive authority. One official with responsibility and accountability will set regional priorities and direct our soft power toward ensuring the Arab Spring realizes its promise.

  1. Launch Campaign for Economic Opportunity in Latin America

Capitalize on the benefits arising from the ratification of the Colombian and Panamanian free trade agreements to launch a robust public-diplomacy and trade promotion campaign in Latin America that contrasts the benefits of democracy, free trade, and economic opportunity with the ills caused by the authoritarian model of Venezuela and Cuba.

  1. Conduct a Full Review of Our Transition in Afghanistan

Conduct a full interagency review of our military and assistance presence in Afghanistan to determine the presence necessary to secure our gains and successfully complete our mission. The review will involve discussions with generals on the ground and the delivery of the best recommendations of our military commanders.

  1. Order Interagency Initiative on Cybersecurity

Order a full interagency initiative to formulate a unified national strategy to deter and defend against the growing threats of militarized cyber-attacks, cyber-terrorism, cyber-espionage, and private-sector intellectual property theft. U.S. defense and intelligence resources must be fully engaged in this critical aspect of national defense.

To view the full foreign policy white paper please click here.

Full Text Campaign Buzz July 24, 2012: Mitt Romney’s Speech on Foreign Policy & National Security to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Reno, Nevada

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Remarks At The VFW National Convention

Source: Mitt Romney, 7-24-12

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Thank you.  Commander Richard DeNoyer, I appreciate the introduction, and I’m proud to see a combat veteran from Massachusetts serving as National Commander of the VFW.

Ladies Auxiliary President Gwen Rankin, incoming National Commander John Hamilton, incoming Ladies Auxiliary President Leanne Lemley, Adjutant General Allen “Gunner” Kent, Executive Director Bob Wallace, distinguished guests and members of the VFW: Thank you for your generous welcome.

I want to start today with a few words about the unimaginable tragedy in Colorado last week.  We’ve since learned that among the victims were four people who had served – or were serving – our country in uniform.  Today, our hearts go out to the families of John Larimer of the U.S. Navy; Rebecca Wingo, an Air Force veteran; Jesse Childress, an Army veteran and member of the Air Force reserve; and Jonathan Blunk, a Navy veteran who died shielding his girlfriend from the spray of bullets.  The loss of four Americans who served our country only adds to the profound tragedy of that day.  All Americans are grateful for their service and deeply saddened by their deaths.  We mourn them and we will remember them.

The VFW is now over two million strong.  It has a special place in America’s heart.  Some of you fought recently, in Iraq or Afghanistan.  Others are old enough to have marched, flown, or sailed by orders of Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Whatever your age, whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, whenever you served – there’s one thing you have in common: You answered the call of your country in a time of war. From December 7th, 1941 to September 11, 2001, whenever America has been tested, you stepped forward. You come from our farms, our great cities, our small towns and quiet neighborhoods. Many of you have known violence so that your neighbors could only know peace.  You have done more than protect America; your courage and service defines America.  You are America at our best and it is an honor to address you.

Our veterans are part of a proud tradition that stretches back to the battlefields at Lexington and Concord – and now to places like Fallujah and Kandahar.  Year after year, our men and women in uniform have added proud achievements to their record of service.  And President Obama pointed to some of them yesterday in his speech.

Any time our military accomplishes a vital mission it is a proud moment for our nation.  But we owe our veterans and our military more than just an accounting of our successes.  They deserve a fair and frank assessment of the whole picture – of where we are and where we want to be.  And when it comes to national security and foreign policy, as with our economy, the last few years have been a time of declining influence and missed opportunity.

Just consider some of the challenges I discussed at your last national convention:

Since then, has the American economy recovered?

Has our ability to shape world events been enhanced, or diminished?

Have we gained greater confidence among our allies, and greater respect from our adversaries?

And, perhaps most importantly, has the most severe security threat facing America and our friends, a nuclear-armed Iran, become more or less likely?

These clear measures are the ultimate tests of American leadership.  And, by these standards, we haven’t seen much in the President’s first term that inspires confidence in a second.

The President’s policies have made it harder to recover from the deepest recession in seventy years … exposed the military to cuts that no one can justify … compromised our national-security secrets … and in dealings with other nations, given trust where it is not earned, insult where it is not deserved, and apology where it is not due.

From Berlin to Cairo to the United Nations, President Obama has shared his view of America and its place among nations.  I have come here today to share mine.

I am an unapologetic believer in the greatness of this country. I am not ashamed of American power.  I take pride that throughout history our power has brought justice where there was tyranny, peace where there was conflict, and hope where there was affliction and despair.  I do not view America as just one more point on the strategic map, one more power to be balanced.  I believe our country is the greatest force for good the world has ever known, and that our influence is needed as much now as ever.  And I am guided by one overwhelming conviction and passion:  This century must be an American Century.

In 1941, Henry Luce called on his countrymen – just then realizing their strength – “to create the first great American century.” And they succeeded: together with their allies, they won World War II, they rescued Europe, they defeated Communism, and America took its place as leader of the free world. Across the globe, they fought, they bled, they led.  They showed the world the extraordinary courage of the American heart and the generosity of the American spirit.

That courage and generosity remains unchanged today.  But sadly, this president has diminished American leadership, and we are reaping the consequences. The world is dangerous, destructive, chaotic.  And the two men running to be your commander-in-chief must offer their answers to the challenges we face.

Like a watchman in the night, we must remain at our post – and keep guard of the freedom that defines and ennobles us, and our friends.  In an American Century, we have the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world.  In an American Century, we secure peace through our strength.  And if by absolute necessity we must employ it, we must wield our strength with resolve.  In an American Century, we lead the free world and the free world leads the entire world.

If we do not have the strength or vision to lead, then other powers will take our place, pulling history in a very different direction.  A just and peaceful world depends on a strong and confident America. I pledge to you that if I become commander-in-chief, the United States of America will fulfill its duty, and its destiny.

American leadership depends, as it always has, on our economic strength, on our military strength, and on our moral strength.  If any of these falter, no skill of diplomacy or presidential oratory can compensate. Today, the strength of our economy is in jeopardy.

A healthy American economy is what underwrites American power. When growth is missing, government revenue falls, social spending rises, and many in Washington look to cut defense spending as an easy out.  That includes our current President.

Today, we are just months away from an arbitrary, across-the-board budget reduction that would saddle the military with a trillion dollars in cuts, severely shrink our force structure, and impair our ability to meet and deter threats.  Don’t bother trying to find a serious military rationale behind any of this, unless that rationale is wishful thinking. Strategy is not driving President Obama’s massive defense cuts.  In fact, his own Secretary of Defense warned that these reductions would be “devastating.”  And he is right.

That devastation starts at home. These cuts would only weaken an already stretched VA system and impair our solemn commitment that every veteran receives care second to none. I will not allow that to happen.

This is not the time for the President’s radical cuts in the military. Look around the globe. Other major powers are rapidly adding to their military capabilities, some with intentions very different from ours.  The regime in Tehran is drawing closer to developing a nuclear weapon.  The threat of radical Islamic terrorism persists. The threat of weapons of mass destruction proliferation is ever-present. And we are still at war and still have uniformed men and women in conflict.

All this and more is ongoing in the world.  And yet the President has chosen this moment for wholesale reductions in the nation’s military capacity.  When the biggest announcement in his last State of the Union address on improving our military was that the Pentagon will start using more clean energy – then you know it’s time for a change.

We’re not the first people to observe this.  It is reported that Bob Gates, the President’s first secretary of defense, bluntly addressed another security problem within this administration.  After secret operational details of the bin Laden raid were given to reporters, Secretary Gates walked into the West Wing and told the Obama team to “shut up.”  He added a colorful word for emphasis.

Lives of American servicemen and women are at stake.  But astonishingly, the administration failed to change its ways. More top-secret operations were leaked, even some involving covert action in Iran.

This isn’t a partisan issue; it’s a national security crisis.  And yesterday, Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, quote, “I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks.”

This conduct is contemptible. It betrays our national interest. It compromises our men and women in the field.  And it demands a full and prompt investigation by a special counsel, with explanation and consequence.  Obama appointees, who are accountable to President Obama’s Attorney General, should not be responsible for investigating the leaks coming from the Obama White House.

Whoever provided classified information to the media, seeking political advantage for the administration, must be exposed, dismissed, and punished.  The time for stonewalling is over.

It is not enough to say the matter is being looked into, and leave it at that.  When the issue is the political use of highly sensitive national security information, it is unacceptable to say, “We’ll report our findings after Election Day.”

Exactly who in the White House betrayed these secrets?  Did a superior authorize it?  These are things that Americans are entitled to know – and they are entitled to know right now.  If the President believes – as he said last week – that the buck stops with him, then he owes all Americans a full and prompt accounting of the facts.

And let me make this very clear:  These events make the decision we face in November all the more important.  What kind of White House would reveal classified material for political gain?  I’ll tell you right now:  Mine won’t.

The harm done when national security secrets are betrayed extends, of course, to the trust that allies place in the United States.

The operating principle of American foreign policy has been to work with our allies so that we can deter aggression before it breaks out into open conflict.  That policy depends on nurturing our alliances and standing up for our common values.

Yet the President has moved in the opposite direction.

It began with the sudden abandonment of friends in Poland and the Czech Republic.  They had courageously agreed to provide sites for our anti-missile systems, only to be told, at the last hour, that the agreement was off. As part of the so-called reset in policy, missile defenses were sacrificed as a unilateral concession to the Russian government.

If that gesture was designed to inspire good will from Russia, it clearly missed the mark.  The Russian government defended the dictator in Damascus, arming him as he slaughtered the Syrian people.

We can only guess what Vladimir Putin makes of the Obama administration. He regained the Russian presidency in a corrupt election, and for that, he got a congratulatory call from the Oval Office.  And then there was that exchange picked up by a microphone that President Obama didn’t know was on.  We heard him asking Dmitry Medvedev to tell Mr. Putin to give him “space.”  “This is my last election,” President Obama said, and “After my election I’ll have more flexibility.”

Why is flexibility with Russian leaders more important than transparency to the American people?

President Obama had a moment of candor, however, just the other day.  He said that the actions of the Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez have not had a serious national security impact on us.  In my view, inviting Hezbollah into our hemisphere is severe, serious, and a threat.

But at least he was consistent.  After all, this is the president who faltered when the Iranian people were looking for support in their struggle against the ayatollahs.  That uprising was treated as an inconvenient problem for the President’s policy of engagement, instead of as a moral and strategic opportunity.  That terrible misjudgment should never be repeated.  When unarmed women and men in Tehran find the courage to confront their oppressors, at risk of torture and death, they should hear the unequivocal voice of an American president affirming their right to be free.

I will leave Reno this evening on a trip abroad that will take me to England, Poland, and Israel.   And since I wouldn’t venture into another country to question American foreign policy, I will tell you right here – before I leave – what I think of this administration’s shabby treatment of one of our finest friends.

President Obama is fond of lecturing Israel’s leaders. He was even caught by a microphone deriding them. He has undermined their position, which was tough enough as it was.  And even at the United Nations, to the enthusiastic applause of Israel’s enemies, he spoke as if our closest ally in the Middle East was the problem.

The people of Israel deserve better than what they have received from the leader of the free world.  And the chorus of accusations, threats, and insults at the United Nations should never again include the voice of the President of the United States.

There are values, causes, and nations that depend on American strength, on the clarity of our purpose, and on the reliability of our commitments.  There is work in this world that only America and our allies can do, hostile powers that only we can deter, and challenges that only we can overcome.

For the past decade, among those challenges has been the war in Afghanistan. As commander-in-chief, I will have a solemn duty to our men and women in uniform.  A president owes our troops, their families, and the American people a clear explanation of our mission, and a commitment not to play politics with the decisions of war.

I have been critical of the President’s decision to withdraw the surge troops during the fighting season, against the advice of the commanders on the ground.  President Obama would have you believe that anyone who disagrees with his decisions is arguing for endless war.  But the route to more war – and to potential attacks here at home – is a politically timed retreat.

As president, my goal in Afghanistan will be to complete a successful transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014.  I will evaluate conditions on the ground and solicit the best advice of our military commanders.  And I will affirm that my duty is not to my political prospects, but to the security of the nation.

We face another continuing challenge in a rising China.  China is attentive to the interests of its government – but it too often disregards the rights of its people.  It is selective in the freedoms it allows; and, as with its one-child policy, it can be ruthless in crushing the freedoms it denies.  In conducting trade with America, it permits flagrant patent and copyright violations … forestalls American businesses from competing in its market … and manipulates its currency to obtain unfair advantage.  It is in our mutual interest for China to be a partner for a stable and secure world, and we welcome its participation in trade.  But the cheating must finally be brought to a stop.  President Obama hasn’t done it and won’t do it. I will.

We’ll need that same clarity of purpose and resolve in the Middle East.  America cannot be neutral in the outcome there.  We must clearly stand for the values of representative government, economic opportunity, and human rights. And we must stand against the extension of Iranian or jihadist influence.

Egypt is at the center of this historical drama.  In many ways, it has the power to tip the balance in the Arab world toward freedom and modernity. As president, I will not only direct the billions in assistance we give to Egypt toward that goal, but I will also work with partner nations to place conditions on their assistance as well.  Unifying our collective influence behind a common purpose will foster the development of a government that represents all Egyptians, maintains peace with Israel, and promotes peace throughout the region. The United States is willing to help Egypt support peace and prosperity, but we will not be complicit in oppression and instability.

There is no greater danger in the world today than the prospect of the ayatollahs in Tehran possessing nuclear weapons capability.  Yet for all the talks and conferences, all of the extensions and assurances, can anyone say we are farther from this danger now than four years ago?

The same ayatollahs who each year mark a holiday by leading chants of “Death to America” are not going to be talked out of their pursuit of nuclear weapons.  What’s needed is all the firmness, clarity, and moral courage that we and our allies can gather.  Sanctions must be enforced without exception, cutting off the regime’s sources of wealth.  Negotiations must secure full and unhindered access for inspections.  As it is, the Iranian regime claims the right to enrich nuclear material for supposedly peaceful purposes.  This claim is discredited by years of deception.  A clear line must be drawn: There must be a full suspension of any enrichment, period.

And at every turn, Iran must know that the United States and our allies stand as one in these critical objectives.  Only in this way can we successfully counter the catastrophic threat that Iran presents.  I pledge to you and to all Americans that if I become commander-in-chief, I will use every means necessary to protect ourselves and the region, and to prevent the worst from happening while there is still time.

It is a mistake – and sometimes a tragic one – to think that firmness in American foreign policy can bring only tension or conflict.  The surest path to danger is always weakness and indecision.  In the end, it is resolve that moves events in our direction, and strength that keeps the peace.

I will not surrender America’s leadership in the world. We must have confidence in our cause, clarity in our purpose, and resolve in our might.

This is very simple: if you do not want America to be the strongest nation on earth, I am not your President.  You have that President today.

The 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.

Fewer members of the Greatest Generation are with us today – and they can’t hold the torch as high as they have in the past.  We must now seize the torch they carried so gallantly and 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 so that all the world can see its light.

Believe in America.

Thank you and God Bless the United States of America.

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