Below are statements made on the campaign trail by the two presidential candidates (Romney in red andObama in blue) regarding Syria and the Arab Awakening.
Syria’s Chemical Weapons:
“We have been very clear to the Assad regime but also to other players on the ground that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my equation.”
“I think we have to also be ready to take whatever action is necessary to ensure that we do not have any kind of weapon of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists and whether that requires troops, or whether that requires other actions by our friends and allies.”
How to Work Toward a Resolution in Syria:
“What we’ve done is organize the international community, saying Assad has to go. We’ve mobilized sanctions against that government. We have made sure that they are isolated. We have provided humanitarian assistance and we are helping the opposition organize, and we’re particularly interested in making sure that we’re mobilizing the moderate forces inside of Syria.
But ultimately, Syrians are going to have to determine their own future. And so everything we’re doing, we’re doing in consultation with our partners in the region, including Israel, which obviously has a huge interest in seeing what happens in Syria; coordinating with Turkey and other countries in the region that have a great interest in this.”
“And so the right course for us, is working through our partners and with our own resources, to identify responsible parties within Syria, organize them, bring them together in a—in a form of—if not government, a form of—of—of council that can take the lead in Syria. And then make sure they have the arms necessary to defend themselves. We do need to make sure that they don’t have arms that get into the—the wrong hands. Those arms could be used to hurt us down the road. We need to make sure as well that we coordinate this effort with our allies, and particularly with—with Israel.”
“Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world. It’s their route to the sea. It’s the route for them to arm Hezbollah in Lebanon, which threatens, of course, our ally Israel. “
Approach Toward Transitioning Countries:
“What I’ve done throughout my presidency and will continue to do is, number one, make sure that these countries are supporting our counterterrorism efforts. Number two, make sure that they are standing by our interests in Israel’s security, because it is a true friend and our greatest ally in the region.
Number three, we do have to make sure that we’re protecting religious minorities and women because these countries can’t develop unless all the population, not just half of it, is developing. Number four, we do have to develop their economic—their economic capabilities.
But number five, the other thing that we have to do is recognize that we can’t continue to do nation building in these regions. Part of American leadership is making sure that we’re doing nation building here at home. That will help us maintain the kind of American leadership that we need.”
“What we’re seeing is a pretty dramatic reversal in the kind of hopes we had for that region. But the key that we’re going to have to pursue is a—is a pathway to get the Muslim world to be able to reject extremism on its own. And how do we do that?….
One, more economic development. We should key our foreign aid, our direct foreign investment, and that of our friends, we should coordinate it to make sure that we—we push back and give them more economic development. Number two, better education. Number three, gender equality. Number four, the rule of law. We have to help these nations create civil societies.”
“And so my message to the presidents of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and these other countries is, we want to be a partner with you, we will work with you, and we stand on the side of democracy, but democracy is not just an election; it’s also, are you looking out for minority rights, are you respecting freedom of speech, are you treating women fairly.”
“I think when there’s a country like Lebanon, that becomes a democracy, that instead of standing by and seeing how they do, we should have been working with the government there to assure that they have the rule of law, that they have agricultural and economic policies that work for them, that they have schools that are not Wahhabi schools, that we try and make sure they have good health care. We bring together not just America, but all the nations of the civilized world. We help draw these folks toward modernity, as opposed to having them turn toward the violence and the extreme.”