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
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable