WASHINGTON — White House hopeful Mitt Romney urged NATO leaders gathering in Chicago this weekend to consider him a more reliable partner than President Barack Obama, whose actions “undermine” the alliance.
The presumptive Republican nominee accused Obama of diminished international leadership and orchestrating nearly $1 trillion in cuts to the US military budget over the next decade that could dramatically hamper NATO’s readiness and capabilities.
“Unfortunately, the Obama administration has taken actions that will only undermine the alliance,” Romney said in a statement less than 48 hours before the president hosts leaders from NATO’s 28 member states plus Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai and Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari.
Romney failed to mention the bipartisan nature of the $1.2 trillion in across-the-board spending cuts that were laid out in last year’s debt deal and approved by a majority of Republicans in the House and Senate. Half of that will come from defense spending.
“As president, I will work closely with our partners to bolster the alliance,” he vowed, laying out some of his strategies for working with NATO should he win the White House in the November election.
“I will reverse Obama-era military cuts. I will exercise leadership on missile defense, cyber capability, energy security and sufficiently mobile forces.”
While he acknowledged that NATO requires “strong American leadership,” Romney stressed that the group’s success “also requires its member states to carry their own weight.”
Obama will hold one-on-one talks with Karzai on Sunday on the sidelines of the summit, where NATO allies will chart the final two years of the war before 130,000 foreign combat troops pull out in late 2014.
Republicans, including Romney, have attacked Obama for announcing a departure date for US forces to leave Afghanistan, saying it merely gives the Taliban time to wait for Americans to leave and then attack.
The transatlantic military alliance, Romney said, “is a testament to the fact that the price of weakness is always far greater than the price of strength. That is a lesson I hope the leaders assembled in Chicago take to heart.”
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