Robust Romney says 'unique US' should be ready to act alone

Mitt Romney, the front runner for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination, yesterday staked out a robust foreign policy vision, dripping with American exceptionalism and featuring higher military spending and a readiness by the US to go it alone if necessary to protect its interests.

"This is America's moment," he declared. "We should embrace the challenge, not shrink from it, not crawl into an isolationist shell, not wave the white flag of surrender, nor give in to those who assert America's moment has passed. That is utter nonsense."

Mr Romney's speech – in the deliberate setting of the Citadel military college in Charleston, South Carolina, a symbol of the South's warrior traditions and in a state holding one of the first primaries next January – is his first major foreign policy foray in a campaign set to be dominated by the country's grim economic situation.

Standing beneath a giant banner proclaiming "Believe in America", the former Massachusetts governor announced an eight-point action plan in his first 100 days in office. It includes a review of the current schedule for withdrawal from Afghanistan, steps to beef up the navy, and the restoration of cuts on missile defence, as well as a more vigorous campaign against cyber-espionage, and the permanent deployment of carrier groups off Iran. He pledged unwavering support for Israel, and vowed to maintain the so-called "special relationship" with Britain.

Above all, however, Mr Romney took direct aim at Barack Obama.

"God did not create this country to be a nation of followers," he said, reiterating Republican criticism that the Democratic incumbent had failed to stand up adequately for US interests. "I will never, ever, apologise for America," he said to loud applause.

The US had a "unique destiny", and was not meant to be "one of several equally balanced global powers". The country must lead the world – "or someone else will. The 21st century should be an American century, in which America has the strongest economy and the strongest military".

He came out strongly against the isolationist urgings of some of his competitors, notably the Kentucky Congressman Ron Paul and to a lesser extent governor Rick Perry of Texas.

Mr Romney maintained that the US should work with the United Nations "when appropriate".

"But," he added, "know this. While America should work with other nations, we always reserve the right to act alone to protect our vital national interests."

Underlining that assertive stance, Mr Romney has announced a team of foreign policy advisers larded with veterans of the previous George W. Bush administration, including several notable neo-conservatives and supporters of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Quite apart from its content, the speech was designed to bolster the sense that Mr Romney is the best-prepared and best-qualified contender in a Republican contest whose contours now seem set after the announcements this week by Sarah Palin, the 2008 vice-presidential nominee, and New Jersey governor Chris Christie that they will not run.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past