US foreign policy towards the Middle East has generally been formed on certain fundamentals that were steadily defined and refined during the past six decades with the aim of protecting America's vital interests in the region. From this perspective, the party affiliation of the President – republican or democrat – compared to happenings in the region itself, mattered less in triggering major swings in US foreign policy towards the Middle East. Remains assured however that happenings in the region have regularly figured themselves prominently in republicans-democrats presidential campaigns rivalry.
Likewise, the current rivalry between the republican candidate, Mitt Romney, and the democratic candidate, President Barak Obama, reflects the important place that happenings in Middle East assume in US presidential elections of 2012. So while it seems that both candidates essentially share key positions on ongoing issues in the region - be it US support to Arab countries in transition, defending the intervention in Libya, resisting Al-Assad regime in Syria, or antagonism to Iran and its nuclear agenda – Romney did not fail to significantly challenge Obama on each and every one of these critical issues in the region.
Assuming a hard foreign policy line, the republican candidate accused the Obama Administration of weakening America's standing in the Middle East and in the world. Romney unleashed severe criticism to Obama's continuous suggestions of cutting the defense budget, miscalculated decision to withdraw US troops from Iraq, lenient responses to Al-Assad regime in Syria, and fragile policy in Afghanistan. In stressing the need to save the US prestige, and contrary to Obama's embrace of seemingly a compromising and multilateral approach that favors non-military means in tackling Middle East challenges, Romney emphasizes the importance of the military tool in US policy worldwide and in the Middle East in particular. In his exact words, when criticizing Obama's decision of pulling US troops out of Iraq, Romney said that Obama «is not the kind of leadership America expected. We hoped to have a leader who would assure that our military remained the strongest in the world». In his view, such decision would make Iraq more vulnerable to the influence of Iran, which represents an immense threat to US vital interests in the region. In Syria, and in line with Romney's hard line rhetoric, the republican candidate believes that it is proper for the United States to intervene militarily in Syria, which he considers a tougher adversary compared to Libya, and quoted saying in August 2012 that such intervention would help prevent the spread of chemical weapons there. Finally, Romney believes that while the Arab Spring is a true opportunity for positive change, he accuses the Obama administration of mishandling its consequences, which rendered it «out of control because the president was not as strong as he needed to be in encouraging our friends to move toward representative forms of government». This mishandling, according to Romney, would advance the agendas of US adversaries, namely Iran and jihadist groups in the region.
Unsurprisingly, Romney's hard line propaganda comes as music to Israel's ears, which has increasingly experienced a tensioned relationship with the United States, particularly in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. Israel has been critical of Obama's handling of the Arab Uprisings and the subsequent rise of Islamists in the region, which have intensified the Jewish state sense of threat and isolation. Also, Israel has been critical of Obama's handling of the Iranian threat, which even with his administration's initiatives to bolster the defense capabilities of Israel and of its Gulf allies – through increased arms sales and a recent proposal to create a Persian Gulf missile shield system – seemed geared toward avoiding any military involvement there. Hence, the message that Rom-ney seems to be constantly and successfully transmitting to Israeli circles in Washington and to the Netanyahu government in Tel Aviv is that he better understands Israel's mounting fears and that would be a better friend than Obama has been .