Mitt Romney Middle East Statement Proves He is Not Ready to be President

Mitt Romney is no stranger to foreign policy gaffes, and it now appears to be a trend for him to make statements at home and abroad that embarass America in the eyes of the world. In his latest bungle, Romney released a statement Tuesday evening condemning the Obama administration's response to the protests in the Middle East, which were sparked by opposition to an anti-Muslim film produced in the U.S. His statement came in the wake of the announcement that the American Ambassador to Libya had been killed by protesters.

Romney's statement, emailed to the press by his campaign spokeswoman, read, "I'm outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi," the statement read. "It's disgraceful that the Obama Administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks."

In a press conference held Wednesday morning, Romney only doubled down on his attack and continued to voice his condemnation of the Obama administration's response. Romney said, "I think it's a —a terrible course for America to stand in apology for our values. That instead, when our grounds are being attacked, and being breached, that the first response to the United States must be outrage at the breach of the sovereignty of our nation. And apology for America's values is never the right course."

Romney's sharp attack came in the final hours of September 11, the darkest day in American history, and attempts to use the unfortunate events and inexcusable violence in the Middle East against American targets to his campaign's advantage. America needs a leader who is calculated and thoughtful in his words and actions, not one who is hasty and ready to play politics with any tragic event. 

Even Republican foreign policy advisers are taking note of Romney's poor handling of the situation and, what's even worse, the timing of it all. Experts have called it an "utter disaster," "unbelievable," and "ugly and amateurish."

This latest bungle is just another piece of evidence that Mitt Romney is not ready to lead, especially when it comes to foreign policy. He has repeatedly shown a lack of understanding for complex situations, as well as his willingness to make reckless and misguided statements about events abroad. Moreover, his implication that a film demonizing a religion's prophet and backed, among others, by a man who said, "Islam is a cancer" and another who has burned the Quran represents American values is the most troubling of all. To make such a claim denies what I believe to be a core American value —respect for all cultures and religions.

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Karen Lickteig

Karen Lickteig works at the Middle East Studies Center at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. She has studied International Affairs, Middle East Studies, and Arabic language at PSU, Lewis & Clark College, Georgetown, and the American University in Dubai. She spent nine months in the Arabian Gulf, primarily in Dubai, also traveling to Bahrain, Oman, and Jordan. Her experience in the Gulf was further enhanced by concurrent internships in the summer of 2011 with the Sultan Qaboos Omani Cultural Center and the US-Qatar Business Council, both in Washington, D.C. Karen is interested in International Issues, Middle East, the Arabian Gulf, Islam, and the Arab Spring. She grew up in Wichita, Kansas, and has an insatiable desire to see the world beyond America.

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