As the electoral process moves forward in the primaries and the debates intertwine with state caucuses and elections, foreign policy and national security items are discussed seriously among voters as part of the package their preferred candidate for the Republican nomination would offer.
Ineluctably citizens are drawn to ideas about economic recovery and solutions to financial crises. This, we acknowledge, will determine the final outcome by November of this year. But the state of national security will undoubtedly impact the evolution of national economy. We’ve seen it since 9/11 and throughout the past decade.
An exploding Middle East would endanger not only the stability of economic partners but also the oil routes and energy supplies. Furthermore, an increase in radicalization, particularly a Jihadi one, will affect war and peace in the region, human rights, and eventually would produce more attempts by terrorists against the U.S. homeland.
We’ve learned clearly that here is an umbilical link between a Middle East left to radicals, regimes, and movements, and the security of democracies, including America’s. This paradigm sets apart one of the four Republican candidates from the rest of the pack.
A Ron Paul agenda for the Middle East would grant Iran the nuclear bomb, grant North Africa to the Islamists, and ignore the next wave of jihadists aiming at the U.S. homeland.
Paul is a great defender of citizens and consumers rights but in my modest view, his guidelines for U.S. foreign policy may force Americans into an untenable national security position, perhaps closer to what a second Obama administration would do, or perhaps even more.
I must disclose that not only do I have respect and admiration for the three leading candidates regarding Middle Eastern and U.S. national security challenges, but I have worked with all three at different times, and from that perspective I find their strategic understanding of the threat we’re facing equally acute, although differently expressed.
Speaker Gingrich and Sen. Sentorum’s warnings about the Iranian threat both in the region and globally have longstanding historical records. Their coining of the jihadi threat as existential is right on target. Thus I praise candidates Gingrich, Santorum, and Romney on seeing the threat and warning about it.
But as a senior adviser to Gov. Mitt Romney on national security and foreign policy, and one of the three co-chairs on the Middle East and North Africa, I’d like to share with readers why I believe Romney’s platform on the region is more advanced than others' policy platforms and I believe a strategic alternative to the current Obama administration’s agenda on the Middle East.
The edge I see has to do with seeing the threat, understanding its ballistics and intercepting it with precise and appropriate strategies. Over the past two decades, I have focused intensely on the strategies of America’s enemies, not just their ideology.
My most-read book of the three I published on jihadism after 9/11 is "Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies Against America." It helped lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic and many in the U.S. defense and national security realm understand the fundamentals of the conflict.
The U.S. is confronting a force operating out of an ideology and with global strategies. It is with the latter that I see a Romney strategy successful. Understanding where the threat is coming from is crucial. Understanding the ideological roots is a must.
But understanding the strategies of the enemies and devising the appropriate counter strategies, as part of a U.S. strategy to advance freedom and democracy, while saving national economy at home and stabilizing world economy abroad is what makes the cutting edge of Romney's agenda, in my view.
On al-Qaida the Romney strategy acknowledges and praises the U.S. successes in taking down the terrorist commanders, from bin Laden, al-Awlaki, and al-Zarqawi as well as the capturing of senior leaders and hundreds of its terrorists over the past 10 years.
But the strategy goes beyond a trenches war with the movement. Beheading a network whose ideology can produce more heads than the U.S. takes out must be a part of, not the entire, American strategy. A Romney al-Qaida plan looks at where the organization would be five years from now, not just as to where it was five years ago, and strategize accordingly.
On all other battlefields where the jihadists operate, the Romney strategies will be determined not only by the day-to-day achievements on the ground, but by a solid understanding of where these forces are intending to go and intercept these mutations before they occur, not after.
In Yemen, al-Qaida is seizing villages despite al-Awlaki’s elimination. In Somalia, al-Shabab is wrecking havoc; in Nigeria — a major oil producer — Boku Haram is expanding; in Iraq, Salafi jihadists are back to blow up car bombs; in Libya, al-Qaida flags are flown in Tripoli.
The real fight against al-Qaida is ahead of us, not behind us. And a hyper-strategy of global reach must be applied, instead of fleeing the engagement and call it success.
On Iran, the administration claims to have has assembled all tools to check the growing threat, but yet remains engaged in saving the regime from collapse if only it reasons.
All three opposition candidates know all too well that the regime must be considered as a threat to U.S., regional, and international security. All three wish the regime to fall as an ultimate solution to the menace. Mitt Romney is interested in how, with whom and when.
In his definitive Wall Street Journal article, the governor underlined two pillars. One is to finalize the idea that the solution to Iran’s nuclear threat is the regime. He wants it disappearing as was Gadhafi’s.
But, in addition to U.S. efforts to contain the Iranian military and terror networks, Romney sees the Iranian people, represented by its own opposition, recently named Green Revolution, as the real partner in that change.
On these three grounds the Romney agenda for the Middle East provides a strategically advanced vision: Counter the jihadi radical ideology, partner with the Iranian people against the Iranian regime, and equip U.S. defense with a vision that intercepts the threats, not reacts to them.
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