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 a senior fellow at the 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 neoconservative academic based at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Cohen served as an adviser to President George W. Bush as well as to the 2012 Mitt Romney presidential campaign.
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 is a leading neoconservative policy pundit, a cofounder of numerous militarist pressure groups, and an important backer of U.S. overseas military interventions like the Iraq War.
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 both negotiating with the Taliban and delisting the MEK.
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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Ahmed Chalabi, the onetime Iraqi exile who aggressively courted neoconservative support for the U.S. invasion of Iraq by spreading falsehoods about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs, long ago fell out of favor in Washington and has never enjoyed much popular support in Iraq, where he currently serves in parliament. But amid Iraq's current political crisis, Chalabi has been floated as a possible compromise candidate to replace Nouri al-Maliki as the prime minister of Iraq—and some of his old neoconservative allies, especially Richard Perle, have expressed joy at the possibility. Concluded a writer for the Washington Post, "It seems a sad indication of the absurdity of the past 11 years of Iraqi history that the man who helped dupe U.S. officials into that invasion should now be backed in his bid for leadership by those very same people."
Reuel Marc Gerecht, a senior fellow at the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies, has advocated bombing Iran for years, once admitting that even his mom thought he’d “gone too far.” He recently wrote that U.S. credibility "is overwhelmingly built on Washington’s willingness to use force" and lamented that the Obama administration's reluctance to intervene in Syria's civil war amounts to "retreat" from the region. Dismissing the supposed moderation of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Gerecht has also advised U.S. policymakers to "forget diplomacy" with Iran and instead bolster sanctions and military threats.
Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and an avid foreign policy hawk in her own right, is slowly returning to the spotlight after her disastrous primary challenge to Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) last year. In addition to penning hawkish screeds against the Obama administration’s policies in Iraq and cofounding a hardline new 501(c)4 group with her father Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney is reportedly seeking to mend ties with the Republican establishment she alienated during her Senate bid, possibly in preparation for another run for office.
Dan Senor, who served as the Bush administration's spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, gained notoriety for his misleading and deeply politicized statements about U.S. "progress" in the disintegrating country. Undeterred, Senor—who is also an investment banker and the cofounder of the neoconservative Foreign Policy Initiative—has re-emerged to urge the Obama administration to send "air power" and "special ops" to Iraq to prop up the beleaguered sectarian government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Newly released documents have revealed that government investigators were aware of serious misconduct by Blackwater employees in Iraq even before the notorious Nisour Square massacre in 2007, during which Blackwater employees killed 17 Iraqi civilians. In a memo to his State Department superiors, one investigator revealed that Blackwater's chief of operations in Iraq—a former Navy SEAL—had threatened to kill him during a meeting to discuss the company's abuses. The U.S. embassy then sent the investigators home after they reported the threat, leading them to conclude—in a memo filed just weeks before the Nisour Square massacre—that "The contractors, instead of [State] Department officials, are in command and in control" at the U.S. embassy in Iraq. The company formerly known as Blackwater and Xe Services rebranded itself as Academi in 2011.