Thank you for the opportunity to address the AIPAC Policy Conference today. And thanks to Teddy and Ed. They've been great friends and supporters and teachers over the years. I'm sorry that my Super Tuesday travel schedule prevents me from being with you in person, but while I can't be with you, I stand with you. I share your commitment to a strong and secure Israel. And I salute your tireless work to strengthen our alliance.
This year we're gathering at a dangerous time for Israel and for America. Not since the dark days of 1967 and 1973 has the Middle East faced peril as it does today. This is a critical moment. America must not, and if I'm president, it will not fail this defining test of history. The current administration has distanced itself from Israel and visibly warmed to the Palestinian cause. It's emboldened the Palestinians. They're convinced that they can do better at the UN and better with America directly than they can at the bargaining table with Israel.
As president, I'll treat our allies and friends like our friends and allies. In recent days and weeks, we've heard a lot of words from the administration. Its clear message has been to warn Israel, to consider the costs of military action against Iran. I don't believe we should be issuing public warnings that create distance between the United States and Israel. Israel doesn't need public lectures about how to weigh decisions of war and peace. It needs our support.
Israel's democratically elected leaders will always be welcomed and respected by my administration. Israel's current prime minister is not just a friend. He's an old friend. We worked together over 30 years ago at the Boston Consulting Group. He's a man whose intellect and courage I admire and whose family sacrifice I profoundly respect. In a Romney administration there will be no gap between our nations, and there will be no gap between our leaders.
Now, I've seen Israel by land and by air. I've seen its narrow waist and its vulnerability positions on the Golan Heights. I spent time with families in Sderot who'd been terrorized by rocket barrages from Gaza. I've walked the streets of Jerusalem and seen schools there that were pocked by rifle rounds that had been fired from some of the hills nearby. I would never call for a return to the indefensible '67 lines because I understand that in Israel, geography is security.
I've also studied the writings and speeches of the jihadists. They argue for a one-state solution, one all dominating, radical, Islamist state, that is. Their objective is not freedom. It's not prosperity. It's not a Palestinian state. It is the destruction of Israel that they seek. And negotiating and placating such jihadists will never ever yield peace in the Middle East. I recognize in the Ayatollahs of Iran the zealot refrain of dominion. Their passion for the martyrdom of Arab youth is matched only by their cowardice in avoiding it for themselves. Nuclear ambition is pursued by Iran to dominate, to subjugate, to obliterate. A nuclear Iran is not only a problem for Israel. It's a problem for America, and it's a problem for the world.
Now, we may not know when Iran will secure sufficient fissile material to threaten the entire world. But the IAEA warns that that hour is fast approaching. In the Gulf, Iran prepares to close the Straits of Hormuz to hold hostage 20 percent of the world's oil. In their nuclear laboratories, they prepare the means to hold hostage the entire planet. Iran has long-engaged in terrorism around the world, most recently of course in Georgia and Thailand and in Washington, D.C. They plotted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador by bombing a Georgetown restaurant. Iran has deployed Hezbollah and Hamas and armed the insurgents of Iraq and Afghanistan, killing our sons and daughters. They war against America.
Yet the current administration has promoted a policy of engagement with Iran. The president even offered to sit down with Ahmadinejad during his first year in office without preconditions. He was silent as Iranian dissidents took to the streets of Tehran, not wanting to disrupt the potential opportunity for dialogue with Iran's tyrants. The president not only dawdled in imposing sanctions; he's opposed them. Hope is not a foreign policy. The only thing respected by thugs and tyrants is our resolve backed by our power and our readiness to use it. Of course the administration's naïve outreach to Iran gave the Ayatollahs exactly what they wanted most. It gave them time. Whatever sanctions they may now belatedly impose, Iran has already gained three invaluable years.
As you know, there's some in the administration who argue that Iran's leaders are rational and that we can do business with them. The president speaks of common interests. Let me be very clear about this. We do not have common interests with a terrorist regime. Their interest is in the destruction of Israel and the domination of the Middle East. It's profoundly irrational to suggest that the Ayatollahs think the way we do or share our values. They do not.
I will bring the current policy of procrastination toward Iran to an end. I will not delay imposing further crippling sanctions. I will not hesitate to fully implement the ones we already have. I'll make sure Iran knows of the very real peril that awaits it, if it becomes nuclear. I will engage Iran's neighbors. I will station multiple aircraft carriers and war ships at Iran's door. I'll stand with the Syrian people who are being mercilessly slaughtered. I know that the fall of Assad would not only be an important victory for liberty but also a strategic blow to Tayron.
As president I'll be ready to engage in diplomacy, but I will be just as ready to engage our military might. Israel will know that America stands at its side in all conditions and in all consequence. Of course our strength abroad depends upon our strength here at home. My economic plans will buttress our capacity to project power. And as president, I'll repair and strengthen our military.
President Obama wants to shrink our navy, shrink our air force, and shrink our contingent of fighting men and women. I'm going to expand every one of them. A military in retreat invites adventurism, the world's worst actress, just as we're seeing today. A strong and superior American military is the best ally peace has ever known, and I don't seek military superiority solely for the purpose of winning wars. I seek it to prevent wars.
As president, peace will be my solemn goal, a peace not based on empty assurances but on true security and defensible borders. This will require American strength and a demonstration of our resolve. That's why as president my first foreign trip will not be to Cairo or Riyadh or Ankara. It will be to Jerusalem. We will make clear to the world -- we're going to make it very clear that Israel's continued existence as a Jewish state is a vital national interest of the United States. I believe the right course of what Ronald Reagan called peace through strength. There's a reason why the Iranians released the hostages on the same day and at the same hour that Reagan was sworn in.
As president I'll offer that kind of clarity, strength, and resolve. In a Romney administration, the world will know that the bond between Israel and America is unbreakable, that our opposition to a nuclear Iran is absolute. We must not allow Iran to have the bomb or the capacity to make a bomb. Our enemies should never doubt our resolve, and our allies should never doubt our commitment. This is a critical time. AIPAC has a vital voice. Together let's achieve peace for the region and ensure a secure future for Israel and America.
God bless America, and God bless our friendship with Israel. Thanks so much.