WASHINGTON – The U.S. presidential campaign finally has an official challenger to President Barack Obama in the November election. Mitt Romney secured the Republican Party’s nomination on May 29 by winning the Texas primary, which gave him enough delegates to become the party’s official nominee.
Here's a look at how Romney – a businessman and former state governor -- has said he would handle some key U.S. foreign policy issues, if elected.
Advising Romney is a team of more than two dozen national security and foreign policy experts (see list below), almost two-thirds of whom held defense, intelligence, or diplomatic posts in former President George W. Bush’s administration.
Romney compares his foreign policy philosophy to that of former President Ronald Reagan.
“The overall rubric of my foreign policy will be the same as Ronald Reagan’s: Namely, 'peace through strength,'" he once said.
He also said, “A strong America is the best deterrent to war that ever has been invented.”
So Romney would confront the threat from radical Islam by strengthening U.S. intelligence services, adding 100,000 new troops to the military, and “monitoring” incoming U.S. calls from Al-Qaeda.
Under President Romney, the U.S. foreign aid budget would shrink. He has said, “I will stop sending money to any country that can take care of itself. And no foreign aid will go to countries that oppose American interests.”
Romney has called Obama’s policy toward Iran “a failure.” His statements on U.S. policy toward Iran almost always mention the military option, such as during a Republican Party debate in November, when he was asked if it was worth going to war with Iran to prevent Tehran from getting a nuclear weapon.
"Well, it’s worth putting in place crippling sanctions; it’s worth working with the insurgents in the country to encourage regime change in the country; and if all else fails -- if after all of the work we’ve done, there’s nothing else we could do besides take military action -- then, of course, you take military action,” he said.
Romney recently wrote in "The Washington Post” that he would press for harsh sanctions as well as “speak out on behalf of the cause of democracy in Iran and support Iranian dissidents.”
But, “most importantly,” he wrote, “I will buttress my diplomacy with a military option that will persuade the ayatollahs to abandon their nuclear ambitions.” That means keeping aircraft-carrier groups in both the eastern Mediterranean and Persian Gulf and increasing military aid to Israel.
ON AFGHANISTAN & PAKISTAN
The centerpiece of Romney’s position on Afghanistan is his criticism of Obama for setting a withdrawal date of 2014, which he says will allow the enemy to simply wait out the clock.
His own position on withdrawal is unclear. He recently told Fox News, “Before I take a stand on a particular course of action, I want to get the input from the people who are there,” meaning military commanders on the ground.
Romney’s stated "Af-Pak" policy includes the goal of getting a “buy-in” from Kabul and Islamabad. In that same Fox News interview, he suggested that would use more stick than carrot: “The United States enjoys significant leverage over both of these nations,” he said. “We should not be shy about using it.”
Romney also said he would make it clear to President Hamid Karzai about what the Afghan leader must do to help end the war.
“I would speak with President Karzai. I would speak with President Karzai regularly, day-to-day. We have troops in harm's way. We have almost 1,800 men and women who have been killed in Afghanistan," he said. "We have real interest in making sure that this ends well and that our mission is successful there, of having an Afghanistan that is able to maintain its sovereignty against the Taliban, against ultimately Al-Qaeda, as well.”
Romney attracted a lot of attention earlier this year for saying in an interview with CNN that Russia is the United States' "No. 1 geopolitical foe."
"They fight every cause for the world’s worst actors,” he said.
His campaign’s official policy paper on Russia warns that the country is a “destabilizing force on the world stage” and lists reasons why: “The Kremlin’s leverage over the energy supplies of Central and Western Europe; its stockpile of nuclear weapons; its recent history of aggressive military action; and the power it wields in multilateral institutions like the United Nations.”
Romney says he would “reset the [Obama administration’s] reset,” with a strategy that seeks to “discourage aggressive or expansionist behavior.” That means reviewing the implementation of the New START treaty, for a start.
It also means that President Romney would try to reduce Russia’s influence in the former Soviet sphere by strengthening U.S. ties with Central Asian countries, through more military training and assistance and new trade pacts and education exchanges.
Last but not least, Romney says his administration would be “forthright in confronting the Russian government over its authoritarian practices” and encourage the flow of information promoting democratic values and economic opportunity.
A few of the more prominent names among Romney's foreign policy and national security advisers include:
~ Cofer Black
, former State Department coordinator for counterterrorism
~ Michael Hayden
, the former CIA director and head of the National Security Agency
~ Eric Edelman
, former undersecretary of defense for policy
~ Paula Dobriansky
, former undersecretary of state for democracy and global affairs
~ Michael Chertoff
, former homeland security secretary
~ And Robert Joseph
, former undersecretary of state for arms control and international security
See the entire list here