“Shaping events is key to foreign policy, and he misunderstood Putin, misunderstood Russia, misunderstood the opportunity in Iran, misunderstood the consequences of pulling our troops out of Iraq, misunderstood what was happening in the Arab world, one after the other.”
He considers Obama’s foreign policy to be weak, characterized by his inability to intervene and calm conflicts.
“All that suggests is that America is weak and leadership is not standing up for our principles and values,” he said.
Romney recommended a stronger, more proactive approach to foreign policy, faulting Obama’s tendency to acquiesce with demands from Russia and Iran during negotiations about nuclear weaponry or the release of political prisoners.
“It’s very easy to retreat — I don’t know that there’s a red line the president won’t retreat from,” he said. “I think it’s important to show that we have resolve.”
A recent example Romney cited was the framework for a nuclear deal with Iran that was proposed last week. He said it wasn’t as good as it should have been.
“It would’ve been better to walk away from a flimsy deal than to sign one just to get a deal,” he said. “Walking away from something that would be as politically attractive as any deal would be would take courage.”
While Romney was critical of the president’s foreign politics, some students in the audience defended Obama’s decisions.
“I think it’s easy to critique something in hindsight; however, in context, a lot of decisions were made based on the situation, and the administration can’t be faulted with them,” said Duke junior Christie Lawrence.
Despite levels of ideological differences, many students said they were grateful the former presidential candidate came to campus to share his views. Amy Wang, a Duke freshman, said though her brand of politics doesn’t align with Romney’s, she was excited to hear his insight.
“You see these people in national campaigns on TV or in advertisements, but then when you come and have more of a realistic conversation, it’s academic and it’s different,” Wang said.