Mitt Romney sharply criticized Obama administration policy in the Middle East, and suggested a new approach to foreign assistance could be an important way of easing tension in troubled nations.
“Many Americans are troubled by the developments in the Middle East. Syria has witnessed the killing of tens of thousands of people. The president of Egypt is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Our Ambassador to Libya was assassinated in a terrorist attack. And Iran is moving toward nuclear weapons capability. We feel that we are at the mercy of events, rather than shaping events,” the Republican presidential candidate was to tell the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City.
“I am often asked why, and what can we do to lead the Middle East to stability, to ease the suffering and the anger and the hate,” he said in remarks prepared for delivery. “Religious extremism is certainly part of the problem. But that’s not the whole story.”
He quickly pivoted to his foreign assistance plan.
The initiative is the latest Romney effort to build a more muscular foreign policy while emphasizing economic programs at the same time.
The campaign argued that aid programs "do not fully take into account that foreign aid no longer makes up the majority of capital flowing into the developing world as it did decades ago."
Worldwide foreign aid is small compared to trade with the developing world and foreign direct investment.
"But too often, our foreign aid programs try to supplant private enterprise. And they concentrate too greatly on delivering social services instead of seeking policy reforms and building institutional capacity so that societies can afford to pay for critical social services over time," the Romney paper said.
"To be effective, our aid programs must leverage private investment and trade to foster environments conducive to job creation. Free enterprise and institutions that support political freedom, the rule of law, and respect for human rights are critical ingredients for progress. If developing nations grow strong private sectors, they will become strong trading partners and friends of the United States."
His Prosperity Pact Program would be an "integrated strategy that links trade policy with development policy."
Development, the paper says, "is driven by economic liberalization. Mitt Romney will ensure that our policies reflect that relationship. Working with the private sector, the program would identify the barriers to investment, trade, and entrepreneurialism in developing nations."
"In exchange for removing those barriers and opening their markets to U.S. investment and trade, developing nations would receive U.S. assistance packages focused on developing the institutions of liberty, the rule of law, and property rights."
A major part of the program will be backing new financing structures for small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Such enterprises, the campaign says, will "allow developing nations to reach the global market and create an enduring cycle of growth. "