A Comprehensive Middle East Strategy

During Monday’s presidential debate, Republican candidate Mitt Romney called for “a comprehensive and robust strategy” to help the Islamic world reject “radical violent extremism” and embrace peace and stability. He said the Obama Administration has not shown strong-enough leadership in this regard. “With the Arab Spring came a great deal of hope that there would be a change towards more moderation,” said Romney during the Oct. 22 debate. Instead, “we’ve seen in nation after nation a number of disturbing events,” such as Syria’s civil war, Egypt’s growing radicalism, and Iran’s continued nuclear pursuit, he said. Romney credited the Obama Administration for taking out Osama bin Laden and supported its use of armed remotely piloted aircraft against terrorists, but said more is needed. “We can’t kill our way out of this mess,” he said. “We have to help these nations create civil societies.” Obama said his Administration has worked effectively with nations of the region to build counterterrorism partnerships and promote democratic reforms “that are actually going to make a difference in people’s lives day to day.” He asserted that “al Qaeda is much weaker” now than when he entered office. Romney disagreed. (Debate transcript)