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Mitt Romney on War & Peace

Former Republican Governor (MA)

To Jihadists, democracy is blasphemous since people make law

Let’s consider the greatest challenge facing America--and facing the entire civilized world: the threat of violent, radical Jihad. In one wing of the world of Islam, there is a conviction that all governments should be destroyed and replaced by a religious caliphate. These Jihadists will battle any form of democracy. To them, democracy is blasphemous for it says that citizens, not God shape the law. They find the idea of human equality to be offensive. They hate everything we believe about freedom just as we hate everything they believe about radical Jihad.

Barack and Hillary have made their intentions clear regarding Iraq and the war on terror. They would retreat and declare defeat. And the consequence of that would be devastating. It would mean attacks on America, launched from safe havens that make Afghanistan under the Taliban look like child’s play. About this, I have no doubt.

Source: Speeches to 2008 Conservative Political Action Conference Feb 7, 2008

Never, ever supported specific timetable for exit from Iraq

Q: [To Romney]: Sen. McCain has said that you supported a timetable for a phased withdrawal from Iraq. Is that true?

ROMNEY: Unequivocably, absolutely no. I have never, ever supported a specific timetable for exit from Iraq. Sen. McCain pointed to an interview when I said that our president and their prime minister should have timetables and milestones. [When asked what I’d do with a bill with] a date specific to withdraw, I said I’d veto it.

McCAIN: Well, of course, he said he wanted a timetable. In April 2007, the buzzword was “timetables.” Governor, the right answer to that question was “no,” not what you said, that Maliki and the president should enter into some kind of agreement for, quote, “timetables.”

ROMNEY: Why don’t you use the whole quote, Senator?

MCCAIN: The actual quote is, “We don’t want them to lay in the weeds until we leave.”

ROMNEY: What does that mean?

MCCAIN: It means a timetable until we leave. If we weren’t leaving, how could the enemy lay in the weeds?

Source: 2008 Republican debate at Reagan Library in Simi Valley Jan 30, 2008

Timetable for troop reduction ok; but not for withdrawal

Q: Sen. McCain said, “Gov. Romney wanted to set a date for withdrawal, similar to what the Democrats are seeking, which would have led to the victory by Al Qaida, in my view.” Your response?

A: Well, he knows that is a dishonest statement. He knows that like him, I’m in favor of the troop surge. I’ve never suggested that we set a date certain to withdraw from Iraq.

Q: McCain is referring to an interview you did last April 3rd, when you were asked, “Do you believe that there should a be timetable in withdrawing the troops?“ You responded, ”Well, there is no question but that the president and Prime Minister al-Maliki have to have a series of timetables and milestones that they speak about.“ Does he have a point?

A: No, he doesn’t have a point. Those are the same kind of timetables we’re dealing with right now. For instance, in bringing our troop strength down by July, we bring down by five brigades. But I’ve never said that we should have a date certain to withdraw

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2008 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer Jan 27, 2008

It was the right decision to go into Iraq

It was the right decision to go into Iraq. I supported it at the time; I support it now. It was not well managed in after the takedown of Saddam Hussein and his military. That was done brilliantly, an extraordinary success. But in the years that followed, we were undermanaged, underprepared, underplanned, understaffed, and then we come into the phase that we have now. The plan that Bush and General Petraeus put together is working. It’s changing lives there. Perhaps most importantly, it’s making sure that al Qaeda and no other group like them is becoming a superpower, if you will, in the communities, and having a safe haven from which they launch attacks against us. It’s critical for us. The most important issue is what do we do now, and their just run and retreat regardless of the consequences is going to be a real problem for them when they face a debate with a Republican on the stage.
Source: 2008 GOP debate in Boca Raton Florida Jan 24, 2008

Supported timed withdrawal, but only by Iraqis and in secret

Q: [to Huckabee]: What is the fundamental difference between what you would do regarding Iraq, and what Romney would do?

A: I’m not sure that there’s a big difference on what we would do going into the future. There is a big difference on how we looked at it in the past. There were times when he believed that there should be a timed withdrawal. He denied that last night [in the televised debate] and said that he had never taken that position.

Q: Here’s a clip of last night’s debate:

ROMNEY: My policy is, I have never talked about a timed withdrawal with a date certain for us to leave. That’s not the case. Simply wrong.

Q: And here’s a clip from ABC News on April 3:

ROMNEY: There’s no question but that the president and the prime minister, al-Maliki, have to have a series of timetables and milestones that they speak about but those shouldn’t be for public pronouncement. You don’t want the enemy to understand how long they have to wait in the weeds until you’re going to be gone.

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2008 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer Jan 6, 2008

Staying in Iraq protects lives of American citizens

Q: For how long do we need to leave our troops in Iraq?

A: Let’s talk about our mission there. This is not just about strategy & allies. It’s not about oil. It’s not about just the economy. It’s not just about standing up for the fact that we’ve been there for a long time. It’s about human lives. What we’re doing in Iraq relates to protecting the lives of American citizens, here, around the world. It relates to lives throughout the world. It relates to dignity & freedom. We’re in Iraq because we want to make sure that Iraq does not become what Afghanistan was under the Taliban: a place that they could recruit and train and launch attacks against us on 9/11, and other attacks throughout the world. The last thing America could stand for would be to have Iraq become an Afghanistan. Fortunately, the surge is working. It’s going to keep that from happening. We’re going to have stability and security there and American lives will be saved by virtue of the extraordinary sacrifice of American servicemen.

Source: 2007 Republican primary debate on Univision Dec 9, 2007

Let lawyers decide if authorization needed to attack Iran

Q: If you were president, would you need to go to Congress to get authorization to take military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities?

A: You sit down with your attorneys and tell you what you have to do, but obviously, the president has to do what’s in the best interest of the US to protect us against a potential threat. The president did that as he was planning on moving into Iraq and received the authorization of Congress.

Q: Did he need it?

A: You know, we’re going to let the lawyers sort out what he needed to do and what he didn’t need to do, but certainly what you want to do is to have the agreement of all the people in leadership of our government, as well as our friends around the world. But the key thing here is to make sure that we don’t have to use military action against Iran. And that’s why we’re going to have to put a lot tougher sanctions on Iran, economic sanctions, credit sanctions, and treating Ahmadinejad like the rogue and the buffoon that he is.

Source: 2007 Republican debate in Dearborn, Michigan Oct 9, 2007

After surge, move to support phase, based in Kuwait

Q: You have suggested that US troops in Iraq move to a support phase after the surge, which pretty much has to end in the spring, and a standby phase after that in Kuwait & Qatar. Does that begin in the spring?

A: I don’t have a time frame that I’ve announced. The surge is apparently working. If the surge is working, then we’re going to be able to start bringing back our troops levels slowly but surely, and play more of a support role over time. Ultimately, I would anticipate that we’re not going to have a permanent presence in Iraq, and we’ll be in a standby mode in surrounding nations.

Q: Do you see that support phase in 2008?

A: The timetable for that I hope will be as soon as possible. We all hope for that. But the question of timetable will depend upon how successful the surge is. And the key is, we don’t start pulling back troops; we don’t go into a support mode until we are successful with this surge and we are providing the security and the stability that we anticipate.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at UNH, sponsored by Fox News Sep 5, 2007

Deal with Iran nukes with Dems at home & with allies abroad

Q: Would you go to war with Iran if they developed nuclear weapons & threatened Israel?

A: Well, clearly your hypothetical suggests that everything we’ve done, up until this point and beyond, didn’t work. And there’s a lot we can do to keep that scenario from occurring. Before you actually take military action, what you do next is this: the president meets with leaders, Republican and Democrat, to make sure we’re all on the same page. We want to make sure that Democrats sign up, that we’re all part of this on a unified basis. Number two, you meet with our allies around the world and make sure we’re on the same page on this, including China & Saudi Arabia. Now we take the military option off the table. When they see our military in our hand, a possible blockade or possible aerial strikes, they recognize we mean business. And that’s going to make them think twice and, hopefully, abandon their folly. Because it is unacceptable to the world for us to have a nuclear Iran.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at UNH, sponsored by Fox News Sep 5, 2007

Slow progress vs. frightening consequences of withdrawal

Q: You say that you support the surge “at this point.” How would President Romney decide how long you would continue to keep this enhanced number of US soldiers in Iraq?

A: Obviously, a hypothetical with all the potential permutations of what might develop is kind of hard to fashion, but if we’re making progress that suggests there’s a reasonable probability of success in stabilizing Iraq, that’s a course I’m going to follow. I get a chance to speak almost every week to people who’ve been there, who are non-partisan, and the response I’m hearing is that we seem to be making some progress there, albeit slow. That’s encouraging to me, because the consequence of withdrawing with a massive civil war breaking out and a regional conflict ensuing could have consequences for our nation and the world that are really quite frightening and perhaps cause us to come back again. A course of stability would be very, very encouraging, and I think there’s some signs that that’s what’s happening.

Source: Fox News Sunday: 2007 “Choosing the President” interviews Aug 12, 2007

It’s time for people of America to show a surge of support

Q: Are you, Mayor Giuliani & Sen. McCain all in the same place right now on Iraq?

A: I think we’re pretty much in the same place. It is critical for us to win this conflict. It is essential, and that’s why we’re going to continue to pursue this effort. And we’re going to get a report from General Petraeus on the success. And I agree the Brookings Institution report over the weekend was a very encouraging indication that we’re making progress. That’s great news. At the same time, you look at that Democratic debate, I had to laugh at what I saw Barack Obama do. I mean, in one week he went from saying he’s going to sit down for tea, with our enemies, but then he’s going to bomb our allies. I mean, he’s gone from Jane Fonda to Dr. Strangelove in one week.

We have families who made a huge surge of sacrifice to support this surge. And it’s time, in my view, for the people of America to show a surge of support, including our leaders in Washington, for these families and for the troops.

Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate Aug 5, 2007

Keep option to attack Al Qaeda in Pakistan, but don’t say it

Q: Sen. Obama said, “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets, and President Musharraf will not act, we will.” You said you didn’t agree with Obama’s plan and you called it “ill-timed and ill-considered.”

A: Yes, I think Barack Obama is confused as to who are our friends and who are our enemies. In his first year, he wants to meet with Castro & Chavez & Assad & Ahmadinejad. Those are our enemies. Those are the world’s worst tyrants. And then he says he wants to unilaterally go in and potentially bomb a nation which is our friend. We’re trying to strengthen Musharraf.

Q: But if the CIA said, “We had Osama bin Laden in our sights, Musharraf says no,” what do you do?

A: It’s wrong for a person running for the president to get on TV and say, “We’re going to go into your country unilaterally.” Of course, America always maintains our option to do whatever we think is in the best interests of America. But we keep our options quiet.

Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate Aug 5, 2007

Right to invade Iraq, but not what came after

Q: Knowing everything you know right now, was it a mistake for us to invade Iraq?

A: Well, the question is kind of a non sequitur, if you will, or a null set. If Saddam had opened up his country to IAEA inspectors, and they’d come in and they’d found that there were no WMD, had Saddam not violated UN resolutions, we wouldn’t be in the conflict we’re in. But he didn’t do those things. I supported the president’s decision based on what we knew at that time. I think we were under-prepared and under-planned for what came after we knocked down Saddam.

Q: But the question was, knowing what you know right now--not what you knew then, what you know right now--was it a mistake?

A: Well, I answered the question by saying it’s a non sequitur. It’s a hypothetical that I think is an unreasonable hypothetical. And the answer is, we did what we did; we did the right thing based on what we knew at that time. I think we made mistakes following the collapse of Saddam’s government.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 5, 2007

FactCheck: Saddam didn’t refuse UN inspectors prior to war

Romney tried to pin the blame for the Iraq war on Saddam Hussein’s refusal to allow weapons inspections.
ROMNEY: If Saddam Hussein had opened up his country to IAEA inspectors, and they’d come in and they’d found that there were no WMDs, had Saddam Hussein, therefore, not violated UN resolutions, we wouldn’t be in the conflict we’re in. But he didn’t do those things.
Romney is not alone in playing loose with the facts about weapons inspections. On at least 3 occasions in 2003, Pres. Bush has made the same claim. However, that the UN’s IAEA was not permitted to make inspections might come as a bit of a surprise to Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the IAEA, who reported on March 17, 2003, that “late last night I was advised by the US government to pull out our inspectors from Baghdad.” Inspectors had been in Iraq since November 2002. They remained until the UN Secretary-General ordered their evacuation on March 17, just three days before US and British troops invaded Iraq.
Source: on 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

Iraq part of global jihadist effort to bring down the West

Q: Can you foresee any circumstances under which you would pull out of Iraq without leaving behind a stable political and security situation?

A: Well, I’m certainly not going to project failure, and those kind of circumstances that you would suggest would be projecting failure.

It is critical for us to remember that Iraq has to be considered in the context of what’s happening in the Middle East and throughout the world. There is a global jihadist effort. Violent, radical jihadists want to replace all the governments of the moderate Islamic states, replace them with a caliphate. And to do that, they also want to bring down the West, in particular us.

They’ve come together as Shi’a & Sunni & Hezbollah & Hamas & the Muslim Brotherhood & al Qaeda with that intent. We have to recognize that what we’re doing in Iraq has enormous impact on what’s going to happen in this global struggle. And so it’s critical for us to provide the stability to allow a central government to survive and thrive.

Source: 2007 Republican Debate in South Carolina May 15, 2007

Don’t decide policy by polls; don’t leave Iraq precipitously

Q: 55% of Americans say victory is just not possible in Iraq. Why shouldn’t they have a president who will listen?

A: Well, if you wanted to have a president that just followed the polls, all we need to do is plug in our TVs and have them run the country. But that’s not what America needs. We need leadership that’s strong and that shows America what we can do to lead the world. With regards to Iraq, there are a lot of people that say, let’s just get out. I want to get our troops home as soon as I possibly can. But, at the same time, I recognize we don’t want to bring them out in such a precipitous way that we cause a circumstance that would require us to come back. Because if we leave in the wrong way, the Iranians could grab the Shia south, or al Qaeda could play a dominant role among the Sunnis--and, as a result, you could have regional conflict develop. But with that occurring, you could have our our friends get involved around Iraq, and we could have to come back again.

Source: 2007 GOP primary debate, at Reagan library, hosted by MSNBC May 3, 2007

Osama bin Laden will die for the outrage he has exacted

Q: When speaking about Osama bin Laden last week, Gov. Romney said, “It’s not worth moving heaven & Earth, spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.” Sen. McCain called that naive. Who’s right?

GILMORE: We have to do everything that we can do to get this guy, because he is a symbol to the people who believe that they have a duty to destroy Western civilization.

ROMNEY: Of course we get bin Laden & track him wherever he has to go, and make sure he pays for the outrage he exacted upon America.

Q: Can we move heaven and earth to do it?

ROMNEY: We’ll move everything to get him. But this is not all about one person, because after we get him, there’s going to be another and another. This is a worldwide jihadist effort to try and cause the collapse of all moderate Islamic governments and replace them with a caliphate. This is a global effort we’re going to have to lead to overcome this jihadist effort. It’s more than Osama bin Laden. But he is going to pay, and he will die.

Source: 2007 GOP primary debate, at Reagan library, hosted by MSNBC May 3, 2007

Withdrawal from Iraq would be a mistake

In Iowa on Wednesday, Romney reiterated his support for President Bush and said a withdrawal from Iraq “would be a mistake.”
Source:, “Inside Politics” Dec 22, 2006

Bush gave inadequate rationale for Iraq war

The Massachusetts governor pledged support for the US-led invasion in 2003 but later criticized Bush for not doing an “adequate job” outlining the rationale for the war.
Source: People’s Daily (China), “Contenders views on the war” Nov 23, 2006

You attack US and we respond; but use nonmilitary too

Q: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine, or would you change it?

A: The president is not arrogant. The president is not subject to a bunker mentality. The president has acted out of his desire to keep America safe. And we owe him a debt of gratitude for keeping this country safe over the last six years. He did the right thing in responding and reacting to the fact that we got attacked. And people now recognize: You attack America and there is a response. But we’re going to have to move our strategy from simply being a response to military threat with military action, to an effort that says we’re going to use our military and nonmilitary resources, combined with other nations who are our friends, to help move the world of Islam toward modernity and moderation. The new mission for NATO is to help provide the rule of law, education that’s not through madrassas, so the Muslims are able to reject the extreme and the terrorists.

Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Republican primary debate Jan 5, 2006

Supported the surge; never supported a timed withdrawal

ROMNEY: [to Huckabee]: I disagree with the governor writing in Foreign Affairs magazine that the president’s administration suffers from an arrogant bunker mentality.

HUCKABEE: Did you read the article before you commented on it?

ROMNEY: I did read the article, the whole article. I did support the surge. But, look, Governor, don’t try and characterize my position.


ROMNEY: You know, we’re wise to talk about policies and not to make personal attacks.

HUCKABEE: Well, it’s not a personal attack, Mitt, because you also supported a timed withdrawal.

ROMNEY: I do not support and have never supported a timed withdrawal, so that’s wrong. My policy is, I’ve never talked about a timed withdrawal with a date certain for us to leave. That’s not the case. Simply wrong. I’ve also supported the troop surge, and I supported it on the same day the president brought it forward.

Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Republican primary debate Jan 5, 2006

Other candidates on War & Peace: Mitt Romney on other issues:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

Third Parties:
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
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Page last updated: Feb 08, 2010