By Reid Wilson - 10/19/09 07:11 PM EDT
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) blasted President Barack Obama's approach to Iran and bemoaned what he described as the United States's weakening relationship with Israel.
In a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in San Diego, Romney called the Iranian government the world's "greatest immediate threat," an "unalloyed evil, run by people who are at once ruthless and fanatical."
"Once an outstretched hand is met with a clenched fist, it becomes a symbol of weakness and impotence," Romney added.
Romney called for "comprehensive, withering sanctions," along with American support for anti-government activists in Iran. Taking a hawkish line, Romney said military options should remain on the table even as Iran participates in nuclear talks with the U.S., Russia and France this week in Vienna.
"Unfortunately, for reasons that are unfathomable to me, our government has signaled that the military option is effectively off the table. How can that be countenanced when an ally of the United States faces an existential threat?" he asked.
Romney has long been critical of Obama's approach to foreign policy. He has portrayed the tone of Obama's relations with the rest of the world as apologist, and Romney's newest book will continue the theme. No Apology: The Case for American Greatness is to be released early next year.
"In pursuit of a peace process, the United States today has exerted substantial pressure on Israel while putting almost no pressure on the Palestinians and the Arab world," Romney said. "We can encourage both parties in the conflict, but we must never forget which one is our ally."
The United Nations "has become a forum for invective against the Jewish state," Romney said, insisting that the U.S. has landed on the wrong side when condemning Israel for building new settlements.