In the first foreign policy speech following his momentum-gaining debate against President Barack Obama, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney expanded on his vision of an "American century," a view he tied to the legacy of leaders like General George Marshall as he outlined a muscular, moral U.S. foreign policy with American exceptionalism at its core.
Romney aimed to distinguish his world view from the president's, as he has in far-lower-profile foreign policy speeches, promising to "change course" in the Middle East by helping to provide arms to Syrian rebels and talking and acting even tougher on Iran.
"It is the responsibility of our president," Romney said Monday at the Virginia Military Institute, "to use America's great power to shape history – not to lead from behind, leaving our destiny at the mercy of events. Unfortunately, that is exactly where we find ourselves in the Middle East under President Obama."
Romney wove together a constellation of tumultuous events in the Middle East that he said has left "the risk of conflict in the region" higher "now than when the president took office."
And he promised what amounted to a middle ground between President George W. Bush's activist "freedom agenda" and the pragmatic and downsized ambitions of an America exhausted and depleted by two wars in one decade.