Republican U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said the risk of conflict in the Middle East has grown under President Barack Obama's leadership.
Romney, in a speech at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington on October 8, called for a "change of course" in the region.
He pledged to "roll back" Obama's defense cuts, which he called "arbitrary."
"I will deepen our critical cooperation with our partners in the Gulf and I will roll back President Obama's deep and arbitrary cuts to our national defense that would devastate our military," Romney said. "I will make the critical defense investments that we need to remain secure."
Romney also said that, if elected, he would impose tighter sanctions on Iran.
"I will put the leaders of Iran on notice that the United States and our friends and allies will prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons capability," Romney said. "I will not hesitate to impose new sanctions on Iran and will tighten the sanctions we currently have."
Romney also called for Washington to adopt a more assertive stance on Syria and pledged to make sure Syrian rebels get weapons.
“In Syria, I will work with our partners to identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values and then ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad's tanks, and helicopters, and fighter jets," Romney said.
Romney said that in Afghanistan he would pursue "a real and successful transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014" and pledged not to abandon Afghans to the extremists' influence.
"President Obama would have you believe that anyone who disagrees with his decisions in Afghanistan is arguing for endless war," Romney said. "But the route to more war -- and to potential attacks here at home -- is a politically timed retreat that abandons the Afghan people to the same extremists who ravaged their country and used it to launch the attacks of 9/11."
Referring to the extensive use by the Obama administration of drones against militants and terrorists, Romnney said they are "no substitute for a national security strategy for the Middle East."
The Republican contender also said he would show no "flexibility" over the U.S. missile-defense shield when talking to Russia.
"I will implement effective missiles defenses to protect against threats and on this there will no be flexibility with [Russian President] Vladimir Putin," Romney said.
Romney was alluding to Obama's remark to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, caught on an open microphone earlier this year, that he would have greater flexibility to negotiate on missile defense if he was reelected in November.
Romney has made several major foreign policy blunders during his campaign in summer. In London, he suggested that Britain was not adequately prepared for the Olympics.
In Israel, he implied that Palestinians were culturally inferior to Israelis because of their poverty without mentioning Israel's decades-long economic blockade against the Palestinian territories.
Romney and Obama are scheduled to debate face-to-face two more times, with the third and final debate focusing on foreign policy.
Based on reporting by AP, dpa, and Reuters