The Foreign Policy Case Against Barack Obama

Credit: Flickr/Wikimedia Commons.

By Walid Phares:

As Governor Romney and President Obama continue to debate foreign policy and national security, voters would be wise to evaluate the “Obama doctrine” against the current combustible state of affairs that it has led to in the Greater Middle East. In less than four years, the Obama administration’s policies have transformed the region into a powder keg with a hairpin detonator that could be set off by the slightest diplomatic misstep, engulfing the region and the world in war. And, as if an economy on the brink wasn’t daunting enough, the current administration’s feckless diplomacy in the Arab world have begotten a near-impossible foreign policy conundrum that Mitt Romney will be forced to attend to from the moment he is sworn in as the forty-fifth president of the United States.

In order to help voters see clearly where unfolding events in the region are headed, I have summarized the salient facts and provided a brief analysis below.

President Obama’s denial of various forms of Islamist radicalism have amplified the jihadist threat and altered American foreign policy in the Middle East. In his Cairo speech in 2009, Mr. Obama affirmed the misperception that America had been on the wrong side in wars “against the Muslim world” by announcing his new expiative approach to U.S. foreign policy in the Arab world. Since then his and the State Department’s actions in the region have been characterized by retreat, abandonment of civil democratic reform movements, and partnership with Islamist movements, such as the Muslim Brotherhood. The administration’s freedom-antagonistic policies coupled with a desire to find common ground with the Iranian regime, have effectively quashed hopes for true democratic reform while Obama remains in the White House. The Obama doctrine has dangerously impacted U.S. national security.

Barack Obama’s ill-advised pre-election commitment to bilateral negotiations with the ayatollahs was put to the test in June 2009 when millions of mostly young Iranians took to the streets of Tehran in what almost became an “Iranian Spring.” With the Iranian regime teetering on the brink of collapse, the administration turned a deaf ear to demonstrators’ cries for America’s help as evidenced by the president’s silence on their plight and stubborn insistence on seeking understanding with the Khomeinist regime. But instead of obtaining concessions on Iran’s nukes, the ayatollahs multiplied uranium enrichment efforts and produced large numbers of long-range missiles to deliver apocalypse to Israel and the “Great Satan.” Hoping to keep his grandiose illusion of U.S.-Iranian nuclear talks alive, Obama imposed belated, near-symbolic economic sanctions on Iran with predictable negligible effect. In return, the Iranian regime expanded their destabilizing efforts in the Middle East, inciting Shia in eastern Arabia, Bahrain and North Yemen to penetrate legitimate social movements and overthrow their U.S.-friendly governments.

Mitt Romney’s position on Iran is radically different and infinitely more sensible than Barack Obama’s. Sanctions should be tightened and all-encompassing to force the regime abandon its nuclear ambitions, not induce negotiations toward a partial solution. Furthermore, Governor Romney’s policy on Iran would include partnering with the forces of civil democratic reform in their efforts to replace the current extremist regime once and for all.

Obama’s miscalculation on Iran led to other regional catastrophes. As soon as the administration withdrew American forces from Iraq abruptly in December of 2011, Iranian influence penetrated Iraq. By not supporting Iran’s popular movement, Obama left Iran unrestrained. By failing to reach an agreement with Iraq before U.S. withdrawal, Obama allowed Iran to infiltrate its neighbor, further threatening Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and reaching Syria’s borders. Romney would have contained the Iranian regime first, and then consolidated a pro-Western government in Iraq.

Similar strategic mistakes were made by the administration on the Arab Spring as a consequence of its misguided apology doctrine. Instead of working with the initial forces of change in Egypt — youth, women, middle class, workers and minorities — the administration chose to partner exclusively with the Muslim Brotherhood. Obama’s team and the Islamists worked to put the Brotherhood and their Salafi allies in power, first by sidelining the secular reformers with the help of the army, then the army with the help of secular youth, before they rose to power and marginalized all other players. Under Morsi, Egypt is quickly morphing into an Islamist state, threatening the Camp David Accords, as well as seculars, women, and Copts. A similar scenario unfolded in Tunisia where Washington partnered with the Islamist Nahda at the expense of seculars, women, and reformers. Romney would pursue partnership with civil societies, particularly with women and seculars, and tie U.S. financial aid to performance by governments.

In Libya, the Obama administration again sought partnership with the Islamists and neglected working with government and secular groups to disarm the militias and after Gaddafi’s downfall, sowed the seeds of al Qaeda’s growth, and opened a path for attacks against U.S. targets, the most recent being a terrorist attack in Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador and embassy staffers. A Romney administration would first seek the disarming of the militias and, above all, provide better security for American lives in installations in countries where jihadists operate.

Barack Obama’s worst and most dramatic failure has obviously been in Syria. One year late to respond, Obama’s team was unable to create a coalition to bring down Assad. Out of Iraq by 2012, the U.S. was unable to encircle Assad and prevent Iranian support from getting to the brutal regime. Thirty thousand civilians were massacred while the U.S. administration was incapable of obtaining a UN resolution for action against Assad, despite its so-called “reset button” with Moscow. Iran is now connected to Assad in Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon, and has reached the sea by land. Furthermore, al Qaeda is now operating in Syria and Iraq.

After Osama bin Laden was killed, the Obama administration began claiming that al Qaeda was in decline, a claim proven false as al Qaeda jihadists continue to conquer villages and towns in Yemen, fight in Somalia, are back in the Levant from Lebanon to Iraq, operating in the Sahel and Libya, with allies in Nigeria, and having established a solid base in northern Mali. Osama is dead, but al Qaeda is alive and flourishing.

With the growth of jihadism and radical Islamism, the secular forces of the Arab Spring are being pushed back. More dramatically Christian and other ethnic minorities across the region, in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Algeria, and in Sudan, are under attack. Everywhere in the region reformers, women and minorities are suppressed and pushed back, while the Islamists and jihadists up and running and expanding their reach. Iran is arming and genocide is looming from Syria to Sudan.

The Obama policies in the Middle East led to the rise of radicals and weakening of civil societies. A Romney alternative for the region is a must, not only on the basis of human rights and democracy, but also regarding U.S. national security and the security of its allies.

Published at George Mason University’s History News Network

Walid Phares is senior advisor on foreign policy and national security to presidential candidate Mitt Romney and a co-chair of the Romney Working Group on the Middle East and North Africa MENA. He is the author of the “Coming Revolution: Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East” the only book that predicted the Arab Spring before it begins

Related :

Romney tags jihadists as enemy, marking shift from Obama, Bush

By Neil Munro at Daily Caller:

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney identified “jihadists” as the  enemy facing the United States in the Middle East, marking a sharp rhetorical  contrast with U.S. defense policy in place since 2001.

“We’re going to have to put in place a very comprehensive and robust strategy  to help the — the world of Islam and other parts of the world, reject this radical violent extremism,” Romney said, highlighting the link between Islam and  terrorism.

“We can’t kill our way out of this mess … The right course for us is to make  sure that we go after the — the people who are leaders of these various  anti-American groups and these — these jihadists, but also help the Muslim  world,” Romney said.

In contrast, former President George W. Bush labelled the 9/11 attackers “terrorists,” which downplayed their specific connection to a violent Islamic extremist ideology. For the rest of his term, Bush described the U.S.  counterattack as a “war on terrorism.”

In 2009, President Barack Obama changed the rhetoric to label the attackers “violent extremists.” Conservative critics of the president said this shift in  language further downplayed the role of fundamentalist Islamic preachers and  militia commanders in spurring the attacks on U.S. soldiers and diplomats in  countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

Obama’s focus on “violent extremism” has been applauded by U.S.-based Islamic  advocacy groups, such as the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Islamic  Society of North America. These groups argue that terror attacks are not  motivated by Islam, even though many terrorists say their attacks are motivated  by Islam’s doctrine of jihad. Many Muslims believe jihad to be an inner  spiritual struggle, while some extremists insist that it the doctrine requires  the waging of war against non-believers.

But the White House’s “Countering Violent Extremism” strategy has also  spurred opposition from within the FBI and federal agencies.

Some officials say the “CVE strategy” hinders their efforts to recognize and  counter domestic and international Islamic messages that spur terror attacks,  and also empowers Islamic groups that seek to isolate and lead Muslim  communities in the United States.


What Would a Mitt Romney Foreign Policy Look Like?

By Timothy R. Furnish:

Massachusetts governor and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave a foreign policy-centric address at the Virginia Military Institute [VMI] on October 8; his running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, opined at some length — when Vice-President Joe Biden would let him speak — on foreign policy during the VP debate on October 11. While the Romney-Ryan positions on international affairs are spelled out on the campaign website, getting the information straight from the elephants’ mouths can often prove more enlightening — and taken together, these two public addresses provide evidence of potentially surprising strengths, as well as troubling weaknesses, should these two men win next month.

At VMI, Romney worked to his audience by invoking perhaps that institution’s most famous graduate, General and later Secretary of State and Defense George Marshall, who was complimented by Churchill for fighting against “defeatism, discouragement and disillusion” — three problems which Romney sees the Obama administration as having fostered. Of course, Romney then segued into the anti-American violence in Libya and other Muslim-majority countries, upon which he promised to “offer a larger persepective.” To that end, Romney shaped his talk around three themes: the ostensible yearning for American-style freedom among the peoples of the Middle East; the alleged lack of leadership from the Obama administration, and how he would rectify that; and, finally, the invocation of “extremism” as the explanation for the anti-Americanism in the Islamic world.

Ironically, rather like Obama, Romney sees the events of the “Arab Spring” and the abortive “Green Revolution” in Iran through neo-Wilsonian lenses, as evidence of Middle Eastern masses yearning to breathe free — a “struggle between liberty and tyranny, justice and oppression, hope and despair.” In this Manichaean conflict, Romney turns the Obama administration’s own phrase describing its Libya policy — “leading from behind” — against the president and uses it as a base from which to construct a multi-level critique of current policy:

1) Obama’s distancing of the U.S. from its traditional ally Israel has “emboldened our mutual adversaries, especially Iran;”

2) the Islamic Republic of Iran “has never been closer to a nuclear weapons capability” and “has never acted less deterred by America;”

3) Iraq faces “rising violence, a resurgent al-Qaeda, the weakening of democracy in Baghdad, and the rising influence of Iran;”

4) the Syrian regime is slaughtering its own people; and

5) the president’s over-reliance on stand-off drone strikes is “no substitute for a national security strategy for the Middle East.”

Romney continued: “I know the president hopes for a safer, freer and more prosperous Middle East allied with the United States. I share this hope. But hope is not a strategy.” It’s far from clear that frosty U.S.-Israeli relations have emboldened the ayatollahs, considering they may well see such as wily “Zionist subterfuge,” but as someone who studies Iran, and has even been there, I think it’s undeniable that the Islamic Republic of Iran fears Obama far less than his predecessor, who invaded both neighboring countries. As for Iraq’s problems, none is really Obama’s fault and in fact one might well argue that Tehran’s influence there amounts, rather, to a reassertion of the centuries-old fault line between (Ottoman) Sunni and (Persian) Shi`i cultural zones. The al-Assad, Alawi regime in Syria is slaughtering Sunni militas — but whether that’s worse, geopolitically, than having the Salafi-heavy opposition groups and their AQ allies taking over Damascus is debatable. I do think Romney is on solid ground in his claim that foreign-policy-by-Predator is less than ideal, however; Obama’s drone strikes are far more numerous than Bush’s, and while they do keep Americans out of harm’s way one suspects that were a Republican administration killling as many civilians via this mode as it does “militants” that the media would be giving the issue far more coverage. It’s also worth noting that dead (suspected) terrrorists are rather poor sources of intelligence — although they do keep the politically inconvenient ranks of Gitmo detainees lower.

Over against these alleged inadequacies in the current administration’s approach, Romney presented his policy proposals:

1) new sanctions and the credible threat of U.S. military action to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons quest;

2) recommitment to Israel;

3) “deepen[ing] our critical cooperation with our partners in the Gulf” (although whether this means the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the smaller Emirates and such — or both — is left unspecified);

4) quixotically, no doubt, importuning NATO allies to increase defense spending;

5) creating what sounds like a Middle East czar — or, perhaps more accurately, sultan — to oversee policy in that region;

6) matching U.S. aid to not just protection of diplomats but “civil society, a free media, political parties, and an independent judiciary;”

7) being a “champion of free trade;”

8) rather blandly, “support[ing] friends across the Middle East who share our values” in Libya, Egypt, Syria and Afghanistan; and finally

9) “recommit[ing] America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel.”

Most of these are rather standard-issue conservative foreign-policy boilerplate, manifesting Romney’s rather prudent — some would say risk-averse, bordering on timid — approach to winning this election: “first, do no harm (to your potential independent vote).” And in fact, the fifth one sounds strangely bureaucratic and, dare I say it, liberal for the GOP nominee. At least Romney made some attempt to make U.S. foreign aid contingent on, for example, the recipient country actually keeping our ambassador alive — unlike the current president. But the bottom-line seems to be that Romney is running, with good reason, on the Clintonian (Carvillean, actually) dictum “it’s the economy, stupid” and hoping to avoid the foreign policy thicket until after January 20, 2013.

Throughout this dual litany of Obama policy mis-steps, on the one hand, and his own preferred changes, on the other, Romney adduced the term “extremism” no fewer than seven times:

1) “mobs hoisted the black banner of Islamic extremism over American embassies;”

2) “the very extremists who murdered our people” in Benghazi;

3) in Syria “violent extremists are flowing into the fight;”

4) besides al-Qaeda, “other extremists have gained ground acros the region;”

5) “violent extremists [are] on the march;”

6) in the Middle East, we have “friends who are fighting for their futures against the very same violent extremists;” and, finally,

7) the Obama 2014 pull-out from Afghanistan “abandons the Afghan people to the same extremists who ravaged their country.”

Only once, note, did he preface the term with the adjective “Islamic.” However, by that one example of intellectual honesty, Romney locates himself light-years ahead of the Obama administration, which actively discourages honest discussion of the fact that 61 percent — 31 of 51 — of the foreign terrorist organizations on the State Depatment’s list thereof are Islamic and which, further, sanctions counter-terrorist trainers who dare to utter words such as “jihad.” One wishes he would simply call an Islamic extremist spade a spade — but Romney is allowing himself to be constrained by his stable of advisors, as well as, perhaps, the pro-Islamic tendencies inherent in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Someone needs to tell the Governor that naming Islamic extremism in the defense of Western civilization is no vice.

Read more at GMU’s History News Network

Timothy R. Furnish holds a PhD in Islamic, World and African history. He is a former U.S. Army Arabic linguist and officer who currently works as an author, Islamic World analyst and consultant to the U.S. government and military.

Also see: Mitt Romney Foreign Policy Speech at Yeshiva University in 2007 (

Governor Romney’s study guide for the upcoming foreign policy debate

By Kerry Patton:

The Vice Presidential debate concluded and only two more debates will occur before this upcoming November election. Governor Romney is racing to get his ducks in order for next week’s foreign policy debate. He doesn’t need stacks of documents to study—he only needs this one article.

Since President Obama took office, the war in Afghanistan has turned for the worse. This is a fact supported with horrifying numbers. Only one number needs to be revealed to the American public proving this point—American service members killed in Afghanistan.

In the seven years that President Bush oversaw the war in Afghanistan, approximately 569 US troops were killed. In the three and a half years President Obama has been our Commander-in-Chief, that number has spiked approximately 70% to 1,431. How could President Obama explain the stark differences in these numbers?

Basic counter insurgency (COIN) requires you to treat the population as the center of gravity. In doing so, you protect that population while sharing their risks. This convinces the people you’re serious about helping them. However, if the Commander-in-Chief announces the date you’re leaving, it makes it extremely difficult to convince the people you’re going to protect them.

The people of Afghanistan know that after we leave, the Taliban will move in and anyone who helped Americans will be killed. So what do they do? They hedge their bets and bide their time until we leave. By announcing the 2014 pull-out, President Obama has cut the legs out from the very strategy he has bound our military to follow.

President Obama’s foreign policy has not only endangered our service members, it also endangered American values of life, liberty, and adequate due process among everyday American citizens. Since President Obama took office, he authorized the indiscriminate killing of US citizens Anwar Al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. They were Al Qaeda operatives staged in Yemen.

In 2010, President Obama authorized the two Al Qaeda operative’s lives come to an end by means of a drone strike. These citizens were never granted their Constitutional rights of due process. Which American citizen will be next and when will this abuse in power end?

In 2009, the “Green Movement” in Iran unfolded. This was a movement inside Iran meant to topple the current regime. That current regime is the very regime that threatens the world with nuclear developments.

The Obama Administration did nothing to support the pro-democracy “Green movement” which could have ended the current Iranian regime’s initiatives of procuring a nuclear arsenal. It could have also reduced an unprecedented amount of violence throughout the entire Middle East that has been sparked and fueled by Iranian backed operatives.

Supporting the Green Movement could have marginalized the atrocities that continue to unfold in Syria as well as stabilized security for our ally, Israel. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that the Obama administration failed to capitalize on. Instead, the current US administration continues to support oppositions closely aligned with Al Qaeda.

As Libyan oppositions fought to topple the Qaddafi regime, the United States took a leading role in a multi-national air campaign supporting anti-Qaddafi fighters. US tax payer dollars were used to support an opposition which later assassinated Ambassador Chris Stevens.

US intelligence revealed that the very opposition that fought Muammar Qaddafi’s regime incorporated Al Qaeda based terrorists into its mix. These fighters comprised of terrorists from the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and Al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM) among others.

Read more at Canada Free Press

Kerry Patton, a combat disabled veteran, is the author of Sociocultural Intelligence: The New Discipline of Intelligence Studies’ and the children’s book ‘American Patriotism. You can follow him on Facebook or at


More clarity, boldness and specifics from Mitt Romney, this time on foreign policy

By Paul Bonicelli:

Gov. Romney’s speech at VMI this morning offers a few new insights into his thinking about foreign policy, such as specifics on Egypt and Syria. But the rhetoric and tone also continue to reveal a leader willing to state in bold terms the foreign policies he would pursue if elected that are unlikely to be popular in the general election nor even with some of the Republican base. Finally, he continues to show that he grasps the ugly realities we face in terms of our enemies and the circumstances they manipulate for their good and our harm, and that the United States must lead if we have any hope for success.

A few portions of the speech demonstrate these points. First, Romney repeats his assertion that no video or enraged mob explains the widespread and violent attacks on our embassies and personnel, including the murder of Amb. Stevens. Says Romney: “No, as the administration has finally conceded, these attacks 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.” In the speech he also uses the term “Islamist extremists.” Not shying away from this term is important for defining himself differently from the Obama administration.

He goes on, nevertheless, to find hope in this situation, by noting the many Libyans who took to the streets to denounce the terrorism and express their desire to remain close to the United States and not “go from darkness to darkness.”

For Romney, such displays increase our hope that the United States can shore up our interests in this region. We should start by calling the problems what they are — Islamist extremists who commit terrorism — and then countering them with force and in league with allies.

He draws upon the example of Gen. George Marshall and the defeat of our enemies in Europe and the rebuilding of those societies and free and prosperous countries.

“We have seen this struggle before. It would be familiar to George Marshall. In his time, in the ashes of world war, another critical part of the world was torn between democracy and despotism. Fortunately, we had leaders of courage and vision, both Republicans and Democrats, who knew that America had to support friends who shared our values, and prevent today’s crises from becoming tomorrow’s conflicts.

Statesmen like Marshall rallied our nation to rise to its responsibilities as the leader of the free world. We helped our friends to build and sustain free societies and free markets. We defended our friends, and ourselves, from our common enemies. We led. And though the path was long and uncertain, the thought of war in Europe is as inconceivable today as it seemed inevitable in the last century.

This is what makes America exceptional: It is not just the character of our country — it is the record of our accomplishments. America has a proud history of strong, confident, principled global leadership — a history that has been written by patriots of both parties. That is America at its best.”

Second, Gov. Romney offers some specific policy goals regarding several countries and issues. Some statements reflect what he has already said, but in a couple of cases, he offers new policy that is not necessarily the safe stuff that a campaign advisor likes to see. To focus on two (and not the obvious ones of Iran and Afghanistan), regarding Syria, he calls for U.S. involvement in the form of picking a side among the rebels and helping them succeed with arms:

“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. 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. 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.”

For Egypt, he makes it clear we should use our aid to require the Brotherhood government to be open to all voices and be truly democratic, as well as to respect its treaty with Israel:

“In Egypt, I will use our influence-including clear conditions on our aid-to urge the new government to represent all Egyptians, to build democratic institutions, and to maintain its peace treaty with Israel. And we must persuade our friends and allies to place similar stipulations on their aid.”

There are a number of other points Romney makes in this speech, which is clearly an attempt not only to lay out his views but provide a stark contrast to President Obama. Gov. Romney succeeds at drawing the contrast and in ways that show the same kind of bold and clear leadership, complete with specifics, that he offered recently in the first debate on the economy and healthcare. Thus, we’ve got a preview for the debate that covers foreign policy.


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Mitt Romney: A New Course for the Middle East

By Mitt Romney:

Disturbing developments are sweeping across the greater Middle East. In Syria, tens of thousands of innocent people have been slaughtered. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has come to power, and the country’s peace treaty with Israel hangs in the balance. In Libya, our ambassador was murdered in a terrorist attack. U.S. embassies throughout the region have been stormed in violent protests. And in Iran, the ayatollahs continue to move full tilt toward nuclear-weapons capability, all the while promising to annihilate Israel.

These developments are not, as President Obama says, mere “bumps in the road.” They are major issues that put our security at risk.

Yet amid this upheaval, our country seems to be at the mercy of events rather than shaping them. We’re not moving them in a direction that protects our people or our allies.

And that’s dangerous. If the Middle East descends into chaos, if Iran moves toward nuclear breakout, or if Israel’s security is compromised, America could be pulled into the maelstrom.

We still have time to address these threats, but it will require a new strategy toward the Middle East.

The first step is to understand how we got here. Since World War II, America has been the leader of the Free World. We’re unique in having earned that role not through conquest but through promoting human rights, free markets and the rule of law. We ally ourselves with like-minded countries, expand prosperity through trade and keep the peace by maintaining a military second to none.

But in recent years, President Obama has allowed our leadership to atrophy. Our economy is stuck in a “recovery” that barely deserves the name. Our national debt has risen to record levels. Our military, tested by a decade of war, is facing devastating cuts thanks to the budgetary games played by the White House. Finally, our values have been misapplied—and misunderstood—by a president who thinks that weakness will win favor with our adversaries.

An American school adjacent to the U.S. Embassy in Tunis, Tunisia, on Sept. 15. Protesters burned the school the day before.

By failing to maintain the elements of our influence and by stepping away from our allies, President Obama has heightened the prospect of conflict and instability. He does not understand that an American policy that lacks resolve can provoke aggression and encourage disorder.

The Middle East is a case in point. The Arab Spring presented an opportunity to help move millions of people from oppression to freedom. But it also presented grave risks. We needed a strategy for success, but the president offered none. And now he seeks to downplay the significance of the calamities of the past few weeks.

The same incomprehension afflicts the president’s policy toward Israel. The president began his term with the explicit policy of creating “daylight” between our two countries. He recently downgraded Israel from being our “closest ally” in the Middle East to being only “one of our closest allies.” It’s a diplomatic message that will be received clearly by Israel and its adversaries alike. He dismissed Israel’s concerns about Iran as mere “noise” that he prefers to “block out.” And at a time when Israel needs America to stand with it, he declined to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In this period of uncertainty, we need to apply a coherent strategy of supporting our partners in the Middle East—that is, both governments and individuals who share our values.

This means restoring our credibility with Iran. When we say an Iranian nuclear-weapons capability—and the regional instability that comes with it—is unacceptable, the ayatollahs must be made to believe us.

It means placing no daylight between the United States and Israel. And it means using the full spectrum of our soft power to encourage liberty and opportunity for those who have for too long known only corruption and oppression. The dignity of work and the ability to steer the course of their lives are the best alternatives to extremism.

But this Middle East policy will be undermined unless we restore the three sinews of our influence: our economic strength, our military strength and the strength of our values. That will require a very different set of policies from those President Obama is pursuing.

The 20th century became an American Century because we were steadfast in defense of freedom. We made the painful sacrifices necessary to defeat totalitarianism in all of its guises. To defend ourselves and our allies, we paid the price in treasure and in soldiers who never came home.

Our challenges are different now, but if the 21st century is to be another American Century, we need leaders who understand that keeping the peace requires American strength in all of its dimensions.

Mr. Romney is the Republican Party candidate for president.

What the 2012 Election Means for Israel

If elected, Romney will be staunchly loyal, but Obama’s coldness will turn glacial

By Daniel Pipes:

President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus.” That’s what Mitt Romney, Republican candidate for president, said in the high-profile speech accepting his party’s nomination last week, repeating a slang phrase for sacrificing a friend for selfish reasons. Romney had deployed this phrase before, for example in May 2011 and January 2012. This criticism of Obama fits a persistent Republican critique. Specifically, several other recent presidential candidates used or endorsed the same “bus” formulation to describe Obama’s attitude toward Israel, including Herman Cain in May 2011, Rick Perry in September 2011, Newt Gingrich in January 2012, and Rick Santorum in February 2012.

Barack Obama pointed a finger at Binyamin Netanyahu in 2008.

These Republican attacks on Obama’s relations with Israel have several important implications for U.S. foreign policy. First, out of the many Middle East–related issues, Israel, and Israel alone, retains a permanent role in U.S. electoral politics, influencing how a significant numbers of voters — not only Jews but also Arabs, Muslims, Evangelical Christians, conservatives, and liberals — vote for president.

Second, attitudes toward Israel serve as a proxy for views on other Middle East issues: If I know your views on Israel, I have a good idea about your thinking on topics such as energy policy, Islamism, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, AKP-led Turkey, the Iranian nuclear buildup, intervention in Libya, the Mohamed Morsi presidency in Egypt, and the Syrian civil war.

Third, the Republican criticism of Obama points to a sea change in what determines attitudes toward Israel. Religion was once the key, with Jews the ardent Zionists and Christians less engaged. Today, in contrast, the determining factor is political outlook. To discern someone’s views on Israel, the best question to ask is not “What is your religion?” but “Who do you want for president?” As a rule, conservatives feel more warmly toward Israel and liberals more coolly. Polls show conservative Republicans to be the most ardent Zionists, followed by Republicans in general, followed by independents, Democrats, and lastly liberal Democrats. Yes, Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York City, also said, in September 2011, that Obama “threw Israel under the bus,” but Koch, 87, represents the fading old guard of the Democratic party. The difference between the parties in the Arab-Israeli conflict is becoming as deep as their differences on the economy or on cultural issues.

Big smiles between Mitt Romney and Binyamin Netanyahu, friends since 1976, in July 2012.

Fourth, as Israel increasingly becomes an issue that divides Democrats from Republicans, I predict a reduction of the bipartisan support for Israel that has provided Israel a unique status in U.S. politics and sustained organizations such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. I also predict that Romney and Paul Ryan, as mainstream conservatives, will head an administration that will be the warmest ever to Israel, far surpassing the administrations of both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. On the contrary, should Obama be reelected, the coldest treatment of Israel ever by a U.S. president will follow.

Obama deferentially listening to Edward Said at an Arab community event in Chicago, May 1998.

Obama’s constipated record of the past three and a half years vis-à-vis Israel on such topics as the Palestinians and Iran leads to this conclusion; but so does what we know about his record before he entered high electoral politics in 2004, especially his associations with radical anti-Zionists. For example, Obama listened deferentially to Edward Said in May 1998, gave a warm tribute to former PLO flack Rashid Khalidi at Khalidi’s going-away party in 2003, and sat quietly by as guests at this party accused Israel of terrorism against Palestinians. (In contrast, Romney has been friends with Benjamin Netanyahu since 1976. In this photo from Romney’s July 2012 visit to Israel, the men’s big smiles attest to their ease and friendship.)

Also revealing is what Ali Abunimah, a Chicago-based anti-Israel extremist, wrote about his last conversation with Obama in early 2004, as the latter was in the midst of a primary campaign for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate. Abunimah wrote that Obama greeted him warmly and then added: “Hey, I’m sorry I haven’t said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I’m hoping when things calm down I can be more up front.” More: Referring to Abunimah’s attacks on Israel in the Chicago Tribune and elsewhere, Obama encouraged him with “Keep up the good work!”

When one puts this in the context of what Obama said off-mic to then–Russian president Dmitry Medvedev in March 2012 (“This is my last election. And after my election, I have more flexibility”), and in the context of Obama’s publicly displayed dislike for Netanyahu (as in this photo from 2008, in which he points a finger at the prime minister), it would be wise to assume that, if Obama wins on November 6, things will “calm down” for him and he finally can “be more up front” about so-called Palestine. Then Israel’s troubles will really begin.

Daniel Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2012 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.