Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney criticized US foreign policy toward the Middle East Monday in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, writing that “our country seems to be at the mercy of events rather than shaping them.”

Romney called President Obama “a president who thinks that weakness will win favor with our adversaries,” accusing Obama of taking too lightly the threat of a nuclear Iran and the political unrest in Libya, Egypt and Syria. Romney also said Obama has eroded US relations with Israel.

But the former Massachusetts governor described his own Middle East policy only in general terms. He pledged “no daylight” between the US and Israel and said his administration would “encourage liberty and opportunity” as alternatives to extremism in the Middle East.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

After months on the campaign backburner, foreign policy has moved closer to the front after four Americans, including the ambassador to Libya, were killed in a terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11. On the same day, demonstrators in Cairo climbed the wall of a US embassy and took down the American flag. Each candidate has criticized the other’s response to the violence.

In an interview that aired last Sunday on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Obama said despite recent events, he remains optimistic that “over the long term, we are more likely to get a Middle East and North Africa that is more peaceful, more prosperous and more aligned with our interests.”

“But I was pretty certain and continue to be pretty certain that there are going to be bumps in the road because, you know, in a lot of these places, the one organizing principle has been Islam,” the president added.

Romney pounced quickly on Obama’s use of the phrase “bumps in the road” and blasted it again in Monday’s op-ed, suggesting the president does not appreciate the gravity of “major issues that put our security at risk.”