Belligerence is not a strategy for the Middle East

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Aggressive language was aimed at Iraq, but the only idea offered by Governor Romney was a vague suggestion that he would further extend our presence there by putting troops back on the ground.

The American drawdown in Afghanistan was criticized and Governor Romney advocated for a continued U.S. military presence, but gave no definitive timetable for withdrawal.

The accomplishments of our intelligence community were commended, but the governor provided no specifics as to how he would continue to employ them to combat global terrorism. Through our strategic, operational and tactical use of our intelligence assets, and under President Obama’s leadership as commander in chief, the brave members of our military and intelligence community have killed and captured terrorist leaders across the globe, including public enemy number one Osama bin Laden. Our nation has delivered crippling blows to al-Qaeda and terrorist organizations like it around the world. Without specifics, it is impossible to know if the governor will continue our focus on a global counter-terrorism strategy.

We have heard Governor Romney articulate a specific foreign policy vision – not when the cameras were on at VMI, but at a private campaign fundraiser, when the governor thought Americans wouldn’t hear his remarks. At the fundraiser Governor Romney said his proposal for Israel and the Palestinians was to kick the ball down the field and hope for some degree of stability, but recognized that it will remain an unresolved problem.

With a foreign policy platform devoid of real ideas, and grounded in public belligerence and private defeatism, there is little wonder why Governor Romney’s campaign is attempting to distract voters by turning the tragic death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other brave Americans into a political issue.

To insinuate either a cover-up at the State Department, or that we are being misled by the White House is insensitive to the victims and insulting to all Americans who serve our country, especially our diplomatic and intelligence personnel who are working so hard to get the real story behind the attack. This isn’t the type of leadership America needs. We need to complete the impartial investigation that is being conducted by the FBI and Libyan authorities, make the necessary security corrections, and bring those who are responsible for these murders to justice.


America can and should be a global leader. We rescued Europe from fascism and fought for peace in the Pacific. We launched the Berlin Airlift to prevent democratic West Berlin from starving during the Soviet blockade. With our support and assistance, formerly Communist Eastern European countries are now thriving democracies. Guided by our values, we’ve led the right way before, and we are doing so today. Under President Obama’s leadership, we came to the aid of those in Haiti when a devastating earthquake struck and millions were left with no food, water or shelter.

The with-us-or-against approach demonstrated by Governor Romney at VMI is the wrong way for America to lead. It is the same kind of cowboy diplomacy that caused the foreign policy disasters of the Bush years.

I served in Vietnam. I am a combat veteran who has seen war firsthand. I have talked and visited with families in my community who have lost sons and daughters in Iraq and Afghanistan. America needs a commander-in-chief who we can trust with the hard decision of whether or not to send American troops into harm’s way.

We’ve heard Governor Romney’s private foreign policy plan to kick the ball down the field and hope for change. We’ve heard his tough-talk belligerence. We’re hearing him politicize a tragedy in Libya.

What we aren’t hearing are Governor Romney’s plans when life-or-death foreign policy decisions are on his desk.

As the governor has demonstrated publically and privately, that’s because he doesn’t have any.

Thompson is a senior member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where he serves as ranking member of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Human Intelligence, Analysis and Counterintelligence.

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