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 an investment banker, neoconservative pundit, and GOP foreign policy adviser who cofounded the Foreign Policy Initiative and served as spokesperson 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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Danielle Pletka, the vice president of foreign and defense studies at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute, has helped lead the right-wing attack on the Obama administration's handling of Russia's recent incursion into Ukraine's Crimean peninsula. In an appearance on CBS' Face the Nation, Pletka argued that the incursion stemmed from Russian President Vladimir Putin's disregard for Barack Obama, which she attributed to the U.S. hesitancy to intervene in Syria's civil war and the Obama administration's plans to marginally shrink the U.S. military. "The problem is I don't think that the president right now is very credible," Pletka said. "And I think that Putin thinks he's got Obama's number." Critics pointed out that Pletka was brushing aside the politics of the region and the particulars of the situation.“ Shocking as it may seem," countered one writer from the Guardian, "sometimes countries take actions based on how they view their interests, irrespective of who the U.S. did or did not bomb."
Randy Scheunemann is a well-connected Washington lobbyist and neoconservative activist. A former director of the Project for the New American Century, Scheunemann is also well known as the foreign policy adviser charged with counseling the neophyte Sarah Palin for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. Scheunemann’s influence on Palin resurfaced in 2014 when Palin claimed to have predicted back in 2008 that Russia would invade Ukraine if then-Sen. Obama were elected president. “Do you think those were actually [Palin’s] own thoughts,” wondered one critic, “or ones crafted by John McCain’s top foreign policy advisor, Randy Scheunemann, a neocon who was both a paid lobbyist for Georgia and supporter of Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi charlatan who helped Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney gull the American people into a misbegotten war?”
Ruth Wedgwood, a SAIS professor and vice chair of the neoconservative Freedom House, is a staunch defender of the "war on terror” who has supported controversial policies that encroach on civil liberties and human rights, including military tribunals, indefinite detention of terrorism suspects, and the PATRIOT Act. Wedgwood has accused Iran of developing nuclear weapons and expressed support for the MEK, a controversial Iranian dissident group long considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government and likened by its critics to a cult.
Dennis Ross, a controversial former diplomat who served in the Obama administration before retreating to a “pro-Israel” think tank, is a vocal Democratic advocate of leveraging the threat of war to exact concessions from Iran over its nuclear program. Recently, Ross linked the issue to the crisis in Ukraine, arguing that the Obama administration should retaliate against Russia for its intervention in Ukraine in order to placate Israel and Saudi Arabia—foes of Iran who, according to Ross, “believe that the U.S. is increasingly reluctant to act in the face of regional challenges”—even if it means ending Russian cooperation in international negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.
Amoretta Hoeber is a military consultant and a former Reagan defense official who has opposed international agreements to ban chemical weapons. She currently heads AMH Consulting, a Maryland-based firm that advises companies seeking military contracts. During the Iraq War, Hoeber lent credence to the false accusation that Saddam Hussein was stockpiling chemical weapons—without mentioning that her own firm had secured a contract to remove them.