Mitt Romney is a Michigan native from a family seeped in business and politics. His father, Georghe W. Romney, was chairman of the American Motors Corporation and governor of Michigan. His mother ran for U.S. Senate (unsuccessfully). Mitt Romney was the CEO of Bain & Company, a management consulting firm, and was the CEO of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics before being elected governor of Massachusetts that year. His foreign policy experience is almost non-existent. Of all the major candidates, his positions on Middle East issues are the least precise.
Romney was hesitant when Sen. John McCain initially called for a 30,000-troop surge in Iraq. "I’m not going to weigh in on specific tactics about whether we should go from 140,000 to 170,000," he told Human Events. When Bush announced the surge, Romney supported it. He opposes withdrawal from Iraq, but offers no long-term strategy different from the Bush administration's.
Romney spent most of 2007 condemning Iran for developing a nuclear bomb-capability, and assumption eventually discredited by a National Intelligence Assessment. Romney would isolate Iran diplomatically and economically, seeking the help of Arab nations to do so, to prevent it from developing a nuclear weapon. "There is one place of course where I'd welcome Ahmadinejad with open arms," Romney said of the Iranian president, "and that's in a court where he would stand trial for incitement to genocide, under the terms of the Genocide Convention." Romney was referring to Ahmadinejad's statements against Israel.
Rather than a "war on terror"--or the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan-- Romney refers to the United States' biggest foreign-policy challenge as "the jihadist threat," which he describes as "the defining challenge of our generation." Romney's definition of "jihad," however, is inaccurate. He makes it synonymous with "Radical Islam," and says "it has one goal: to replace all modern Islamic states with a worldwide caliphate while destroying the United States and converting all nonbelievers, forcibly if necessary, to Islam." Romney offers no specifics, but compares the West's struggle against "jihadists" to World War II.
On the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict:
Romney has never addressed the Palestinian-Israeli conflict from a policy perspective. He's declared his support for the Separation Barrier Israel is building inside the West Bank and has called on Palestinians to stop acts of terrorism. More often, Romney conflates the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in his vision of a Middle East in the grips of a "jihadist" war, and sees Palestinians as instruments of Iran or Lebanon's Hezbollah. Speaking before the Republican Jewish Coalition in Florida in January 2007, Romney likened peace-making with Palestinians to appeasing Hitler.
On the Military:
Romney wants to increase the U.S. military's troop strength by "at least 100,000" and increase federal spending on the military to "a minimum" of 4 percent of Gross Domestic Product. "That's equivalent to about $700 billion a year," the Wall Street Journal reported. Romney does not include the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, at over $10 billion a month in early 2008, in what his sees as the necessary "baseline" military spending of 4% of GDP.
On Foreign Oil:
Romney wants "energy independence" for the United States because, he says, "As long as America imports much of our oil from unstable regions and countries around the world, our national security and economic prosperity is threatened." Only a fraction of American foreign oil, however, is imported from "unstable" regions. Most originates in Canada, Mexico and Venezuela. Romney's plan for energy independence is more oil drilling in the United States (such as in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) and promotion of nuclear and coal-fired energy.
Despite many months of campaigning, it was still difficult in early 2008 to define a Romney foreign policy, even less so a Romney Mideast policy. He wants to "strength global alliances" and create a Marshall Plan-like "Partnership for Progress and Prosperity" that would pool the resources "of all developed nations to assure that threatened Islamic states have public schools, micro-credit and banking, the rule of law, human rights, basic health care, and competitive economic policies." How a Romney presidency would go about doing so is unclear.