The empire strikes back (part 2)

Mitt Romney US foreign policy

Bare-knuckle fighting talk

America awaits a major foreign policy speech later today from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. His campaign office has released advance extracts, and they make for chilling reading.

My previous post raised the question of the motives behind Turkey’s decision to retaliate militarily against any firing onto their territory by Syrian forces. As mentioned, there are widespread fears that this policy could lead to an escalation of the Syrian civil conflict (whether it’s supported by Iran, or not).

Some of the stuff Romney proposes to deliver in his speech at (significantly) the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, makes the Turkish stance look positively benign.

“Iran is sending arms to Assad because they know his downfall would be a strategic defeat for them. We should be working no less vigorously with our international partners to support the many Syrians who would deliver that defeat to Iran – rather than sitting on the sidelines.”[1]

Romney’s group of some 30 foreign policy advisers comes largely from that same pool of neoconservatives that dominated the George W. Bush administration, and their aggressively interventionist attitude is highly evident in the published ‘tasters’.


“In Syria, I will work with our partners to identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values and ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad’s tanks, helicopters, and fighter jets… It is essential that we develop influence with those forces in Syria that will one day lead a country that sits at the heart of the Middle East.”


“In Libya, I will support the Libyan people’s efforts to forge a lasting government that represents all of them, and I will vigorously pursue the terrorists who attacked our consulate in Benghazi and killed Americans.”


“The attack on our Consulate in Benghazi on September 11th, 2012 was likely the work of the same forces that attacked our homeland on September 11th, 2001.”

Is that last allegation true?


“I will put the leaders of Iran on notice that the United States and our friends and allies will prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons capability. I will not hesitate to impose new sanctions on Iran, and will tighten the sanctions we currently have. I will restore the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf region—and work with Israel to increase our military assistance and coordination.”

[My emphasis, throughout the above quotes.]

Exceptionalism, and to an extreme degree

Romney has been accused of not having much to say on foreign policy until now. This speech will undoubtedly set the tone for the next TV debate ‘Romney vs. Obama’, which takes place in a couple of weeks. (So, get better prepared this time, Mr. O!)

Meanwhile, I am grateful to one of my American friends, who recently provoked me into checking up definitions of ‘American exceptionalism’, and the way this traditional American concept (contentious from its very beginnings) is being twisted and perverted, particularly by the Republican elephant.

In comparison with this bellicose stuff, Turkey’s policy towards Syria seems like that of a mouse… over to you, Obama.

[1]: The Guardian

Image source: Daily Mail/Getty Images


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