Permalink | Date posted: June 29, 2012
In the fall of 2011, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced a slate of official campaign advisers on foreign policy and national security. The list included a coterie of well-known neoconservatives and veterans of the George W. Bush administration, as well as some comparatively moderate and lesser-known figures.
Since Romney’s tough but ultimately successful primary campaign, rifts have emerged in his team between hardline militarists and more traditional GOP realists. Although this has occasionally produced inconsistencies in the campaign’s statements and public disagreements between the candidate and some of his advisers, there remains the general impression that the campaign’s hawks have marginalized their more moderate colleagues — a trend that is also reflected in the candidate’s extremely militarist statements on the campaign trail.
Should Romney win in November, his administration’s foreign policy agenda will likely be guided by some combination of these advisers. To help clarify the forces at work in his campaign and provide some insight into the likely trajectory of a Romney presidency, Right Web has produced profiles on his entire advisory team — as well as on several additional figures who, although not formally incorporated into the campaign, appear to be influential forces in the broader Romney camp, including John Bolton and the billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.
Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is an important financial backer of right-wing “pro-Israel” groups in the United States and elsewhere in the world, as well as a prominent supporter of key Israeli Likud Party figures.
Cofer Black is a former CIA officer and Blackwater executive who worked on Mitt Romney’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, earning the moniker as the former governor’s “trusted envoy to the dark side.”
John Bolton, the notorious hardliner who served as President Bush’s UN ambassador, is chairman of the “Islamophobic” Gatestone Institute and a senior fellow at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute.
Christopher Burnham is a former State Department official who worked as an adviser to former Gov. Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.
Romney adviser Michael Chertoff, a former secretary of homeland security, has aggressively defended the Bush administration’s prosecution of the “war on terror,” including its controversial detention of Arab and Muslim immigrants who were never charged with any crimes.
A professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Eliot Cohen has been described as "the most influential neocon in academe."
Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), a board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition, has advocated bypassing the United Nations and arming the Syrian opposition.
John Danilovich, a retired diplomat and corporate executive, has worked to use U.S. foreign aid to push countries to make reforms that reflect “American values.”
Dobriansky, a Bush administration undersecretary of state and supporter of the Project for a New American Century’s militarist advocacy campaigns, is a fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center and adviser to the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Eric Edelman, undersecretary for defense in the George W. Bush administration and a board member of the neoconservative Foreign Policy Initiative, has long been associated with hawkish factions in U.S. politics, advising the likes of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Mitt Romney.
Former CIA director Michael Hayden has been a stalwart advocate of the Bush record on torture and warrantless wiretapping.
Kerry Healey helped recruit Mitt Romney into Massachusetts politics and was a trusted foreign policy adviser to his presidential campaigns.
Kim Holmes, a longtime foreign policy director at the right-wing Heritage Foundation, promotes increased defense budgets and “American exceptionalism.”
Romney adviser Robert Joseph, John Bolton’s successor in the Bush State Department, has staked out a hard line in support of costly missile defense programs and against arms control agreements.
Robert Kagan, a cofounder of the Project for the New American Century, is a neoconservative policy pundit and historian based at the Brookings Institution.
John F. Lehman heads a private equity firm whose investment interests dovetail with his hawkish political advocacy, which has included supporting several GOP presidential campaigns and the work of numerous neoconservative pressure groups.
Andrew Natsios, a fellow at the neoconservative Hudson Institute, opposed the distribution of AIDS drugs in Africa as the Bush administration’s USAID director.
Previously a special assistant to President George W. Bush, Meghan O’Sullivan is a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government who argues that sanctions aren’t aggressive enough to achieve change in the Middle East.
A self-styled terrorism “expert” who claims that the killing of Osama bin Laden strengthened Al Qaeda, former right-wing Lebanese militia member Walid Phares wildly claims that the Obama administration gave the Muslim Brotherhood “the green light” to sideline secular Egyptians.
Los Angeles-based lawyer Pierre Prosper, a foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential bid, served as Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes in the U.S. State Department during the early years of the “war on terror,” where he proved to be feckless in pursuing investigations into alleged war crimes of U.S. allies.
Former diplomat Mitchell Reiss has been an advocate for the MEK and has been critical of the Obama administration’s nuclear negotiations with Iran.
Dan Senor is a cofounder of the neoconservative Foreign Policy Initiative and the former spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.
Former Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO), a stalwart advocate of Pentagon spending now based at the right-wing Heritage Foundation, says he would have voted for the Iraq War even if he had known the Bush administration’s claims about WMDs were false.
Former Rep. Vin Weber (R-MN), a policy adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, has supported a number of pro-war advocacy campaigns over the years, including those spearheaded by the Project for the New American Century.
Richard Williamson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was one of the Romney campaign’s more aggressive surrogates on foreign policy, claiming that Romney would put military force on “on the table” to prevent an Iranian “nuclear breakout.”
Dov Zakheim is a retired defense contractor executive and Pentagon official whose views on foreign policy appear to veer between hardnosed realism and neoconservatism.
According to Mitt Romney, “Russia is, without question, our number one geopolitical foe.” Romney has promised to get tough with…
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Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) is a staunch foreign policy hawk who is regarded by some on the right as a “model of the modern major foreign policy leader.” An opponent of the Iran nuclear deal, he said earlier this year that it would be a “good idea” for Congress to pass an Authorization for the Use of Force resolution on Iran, which would allow the president to launch military strikes against the country. During the recent fight over the Iran deal in Congress, Royce introduced legislation in the House aimed at preventing the agreement from being implemented.
Since the defeat of the Romney-Ryan ticket in the 2012 presidential election, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has taken to regularly criticizing the Obama administration’s foreign policy, deriding it as “weak and indecisive” and arguing that Obama should take more “action” abroad. He has also opposed the Iran deal and called for Congress to “strengthen sanctions regimes” on Iran, a move most experts believe would derail the agreement and put the United States on a dangerous path of escalation with Iran.
Uber-hawk Rep. Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) has used characteristically hyperbolic rhetoric to denounce the Iran deal, calling it “madness” and saying it “simply defies logic.” She has teamed up with neoconservative and Islamophobic figures like Frank Gaffney to lambast the deal, telling Gaffney in a recent interview that she hopes his Center for Security Policy can “communicate clearly and in an articulate manner to your listeners what this deal means to them.”
Since its founding in 2011, the right-wing advocacy group Secure America Now has made a name for itself by publishing biased, wildly inaccurate “push polls” and running over-the-top ads criticizing the Obama administration’s security policies. “This might be the only ad you'll ever see that complains aloud, 'He shut down the black sites!’” quipped one commentator about an ad the group ran in 2012. The organization recently produced a remake of the infamous Lyndon Johnson ad “Daisy,” which wildly accuses the Obama administration of “failing” to stop “the jihadist government of Iran” from getting “a nuclear bomb.” Noting the many factual errors in a website linked to the video, one observer noted, “It’s not surprising, then, that this group would revive an attack ad that sought to portray a presidential contender as dangerously eager for confrontation to attack a president for being too soft.”
Israeli ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer has spurred controversy for his hyper-partisan approach to diplomacy and deep ties to rightwing factions in the United States. After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was reelected in March 2015, prominent voices in the United States and Israel called for Dermer to be replaced. One member of the Israeli Knesset exclaimed that Dermer “risks the state of Israel.” Dermer recently called the Iran deal a “disaster of historic proportions.”