2012 Candidate Quotes on Foreign Policy and Defense

America’s Role in the World                                      Relations With Israel
A Nuclear Iran                                                                     Afghanistan & Pakistan
China                                                                                          Government Spending
Cuba                                                                                            Russia
Energy Policy                                                                       Syria

America’s Role in the World

Obama Administration:

Vice President Biden, at the VP Presidential Debate in response to Congressman Ryan(October 11, 2012): “We — this is a president who’s gone out and done everything he has said he was going to do. This is the guy who’s repaired our alliances so the rest of the world follows us again. This is the guy who brought the entire world, including Russia and China, to bring about the most devastating, most devastating — the most devastating efforts on Iran to make sure that they in fact stop with their — look, I — I — I just — I mean, these guys bet against America all the time.”

Vice President Biden, at the VP Presidential Debate(October 11, 2012): “Prior to the election, prior to the — him being sworn in, Governor Romney was asked the question about how he would proceed. He said, “I wouldn’t move heaven and earth to get bin Laden.” He didn’t understand it was more than about taking a murderer off the battlefield. It was about restoring America’s heart and letting terrorists around the world know, if you do harm to America, we will track you to the gates of hell if need be. And lastly, the president of the United States has — has led with a steady hand and clear vision. Governor Romney, the opposite. The last thing we need now is another war.”

President Barack Obama, addressing the UN General Assembly (September 25, 2012): “It is time to leave the call of violence and the politics of division behind. On so many issues, we face a choice between the promise of the future, or the prisons of the past. And we cannot afford to get it wrong. We must seize this moment. And America stands ready to work with all who are willing to embrace a better future.”

President Barack Obama, on CBS  (September 13, 2012): “There is never an excuse for violence against Americans, which is why my number one priority and my initial statement focused on making sure that not only are Americans safe, but that we go after anybody who would attack Americans.”

Senator John Kerry, at the DNC: In this — in this campaign we have a fundamental choice. Will we protect our country and our allies? Advance our interests and ideals? Do battle where we must and make peace where we can? Or will we entrust our place in the world to someone who just hasn’t learned the lessons of the last decade? We’ve all learned Mitt Romney doesn’t know much about foreign policy. But he has all these Neo-Con advisers who know all the wrong things about foreign policy. He would rely on them. After all he’s the great out-sourcer. But I say to you this is not the time to outsource the job of commander in chief.”

President Obama at the VFW Conference (July 23, 2012): “Moreover, it’s allowed us to broaden our vision and begin a new era of American leadership.  We’re leading from Europe to the Asia Pacific, with alliances that have never been stronger.  We’re leading the fight against nuclear dangers.  We’ve applied the strongest sanctions ever on Iran and North Korea — nations that cannot be allowed to threaten the world with nuclear weapons.   We’re leading on behalf of freedom — standing with people in the Middle East and North Africa as they demand their rights; protecting the Libyan people as they rid the world of Muammar Qaddafi.”

Joe Biden at NAACP (July 12, 2012): “On foreign policy, we see a future where, we – the President and I and the Democratic Party – see a future where America leads by the power of example as well as by the example of its power. Where the democracies of the world join to share the burden of maintaining world peace, where we continue to reduce nuclear arms around the world, where responsibility is turned over to the Afghans and American troops can start to come home. Gov. Romney and his allies see a very different future for America’s involvement in the world – one that still has 30,000 combat troops in Iraq. Remember he criticized us for bringing them home? Said 30,000 combat troops should remain? Where we set no date for leaving Afghanistan, where we stay and he doesn’t say how long, where the new START Treaty – the new arms control treaty with Russia endorsed by every former Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, National Security Advisor in the Republican Party, where he said he would not have proposed it and would have voted against it, and I suspect mean where he would abandon it. Where Russia is viewed – in his mind – as the greatest geopolitical threat foe America faces, where in the future we once again decide to go it alone. This guy’s vision of the future of America’s foreign policy is mired in the Cold War, and the Cold War is over.”

Joe Biden at West Point Commencement (May 26, 2012): “We are revitalizing America’s alliances, and particularly NATO, the greatest military alliance the world has ever known because — because, as the President has rightly said, Europe is the cornerstone of our engagement with the world. We learned during the Libya campaign, which saved thousands of innocents and helped topple a murderous dictator, that there is almost nothing — nothing we cannot accomplish when NATO and our partners act decisively, and when we actually share the burden of the responsibility.

President Obama at Air Force Academy Commencement (May 23, 2012): Around the world, the United States is leading once more.  From Europe to Asia, our alliances are stronger than ever.  Our ties with the Americas are deeper.  We’re setting the agenda in the region that will shape our long-term security and prosperity like no other — the Asia Pacific. We’re leading on global security — reducing our nuclear arsenal with Russia, even as we maintain a strong nuclear deterrent; mobilizing dozens of nations to secure nuclear materials so they never fall into the hands of terrorists; rallying the world to put the strongest sanctions ever on Iran and North Korea, which cannot be allowed to threaten the world with nuclear weapons.”

President Obama at the Airforce Academy Commencement (May 23, 2012): “But as Commander-in-Chief, I will not allow us to make the mistakes of the past.  We still face very serious threats.  As we’ve seen in recent weeks, with al Qaeda in Yemen, there are still terrorists who seek to kill our citizens.  So we need you to be ready for the full range of threats.  From the conventional to the unconventional, from nations seeking weapons of mass destruction to the cell of terrorists planning the next attack, from the old danger of piracy to the new threat of cyber, we must be vigilant.”

President Obama on maintaining strong alliances: From Europe to Asia, our alliances are the foundation of global security.  In Libya, all 28 NATO allies played a role and we were joined by partners in the air from Sweden to the Gulf states.  In Afghanistan, we’re in a coalition of 50 allies and partners.  Today, Air Force personnel are serving in 135 nations — partnering, training, building their capacity.  This is how peace and security will be upheld in the 21st century — more nations bearing the costs and responsibilities of leadership.  And that’s good for America.  It’s good for the world.  And we’re at the hub of it, making it happen.”

President Obama in an address to the UN General Assembly So, yes, this has been a difficult decade. But today, we stand at a crossroads of history with the chance to move decisively in the direction of peace.  To do so, we must return to the wisdom of those who created this institution. The United Nations’ Founding Charter calls upon us, “to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security.”  And Article 1 of this General Assembly’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights reminds us that, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and in rights.” Those bedrock beliefs — in the responsibility of states, and the rights of men and women — must be our guide.”

President Obama in an address to the UN General Assembly: “Moreover, the United States will continue to support those nations that transition to democracy — with greater trade and investment — so that freedom is followed by opportunity. We will pursue a deeper engagement with governments, but also with civil society — students and entrepreneurs, political parties and the press. We have banned those who abuse human rights from traveling to our country. And we’ve sanctioned those who trample on human rights abroad. And we will always serve as a voice for those who’ve been silenced.”

Vice President Joe Biden during a speech about foreign policy at NYU: “Governor Romney, I think, is counting on collective amnesia of the American people.  Americans know that we can’t go back to the future, back to a foreign policy that would have America go it alone — shout to the world you’re either with us or against us, lash out first and ask the hard questions later, if they get asked at all, isolate America instead of isolating our enemies, waste hundreds of billions of dollars and risk thousands of Americans’ lives on a war that’s unnecessary — and see the world through a Cold War prism that is totally out of touch with the realities of the 21st century.”

Romney Campaign:

Mitt Romney, at Third Presidential Debate (October 22, 2012) “I absolutely believe that America has a — a responsibility and the privilege of helping defend freedom and promote the principles that — that make the world more peaceful. And those principles include human rights, human dignity, free enterprise, freedom of expression, elections, because when there are elections, people tend to vote for peace. They don’t vote for war. So we want to — to promote those principles around the world. We recognize that there are places of conflict in the world. We want to end those conflicts to the extent humanly possible. But in order to be able to fulfill our role in the world, America must be strong. America must lead.”

Mitt Romney, at the VMI (October 8, 2012): “This is what makes America exceptional: It is not only the character of our country; it is also the record of our accomplishments. America has a proud history of strong, confident, principled global leadership — a history that’s been written by patriots of both parties. That is America at its best and is the standard by which we measure every president as well as anyone who wishes to be president.”

Paul Ryan, address to the Values Voter Summit (September 14, 2012): “In the days ahead, and in the years ahead, American foreign policy needs moral clarity and firmness of purpose. Only by the confident exercise of American influence are evil and violence overcome. That is how we keep problems from becoming crises. That is what keeps the peace. And that is what we will have in a Romney-Ryan administration.”

John Bolton, former U.S Ambassador to the United Nations/Romney advisor, on a talk radio station regarding embassy attacks (September 12, 2012): “I’ve said for three-and-a-half years the president doesn’t care about national security. He doesn’t think the world is terribly threatening. I think a weak reaction, a failure to demonstrate American power and resolve will help see this stretch throughout the region… I come back to Tehran in 1979, that if we’re not careful here, we’re going to see a repetition of that crisis which of course was a major factor contributing to the destruction of the Jimmy Carter administration”

Jim Talent, Romney advisor, in a statement regarding embassy attacks (September 12, 2012): “The Arab Spring is an opportunity, but it also presents certain risks, and now what we want to do is lead strongly so we can influence events in a constructive direction. [Romney] made the point that the Obama administration has failed to do that in a number of areas, and that has left a vacuum. “In something like this, the appropriate thing to do is to recognize the human tragedy involved and then raise [criticism] in a constructive way.”

Condoleezza Rice, at the RNC: “And we have seen once again that the desire for freedom is universal – as men and women in the Middle East demand it.  Yet, the promise of the Arab Spring is engulfed in uncertainty; internal strife and hostile neighbors are challenging the fragile democracy in Iraq; dictators in Iran and Syria butcher their own people and threaten the security of the region; China and Russia prevent a response; and all wonder, “Where does America stand?” Indeed that is the question of the moment – “Where does America stand?” When our friends and our foes, alike, do not know the answer to that question- clearly and unambiguously – the world is a chaotic and dangerous place. The U.S. since the end of World War II had an answer – we stand for free peoples and free markets, we are willing to support and defend them – we will sustain a balance of power that favors freedom.”

Mitt Romney, at the RNC: “President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus, even as he has relaxed sanctions on Castro’s Cuba. He abandoned our friends in Poland by walking away from our missile defense commitments, but is eager to give Russia’s President Putin the flexibility he desires, after the election. Under my administration, our friends will see more loyalty, and Mr. Putin will see a little less flexibility and more backbone.”

Condoleezza Rice, not being able to name any Obama Foreign Policy Failures on CBSO’Donnell: “Can you be specific about somewhere where you think President Obama has failed on foreign policy?”

Rice: “What we should do tonight, is talk about what a President Romney would mean for America. It’s not a time to look back, it’s a time to look forward. We have real challenges out there, in the Middle East, in Asia, in Europe, with our allies.”

O’Donnell: “But if President Obama isn’t doing anything wrong, then why change things?”

Rice: “It’s a question of what a President Romney would do and there is no doubt that the United States’ voice has been muted and when the United States’ voice is muted the world is a more dangerous place.

Paul Ryan, GOP VP Candidate speaking to the Alexander Hamilton Society, “Look – our fiscal problems are real, and the need to address them is urgent. But I’m here to tell you that decline is not a certainty for America. Rather, as Charles Krauthammer put it, “decline is a choice.” It is hard to overstate the importance of this choice. In The Weary Titan, Aaron Friedberg − one of the founders of the Hamilton Society − has shown us what happened when Britain made the wrong choice at the turn of the 20th century. The stakes are even higher today. Unlike Britain, which handed leadership to a power that shared its fundamental values, today’s most dynamic and growing powers do not embrace the basic principles that should be at the core of the international system. A world without U.S. leadership will be a more chaotic place, a place where we have less influence, and a place where our citizens face more dangers and fewer opportunities. Take a moment and imagine a world led by China or by Russia.”

Paul Ryan speaking to the Alexander Hamilton Society, “America’s “exceptionalism” is just this – while most nations at most times have claimed their own history or culture to be exclusive, America’s foundations are not our own – they belong equally to every person everywhere. The truth that all human beings are created equal in their natural rights is the most “inclusive” social truth ever discovered as a foundation for a free society. “All” means “all”! You can’t get more “inclusive” than that!”

Paul Ryan, speaking to the Alexander Hamilton Society, “A safer world and a more prosperous America go hand-in-hand. Economic growth is the key to avoiding the kind of painful austerity that would limit our ability to generate both hard and soft power. A more prosperous economy enables us to afford a modernized military that is properly sized for the breadth of the challenges we face. Such a military must also be an efficient and responsible steward of taxpayer dollars in order to maintain the confidence of the American people”

Mitt Romney at the VFW Conference (July 24, 2012): “I am an unapologetic believer in the greatness of this country. I am not ashamed of American power. I take pride that throughout history our power has brought justice where there was tyranny, peace where there was conflict, and hope where there was affliction and despair. I do not view America as just one more point on the strategic map, one more power to be balanced. I believe our country is the greatest force for good the world has ever known, and that our influence is needed as much now as ever. And I am guided by one overwhelming conviction and passion: This century must be an American Century.”

Mitt Romney at the VFW Conference (July 24, 2012): “Like a watchman in the night, we must remain at our post – and keep guard of the freedom that defines and ennobles us, and our friends. In an American Century, we have the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world. In an American Century, we secure peace through our strength. And if by absolute necessity we must employ it, we must wield our strength with resolve. In an American Century, we lead the free world and the free world leads the entire world. If we do not have the strength or vision to lead, then other powers will take our place, pulling history in a very different direction. A just and peaceful world depends on a strong and confident America. I pledge to you that if I become commander-in-chief, the United States of America will fulfill its duty, and its destiny.”

Mitt Romney, (July 19, 2012): “While Russia and Iran have rushed to support Bashar al-Assad and thousands have been slaughtered, President Obama has abdicated leadership and subcontracted U.S. policy to Kofi Annan and the United Nations.”

John Bolton, Mitt Romney’s Adviser, in Townhall Magazine (June 25, 2012): “Across the board, Obama’s vision of America’s proper place in the world is dramatically different from that held by most Americans. Perhaps most importantly for 2012’s key issue—America’s faltering, inadequate economic “recovery”—the administration completely misses the vital nexus between a strong America internationally and sustained domestic prosperity”

Mitt Romney during a Republican primary debate in Washington, D. C.: “I believe America is an exceptional and unique nation. President Obama feels that we’re going to be a nation which has multipolar balancing militaries. I believe that American military superiority is the right course. President Obama says that we have people throughout the world with common interests. I just don’t agree with him. I think there are people in the world that want to oppress other people, that are evil.”

Mitt Romney during a Republican primary debate in Jacksonville: “So when [the founders] said, for instance, that the creator had “endowed us with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” I would seek to assure that those principles and values remain in America and that we help share them with other people in the world, not by conquering them, but by helping them through our trade, through our various forms of soft power, to help bring people the joy and — and — and opportunity that exists in this great land.”

Relations with Israel

Obama Administration:

President Barack Obama, at Third Presidential Debate (October 22, 2012) “I will stand with Israel if they are attacked. And this is the reason why, working with Israel, we have created the strongest military and intelligence cooperation between our two countries in history. In fact, this week we’ll be carrying out the largest military exercise with Israel in history, this very week.”

Vice President Biden, at the VP Presidential Debate(October 11, 2012): “War should always be the absolute last resort. That’s why these crippling sanctions, which Bibi Netanyahu says we should continue, which — if I’m not mistaken — Governor Romney says we — we should continue. I may be mistaken. He changes his mind so often, I could be wrong. But the fact of the matter is, he says they’re working. And the fact is that they are being crippled by them. And we’ve made it clear, big nations can’t bluff. This president doesn’t bluff.”

President Barack Obama, addressing the United Nations General Assembly (September 25, 2012): “Let me be clear: America wants to resolve this issue through diplomacy, and we believe that there is still time and space to do so. But that time is not unlimited. We respect the right of nations to access peaceful nuclear power, but one of the purposes of the United Nations is to see that we harness that power for peace. Make no mistake: a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained. It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy…And that is why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

President Barack Obama, in a speech in Tampa, Florida (September 20, 2012): “We’re still threatened by an Iran that is pursuing nuclear weapons and I’ve been absolutely clear that our policy is not to allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon. We can’t afford a nuclear arms race in the region. Obviously, there are still extremists around the world who threaten us, which is why my commitment is to continue to have the strongest military in the world. But I also want to lead with diplomacy. I also want to lead with our values and our ideals.”

Hilary Clinton, in an interview(September 10, 2012): “We’re not setting deadlines. They’re more anxious about a quick response because they feel that they’re right in the bull’s eye, so to speak, if this doesn’t end up changing Iranian behavior and their nuclear weapons program,” she said. “But we’re convinced that we have more time to focus on these sanctions, to do everything we can to bring Iran to a good faith negotiation…We’re watching very carefully about what they do, because it’s always been more about their actions than their words”

Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense, in Tunisia: “With regards to the sanctions and the impact of these sanctions, the international community has been strongly unified in imposing some very serious sanctions on Iran.  And as a matter of fact, the international community will increase the impact of those sanctions within the next few months. We recognize that these sanctions are having a serious impact in terms of the economy in Iran.  And while the results of that may not be obvious at the moment, the fact is that they have expressed a willingness to try to negotiate with the P-5-plus-1 and they continue to seem interested in trying to find a diplomatic solution.  I think what we all need to do is to continue the pressure on Iran, economically and diplomatically, to take the right steps here, to negotiate, and to ultimately do what’s right in joining the international family and abiding by international rules and requirements. And we believe that the best course of action is to continue that pressure and continue that unity in the effort to convince them to do what’s right.”

President Obama after the signing of the US-Israel Enhanced Cooperation Act (July 26, 2012): “Let me just close by saying that the tragic events that we saw in Bulgaria emphasize the degree to which this continues to be a challenge not just for Israel, but for the entire world — preventing terrorist attacks and making sure the people of Israel are not targeted. And I hope that, as I sign as this bill, once again everybody understands how committed all of us are — Republicans and Democrats — as Americans to our friends in making sure that Israel is safe and secure.”

President Obama at a campaign event (July 19, 2012): “Obviously, this is a moment of great uncertainty in the Middle East given what’s happening in Syria and what’s happening in other places. So now’s the time to make sure that we are doing everything we can to protect Israel’s security, that’s not a Republican or a Democratic issue. That is an issue of how we work with one of our closest allies in the world that shares our values and believes in democracy.”

President Obama during an address to AIPAC: “And because of AIPAC’s effectiveness in carrying out its mission, you can expect that over the next several days, you will hear many fine words from elected officials describing their commitment to the U.S.-Israel relationship.  But as you examine my commitment, you don’t just have to count on my words.  You can look at my deeds.  Because over the last three years, as President of the United States, I have kept my commitments to the state ofIsrael.  At every crucial juncture — at every fork in the road — we have been there forIsrael.  Every single time.”

President Obama during an address to AIPAC: “Four years ago, I stood before you and said that, “Israel’s security is sacrosanct.  It is non-negotiable.”  That belief has guided my actions as President.  The fact is, my administration’s commitment toIsrael’s security has been unprecedented.”

Romney Campaign:

Mitt Romney, at Third Presidential Debate (October 22, 2012) “Well, first of all, I — I want to underscore the — the same point the president made, which is that if I’m president of the United States, when I’m president of the United States, we will stand with Israel. And — and if Israel is attacked, we have their back, not just diplomatically, not just culturally, but militarily. That’s number one.”

Mitt Romney, at the VMI (October 8, 2012): “Among Israelis and Palestinians, the future must not belong to those who turn their backs on the prospect of peace. Let us leave behind those who thrive on conflict, and those who reject the right of Israel to exist. The road is hard but the destination is clear – a secure, Jewish state of Israel; and an independent, prosperous Palestine. Understanding that such a peace must come through a just agreement between the parties, America will walk alongside all who are prepared to make that journey.”

Mitt Romney, on a conference call with American Rabbis (September 21, 2012): “With regards to the red line, I would image Prime Minister Netanyahu is referring to a red line over which if Iran crossed it would take military action. And for me, it is unacceptable or Iran to have the capability of building a nuclear weapon, which they could use in the Middle East or elsewhere… So for me, the red line is nuclear capability. We do not want them to have the capacity of building a bomb that threatens ourselves, our friends, and the world. My red line is Iran may not have a nuclear weapon. It is inappropriate for them to have the capacity to terrorize the world. Iran with a nuclear weapon or with fissile material that can be given to Hezbollah or Hamas or others has the potential of not just destabilizing the Middle East. But it could be brought here.”

Mitt Romney, at a private fundraiser(May 17, 2012): “I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and I say there’s just no way…[S]o what you do is, you say, you move things along the best way you can. You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem…”

Mitt Romney, at a private fundraiser(May17, 2012): “If I were Iran, if I were Iran—a crazed fanatic, I’d say let’s get a little fissile material to Hezbollah, have them carry it to Chicago or some other place, and then if anything goes wrong, or America starts acting up, we’ll just say, “Guess what? Unless you stand down, why, we’re going to let off a dirty bomb.” I mean this is where we have—where America could be held up and blackmailed by Iran, by the mullahs, by crazy people. So we really don’t have any option but to keep Iran from having a nuclear weapon.”

Mitt Romney, at a private fundraiser: (May 17, 2012): “The Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace, the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish.”

Mitt Romney  at a fundraiser in Jerusalem (July 29, 2012): “Culture makes all the difference…And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things”

Mitt Romney’s remarks in Jerusalem (July 28, 2012): “It is my firm conviction that the security of Israel is in the vital national security interest of the United States. And ours is an alliance based not only on shared interests but also on enduring shared values”

Mitt Romney in an interview with Haaretz (July 27, 2012): “If I will be president, there will be no confrontations between our nations before international institutions. There will be no public denouncing of Israel by the U.S. in the UN. Israel’s friendly and unfriendly neighbors will know we stand with you. I believe that is the real way to achieve peace-by working with Israel, not creating distance between Israel and America.”

Mitt Romney in an interview with Haaretz (July 27, 2012): “I believe in a two-state solution which suggests there will be two states, including a Jewish state. I respect Israel’s right to remain a Jewish state. The question is not whether the people of the region believe that there should be a Palestinian state. The question is if they believe there should be an Israeli state, a Jewish state.”

Mitt Romney at the VFW Conference (July 24, 2012):  “President Obama is fond of lecturing Israel’s leaders. He was even caught by a microphone deriding them. He has undermined their position, which was tough enough as it was. And even at the United Nations, to the enthusiastic applause of Israel’s enemies, he spoke as if our closest ally in the Middle East was the problem. The people of Israel deserve better than what they have received from the leader of the free world. And the chorus of accusations, threats, and insults at the United Nations should never again include the voice of the President of the United States.”

Mitt Romney during an address to AIPAC: “As President, I will treat our allies and friends like friends and allies. In recent days and weeks, we’ve heard a lot of words from the administration. Its clear message has been to warn Israel to consider the costs of military action against Iran. I do not believe that we should be issuing public warnings that create distance between the United States and Israel. Israel does not need public lectures about how to weigh decisions of war and peace. It needs our support.”


A Nuclear Iran

Obama Administration:

President Barack Obama, at Third Presidential Debate (October 22, 2012) “But to the issue of Iran, as long as I’m president of the United States, Iran will not get a nuclear weapon…And the reason we did this is because a nuclear Iran is a threat to our national security and it’s threat to Israel’s national security. We cannot afford to have a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region of the world. Iran’s a state sponsor of terrorism, and for them to be able to provide nuclear technology to nonstate actors — that’s unacceptable. And they have said that they want to see Israel wiped off the map”

Vice President Biden, at the VP Presidential Debate (October 11, 2012):“When my friend talks about fissile material, they have to take this highly enriched uranium, get it from 20 percent up. Then they have to be able to have something to put it in. There is no weapon that the Iranians have at this point. Both the Israelis and we know we’ll know if they start the process of building a weapon. So all this bluster I keep hearing, all this loose talk — what are they talking about? Are you talking about to be more credible? What — what more can the president do? Stand before the United Nations, tell the whole world, directly communicate to the ayatollah: We will not let them acquire a nuclear weapon, period, unless he’s talking about going to war.”

Hilary Clinton, Secretary of State, in an interview (June 30, 2012):“The pressure track is our primary focus now, and we believe that the economic sanctions are bringing Iran to the table. They are going to continue to increase and cause economic difficulties for them. But the President has said no option is off the table. We obviously, clearly, prefer that we resolve the international community’s dispute with Iran over their nuclear program through the diplomatic channels that we are pursuing. That is what we’re focused on and that’s what we’re going to do everything we can to make successful.”

Hilary Clinton, Secretary of State, in a press statement (June 11, 2012): “We have implemented these sanctions to support our efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and to encourage Iran to comply with its international obligations. Today’s announcement underscores the success of our sanctions implementation. By reducing Iran’s oil sales, we are sending a decisive message to Iran’s leaders: until they take concrete actions to satisfy the concerns of the international community, they will continue to face increasing isolation and pressure. The United States remains committed to a dual-track policy that offers Iran the chance to engage seriously with the international community to resolve our concerns over its nuclear program through negotiations with the P5+1. Iran has the ability to address these concerns by taking concrete steps during the next round of talks in Moscow. I urge its leaders to do so.”

Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense, during an ABC interview (May 23, 2012)“The fundamental premise is that neither the United States or the international community is going to allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. We will do everything we can to prevent them from developing a weapon. International community’s been unified. We’ve put very tough sanctions on them as a result of that, and we are – you know, we are prepared for any contingency in that part of the world. But our hope is that these matters can be resolved diplomatically.”

President Obama during a news conference: “What we have said is we won’t countenance Irangetting a nuclear weapon. My policy is not containment; my policy is not letting them get a nuclear weapon.”

President Obama on the possibility of Iran developing a nuclear weapons program: “We do believe there is still a window that allows for a diplomatic resolution to this issue.”

President Obama during an interview: “I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don’t bluff. I also don’t, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say.”

President Obama during an interview: “The dangers of an Iran getting nuclear weapons that then leads to a free-for-all in the Middle East is something that I think would be very dangerous for the world.”

President Obama in his State of the Union address: “Let there be no doubt:  America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal. But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better, and if Iran changes course and meets its obligations, it can rejoin the community of nations.”

President Obama, when asked to clarify ‘all options on the table’ in an interview: “It means a political component that involves isolating Iran; it means an economic component that involves unprecedented and crippling sanctions; it means a diplomatic component in which we have been able to strengthen the coalition that presents Iran with various options through the P-5 plus 1 and ensures that the IAEA is robust in evaluating Iran’s military program; and it includes a military component. And I think people understand that.”

President Obama during a press conference at the APEC summit: “I have said repeatedly and I will say it today, we are not taking any options off the table, because it’s my firm belief that an Iran with a nuclear weapon would pose a security threat not only to the region but also to the United States.  But our strong preference is to have Iran meet its international obligations, negotiate diplomatically, to allow them to have peaceful use of nuclear energy in accordance with international law, but at the same time, forswear the weaponization of nuclear power.”

Romney Campaign:

Mitt Romney, at Third Presidential Debate (October 22, 2012) “Crippling sanctions were number one. And they do work. You’re seeing it right now in the economy. It’s absolutely the right thing to do to have crippling sanctions. I’d have put them in place earlier, but it’s good that we have them…We need to increase pressure time and time again on Iran because anything other than a — a — a solution to this which says — which stops this nuclear folly of theirs is unacceptable to America. And of course, a military action is the last resort. It is something one would only, only consider if all of the other avenues had been — had been tried to their full extent.

Mitt Romney, at Third Presidential Debate (October 22, 2012)”…with regards to — to Iran and the threat of Iran, there’s no question but that a nuclear Iran, a nuclear-capable Iran, is unacceptable to America. It presents a threat not only to our friends, but ultimately a threat to us to have Iran have nuclear material, nuclear weapons that could be used against us or used to be threatening to us. It’s also essential for us to understand what our mission is in Iran, and that is to dissuade Iran from having a nuclear weapon through peaceful and diplomatic means. And crippling sanctions are something I’d called for five years ago when I was in Israel speaking at the Herzliya Conference. I laid out seven steps. “

Paul Ryan, at the VP Presidential Debate (October 11, 2012): Now, let’s take a look at where we’ve gone — come from. When Barack Obama was elected, they had enough fissile material, nuclear material, to make one bomb. Now they have enough for five. They’re racing toward a nuclear weapon. They’re four years closer toward a nuclear weapons capability. We’ve had four different sanctions at the U.N. on Iran, three from the Bush administration, one here. And the only reason we got it is because Russia watered it down and prevented the — the sanctions from hitting the central bank….”

Paul Ryan, at the VP Presidential Debate (October 11, 2012): “…so in order solve this peacefully, which is everybody’s goal, you have to have the ayatollahs change their minds. Look at where they are. They’re moving faster toward a nuclear weapon. It’s because this administration has no credibility on this issue. It’s because this administration watered down sanctions, delayed sanctions, tried to stop us from putting the tough sanctions in place. Now we have them in place because of Congress. They say the military option’s on the table but it’s not being viewed as credible, and the key is to do this peacefully, is to make sure that we have credibility. Under a Romney administration, we will have credibility on this issue.”

Mitt Romney, at a private fundraiser warning that America itself can be under attack (May 17, 2012): “If I were Iran – a crazed fanatic, I’d say let’s get a little fissile material to Hezbollah, have them carry it to Chicago or some other place, and then if anything goes wrong, or America starts acting up, we’ll just say, ‘Guess what? Unless you stand down, why, we’re going to let off a dirty bomb’.”

Mitt Romney, speaking with NBC’s “Meet the Press” (September 9, 2012): “The president has not drawn us further away from a nuclear Iran. In fact, Iran is closer to having a weapon, closer to having nuclear capability than when he took office. We need to use every resource we have to dissuade them from their nuclear path. But that doesn’t mean that we would take off the table our military option.  That’s something which certainly every American would hope we would never have to use.  But we have to maintain it on the table or Iran will, undoubtedly, continue their treacherous course.”

Mitt Romney’s remarks in Jerusalem (July 28, 2012): “We must not delude ourselves into thinking that containment is an option. We must lead the effort to prevent Iran from building and possessing nuclear weapons capability. We should employ any and all measures to dissuade the Iranian regime from its nuclear course, and it is our fervent hope that diplomatic and economic measures will do so. In the final analysis, of course, no option should be excluded. We recognize Israel’s right to defend itself, and that it is right for America to stand with you.”

Mitt Romney at the VFW Conference (July 24, 2012): “Sanctions must be enforced without exception, cutting off the regime’s sources of wealth. Negotiations must secure full and unhindered access for inspections. As it is, the Iranian regime claims the right to enrich nuclear material for supposedly peaceful purposes. This claim is discredited by years of deception. A clear line must be drawn: There must be a full suspension of any enrichment, period. And at every turn, Iran must know that the United States and our allies stand as one in these critical objectives. Only in this way can we successfully counter the catastrophic threat that Iran presents. I pledge to you and to all Americans that if I become commander-in-chief, I will use every means necessary to protect ourselves and the region, and to prevent the worst from happening while there is still time.”

John Bolton, Romney adviser, in the weekly standard (July 16, 2012): “We are well past the point where sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program achieve more than making their proponents feel good about “doing something.” They neither restrain Iran’s nuclear program nor effectively advance the goal of replacing the mullahs with a regime that would truly forswear nuclear weapons. Combined with material assistance to Iran’s extensive opposition, sanctions could help destabilize Tehran, but unfortunately both the Obama and Bush administrations have failed on that score.”

Mitt Romney in a Washington Post op-ed: “If the Iranians are permitted to get the bomb, the consequences will be as uncontrollable as they are horrendous. My foreign policy plan to avert this catastrophe is plain: Either the ayatollahs will get the message, or they will learn some very painful lessons about the meaning of American resolve.”

Mitt Romney during remarks to the Republican Jewish Coalition: “I would not meet with Ahmadinejad. He should be excluded from diplomatic society. He should be indicted for the crime of incitement to genocide under Article III of the Genocide Convention. Iran’s ayatollahs will not be permitted to obtain nuclear weapons on my watch. A nuclear-armed Iran is not only a threat to Israel, it is a threat to the entire world.  Our friends must never fear that we will not stand by them in an hour of need. Our enemies should never doubt our resolve. [Obama] has been timid and weak in the face of the existential threat of a nuclear Iran.”

Mitt Romney in an op-ed: “I will begin by imposing a new round of far tougher economic sanctions on Iran. I will do this together with the world if we can, unilaterally if we must. I will speak out forcefully on behalf of Iranian dissidents. I will back up American diplomacy with a very real and very credible military option. I will restore the regular presence of aircraft carrier groups in the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf region simultaneously. I will increase military assistance to Israel and coordination with all of our allies in the region. These actions will send an unequivocal signal to Iran that the United States, acting in concert with allies, will never permit Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.”

Mitt Romney during a Republican primary debate in Washington, D.C.: “The right course in America is to stand up to Iran with crippling sanctions, indict Ahmadinejad for violating the Geneva — or the Genocide Convention, put in place the kind of crippling sanctions that stop their economy. I know it’s going to make gasoline more expensive. There’s no price which is worth an Iranian nuclear weapon.”

Mitt Romney during a Republican primary debate in Washington, D.C.: “Look, one thing you can know and that is if we reelect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon. And if we elect Mitt Romney, if you elect me as the next president, they will not have a nuclear weapon.”


Afghanistan/Pakistan

Obama Administration:

President Barack Obama, at Third Presidential Debate (October 22, 2012) “And we are now in a position where we have met many of the objectives that got us there in the first place. Part of what had happened is we’d forgotten why we’d gone. We went because there were people who were responsible for 3,000 American deaths. And so we decimated al-Qaida’s core leadership in the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan. We then started to build up Afghan forces. And we’re now in a position where we can transition out, because there’s no reason why Americans should die when Afghans are perfectly capable of defending their own country…Now, that transition’s — has to take place in a responsible fashion. We’ve been there a long time, and we’ve got to make sure that we and our coalition partners are pulling out responsibly and giving Afghans the capabilities that they need. “

President Barack Obama, at Third Presidential Debate (October 22, 2012) “But what I think the American people recognize is after a decade of war, it’s time to do some nation-building here at home. And what we can now do is free up some resources to, for example, put Americans back to work, especially our veterans, rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our schools, making sure that, you know, our veterans are getting the care that they need when it comes to post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, making sure that the certifications that they need for good jobs of the future are in place.”

President Barack Obama, at Third Presidential Debate (October 22, 2012): “We ended the war in Iraq, refocused our attention on those who actually killed us on 9/11. And as a consequence, al-Qaida’s core leadership has been decimated. In addition, we’re now able to transition out of Afghanistan in a responsible way, making sure that Afghans take responsibility for their own security, and that allows us also to rebuild alliances and make friends around the world to combat future threats.”

Vice President Biden, at the VP Presidential Debate (October 11, 2012): “My friend and the governor say it’s based on conditions, which means it depends. It does not depend for us. It is the responsibility of the Afghans to take care of their own security. We have trained over 315,000, mostly without incident. There have been more than two dozen cases of green-on-blue where Americans have been killed. If we do not — if the measures the military has taken do not take hold, we will not go on joint patrols. We will not train in the field. We’ll only train in the — in the Army bases that exist there. But we are leaving. We are leaving in 2014. Period. And in the process, we’re going to be saving over the next 10 years another $800 billion. We’ve been in this war for over a decade. The primary objective is almost completed. Now, all we’re doing is putting the Kabul government in a position to be able to maintain their own security. It’s their responsibility, not America’s.”

Senator John Kerry, at the DNC: “It isn’t fair to say Mitt Romney doesn’t have a position on Afghanistan: He has every position. “He was against setting a date for withdrawal — then he said it was right — and then he left the impression that maybe it was wrong to leave this soon. He said it was ‘tragic’ to leave Iraq, and then he said it was fine. He said we should’ve intervened in Libya sooner. … Then he said the intervention was too aggressive. Then he said the world was a ‘better place’ because the intervention succeeded. Talk about being for it before you were against it. Mr. Romney — here’s a little advice: Before you debate Barack Obama on foreign policy, you better finish the debate with yourself.”

President Barack Obama, at the DNC: “In a world of new threats and new challenges, you can choose leadership that has been tested and proven. Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq. We did. I promised to refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11. We have. We’ve blunted the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan, and in 2014, our longest war will be over. A new tower rises above the New York skyline, al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, and Osama bin Laden is dead.”

Joe Biden, at the DNC: “In 2008, Barack Obama made a promise to the American people. He said, “If we have Osama bin Laden in our sights, we will take him out. That has to be our biggest national security priority.” Barack understood that the search for bin Laden was about a lot more than taking a monstrous leader off the battlefield. It was about righting an unspeakable wrong, healing a nearly unbearable wound in America’s heart. He also knew the message we had to send to terrorists around the world—if you attack innocent Americans, we will follow you to the ends of the earth. Most of all, the President had faith in our special forces–the finest warriors the world has ever known.”

President Barack Obama, at the DNC: “My opponent said it was “tragic” to end the war in Iraq, and he won’t tell us how he’ll end the war in Afghanistan. I have, and I will. And while my opponent would spend more money on military hardware that our Joint Chiefs don’t even want, I’ll use the money we’re no longer spending on war to pay down our debt and put more people back to work – rebuilding roads and bridges; schools and runways. After two wars that have cost us thousands of lives and over a trillion dollars, it’s time to do some nation-building right here at home.”

President Obama at the VFW Conference (July 23, 2012): “Again, there are those who argued against a timeline for ending this war — or against talking about it publicly.  But you know what, that’s not a plan for America’s security either.  After 10 years of war, and given the progress we’ve made, I felt it was important that the American people — and our men and women in uniform — know our plan to end this war responsibly.   And so by the end of this summer, more than 30,000 of our troops will have come home.  Next year, Afghans will take the lead for their own security.  In 2014, the transition will be complete.  And even as our troops come home, we’ll have a strong partnership with the Afghan people, and we will stay vigilant so Afghanistan is never again a source for attacks against America. “

Hilary Clinton ‘s remarks after talking to Pakistani Foreign Minister (July 3, 2012): “I am pleased that Foreign Minister Khar has informed me that the ground supply lines (GLOC) into Afghanistan are opening. Pakistan will continue not to charge any transit fee in the larger interest of peace and security in Afghanistan and the region. This is a tangible demonstration of Pakistan’s support for a secure, peaceful, and prosperous Afghanistan and our shared objectives in the region. This will also help the United States and ISAF conduct the planned drawdown at a much lower cost. This is critically important to the men and women who are fighting terrorism and extremism in Afghanistan.”

Leon Panetta on Pakistan during an interview with ABC (May 23, 2012): “This is a country that still is critical in that region of the world. This is a country in which we have to go after an enemy that’s located in their country as we have. So we have to continue to try to work with them. It’s an up-and-down relationship. There have been periods where we’ve had good cooperation and they have worked with us. And there have been periods where we’ve had conflict. But both countries have a responsibility to work together because we’re dealing with common threats. They’re dealing with the terrorist threat just like we are.”

President Obama (May 24, 2012)“We’re in the process of ending the war in Afghanistan.  And in the process we’re also restoring respect for this country all around the world.  I had a chance to speak to 1,100 cadets who were graduating from the Air Force Academy this afternoon — this morning.  And I told them, don’t buy this whole notion that America’s influence is declining in the world — because the truth is, as we travel everywhere, we continue to be the agenda setters.  Folks continue to look to us to help shape international rules and norms that allow us to tackle things like terrorism or climate change or poverty and development.  We continue to be the one indispensible nation.  And because we project it with our values and our ideals, and restored a sense of rule of law, people are paying attention, people are listening and people are hungry for our leadership.”

John Allen, Commander of ISAF in a DoD Briefing (May 23, 2012): “And I think it’s important to understand that Pakistan has many of its own challenges on the eastern side of that international frontier.  It is engaged in a significant insurgency, in a counterinsurgency campaign.  And it’s been engaged in that for some period of time.  And the effects of many of their operations have been helpful to us on the other side of the border.
But we hadn’t had a conversation with them in almost a year on that level.  And so with the reopening of the conversation about the ground line of communications, with the, I think, positive outcomes of the conversations that we had over two days in Islamabad, I don’t see that there is a decrease in the relationship or a decline necessarily in the relationship.  I think we’re actually poised to improve where we were, frankly, and I look forward to continuing a constructive series of engagements with General Kayani and the Pakistani military over time.”

President Obama during the NATO Press Conference: “NATO will continue to train, advise and assist, and support Afghan forces as they grow stronger. And while this summit has not been a pledging conference, it’s been encouraging to see a number of countries making significant financial commitments to sustain Afghanistan’s progress in the years ahead”

President Obama answering the question of a premature withdrawal from Afghanistan at NATO Press Conference, “I don’t think that there is ever going to be an optimal point where we say, this is all done, this is perfect, this is just the way we wanted it and now we can wrap up all our equipment and go home. This is a process and it’s sometimes a messy process, just as it was in Iraq”

President Obama during the NATO Press Conference: “We think that Pakistan has to be part of the solution in Afghanistan, that it is in our national interest to see a Pakistan that is democratic, that is prosperous and that is stable, that we share a common enemy of the extremists that are found not only in Afghanistan, but also within Pakistan and that we need to work through some of the tensions that have inevitably arisen after 10 years of our military presence in that region”

President Obama  at the ISAF Meeting on Afghanistan, “Over the past two years, we’ve made important progress. Our forces broke the Taliban’s momentum. More Afghans are reclaiming their communities. Afghan security forces have grown stronger. And the transition that we agreed to in Lisbon is well underway”

President Obama during a news conference: “Now, yes the situation with the Koran burning concerns me. I think that it is an indication of the challenges in that environment. And it’s an indication that now is the time for us to transition. Obviously, the violence directed at our people is unacceptable.”

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta at a conference in Munich: “What emerged from a series of meetings with my NATO counterparts this past week was a recommitment to finishing the job in Afghanistan.  Our bottom line, as the foreign minister pointed out, is in together, out together.  Our discussions included considerations of how ISAF will move from the lead combat role to a support, advise and assist role as Afghan Security Forces move into the lead.  We hope Afghan forces will be ready to take the combat lead in all of Afghanistan some time in 2013, as we complete the final tranches of areas that we transition to Afghan control.  But, of course, ISAF will continue to be fully combat capable.  And we will engage in combat alongside the Afghans as necessary thereafter.”

Romney Campaign:

Mitt Romney, at Third Presidential Debate (October 22, 2012) “Well, we’re going to be finished by 2014. And when I’m president, we’ll make sure we bring our troops out by the end of 2014. The commanders and the generals there are on track to do so. We’ve seen progress over the past several years. The surge has been successful, and the training program is proceeding at pace. There are now a large number of Afghan security forces, 350,000, that are — are ready to step in to provide security. And — and we’re going to be able to make that transition by the end of — of 2014. So our troops’ll come home at that point.”

Mitt Romney, at Third Presidential Debate (October 22, 2012) “And I — I don’t blame the administration for the fact that the relationship with Pakistan is strained. We had to go into Pakistan; we had to go in there to get Osama bin Laden. That was the right thing to do. And that upset them, but there was obviously a great deal of anger even before that. But we’re going to have to work with the — with the people in Pakistan to try and help them move to a more responsible course than the one that they’re on. And it’s important for them, it’s important for the nuclear weapons, it’s important for the success of Afghanistan, because inside Pakistan you have a large group of Pashtuns that are — that are Taliban, that they’re going to come rushing back into Afghanistan when we go. And that’s one of the reasons the Afghan security forces have so much work to do to be able to fight against that. But it’s important for us to recognize that we can’t just walk away from Pakistan. But we do need to make sure that as we — as we send support for them, that this is tied to them making progress on — on matters that would lead them to becoming a civil society.”

Paul Ryan, at the VP Presidential Debate (October 11, 2012): “We want to make sure that 2014 is successful. That’s why we want to make sure that we give our commanders what they say they need to make it successful. We don’t want to extend beyond 2014. That’s the point we’re making. You know, if it was just this, I’d feel like we would — we would be able to call this a success, but it’s not. What we are witnessing as we turn on our television screens these days is the absolute unraveling of the Obama foreign policy. Problems are growing at home, but — problems are growing abroad, but jobs aren’t growing here at home.”

Paul Ryan, at the VP Presidential Debate (October 11, 2012): “What we don’t want to do is lose the gains we’ve gotten. Now, we’ve disagreed from time to time on a few issues. We would have more likely taken into accounts the recommendations from our commanders, General Petraeus, Admiral Mullen, on troop levels throughout this year’s fighting season. We’ve been skeptical about negotiations with the Taliban, especially while they’re shooting at us. But we want to see the 2014 transition be successful, and that means we want to make sure our commanders have what they need to make sure that it is successful so that this does not once again become a launching pad for terrorists.”

Paul Ryan, GOP VP Candidate, speaking to the Alexander Hamilton Society: “Our ability to affect events is strongest in Iraq and Afghanistan, where for the last decade we have been fighting the scourge of global terrorism. In these countries, we can and we must remain committed to the promotion of stable governments that respect the rights of their citizens and deny terrorists access to their territory. Although the war has been long and the human costs high, failure would be a blow to American prestige and would reinvigorate al Qaeda, which is reeling from the death of its leader. Now is the time to lock in the success that is within reach.”

Paul Ryan in an op-ed on Afgahnistan,Make no mistake: The justification for our post-9/11 intervention in Afghanistan remains valid today. If the Taliban and its allies, al Qaeda and the Haqqani Network, regain control of Afghanistan, they would again be able to focus on attacking America instead of fighting for their own survival. A transition plan is in place for Afghan forces to take control of the country’s security in 2014. Even as we work toward that point, it is important to remember that our nation’s commitment to Afghanistan isn’t likely to end there. Our nation’s troops and resources will continue to support the Afghan people for years to come – not to engage in nation-building, but to mitigate the risk posed by the region’s extremists to our own national security. I remain confident that we can achieve our goal in Afghanistan if we have the political will and strategic patience to finish the job. Anything less would be a betrayal of those who have lost their lives in the cause of Afghanistan’s freedom, not to mention the safety and security of the American people.”

Paul Ryan  on his website, “The withdrawal has the potential to pose security threats to soldiers continuing shorthanded counter-insurgency operations, as well as to compromise the larger mission in Afghanistan. Further, the Afghan citizens currently working with our troops to quell violence may view the withdrawal as a signal that our forces are no longer committed to the mission, which will serve to debilitate the long-term diplomatic, development and reconstruction efforts in the area. I believe that the engagement in Afghanistan is necessary, and demands careful considerations for the safety of both our Armed Forces and citizens.  Our own security at home depends on denying Al Qaeda and other terrorists a safe haven to operate from abroad such as Afghanistan.” “

Mitt Romney at the VFW Conference (July 24, 2012): “For the past decade, among those challenges has been the war in Afghanistan. As commander-in-chief, I will have a solemn duty to our men and women in uniform. A president owes our troops, their families, and the American people a clear explanation of our mission, and a commitment not to play politics with the decisions of war. I have been critical of the President’s decision to withdraw the surge troops during the fighting season, against the advice of the commanders on the ground. President Obama would have you believe that anyone who disagrees with his decisions is arguing for endless war. But the route to more war – and to potential attacks here at home – is a politically timed retreat.”

Mitt Romney at the VFW Conference (July 24, 2012): As president, my goal in Afghanistan will be to complete a successful transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014. I will evaluate conditions on the ground and solicit the best advice of our military commanders. And I will affirm that my duty is not to my political prospects, but to the security of the nation.”

Mitt Romney in his white paper: “Mitt Romney will never make national-security decisions based upon electoral politics. Upon taking office, he will review our transition to the Afghan military by holding discussions with our commanders in the field. He will order a full interagency assessment of our military and assistance presence in Afghanistan to determine the level required to secure our gains and to train Afghan forces to the point where they can protect the sovereignty of Afghanistan from the tyranny of the Taliban. Withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan under a Romney administration will be based on conditions on the ground as assessed by our military commander.”

Mitt Romney‘s response to a question about whether the United States should negotiate with the Taliban to end the fighting in Afghanistan: “These people have declared war on us. They’ve killed Americans. We go anywhere they are and we kill them.”

Mitt Romney during a Republican primary debate in Spartanburg: “We don’t negotiate with terrorists. I’d not negotiate with the Taliban. That’s something for the Afghans to decide, how they’re going to pursue their course in the future.”

Mitt Romney during a Republican primary debate in Washington, D.C. on the war in Afghanistan: “Instead, we want to draw them toward modernity. And for that to happen, we don’t want to literally pull up stakes and run out of town after the extraordinary investment that we’ve made. And that means we should have a gradual transition of handing off to the Afghan security forces the responsibility for their own country.”

China

Obama Administration:

President Barack Obama, at Third Presidential Debate (October 22, 2012) “But I’ve made a different bet on American workers. You know, if we had taken your advice, Governor Romney, about our auto industry, we’d be buying cars from China instead of selling cars to China. If we take your advice with respect to how we change our tax codes so that companies that are in profits overseas don’t pay U.S. taxes compared to companies here that are paying taxes, now, that’s estimated to create 800,000 jobs. The problem is they won’t be here; they’ll be in places like China. And if we’re not making investments in education and basic research, which is not something that the private sector is doing at a sufficient pace right now and has never done, then we will lose the lead in things like clean energy technology…Now, with respect to what we’ve done with China already, U.S. exports have doubled, since I came into office, to China. And actually, currencies are at their most advantageous point for U.S. exporters since 1993. We absolutely have to make more progress, and that’s why we’re going to keep on pressing.”

Vice President Joe Biden on the importance of Asia at West Point Commencement (May 26, 2012): “Re-balancing our foreign policy also means re-focusing on the most dynamic region of the world’s economy, the global economy, Asia.  The United States has long been and will remain a Pacific power and a critical provider of peace, prosperity and security of this vital region. The most critical relationship to get right is that between the United States and China.  Every day, the affairs of our nations and the livelihoods of our citizens grow more connected. How we manage this relationship between the world’s two largest economy, although we’re still almost three times as large as theirs, how we do this will help shape the 21st century.”

President Obama at a press conference during the APEC summit: “I also said yesterday that we welcome the peaceful rise of China.  It is in America’s interests to see China succeed in lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.  China can be a source of stability and help to underwrite international norms and codes of conduct. I want certainly to continue cultivating a constructive relationship with the Chinese government, but we’re going to continue to be firm in insisting that they operate by the same rules that everybody else operates under.  We don’t want them taking advantage of the United States or U.S. businesses.”

President Obama during remarks before bilateral meeting with China’s Vice President Xi: “Throughout this process I have always emphasized that we welcome China’s peaceful rise, that we believe that a strong and prosperous China is one that can help to bring stability at prosperity to the region and to the world.  And we expect to be able to continue on the cooperative track that we’ve tried to establish over the last three years. e have tried to emphasize that because of China’s extraordinary development over the last two decades, that with expanding power and prosperity also comes increased responsibilities.  And so we want to work with China to make sure that everybody is working by the same rules of the road when it comes to the world economic system, and that includes ensuring that there is a balanced trade flow between not only the United States and China, but around world.”

Romney Campaign:

Mitt Romney, at Third Presidential Debate (October 22, 2012) “Well, they sell us about this much stuff every year. And we sell them about this much stuff every year. So it’s pretty clear who doesn’t want a trade war. And there’s one going on right now that we don’t know about. It’s a silent one and they’re winning. We have an enormous trade imbalance with China. And it’s worse this year than last year. And it was worse last year than the year before…And — and so we have to understand that we can’t just surrender and — and lose jobs year in and year out. We have to say to our friends in China, look, you guys are playing aggressively, we understand it, but — but this can’t keep on going. You can’t keep on holding down the value of your currency, stealing our intellectual property, counterfeiting our products, selling them around the world, even into the United States.”

Paul Ryan, GOP VP Candidate, speaking to the Alexander Hamilton Society, “The key question for American policymakers is whether we are competing with China for leadership of the international system or against them over the fundamental nature of that system. It is a debate in which we must demonstrate American strength – economic, military, and moral – to make clear our choice to reject decline and instead recommit to renewed strength and prosperity. According to press reports, some Chinese leaders have started talking about when, not if, the United States will lose its status as a great power. We must demonstrate that planning for the post-American era is a squandered effort on their part – and that America’s greatest days lie ahead.”

Paul Ryan, speaking to the Alexander Hamilton Society, “A liberalizing China is not only in the interests of the world, but also in China’s own best interest as it copes with the tremendous challenges it faces over the next couple of decades. Just as America faces an entitlement crisis driven in part by the aging of our population, China faces an even more severe demographic crisis driven by years of coercive population controls. The stresses that this rapid aging will place on China’s economy and financial system are gargantuan. The ability of China to meet these challenges tomorrow will depend critically on whether they address their unsound economic policies today. Their export-led growth strategy has produced rapid growth, but it has also required policies that are causing massive distortions in the underlying economy.”

Mitt Romney at the VFW Conference (July 24, 2012): We face another continuing challenge in a rising China. China is attentive to the interests of its government – but it too often disregards the rights of its people. It is selective in the freedoms it allows; and, as with its one-child policy, it can be ruthless in crushing the freedoms it denies. In conducting trade with America, it permits flagrant patent and copyright violations … forestalls American businesses from competing in its market … and manipulates its currency to obtain unfair advantage. It is in our mutual interest for China to be a partner for a stable and secure world, and we welcome its participation in trade. But the cheating must finally be brought to a stop. President Obama hasn’t done it and won’t do it. I will.”

Mitt Romney during a Republican primary debate in Manchester: “My own view on the relationship with China is this, which is that China is stealing our intellectual property, our patents, our designs, our know-how, our brand names. They’re hacking into our computers, stealing information from not only corporate computers but from government computers. And they’re manipulating their currency. And if I’m president of the United States, I’m not going to continue to talk about how important China is and how we have to get along. And I believe those things. They’re very important. And we do have to get along. But I’m also going to tell the Chinese it’s time to stop. You have to play by the rules. I will not let you kill American jobs any longer.”


Government Defense Spending

Obama Administration:

Vice President Biden, at the VP Presidential Debate: “I will be very specific. Number one, the — this lecture on embassy security — the congressman here cut embassy security in his budget by $300 million below what we asked for, number one. So much for the embassy security piece.”

Vice President Biden, at the VP Presidential Debate in response to Congressman Ryan (October 11, 2012): “And so the bipartisanship is what he voted for: the automatic cuts in defense if they didn’t act. And beyond that, they asked for another — look, the military says, we need a smaller, leaner Army. We need more special forces. We need — we don’t need more M1 tanks. What we need is more UADs.”

President Barack Obama, at a campaign event in Ohio (September 17, 2012): Now, listen, I’ve cut taxes, just like I promised, for folks who need it — for middle-class families, for small businesses. The average family has seen their federal income tax — their federal taxes go down by $3,600.  So if any of you are talking to your Republican friends or relatives, and they say, well, he’s a big tax guy, you tell them, no, your taxes are lower than they were when I came into office. Small businesses, we’ve cut taxes 18 times.  But I do not believe that another round of tax cuts for millionaires are going to bring good jobs back to Ohio. I don’t think giving me a tax break, or giving Mr. Romney a tax break will help pay down our deficit.  I don’t believe that firing teachers or kicking students off of financial aid is somehow going to grow our economy.

President Obama at the VFW Conference (July 23, 2012): “And there are a number of Republicans in Congress who don’t want you to know that most of them voted for these cuts.  Now they’re trying to wriggle out of what they agreed to.  Instead of making tough choices to reduce the deficit, they’d rather protect tax cuts for some of the wealthiest Americans, even if it risks big cuts in our military.  And I’ve got to tell you, VFW, I disagree.  If the choice is between tax cuts that the wealthiest Americans don’t need and funding our troops that they definitely need to keep our country strong, I will stand with our troops every single time. “

President Obama at the VFW Conference (July 23, 2012): So let’s stop playing politics with our military.  Let’s get serious and reduce our deficit and keep our military strong.   Let’s take some of the money that we’re saving because we’re not fighting in Iraq and because we’re winding down in Afghanistan — use half that money to pay down our deficit; let’s use half of it to do some nation-building here in the United States of America.

Romney Campaign:

Paul Ryan, at the VP Presidential Debate (October 11, 2012): “So we had the same position, but we will — it’s never to early to speak out for our values. We should have spoken out right away when the Green Revolution was up and starting, when the mullahs in Iran were attacking their people. We should not have called Bashar Assad a reformer when he was turning his Russian-provided guns on his own people. We should always stand up for peace, for democracy, for individual rights, and we should not be imposing these devastating defense cuts, because what that does when we equivocate on our values, when we show that we’re cutting our own defense.”

Paul Ryan, at the VP Presidential Debate (October 11, 2012): “If these cuts go through, our Navy will be the small it is — it — the smallest it has been since before World War I. This invites weakness. Look, do we believe in peace through strength? You bet we do. And that means you don’t impose these devastating cuts on our military. So we’re saying don’t cut the military by a trillion dollars, not increase it by a trillion, don’t cut it by a trillion dollars.”

Paul Ryan, address to the Values Voter Summit (September 14, 2012): “In the president’s telling, government is a big benevolent presence, gently guiding our steps at every turn. In reality, when government enters the picture, private institutions are so often brushed aside with suspicion or even contempt. This is what happened to the Catholic Church and Catholic charities this past January when the new mandates of Obamacare started coming. Never mind your own conscience, they were basically told; from now, on you’re going to do things the government’s way.”

Paul Ryan, address to the Values Voter Summit (September 14, 2012): He didn’t say the word “stimulus,” either, because he wasted $831 billion of borrowed money.  At a time of mass unemployment, he didn’t even say “unemployment,” because we’re in the slowest recovery since the Great Depression.  And by the way, he didn’t use the word “recovery,” either – never mind that recovery was what all America expected from Barack Obama. He wants us to forget all of these things, and lately he’s been trying out a new tactic.  It’s a classic Barack Obama straw man: If anyone dares to point out the facts of his record, why then, they’re just being negative and pessimistic about the country.  The new straw man is people hoping for the decline of America.

Mitt Romney in an interview with Fortune Magazine (August 15, 2012): “With regards to the military, I believe that we will find enormous opportunities for efficiency and cost savings in the military…I do not anticipate those savings will be able to be used to reduce the deficit but instead will be necessary to increase the number of active-duty personnel by approximately 100,000, to restore our military equipment which has been destroyed in conflict, and to invest in the coming technologies of warfare.”

Paul Ryan, GOP VP Candidate, at the Alexander Hamilton Society, “But if there’s one thing I could say with complete confidence about American foreign policy, it is this: Our fiscal policy and our foreign policy are on a collision course; and if we fail to put our budget on a sustainable path, then we are choosing decline as a world power.”

Paul Ryan at the Alexander Hamilton Society, “Over the same period, defense spending has shrunk as a share of the federal budget from about 39 percent to just under 16 percent – even as we conduct an ambitious global war on terrorism. The fact is, defense consumes a smaller share of the national economy today than it did throughout the Cold War.”

Mitt Romney at the VFW Conference (July 24, 2012): “This is not the time for the President’s radical cuts in the military. Look around the globe. Other major powers are rapidly adding to their military capabilities, some with intentions very different from ours. The regime in Tehran is drawing closer to developing a nuclear weapon. The threat of radical Islamic terrorism persists. The threat of weapons of mass destruction proliferation is ever-present. And we are still at war and still have uniformed men and women in conflict.”

Mitt Romney, at the American Legion Magazine (July 19, 2012): “I am fully committed to strengthening America through our values, through a growing economy, and through a military that’s second to none, I will not cut the military budget. I will instead expand our essential weapons programs and our (number of) active-duty personnel. I do these things not so that we have to fight wars, but so that we can prevent wars.

John Bolton, Romney Adviser, in the National Review: “We should resume full-scale, indeed accelerated, efforts to construct the limited missile-defense system designed by George W. Bush to protect American territory not against Russia but against rogue states such as Iran and North Korea. But we should immediately make it clear to Moscow that we will begin to consider broadening our missile-defense program to deal with Russian and Chinese ballistic-missile capabilities.”

Mitt Romney’s speech at the Veteran’s Museum (May 28, 2012)“We have two courses we can follow: One is to follow in the pathway of Europe, to shrink our military smaller and smaller to pay for our social needs. The other is to commit to preserve America as the strongest military in the world, second to none, with no comparable power anywhere in the world”

Mitt Romney in a Chicago Tribune Op-ed, “With the United States on a path to a hollow military, we are hardly in a position to exercise leadership in persuading our allies to spend more on security. And in fact the Obama administration has failed to exercise such leadership. Quite the contrary; a multiplier effect has set in: The administration’s irresponsible defense cuts are clearing the way for our partners to do even less.”

Mitt Romney during a Republican primary debate in Mesa: “The world is more dangerous. It is not safer. North Korea is going through transition. The Arab Spring has become the Arab Winter. Syria is in flux. And, of course, Pakistan, with 100 nuclear weapons or more, represents a potential threat. Northern Mexico is a real danger area. I mean, looking around the world, you have Hezbollah in Latin America and Mexico. I mean, we face a very dangerous world. The right course is to add ships to our Navy, to modernize and add aircraft to our Air Force, to add 100,000 troops to our active-duty personnel, and to strengthen America’s military.”

Cuba

Obama Administration:

President Obama at the Fifth Summit of the Americas: “The United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba. I know that there is a longer — (applause) — I know there’s a longer journey that must be traveled to overcome decades of mistrust, but there are critical steps we can take toward a new day. Over the past two years, I’ve indicated, and I repeat today, that I’m prepared to have my administration engage with the Cuban government on a wide range of issues — from drugs, migration, and economic issues, to human rights, free speech, and democratic reform. Now, let me be clear, I’m not interested in talking just for the sake of talking. But I do believe that we can move U.S.-Cuban relations in a new direction.”

Romney Campaign:

Mitt Romney during a Republican primary debate in Jacksonville: “I will use every resource we have, short of invasion and military action, Congressman Paul. I’ll use every resource we can to make sure that when Fidel Castro finally leaves this planet, that we are able to help the people of Cuba enjoy freedom.”

Mitt Romney during a Republican primary debate in Tampa: “This president has taken a very dangerous course with regards to Cuba saying we’re going to relax relations, we’re going to open up travel to Cuba. This is the wrong time for that, with this kind of heroics going on. We want to stand with the people of Cuba that want freedom. We want to move that effort forward not by giving in and saying we lost, but by saying we will fight for democracy.”

Russia

Obama Administration:

Victoria Nuland, State Department spokesperson, after the Russian presidential elections: “The United States congratulates the Russian people on the completion of the Presidential elections, and looks forward to working with the President-elect after the results are certified and he is sworn in. We urge the Russian Government to conduct an independent, credible investigation of all reported electoral violations. As underscored in the OSCE report, we also note the new steps that the Central Election Commission took to increase transparency of the voting process since the parliamentary elections last December. We urge Russian authorities to build on these steps to ensure that the procedures for future elections will be more transparent.”

President Obama after a meeting with Medvedev:President Medvedev and I have I think successfully established the reset of U.S.-Russia relationships — the U.S.-Russian relationship over the last several years.  And it has borne concrete fruit in the form of the New START Treaty, the 123 Agreement, the work that we did together imposing sanctions on Iran, and most recently, the efforts that we’ve made on Russia’s WTO accession.”

Romney Campaign:

Mitt Romney at the VFW Conference (July 24, 2012): “We can only guess what Vladimir Putin makes of the Obama administration. He regained the Russian presidency in a corrupt election, and for that, he got a congratulatory call from the Oval Office. And then there was that exchange picked up by a microphone that President Obama didn’t know was on. We heard him asking Dmitry Medvedev to tell Mr. Putin to give him “space.” “This is my last election,” President Obama said, and “After my election I’ll have more flexibility. Why is flexibility with Russian leaders more important than transparency to the American people?”

Lanhee Chen, Mitt Romney‘s policy director in a statement: “In contrast to President Obama, Governor Romney is clear-eyed about the geopolitical challenges Russia poses. Russia’s nuclear arsenal, its energy resources, its geographic position astride Europe and Asia, the veto it wields on the UN Security Council, and the creeping authoritarianism of its government make Russia a unique geopolitical problem that frustrates progress on numerous issues of vital concern to the United States.”

Mitt Romney on Russia: “The agreement that the president put in place with regards to nuclear weapons is one which I find very, very troubling already. The decision to withdraw our missile defense sites from Poland put us in greater jeopardy, in my view. The actions he’s taken so far which he says are to reset relations with Russia have not worked out at all. Russia continues to support Syria, supports Iran, has — has fought us with the crippling sanctions we wanted to have the world put in place against Iran. Russia is not a friendly character on the world stage, and for this president to be looking for greater flexibility, where he doesn’t have to answer to the American people in his relations with Russia is very, very troubling, very alarming. I’m very, very concerned. I think the American people are going to feel the same way. This is a president who is telling us one thing and is doing something else, and is planning on doing something else even more frightening.”

Mitt Romney on Russia: “What he did both on with nuclear weaponry already and the new START treaty, as well as his decision to withdraw missile defense sites from Poland, and reduce our missile defense sites in Alaska from the original plan. I mean, these are very unfortunate developments and if he’s planning on doing more and suggest to Russia that he has things he’s willing to do with them he’s no willing to tell the American people, this is to Russia this is without question our number one geopolitical foe, they fight every cause for the world’s worst actors, the idea that he has some more flexibility in mind for Russia is very, very troubling indeed.”
Mitt Romney on Russia: “And so, in terms of a geopolitical foe, a nation that’s on the Security Council, that has the heft of the Security Council, and is, of course, a massive nuclear power, Russia is the geopolitical foe, and their — and the idea that our president is planning on doing something with them that he’s not willing to tell the American people before the election is something I find very, very alarming.”

Mitt Romney in his white paper: “With the Kremlin’s leverage over the energy supplies of Central and Western Europe, its stockpile of nuclear weapons, its recent history of aggressive military action, and the power it wields in multilateral institutions like the United Nations, Russia is a destabilizing force on the world stage. It needs to be tempered.”

Mitt Romney after the Russian Presidential elections: “What the world witnessed in Russia yesterday was a mockery of the democratic process. Instead of stating that it ‘congratulates the Russian people on the completion of the presidential elections,’ as the Obama administration has done, it should have condemned the flagrant manipulation and media restrictions that marred this election. With the dimming of democracy in Russia, a better label for President Obama’s Russia policy is ‘set back’ rather than ‘reset.’”

Energy Policy

Obama Administration:

President Barack Obama, at the DNC: “More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They’re a threat to our children’s future. And in this election, you can do something about it.  My plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet. Because climate change is not a hoax.”

President Barack Obama  at a campaign event in Iowa (August 14, 2012): “So my attitude is let’s stop giving taxpayer subsidies to oil companies that don’t need them, and let’s invest in clean energy that will put people back to work “

President Barack Obama to Rolling Stone Magazine:Part of the challenge over these past three years has been that people’s number-one priority is finding a job and paying the mortgage and dealing with high gas prices…In that environment, it’s been easy for the other side to pour millions of dollars into a campaign to debunk climate-change science. I suspect that over the next six months, this is going to be a debate that will become part of the campaign, and I will be very clear in voicing my belief that we’re going to have to take further steps to deal with climate change in a serious way”

Vice President Joe Biden at the National Clean Energy Summit“If we don’t develop renewable energy, we will make the biggest mistake in this nation’s history”

President Obama during a speech in Cushing, Oklahoma:  “We want every source of American-made energy. I don’t want the energy jobs of tomorrow going to other countries. I want them here in the United States of America. (Applause.) And that’s what an all-of-the-above strategy is all about. That’s how we break our dependence on foreign oil.”

President Obama during a visit to Copper Mountain Solar 1 plant“If some politicians get their way, there won’t be any more public investments in solar energy. These folks dismiss the promise of solar power and wind power and fuel-efficient cars. . . . If these people were around when Columbus set sail, they would’ve been founding members of the Flat Earth Society.”

Vice President Joe Biden on “Face the Nation“: “Gas prices, look. We’re pumping six hundred and fifty thousand barrels of oil a day more than we did when we took office. There are more oil rigs and gas rigs running in theUnited States today than all of the rest of the world combined. We are importing less foreign oil than we did the last time it was this slow was sixteen years ago. And these guys, what– what were do they offering, two dollars and fifty cents gas that– that I think at least one of them is offering that, that’s what’s going to happen and what’s their policy? Continue a four billion dollar tax cut from their old companies. Drill more? Where are they going to drill more now? This can produce something now and they’re going out there and they’re emasculating all the efforts to deal with renewable energy and so they have no policy. “

President Barack Obama addressing the United Nations: “No nation, however large or small, wealthy or poor, can escape the impact of climate change. Rising sea levels threaten every coastline. More powerful storms and floods threaten every continent. More frequent drought and crop failures breed hunger and conflict in places where hunger and conflict already thrive. On shrinking islands, families are already being forced to flee their homes as climate refugees. The security and stability of each nation and all peoples – our prosperity, our health, our safety – are in jeopardy. And the time we have to reverse this tide is running out.”

Romney Campaign:

Mitt Romney, speaking to NBC’s “Meet the Press”  (September 10, 2012) “The reason I’m in this race is to help people, I’m not in this race to slow the rise of the oceans or to heal the planet. I’m in this race to help the American people.”

Mitt Romney at a campaign event in Ohio (August 14, 2012): “We have 250 years of coal; why in the heck wouldn’t we use it? We’re going to take advantage of our energy resources to save your jobs, to create more jobs.”

Paul Ryan, GOP VP Candidate in an op-ed, “Beyond the need for a more respectful scientific debate, leaders in Washington have failed to provide the American people a serious policy debate. Unilateral restrictions on domestic energy production are not only harmful to our economy, but would actually hinder the environmental goals these actions promise to achieve. Making manufacturing more expensive here in America would drive manufacturing jobs overseas to our competitors, like India and China. For every ton of emissions we reduce, India and China will produce several tons more… Unilateral economic restraint in the name of fighting global warming has been a tough sell in our communities, where much of the state is buried under snow and, more importantly, unemployment in the city of Racine remains over 14%. Lawmakers must carefully weigh the costs and benefits of new environmental regulation and make certain that job creation and sustained economic recovery remain our top priority…Environmental stewardship and economic growth are not mutually exclusive goals, and I will continue to fight for both of behalf of those I serve in Southern Wisconsin.”

Mitt Romney on energy: “I will ensure we utilize to the fullest extent our nation’s nuclear know-how and immense reserves in oil, gas and coal. We are an energy-rich country that, thanks to environmental extremism, has chosen to live like an energy-poor country. That has to end.”

Mitt Romney on climate change: “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.”

Mitt Romney on energy: “I think the EPA, acting in concert with the president, really doesn’t like oil, gas, coal, and nuclear. I really do believe that the EPA wants to get its hands on all of energy and be able to crush it to cause prices to go through the roof. …The EPA should not be regulating carbon dioxide.”

Syria

Obama Administration:

President Barack Obama, at Third Presidential Debate(October 22, 2012): “Now, this — what we’re seeing taking place in Syria is heartbreaking, and that’s why we are going to do everything we can to make sure that we are helping the opposition. But we also have to recognize that, you know, for us to get more entangled militarily in Syria is a serious step. And we have to do so making absolutely certain that we know who we are helping, that we’re not putting arms in the hands of folks who eventually could turn them against us or our allies in the region. And I am confident that Assad’s days are numbered. But what we can’t do is to simply suggest that, as Governor Romney at times has suggested, that giving heavy weapons, for example, to the Syrian opposition is a simple proposition that would lead us to be safer over the long term.”

President Barack Obama, at Third Presidential Debate (October 22, 2012) “What we’ve done is organize the international community, saying Assad has to go. We’ve mobilized sanctions against that government. We have made sure that they are isolated. We have provided humanitarian assistance, and we are helping the opposition organize, and we’re particularly interested in making sure that we’re mobilizing the moderate forces inside of Syria. But ultimately, Syrians are going to have to determine their own future. And so everything we’re doing, we’re doing in consultation with our partners in the region, including Israel, which obviously has a huge interest in seeing what happens in Syria, coordinating with Turkey and other countries in the region that have a great interest in this.”

Vice President Biden, at the VP Presidential Debate: “…Governor Romney, before he knew the facts, before he even knew that our ambassador was killed, he was out making a political statement which was panned by the media around the world.”

Vice President Biden, at the VP Presidential Debate (October 11, 2012):”…Governor Romney, before he knew the facts, before he even knew that our ambassador was killed, he was out making a political statement which was panned by the media around the world. And this talk about this — this weakness, I — I don’t understand what my friend’s [Ryan] talking about here.”

Vice President Biden, at the VP Presidential Debate (October 11, 2012): “We are working hand and glove with the Turks, with the Jordanians, with the Saudis, and with all the people in the region attempting to identify the people who deserve the help so that when Assad goes — and he will go — there will be a legitimate government that follows on, not an Al Qaida-sponsored government that follows on.”

President Obama, at the UN General Assembly (September 25, 2012) : “The question, then, is how we respond. And on this we must agree: there is no speech that justifies mindless violence. There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There is no video that justifies an attack on an embassy…The strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech – the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect.”

Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense in a news briefing (August 14, 2012): “There’s now indications that they’re trying to develop or trying to train a militia within Syria to be able to fight on behalf of the regime…So we are seeing a growing presence by Iran and that is of deep concern to us.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking with the Turkish Foreign Minister (August 11, 2012): “Now, no one can predict how soon this regime will finally be brought to an end. But we know the day will come. So our third urgent task is to prepare for what comes next. The Syrian people will, of course, and must leave the transition, and they will need to maintain the integrity of the state’s political institutions. They will need to stabilize and eventually rebuild their economy to establish security, safeguard, and eventually destroy the country’s most dangerous weapons, including its chemical weapons. They will need to protect the rights of all Syrians, regardless of religion, gender, or ethnicity. And they will need to address the ongoing human and humanitarian challenges. All of this will need careful planning and support from the international community.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remarks with South Africa’s Foreign Minister (August 7, 2012): “And the opposition is becoming increasingly coordinated and effective. It now reportedly holds territory from northern Aleppo to the Turkish border. It’s also seized regime weapons, including tanks. And it is a very difficult time for the people of Syria who are caught in this terrible violence. But I hope that we will look at the urgent tasks that I think confront the people of Syria and the international community and think through how we can address them. First, we must figure out ways to hasten the day when the bloodshed ends and the political transition begins. We have to be sure that we’re working with the international community to bring that day about and to be very clear of our expectations of both the government and the opposition about ending the violence and beginning the political transition. Second, we’ve got to address the desperate humanitarian needs of those suffering inside Syria and those who have fled. These are growing by the day. The UN and neighboring countries are asking for more assistance, and we have to work together to meet their needs. Third, I do think we can begin talking about and planning for what happens next, the day after the regime does fall. I’m not going to put a timeline on it. I can’t possibly predict it, but I know it’s going to happen, as does most observers around the world.”

President Obama at the VFW Conference (July 23, 2012): “Today, we’re also working for a transition so the Syrian people can have a better future, free of the Assad regime.  And given the regime’s stockpiles of chemical weapons, we will continue to make it clear to Assad and those around him that the world is watching, and that they will be held accountable by the international community and the United States, should they make the tragic mistake of using those weapons.  And we will continue to work with our friends and our allies and the Syrian opposition on behalf of the day when the Syrian people have a government that respects their basic rights to live in peace and freedom and dignity.”

Hilary Clinton , following the meeting of the Action Group on Syria (June 30, 2012): “Now, every day that has gone by without unity on the Security Council and among the states gathered here has been a day that has given comfort to Assad and his cronies and supporters. What we have done here is to strip away the fiction that he and those with blood on their hands can stay in power. The plan calls for the Assad regime to give way to a new transitional governing body that will have full governance powers…Now, in deciding to accept the minor textual changes, we and our partners made absolutely clear to Russia and China that it is now incumbent upon them to show Assad the writing on the wall. I do not believe that anyone in the Assad regime ever thought we could come out with a unified statement today expressing not only the concerns but a path forward that would include Russia and China. And he needs to hear loudly and clearly that his days are numbered.”

President Obama at Press Conference after G20 Summit (June 20, 2012), “I wouldn’t suggest that at this point the United States and the rest of the international community are aligned with Russia and China in their positions, but I do think they recognize the grave dangers of all-out civil war…I don’t think it would be fair to say that the Russians and the Chinese are signed on at this point”

Hilary Clinton, Secretary of State in a joint discussion with Israeli President Shimon Peres (June 12, 2012): “We continue to support Kofi Annan’s efforts, and we do so because he represents both the United Nations and the Arab League. It’s quite unprecedented to have a joint special envoy who is speaking for two organizations that have seen their common interest in trying to bring an end to the violence and help to precipitate and then shepherd through a political transition. And the six-point plan that former Secretary General Annan laid out is a good plan. Of course, it’s not being implemented. And of course, the contempt and rejection of the first principle of that plan, namely the cessation of violence by the Assad regime, has certainly been a grave assault not only on the lives of the Syrian people but on the international effort intended to bring an end to this ongoing conflict.”

Hilary Clinton, Secretary of State, on Syrian-Russian relations (June 12, 2012): “We have confronted the Russians about stopping their continued arms shipments to Syria. They have, from time to time, said that we shouldn’t worry; everything they’re shipping is unrelated to their actions internally. That’s patently untrue. “

Romney Campaign:

Mitt Romney, at Third Presidential Debate(October 22, 2012)“…And so the right course for us is working through our partners and with our own resources to identify responsible parties within Syria, organize them, bring them together in a — in a form of — of — if not government, a form of — of council that can take the lead in Syria, and then make sure they have the arms necessary to defend themselves. We do need to make sure that they don’t have arms that get into the — the wrong hands. Those arms could be used to hurt us down the road. We need to make sure as well that we coordinate this effort with our allies and particularly with — with — with Israel. But the Saudis and the Qatari and — and — and the Turks are all very concerned about this. They’re willing to work with us. We need to have a very effective leadership effort in Syria, making sure that the — the — the insurgents there are armed and that the insurgents that become armed are people who will be the responsible parties.

Recognize I believe that Assad must go. I believe he will go. But I believe we want to make sure that we have the relationships of friendship with the people that take his place such that in the years to come we see Syria as a — as a friend and Syria as a responsible party in the Middle East. This — this is a critical opportunity for America.”

Mitt Romney, at Third Presidential Debate(October 22, 2012)” Syria’s an opportunity for us because Syria plays an important role in the Middle East, particularly right now. Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world. It’s their route to the sea. It’s the route for them to arm Hezbollah in Lebanon, which threatens, of course, our ally Israel. And so seeing Syria remove Assad is a very high priority for us. Number two, seeing a — a replacement government being responsible people is critical for us. And finally, we don’t want to have military involvement there. We don’t want to get drawn into a military conflict.”

Paul Ryan, GOP VP Candidate, speaking to the Alexander Hamilton Society, “In Syria and Iran, we are witnessing regimes that have chosen the opposite path. Instead of accommodating the desires of their peoples for liberty and justice, these regimes have engaged in brutal crackdowns, imprisoning opposition leaders, and killing their own citizens to quell dissent. In the Arab Spring we are seeing long-repressed populations give voice to the fundamental desire for liberty. But we are also seeing the risks that emerge when the advancement of freedom is stunted for want of the right institutions. In such societies, the most organized factions often lack tolerance and reject pluralism. Decades without a free press have led many to treat conspiracy theories as fact. It is too soon to tell whether these revolutions will result in governments that respect the rights of their citizens, or if one form of autocracy will be supplanted by another. While we work to assure the former, American policy should be realistic about our ability to avert the latter. What we can do is affirm our commitment to democracy in the region by standing in solidarity with our longstanding allies in Israel and our new partners in Iraq.”

Mitt Romney in an interview with CNBC (July 23, 2012): “Well, I think from the very beginning we misread the setting in Syria. The secretary of state said that Assad was a reformer. That’s a phrase which will obviously go down in history as being poorly timed and entirely inaccurate. This is a person who is killing his own people and was at the time. America should’ve come out very aggressively from the very beginning and said Assad must go. At this stage, America is taking action, covert and overt, to try and encourage a change of leadership there. But the Middle East itself, with all of the violence which has occurred and which is occurring now in Syria, is a place of tumult and disarray and the world looks for American leadership and American strength. And it is time for us to have confidence that our cause is just, to have the kind of clarity of vision in our purpose and to have the kind of resolve behind our application of soft and hard power. And if those things are put in place, I think the world is a safer place and our freedom will be more secure.”

Mitt Romney in an interview with CNBC (July 23, 2012): “There’s no question but that Assad has to go. I think even the Russians from news reports I’m reading have recognized that he must go. We don’t want to see a continuation of the same kind of brutality, which has characterized the last several months. But what follows Assad, we just don’t know. But a person of this nature that’s overseen the killing of his own people is obviously someone who’s unfit to lead.”

John McCain on Obama’s Syria Policy at AEI (July 18, 2012): “When it comes to the Administration’s policy toward Syria, to say they are ‘leading from behind’ is too generous. That suggests they are leading. They are just behind. In its desperation, the Administration now appears to be placing its hopes in the Russian government to push Assad from power in a Yemen-like transition. This is the same Russian government that continues to provide heavy weapons and moral support to Assad, that refuses to authorize U.N. sanctions on the regime, and that even blamed Assad’s recent slaughter of civilians in Houla on the opposition and foreign powers. The more basic problem with this approach is that the Administration has already tried it, and Moscow rejected it and shut down the U.N. Security Council. What has changed to make things different now?”

Mitt Romney on the expulsion of Syrian diplomats (May 29, 2012): “I welcome the expulsion of Syrian diplomats by the United States and other partner nations. But it only underscores the need for more assertive measures to end the Assad regime. President Obama’s lack of leadership has resulted in a policy of paralysis that has watched Assad slaughter 10,000 individuals. We should increase pressure on Russia to cease selling arms to the Syrian government and to end its obstruction at the United Nations. And we should work with partners to arm the opposition so they can defend themselves.”

Mitt Romney’s reaction to the Haoula massacre:  (May 27, 2012) “The Assad regime’s massacre of civilians in Haoula—many of them young children—is horrific. After nearly a year and a half of slaughter, it is far past time for the United States to begin to lead and put an end to the Assad regime. President Obama can no longer ignore calls from congressional leaders in both parties to take more assertive steps. The Annan ‘peace’ plan—which President Obama still supports—has merely granted the Assad regime more time to execute its military onslaught. The United States should work with partners to organize and arm Syrian opposition groups so they can defend themselves. The bloodshed in Haoula makes clear that our goal must be a new Syrian government, one that contributes to peace and stability in the Middle East and that truly represents the brave Syrian people.”

Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns in an interview with Al-Monitor: “We believe it is clear that Assad and his regime — not the opposition or the international community -— is the greatest driver of sectarian tension in Syria today. The best way to resolve those tensions is for Syrians to get beyond this despotic regime. It is our policy to help the Syrian opposition to move beyond such divides toward a democratic, inclusive, pluralist Syria that protects the rights of all Syrians, regardless of their background. Toward that end, we and our international partners have encouraged the Syrian National Council and other opposition groups to reach out to all segments of Syrian society, including the Alawites, to include them in their organizations and to commit to protecting their fundamental human rights in post-Assad Syria. We have been encouraged by their response. They have reached out to minorities and articulated a national covenant for an inclusive Syria in which all citizens of Syria will enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms irrespective of their affiliations, ethnicity, belief or gender. There is much work left to do in reassuring the Alawites, Kurds, Christians, Druze and others that they have a place in the new Syria. We will continue to urge the Syrian opposition to expand their outreach, to engage in a national conversation across Syria and to put into place a concrete transition plan that can further reassure all Syrians.”

President Obama during a press conference: “We also discussed the horrific violence that the Assad regime continues to inflict on the people of Syria.  Right now, we’re focused on getting humanitarian aid to those in need.  We agreed to keep increasing the pressure on the regime — mobilizing the international community; tightening sanctions; cutting the regime’s revenues; isolating it politically, diplomatically, and economically.”

Mitt Romney on Syria: “Syria putting aside Assad and becoming a more representative form of government would be a very good thing for the world and for America and for the Syrians. So we should be doing everything in our power to encourage those that are looking for freedom in Syria. That could include covert activities of various kinds, it could include working with the Turks and the Saudis who are very anxious also to put pressure on Syria to take a change in course. But at this stage, I’m not anxious to employ military action,” he added. “But we’ll keep our options open.”

Cyber Security

Obama Administration:

President Obama in a Wall Street Journal Op-ed (July 20, 2012):  “It doesn’t take much to imagine the consequences of a successful cyber attack. In a future conflict, an adversary unable to match our military supremacy on the battlefield might seek to exploit our computer vulnerabilities here at home. Taking down vital banking systems could trigger a financial crisis. The lack of clean water or functioning hospitals could spark a public health emergency. And as we’ve seen in past blackouts, the loss of electricity can bring businesses, cities and entire regions to a standstill. This is the future we have to avoid. That’s why my administration has made cybersecurity a priority, including proposing legislation to strengthen our nation’s digital defenses. It’s why Congress must pass comprehensive cybersecurity legislation.”

9 comments on “2012 Candidate Quotes on Foreign Policy and Defense

  1. Having read this I believed it was extremely enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this article together. I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

  2. Great work! A most useful compilation for easy reference.. I will cite it for my fellow Foreign Affairs bloggers.

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