Republican candidate Mitt Romney chose the battleground state of Virginia to issue a major foreign policy address at VMI.
More than a month after the Democratic convention in Charlotte, where President Barack Obama painted a sanguine picture of Islamic extremism in decline, Romney responded that this narrative was at best wishful thinking and at worst a deception.
Perhaps at the time of the Democratic convention, the Romney campaign was either too fixated on economics or felt that Americans so wanted to believe the president's message that Romney would just be considered a party pooper.
The events in Libya and the administration attempt to portray it as an incidental response to a grade F movie about Mohammed - that quickly unraveled - have provided Romney with the backdrop to challenge the Obama narrative.
And he did, saying:"The attack on our Consulate in Benghazi on September 11th, 2012 was likely the work of forces affiliated with those that attacked our homeland on September 11th, 2001. This latest assault cannot be blamed on a reprehensible video insulting Islam, despite the Administration’s attempts to convince us of that for so long."
Romney attacked the administration policy of leading from behind and hoping that things would turn out all right. "But hope is not a strategy, " rejoined Romney "We cannot support our friends and defeat our enemies in the Middle East when our words are not backed up by deed."
Romney recommended making common cause with the millions of Moslems, Christians and nonbelievers who "have had enough of the darkness." In this context, Romney singled out the 2009 Green Revolution in Iran that the administration abandoned to the ayatollahs.
Instead of striking a deal with the Islamists as Obama has done in Egypt and Turkey, Romney pledged " I will use our influence—including clear conditions on our aid—to urge the new government to represent all Egyptians, to build democratic institutions, and to maintain its peace treaty with Israel. And we must persuade our friends and allies to place similar stipulations on their aid."
Romney acknowledged that America is weary of war, but Obama's triumphalism about ending the war in Iraq and Afghanistan invited trouble.
In Iraq,al Qaeda and Iran had forged ahead and democracy had weakened.
In Afghanistan, Romney warned that Obama's policy was " 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."
In the Middle East , Romney committed to close coordination with Israel and allowing no daylight between the two countries, but sought to counter the impression that he would be totally passive about the peace process.