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GOP2012: Republican debate, October 11th, 2011
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Romney Flip-flopped on Killing Osama Bin Laden

January 16, 2012 at 11:23 PM

Mitt Romney will say anything to get elected, but the Commander-In-Chief only gets one chance to get it right. Romney’s been all over the map on the key foreign policy issues of our day. He said it wasn’t worth “moving heaven and earth” to catch Osama bin Laden, criticized President Obama for making it clear he would take out al Qaeda targets in Pakistan, and flip flopped on setting timetables for withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan.  
 
ROMNEY FLIP-FLOPPED ON KILLING OSAMA BIN LADEN

FLIP: 2007: Romney: “It’s Not Worth Moving Heaven And Earth And Spending Billions Of Dollars Just Trying To Catch One Person.” Romney said he doubts whether the capture of Osama bin Laden would substantially impact American security. Romney said, "It’s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person." He argued that the country would be safer by only "a small percentage" and would see "a very insignificant increase in safety." Rather that targeting bin Laden, he said he supports a broader strategy to defeat the global Islamic jihad movement. [Associated Press, 4/27/07]
 
FLIP: Romney On Taking Action Against Terrorists In Pakistan: “I Do Not Concur In The Words Of Barack Obama To Enter An Ally Of Ours.”  Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney criticized Democrat Barack Obama on Friday for vowing to strike al Qaeda targets inside Pakistan if necessary as the Obama camp issued a strident defense of his plan. What had been an internecine foreign policy battle between rival Democrats Obama, an Illinois senator, and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, spilled into the Republican arena in the heavily contested state of Iowa. ‘I do not concur in the words of Barack Obama in a plan to enter an ally of ours... I don’t think those kinds of comments help in this effort to draw more friends to our effort,’ Romney told reporters on the campaign trail. Obama on Wednesday said if elected president in November 2008 he would be willing to launch military strikes against al Qaeda targets inside Pakistan with or without the approval of the Pakistani government of President Pervez Musharraf. ‘If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will,’ Obama said.”  [Reuters, 8/4/07]

FLOP: 2011: Romney Said That “Any President” Would Have Given The Order To Take Out Osama Bin Laden.” Romney: “With regards to Osama bin Laden, we're delighted that he gave the order to take out Osama bin Laden, any president would have done that. But this one did and that's a good thing.” [Fox News Sunday, 12/18/11]
 
ROMNEY CRITICIZED OBAMA FOR WANTING TO TAKE OUT TERRORISTS IN PAKISTAN
 
Romney Said He Didn’t Agree With Obama on Taking Unilateral Action Against Al Qaeda Targets in Pakistan.  Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney criticized Democrat Barack Obama on Friday for vowing to strike al Qaeda targets inside Pakistan if necessary as the Obama camp issued a strident defense of his plan. What had been an internecine foreign policy battle between rival Democrats Obama, an Illinois senator, and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, spilled into the Republican arena in the heavily contested state of Iowa. ‘I do not concur in the words of Barack Obama in a plan to enter an ally of ours... I don’t think those kinds of comments help in this effort to draw more friends to our effort,’ Romney told reporters on the campaign trail. Obama on Wednesday said if elected president in November 2008 he would be willing to launch military strikes against al Qaeda targets inside Pakistan with or without the approval of the Pakistani government of President Pervez Musharraf. ‘If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will,’ Obama said.”  [Reuters, 8/4/07]

  • Romney: US Troops “Shouldn’t Be Sent All Over The World” And Obama’s Comments Were “Ill-Timed” And “Ill-Considered.” “Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who is one of the Republican front-runners, said U.S. troops ‘shouldn’t be sent all over the world.’ He called Obama’s comments ‘ill-timed’ and ‘ill-considered.’ ‘There is a war being waged by terrorists of different types and nature across the world,’ Romney said. ‘We want, as a civilized world, to participate with other nations in this civilized effort to help those nations reject the extreme with them.’” [Reuters, 8/4/07]

Romney Criticized Obama For Comments About Attacking Terrorists In Pakistan.  Romney said Obama’s comments were “ill-conceived” and would hurt American efforts to create a global effort to root out radical Islamic terrorists.  Romney said, “We want as a civilized world to participate with other nations in this civilized effort to help those nations reject the extreme within them. That doesn’t mean that our troops are going to go all over the world,” before saying about Obama’s comments, “I think his comments were ill-timed and ill-considered.” [Associated Press, 8/5/07]
 
ROMNEY FOREIGN POLICY ADVISORS RECOMMENDED NEGOTIATING WITH THE TALIBAN

Romney Foreign Policy Advisor Mitchell Reiss Said Romney Opposed A Withdrawal Date In Afghanistan Because It “Undercut Any Hopes Of Trying To Bring The Taliban To The Negotiating Table.” “Reiss also said Romney had been trying to articulate a three-part critique of the Obama Administration's role in Afghanistan. ‘The administration has made some grave errors," he said. "The first was that it allowed [Afghan president] HamidKarzai to rig an election. The second was that when the president announced the surge, which the governor supported, he coupled it with a withdrawal date, which undercut any hopes of trying to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table ... They could just wait us out.’” [Politico, 6/14/11]

James Shinn Discussed Peace Talks With Representatives Of The Taliban Via Skype. “JAMES SHINN: I`m not so sure peace accord has such dismal prospects. I think it`s certainly going to be very difficult. But it`s certainly going to, it`s preferable to a retreat Soviet style. So the question is what can you get from such negotiation and how after you brought the military force to bear on it can we hammer out the deal? We talked about -- last year, we met with two dozen serving Taliban. CHARLIE ROSE: They came to the table and said they believe that the Taliban were prepared to negotiate. JAMES SHINN: Yes, we heard that firsthand. But the other part of the message from the Taliban, we Skyped into a lot of them because it was too dangerous for them to come to Peshawar. So that mean they were not under the ISI.” [International Wire, 06/23/11]
 
2011: Shinn On A Negotiated Settlement With The Taliban: “A Negotiated Settlement Is Feasible And Worth Pursuing.” “Both the Afghanistan and U.S. governments are in favor of a negotiated peace that would give the Taliban some role in a future government. Such an approach also has been endorsed by NATO and most of Afghanistan's neighbors. ‘We believe there is enough of a confluence of interest on the part of the major parties to the war in Afghanistan to make a negotiated settlement feasible and worth pursuing,’ said James Shinn, study co-author and a lecturer at Princeton University. ’There are many obstacles, and the process will probably require years of talking during which fighting will continue and even intensify,’ he said. ‘Negotiation does not represent an easy or early way out of Afghanistan for the United States and its NATO allies, but it is the only way in which this war is likely to end.’ Dobbins served as the lead negotiator for the United States at the Bonn Accords that established Afghanistan's current government in 2001. Shinn is a former assistant secretary of defense for Asia and was one of the authors of the Bush administration's Afghan Strategy Review.” [States News Service, 08/17/11]
 
Shinn: A Peace Accord Is “Preferable To A Retreat Soviet Style.” “JAMES SHINN, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I`m not so sure that a peace accord has such dismal prospects. I think it`s certainly going to be very different, but it`s certainly preferable to a retreat Soviet style. So the question is what can you get from such negotiation and how after you brought the military force to bear on it can you hammer out a deal?” [International Wire, 06/23/11]

  • Shinn: A Negotiated Settlement Might Be “Distasteful,” But Better Than Defeat “This war is either going to end in a negotiated solution that involves the Taliban and the government in some way, as distasteful as that may be, or it`s going to end in a retreat. So presumably the president and most foreign policy people agree that a negotiated solution that will achieve at least our minimal goals is preferable to a defeat.” [International Wire, 06/23/11]

REALITY: ROMNEY HAD NO STRATEGY FOR AFGHANISTAN AND DODGED QUESTIONS ON IT
 
Byron York: Romney Seemed “Off Balance” When Asked What Strategy He Would Employ In Afghanistan Saying “I’m Not In That Position.” “Then there’s Afghanistan. ‘I’m a little surprised that, having made Afghanistan the center of his anti-terrorist strategy, he says he doesn’t have a strategy at this stage for what to do in Afghanistan,’ Romney says of the president. ‘I would have expected him to have accomplished that by this point.’ As Romney sees it, Obama has a choice. He can go along with Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s expected request for more troops, or he can betray his own campaign promise of a firm U.S. stand in Afghanistan. ‘I think his only choice, and the correct choice, is the former,’ Romney says. But it might not be that simple. When I ask Romney, ‘What would you have done?’ he seems slightly off-balance. ‘I’m not in that position,’ Romney says. He pauses a moment. ‘When you say, what would I have done, I, I – ‘ ‘Do you think we needed a new strategy in Afghanistan?’ I ask. ‘I’m going to Afghanistan and Iraq in a couple of months,’ Romney says. ‘I’ll get an assessment of what’s happening there and what the prospects are. But I certainly would support our troops with the additional troops which are being called for by General McChrystal, and provide the equipment and the manpower and the budgetary support which our troops deserve.’” [Byron York, Washington Examiner, 9/27/09]

  • Headline: Romney Critical Of Obama’s Afghan Policy—But Hesitant Himself [Byron York, Washington Examiner, 9/27/09]

ROMNEY FLIP-FLOPPED ON SETTING TIMETABLES FOR AFGHANISTAN WITHDRAWAL
 
FLIP: Romney Criticized President Obama’s Announcement Of A Troop Withdrawal Timeline In Afghanistan Saying “The Taliban May Not Have Watches, But They Do Have Calendars.” “Romney praised the decision to send additional troops to Afghanistan, but criticized President Obama’s announcement of when troops will withdraw. ‘The Taliban may not have watches, but they do have calendars,’ Romney said.” [Boston Globe, 6/3/11]
 
FLOP: Romney Concurred With The Afghanistan Timeline Laid Out By The Obama Administration. Romney: “The timeline is that by the end of 2014, we will be completely be out of Afghanistan. There may be a small group of troops that stay for training or coordination purposes but that our fighting forces will be out by the end of 2014. I think that's the right timeline and we'll see in the interim if we can move more quickly than that or not and we'll listen to the progress on the ground but I continue to concur with the decision of the former and current administration that our goal has to be out by the end of 2014 if not before.” [Conway, NH Town Hall, 12/22/11]

FLOP: Romney: “The Generals Actually Concur With The Idea That We Should Bring Down The Surge Troops And Ultimately By 2014, Take Our Footprint - Our Large Combat Footprint Out Of Afghanistan, That’s Something With Which I Concur.” On Morning Joe, Mitt Romney said: “The generals actually concur with the idea that we should bring down the surge troops, and ultimately by 2014, take our footprint -- our large combat footprint out of Afghanistan, that's something with which I concur.” [Morning Joe, MSNBC, 9/28/11]

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