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Kerry: Ask Osama bin Laden if he’s better off now than he was four years ago!

CHARLOTTE – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) will lacerate Mitt Romney on foreign policy in a major speech tonight at the Democratic National Convention. "In this campaign, we have a fundamental choice," Kerry will say, according to speech excerpts provided to The Cable. "Will we protect our country and our allies, advance ...

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

CHARLOTTE - Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) will lacerate Mitt Romney on foreign policy in a major speech tonight at the Democratic National Convention.

CHARLOTTE – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) will lacerate Mitt Romney on foreign policy in a major speech tonight at the Democratic National Convention.

"In this campaign, we have a fundamental choice," Kerry will say, according to speech excerpts provided to The Cable. "Will we protect our country and our allies, advance our interests and ideals, do battle where we must, and make peace where we can? Or will we entrust our place in the world to someone who just hasn’t learned the lessons of the last decade?"

Kerry will speak on a night peppered with remarks by national security types, including retired Lt. Gen. Walter Dalton, the lieutenant governor of North Carolina, retired Adm. John B. Nathman, and Delaware attorney general and Iraq war veteran Beau Biden, the vice president’s son. Following Kerry will be the final events of the convention, including speeches by Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Vice President Joe Biden, and President Barack Obama.

Kerry will hit Romney on his positions on a range of national security issues and will hammer the former Massachusetts governor for failing to outline a clear policy on the war in Afghanistan, a word that Romney didn’t mention once in last week’s acceptance speech.

"It isn’t fair to say Mitt Romney doesn’t have a position on Afghanistan. He has every position," Kerry will say.

Kerry plans to defend Obama’s record on Israel, Iran, Russia, and arms control, and he will push back against the Romney campaign’s refrain that Obama doesn’t believe in "American exceptionalism."

"Our opponents like to talk about ‘American Exceptionalism.’ But all they do is talk. They forget that we are exceptional not because we say we are, but because we do exceptional things," Kerry will say. "The only thing exceptional about today’s Republicans is that — almost without exception — they oppose everything that has made America exceptional in the first place."

Kerry will point out that Romney criticized the idea of going into Pakistan to pursue Osama bin Laden but Obama gave the order that led to bin Laden’s death.

"Ask Osama Bin Laden if he’s better off now than he was four years ago!" Kerry will say.

Kerry will also make what The Cable believes is the first mention by either campaign of the only war Obama ever started, the 2011 NATO-led attack on Libya.

"When a brutal dictator promised to kill his own people ‘like dogs’, President Obama enlisted our allies, built the coalition, shared the burden — so that today, without a single American casualty — Muammar Qaddafi is gone and Libya is free," Kerry will say.

Obama inherited a terrible foreign-policy position from the Bush administration and worked to improve it, Kerry will argue.

"So here’s the choice in 2012:  Mitt Romney — out of touch at home, out of his depth abroad, and out of the mainstream?" he will say. "Or Barack Obama — a president giving new life and truth to America’s indispensable role in the world,  a commander in chief who gives our troops the tools and training they need in war — the honor and help they’ve earned when they come home. A man who will never ask other men and women to fight a war without a plan to win the peace."

In anticipation of Kerry’s foreign policy speech, the Romney campaign released a long memo penned by campaign policy director Lanhee Chen entitled, "The Foreign Policy & National Security Failures Of President Obama," which lays out 10 separate lines of attack on the Obama administration’s national security record.

"President Obama’s failure on the economy has been so severe that it has overshadowed his manifold failures on foreign policy and national security," the memo states. "An inventory of his record shows that by nearly all measures, President Obama has diminished American influence abroad and compromised our interests and values. In no region of the world is the U.S. position stronger than it was four years ago… It is a failed record that no amount of bluster in Charlotte can mask."

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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