The world is maddeningly complicated, even for American politicians keen to assert simple truths about strength and moral courage. Mr Romney seems to know that, deep down. Thus while criticising Mr Obama for doing nothing to stop massacres in Syria, he offered a hedged plan of his own, saying:
“In Syria, I will work with our partners to identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values and ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad’s tanks, helicopters, and fighter jets. Iran is sending arms to Assad because they know his downfall would be a strategic defeat for them. We should be working no less vigorously with our international partners to support the many Syrians who would deliver that defeat to Iran—rather than sitting on the sidelines. It is essential that we develop influence with those forces in Syria that will one day lead a country that sits at the heart of the Middle East.”
Well, yes. But what if those reassuring Syrian rebels, who share American values, are not large enough in number or great enough in strength to defeat the Assad regime, arms or no arms? What if the Assad regime can be toppled only by Islamists driven by sectarian hate rather than dreams of Jeffersonian democracy? Mr Romney knows that these are the messy, unsatisfying questions that face presidents, and which currently face Mr Obama.
Yet he concludes with platitudes about a world crying out for more American leadership, not less, and embracing his duty to make the 21st century an “American one”.
Mr Romney chides Mr Obama for putting his faith in empty, though ringing oratory. Today’s foreign-policy address was no more than that, alas."
— Lexington, economist.com