Biden calls Romney foreign policy backward-looking

April 25, 2012 - 10:07 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden is calling the foreign policy outlined by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney shallow, ill-informed and dangerous and says it would return the United States to "the past we have worked so hard to move beyond."

President Barack Obama will gladly stack accomplishments such as killing terror mastermind Osama bin Laden against Romney's rhetoric, Biden said in remarks prepared for delivery at an overtly partisan campaign event on Thursday. The Associated Press obtained excerpts of the speech Wednesday.

"Americans know that we cannot afford to go back to the future," Biden said. "Back to a foreign policy that would have America go it alone, shout to the world you're either with us or against us, lash out first and ask the hard questions later, if at all."

The campaign speech at New York University represents a broad defense of Obama's national security record and an argument that Obama is the tested, trustworthy choice at an uncertain moment in world affairs. As have his recent addresses on the economy, Social Security and other topics, the speech focuses on issues the campaign hopes to highlight as success stories in the head-to-head contest with Romney.

Playing a role often assigned to vice presidential candidates, Biden is using sharper and more partisan language than the president. He directly linked Romney to unpopular policies of George W. Bush, the Republican president Obama succeeded, and sought to remind voters of the distaste many felt at Bush-era foreign policy.

"Gov. Romney is counting on our collective amnesia," Biden said.

Electing Romney could again "waste hundreds of billions of dollars and risk thousands of American lives on an unnecessary war," Biden said in a clear reference to the unpopular Iraq war that Obama ended.

In response to the criticism, a foreign policy adviser to Romney said that Obama has frittered American influence.

"They seem content to watch from the sidelines as events go past," former State Department official Pierre Prosper said Wednesday. "America has lost its voice."

Prosper, who worked in the Bush administration, pointed to Iran, Russia and Cuba as examples of what he said is Obama's lack of resolve or willingness to let other nations dictate the agenda.

Romney's foreign policy appears similar to the hawkish and sometimes unilateral foreign policy prescriptions that guided Bush and other Republicans, including President Ronald Reagan. The former Massachusetts governor has cast Obama as too quick to accommodate or apologize.

"The world is better off when the United States takes the lead. We should not be playing 'Mother, may I?' about sanctions on Iran and relations with China and Russia," Richard Williamson, a top Romney foreign policy adviser, told The Associated Press recently.

Romney's five-state primary sweep on Tuesday was another step toward locking up the GOP nomination to oppose Obama. The president has been unofficially running against Romney for months, mostly by casting his own economic policies as more egalitarian and more fiscally sound. Neither man has made foreign policy a central campaign issue, although each has singled out their differences on policy toward Iran.

Romney has said Obama botched his dealings with Iran and that he would be much tougher in handling the potential nuclear weapons state. He suggests he would be more attuned to the security concerns of Israel, which sees an Iranian bomb as a mortal threat.

In one Republican debate, Romney said: "If we re-elect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon. And if we elect Mitt Romney, if you elect me as the next president, they will not have a nuclear weapon."

The U.S. has been trying to persuade Israel not to launch a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities and insists there is time for diplomacy to work.

Obama has said the U.S. hasn't "given away anything" to Iran in the latest round of talks over the nuclear program. While Obama has not ruled out a U.S. attack, he has said it would be a very bad idea now.

His position reflects the difficulties of managing the multifaceted Iranian problem, which affects oil prices, the fragile world economy, U.S. alliances and the U.S. relationship with Israel, the domestic politics of American political support for Israel and Middle East power politics. As a result, Obama's position is hard to sum up as a campaign issue.

A recent Washington Post-ABC News survey found that Americans trust Obama over Romney on international affairs, 53 percent to 36 percent.

Sen. Marco Rubio, a potential Romney vice presidential pick, outlined a similar vision Wednesday.

The Florida Republican lamented "liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans" who championed U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and opposed involvement in Libya, and said Obama should have done even more to advance the cause of the rebels who toppled Moammar Gadhafi.

"Global problems do require international coalitions. On that point this administration is correct," Rubio said. "But effective international coalitions don't form themselves. They need to be instigated and led, and more often than not, they can only be instigated and led by us. And that is what this administration doesn't understand."