Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivered his first major foreign policy speech, at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va., at a moment when the race is too close to call. Much of the speech was a call for renewed American leadership in the world, as opposed to Obama's "leading from behind" approach. While much of what he said, was expected, there were two features of the speech worth noting. First off, he said that the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which resulted in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others "was likely the work of forces affiliated with those that attacked our homeland on September 11, 2001." Furthermore, "This latest assault can't be blamed on a reprehensible video insulting Islam, despite the administration's attempts to convince us of that for so long. No, as the administration has finally conceded, these attacks were the deliberate work of terrorists." Secondly, he called for the return of the two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "I'll recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state, living side-by-side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel," he said. "And what should be a negotiation process, has devolved into a series of heated disputes at the UN In this old conflict, as in every challenge we face in the Middle East, only a new President will bring the chance to begin anew."
On Russia and China, Romney backed away, somewhat, from his earlier confrontational rhetoric. He vowed to implement "effective" missile defenses, without compromise with Russian President Vladimir Putin, though he didn't repeat his earlier formulation that Russia is America's greatest geopolitical adversary. This time, he only said that Russia is "casting a long shadow" over Eastern European democracies. And on Asia, he said that "China's recent assertiveness is sending chills throughout that region." He also took a stab at Venuzuela's Hugo Chavez and the Castro brothers. Romney argued that only American leadership in favor of free societies and free markets can counter these challenges.
Aside from all this, Romney's theme was President Obama's failure of leadership. Citing Iran, Syria, the growth of Al Qaeda, among other things, Romney said that "it's clear that the risk of conflict in the region is higher now than when the president took office." He advocated even tighter sanctions on Iran, because, he claimed, Iran is closer than ever to a building nuclear weapon and he declared that he will re-affirm closer U.S.-Israel ties. However, while calling for arming the Syrian opposition, he warned that Jihadi elements had deeply infiltrated the opposition and they had to be isolated and prevented from receiving any aid.