(Since we are not getting any clarity from either side on the Benghazi fiasco, and since Romney is the challenger who has yet to really establish himself on foreign policy, I thought I might take a run today as an advisor of his and lay out what he SHOULD say as a way forward in addressing the state of affairs in the Middle East - just for fun).
Much furor has erupted over the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 11 and the resulting suggestion that it was in response to a video placed on YouTube that criticized the Prophet Mohammed. Romney issued a statement the night of the attack criticizing the U.S. Embassy in Cairo for sending out preemptive tweets denouncing the video the day of protests that erupted in that city. Romney was then roundly criticized for making this political while the Obama Administration spent the next two weeks blaming the video on Ambassador Stevens' death in Benghazi before finally admitting that there was no spontaneous protest that turned violent there and that this was actually a preplanned, coordinated act of terror. Now, Obama is claiming that he said that all along because of a reference in his Rose Garden speech on September 12, despite the consistent pointing to the video as the cause in the subsequent weeks. This became a major issue in the Presidential debate on Tuesday.
1. The moment that protests began in Cairo, security should have been enhanced all over the Middle East, especially since it was 9/11. All Embassy personnel all over the region should have been secured. As president, Romney would make sure that proactive leadership is taken in the face of instability and unrest with the first priority being the safety of American citizens, especially representatives of the U.S. Government. It is good to declare that religiously insensitive videos put out by private citizens do not reflect the policy of the United States, but apology is not a security solution by itself.
2. Ambassador Stevens' repeated requests for more security should have been met in the affirmative the first time - not after a high number of requests, all denied. We have ambassadors on the ground to assess the situation. They are our eyes and ears and work with the CIA to provide a perspective on the situation and to represent U.S. interests. If he requested enhanced security, he should have gotten it. Under a Romney Administration, the people that we place in harm's way will get what they need to do the job that we have sent them there to do.
3. We are going to have a Naval presence in the Mediterranean, the Red Sea/Persian Gulf, and Indian Ocean that will allow for fast response in support of our activities in a hostile region. We need to have the ability to scramble air support when situations like this occur in hostile areas. We will not allow sovereign U.S. soil to be under attack with only a couple of ex-Navy Seals defending it. We will defend every Embassy and Consulate in troubled areas of the world as though it was Washington, D.C. itself.
4. As for our Middle East policy going forward, America wants peace and stability in the region. A Romney Administration will provide this by promoting peace through strength. At every point that we make a commitment militarily or diplomatically, we will back up that commitment with firm resolve and the resources to get the job done. We will also reinitiate the Arab-Israeli Peace Process and send a clear message to Tehran about our intentions regarding their nuclear program. No more mixed messages regarding Israel, Iran, or Syria. We need an Administration that has a clear foreign policy so that all parties knows where the United States stands.
At this point, something like a "Romney Doctrine" should be put forward on how the United States will respect the sovereignty of nations in the Middle East and will work with them to maintain stability and peace, but we will also protect U.S. interests which involve the free-flow of oil from the region and guarantees regarding the future security of Israel.
-A nuclear Iran or nuclear proliferation throughout the region is not acceptable.
-Ending the conflict in Afghanistan on our terms in ways that promote the future peace and stability of that nation are a Romney Administration's top priority. It is time that we finish what we have started there. There will not be a timetable, but there will be the dogged pursuit of specific goals that we will set so that we can finish the job and come home. Those goals will be met.
5. We will never again see an attack on an undefended, unprotected, and unprepared U.S. Embassy/Consulate in North Africa or the Middle East where there has been a history of threats and repeated requests from the Ambassador for more protection. We will protect our people and give them the resources they need to do the job we have sent them there to do.
Honestly, this is the kind of leadership I want out of Washington. I am not saying that all of this is right or practical, but it is specific. Maybe there are better ways to say this and perhaps some of these points can be tweaked. But, my point is that I want to see a plan and the execution of a plan for our invovlement in the Middle East. Either have a plan and goals and a security plan for the people that we put in harm's way that makes people like Ambassador Stevens and the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi a top priority, or bring them all home.
Just a thought . . .