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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Retired Gen. Jack Keane is a frequent guest on Fox News and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, where he is a reliable advocate for hawkish, aggressive U.S. foreign policies. Keane has been a vocal supporter of U.S. strikes in both Iraq and Syria on ISIS. However, left unmentioned in Keane's media appearances are his extensive ties to military contractors that might benefit from a protracted conflict in the Middle East—including Academi, the latest incarnation of the notorious Blackwater, which in 2012 hired Keane as a “strategic adviser.”
Ben Wattenberg is an author and demographer who was based at the American Enterprise Institute for many years. He was also the host of Think Tank, a PBS talk show that aired during 1994-2010. A veteran of the Coalition for a Democratic Majority and the Committee on the Present Danger, Wattenberg was part of a vanguard of neoconservative figures who in the 1970s drifted from the Democratic Party to the hawkish right. Alongside his foreign policy advocacy, Wattenberg has written numerous alarmist tracts on social issues, including worrying about declining birth rates in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, and warning that “Divorce, legalized abortion, and easy-to-use contraceptives have all contributed to the numbers of ‘never-born babies,’” creating a “social deficit’ that plagues nations across the world.”
Brigette Gabriel, a Lebanese-born anti-Islamic activist and founder of the right-wing group ACT! for America, is notorious for making fear-mongering claims about terrorism and Islam. She has called the Islamic faith “not compatible with Western civilization” and insisted that a practicing Muslim “cannot be a loyal citizen of the United States.” At a Heritage Foundation event earlier this year, Gabriel drew scrutiny after she verbally attacked a Muslim American law student, questioning whether the student was an American. More recently, capitalizing on right-wing hysteria over immigration and extremist groups in the Middle East, Gabriel alleged that ISIS members were crossing into the U.S. from Mexico, citing reports from unnamed “members of the Department of Homeland Security.”
As a director of the Project for the New American Century in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Gary Schmitt helped spread inaccurate information about Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction and promote the invasion of Iraq. Schmitt subsequently supported U.S. intervention in Syria, whose own civil war was directly linked to the fallout from Iraq. Schmitt has also been a vocal advocate of NATO expansion, which many observers think has contributed to the current tensions between the West and Russia. Schmitt has also advocated revoking U.S. security guarantees for Western European countries unless they increase their military budgets and adopt a more controversial approach to Russia.
AIPAC’s failed efforts to force U.S. intervention in Syria’s civil war and to scuttle U.S. nuclear negotiations with Iran, along with its increasing alienation from younger Jewish Americans on the Palestinian issue, have led many critics of the lobby to conclude that its formidable influence is slowly eroding. “Today, a growing number of American Jews, though still devoted to Israel, struggle with the lack of progress toward peace with the Palestinians. Many feel that AIPAC does not speak for them,” reported The New Yorker in a lengthy profile last August. On the other hand, the group was still able to push through emergency funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, prompting one GOP Senate aide to complain, “The worst part was having to vote for this at a time we are all so upset by the killing in Gaza. It's as if AIPAC knows how angry we are so the whole Senate has to take their test. They will make us cast a totally symbolic vote, just to show who's in charge.”