Mitt Romney is burnishing his foreign policy/national defense credentials. He spoke at the Heritage Foundation. You can read the full text of his speech here. Some highlights:
That is also why, with all due respect, I take issue with President Obama’s recent tour of apology. It’s not because America hasn’t made mistakes-we have-but because America’s mistakes are overwhelmed by what America has meant to the hopes and aspirations of people throughout the world.
The President also claimed on Arabic TV that America has dictated to other nations. No, America has sacrificed to free other nations from dictators. Britain’s Guardian newspaper noted that Mr. Obama has been more critical of his own country, while on foreign soil, than any other president in American history. That would be a most unfortunate distinction at any time. But it is particularly so today: with all that is transpiring in the world, in Iran, North Korea, Georgia, Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, this is the time for strength and confidence, not for apologizing to America’s critics….
It is time to apply comprehensive, regime-crippling sanctions to North Korea. Assets should be seized; international financial capabilities terminated. North Korea should be recategorized as a state sponsor of terror. And, most importantly, the President should immediately reverse his recent decisions and strongly support completing our ballistic defense system.
Missile defense is a non-nuclear, entirely defensive system designed to protect not just America but the world from a catastrophic attack. Yet the President plans to cut the missile defense budget by 15 percent, cut funding for missile defense sites in Europe by 80 percent, and reduce the number of planned interceptors in Alaska. That is a grave miscalculation, given the provocations from North Korea, Iran’s near-nuclear status, Pakistan’s instability, and the complete failure of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Rarely in history has any development carried such awful possibilities as a nuclear-armed missile in the hands of evil men. And rarely in history has any program had the promise to do more good or spare more suffering than a system of missile defense. I know the liberals have opposed missile defense ever since Ronald Reagan proposed it. But this is too big an issue for ideology or politics to prevail over national security. I repeat: it is essential that Congress fully fund and deploy a multi-layered missile defense shield that alone can protect our people from the terrible threat that is gathering around us.
In light of both the long term challenges to our leadership and the immediate threats to our security, I am also deeply concerned about the President’s broader plans for our military. At the most fundamental level, our military might depends on the long term strength of our economy. The President’s planned budgets and multi-trillion dollar deficits, financed by a level of borrowing never before attempted by any nation, puts our whole economy in jeopardy. He may take us past the tipping point and create a crisis of confidence in the dollar that would burden us for years. The President should instead rein in his plans for massive new spending and reform entitlements. But I fear instead that he will look to the military budget to find the biggest cuts and finance his domestic priorities….
The current leadership in Washington is hardly in a position to complain about the cost of the defense budget. Over the last few months, it has passed measures that will add almost $4 trillion to the national debt in the short term and then over $3 trillion over the next ten years. None of that money was spent on increasing the defense modernization budget-a failure that history will never understand or excuse. For a fraction of the money that was spent on various domestic and social programs, Washington could have given our servicemen and women the tools they need to defend us for a generation.
After all, the first and highest duty of government is to provide for the common defense. Backing away from missile defense, and depleting the defense budget to fund new social programs, particularly in the face of global turmoil, would put America and Americans at risk.
We cannot allow the economic crisis to conceal the very real threats to our nation’s security. We cannot ignore the intentions of competitors who would replace America’s leadership with their own, and set back the cause of freedom. Providence has blessed us and trusted us to safeguard liberty; in a time of confusion at home and challenge abroad, let ours be the voice of clarity and good sense-confident in our cause, and faithful in the care of freedom.