Romney Talks American Exceptionalism and Foreign Policy Leadership

By Jedediah Bila

Today Mitt Romney gave a fantastic foreign policy speech at the Virginia Military Institute. As we move forward toward the October 16 town hall debate on domestic and foreign policy and the October 22 foreign policy debate, today’s speech was key in defining Romney’s foreign policy vision, serving as a stark contrast to that of President Obama.

Romney’s speech was downright Reaganesque, a peace-through-strength vision that highlighted American exceptionalism and focused on the importance of active American foreign policy leadership in the world. Under Romney’s leadership, America would uphold a clear national security strategy that would emphasize our power to stand up for freedom and prosperity around the world, via a strong military uncompromised by arbitrary defense cuts. American aid to foreign countries would come with conditions–as it should–and America’s commitment to who we are and what we value would be clear to the allies who rely on our support and the enemies who seek our ruin.

Perhaps most importantly, Romney’s Virginia speech emphasized the underlying philosophy that would guide his foreign policy decisions, a philosophy grounded in the beliefs that the world is safer when America is strong and that the leader of the free world has a duty to lead.

Here are some important highlights from the speech:

“General Marshall once said, ‘The only way human beings can win a war is to prevent it.’ Those words were true in his time–and they are true in our time.”

“America has a proud history of strong, confident, principled global leadership–a history that’s been written by patriots of both parties. This is America at its best. And it is the standard by which we measure every president, as well as anyone who wishes to be president. Unfortunately, this President’s policies have not been equal to our best examples of world leadership. And nowhere is this more evident than in the Middle East.” 

“The blame for the murder of our people in Libya, and the attacks on our embassies in so many other countries, lies solely with those who carried them out–no one else. But it is our responsibility–and the responsibility of the President–to use America’s greatest power to shape history, not to lead from behind, leaving our destiny at the mercy of events. Unfortunately, that’s exactly where we find ourselves in the Middle East under President Obama.”

“And yet, when millions of Iranians took to the streets in June 2009, when they demanded freedom from a cruel regime that threatens the world, when they cried out, ‘Are you with us, or are you with them?’–the American President was silent.”

“Drones and modern instruments of war are important tools in our fight, but they are no substitute for a national security strategy for the Middle East.”

“We can’t support our friends and defeat our enemies in the Middle East when our words are not backed up by deeds, when our defense spending is being arbitrarily and deeply cut, when we have no trade agenda to speak of, and the perception of our strategy is not one of partnership, but of passivity.” 

“America must have confidence in our cause, clarity in our purpose, and resolve in our might. No friend of America will question our commitment to support them, no enemy that attacks America will question our resolve to defeat them, and no one anywhere, friend or foe, will doubt America’s capability to back up our words.”

“The first purpose of a strong military is to prevent war.”

“I’ll implement effective missile defenses to protect against threats. And on this, there will be no flexibility with Vladimir Putin.”

“And I’ll make it clear to the recipients of our aid that, in return for our material support, they must meet the responsibilities of every decent modern government: to respect the rights of all their citizens, including women and minorities, to ensure space for civil society, a free media, political parties, and an independent judiciary, and to abide by their international commitments to protect our diplomats and our property.”

“I believe that if America doesn’t lead, others will–others who don’t share our interests and our values–and the world would grow darker, for our friends and for us.”

“I’m running for President because I believe the leader of the free world has a duty to our citizens, and to our friends everywhere, to use America’s great influence–wisely, with solemnity, and without false pride, but also firmly and actively–to shape events in ways that secure our interests, further our values, prevent conflict, and make the world better–not perfect, but better.” 

“The 21st century can and must be an American century. It began with terror and war and economic calamity. It’s our duty to steer it onto the path of freedom and peace and prosperity.” 

“The torch America carries is one of decency and hope. It’s 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.”

If you weren’t looking forward to an Obama/Romney foreign policy debate before, you should be now.


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8 years ago

America has for many years been the strength of the world.
We have been the champions of justice for the oppressed and a beacon of hope to the under privileged.
Until Obama !
We are now on the fast road to socialism.
I trust that Romney will have the strength to restore our integrity and economy to its glory days.
God Bless America the land that I love.

8 years ago

Yes, the speech was Reaganesque. And just as the Iranian Ayatollahs backed down even before Mr. Reagan took office, so too is the Iranian regime paying close attention to the type of president Mr. Romney will be.

8 years ago

As a Vietnam Veteran Romney’s words above are sweet to my ears. I will always remember the Clinton Administration selling those wonderful South Vietnamese people into slavery. We had the military victories and the Vietnamese Marines fought with equal valor for their Families futures. Then to come home and be labled baby killers almost made me want to leave the nation back then. Thank you for the opportunity to both vent my frustration, as I tell anyone who will listen: “I saw too many die fighting communism and now we have a commmunist in the White House” . I also thnk you for writing this up for us who did not hear it ourselves.

Susan Apgar
8 years ago

Mitt Romney has stepped to the forefront of this election, and is defining what he stands for and is willing to do when he becomes President of the United States. I applaud him for this great speech!

Ron Furgerson
8 years ago

What a great speech. We need someone who really stands up for the United States and our true allies. To continue to provide aid to repressive regimes is unconscionable.

8 years ago

I agree, fantastic speech.

8 years ago

Excellent, Jedediah. Missed it, so glad you wrote this up!

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