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Mitt Romney's foreign policy stances garner attention, criticism

Published: Friday, Feb. 17 2012 5:42 p.m. MST

Media Matters for America, a group dedicated to fighting "conservative misinformation," said Romney's assertions on New START were "false and misleading."

More recently, in a December interview Romney told The Daily Telegraph that "where President [Vladimir] Putin has returned to some of the more heated rhetoric of the past, I think he endangers the stability and peacefulness of the globe."

Friday, CBS News reported that Putin, who is running for president in Russia, has made anti-American rhetoric a central part of his campaign. Putin has cast his opponents as U.S. lackeys, said that the U.S. wants to subdue Russia and has accused the U.S. of starting protests against him.

"The current campaign is laden with anti-Americanism," Sergei Oznobishchev, head of a Moscow think tank, told CBS News. "It's like clothing they dust off and put on for certain occasions, currently for electoral purposes."

Palestinians

In January during a CNN-sponsored debate, Romney said Palestinians are not interested in a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

"Israelis would be happy to have a two-state solution," Romney said. "It's the Palestinians who don't want a two-state solution; they want to eliminate the state of Israel."

On Tuesday, however, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel is to blame for the deterioration of peace between the two sides.

"Israel's actions have made the two state solution impossible and that is unacceptable," Abbas said.

Abbas recently told the Arab League that the conditions for resuming peace talks with Israel include basing talks on the 1967 lines, a halt to construction in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem and the release of Palestinians in Israeli jails.

The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement from 1988 suggests that Romney's rhetoric may be based on official policy coming from some leaders in the Middle East.

Article 15 of the document states, "The day that enemies usurp part of Moslem land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Moslem. In face of the Jews' usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised."

Foreign aid

Romney, like most of the Republican presidential candidates, has called for a reduction in U.S. aid being sent to foreign countries.

In the CNN Las Vegas debate in October, Romney said the Chinese should be giving more to help others around the world.

"I happen to think it doesn't make a lot of sense for us to borrow money from the Chinese to go give to another country for humanitarian aid," Romney said. "We ought to get the Chinese to take care of the people that are taking that borrowed money."

In a November debate, Romney echoed an idea voiced by then-candidate Rick Perry that foreign aid should begin at zero, and work its way up.

After the debate, Obama's reelection campaign website posted criticism of this position.

"Stand against 'zeroing out' aid to Israel," the site said. "Republican candidates for president Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, and Newt Gingrich all say they would cut foreign aid to Israel — and every other country — to zero. Stand up to his extreme isolationism and join the call to reject the Romney-Perry-Gingrich plan."

Politifact rated the website's claim as a "ridiculous distortion of their positions on this extremely sensitive issue."

While cutting foreign aid may seem like an easy target as the U.S. grapples with more than $15 trillion of debt, Emma Welch at the Council on Foreign Relations cautioned that U.S. foreign aid, despite being criticized for high-profile aid given to countries like Pakistan and Egypt, makes the biggest impact on efforts that do not make headline news.

Former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann warned in a November debate that cutting aid to every country is "highly nave," and that not all aid equals writing blank checks to America's enemies. Pakistan, for instance, she said, is too nuclear to fail.

Foreign aid has become a hot-button issue between Egypt and the U.S., with the U.S. stuck between a rock and a hard place. While a recent Gallup poll shows that 71 percent of Egyptians oppose U.S. economic aid to Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood threatened to review the country's peace treaty with Israel if the U.S. cut off its aid.

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