Mitt Romney has officially sealed the deal on becoming the GOP candidate for the November presidential election. Hooray.
Although this election looks as though it will be a battle over demography and the brutally stagnant economy, I can’t help but pay more attention to the foreign policy side of the contest, something that will without a doubt have serious implications moving forward.
Having said that, I feel as though it is time once again to examine Mitt’s foreign policy team – a rag tag bunch of Neoconservatives, ultra right-wingers, and foreign policy hacks that have managed to bring us the Iraq War, dangerously hardline stances on Iran, a massive deficit (not that it matters that much), and unrelenting support for whatever Israel does. I’ve written at length about the doom and gloom we may face before, but let’s get down and dirty with the gritty details .…
1. Eliot Cohen – Special adviser, author of Romney’s foreign policy white paper.
At least Eliot Cohen doesn’t pull any punches. He has overtly called for the removal of the Iranian regime by all means necessary, sans force. Good to know, but how do we pull that off? Cohen believes soft power would do the trick, but how long before that soft power necessitates hard power once the Iranian regime begins ramping up attacks against U.S. and Israeli assets? No regime like Iran’s will stand by idly as it is picked apart from the outside, and once the retaliatory bombings, assassination attempts, and other counter-intelligence measure are begun by Iran, the U.S. and Israel won’t be able to stand by either.
2. Dov Zakheim – Special adviser
Aside from also being hawkish on Iran and Iraq, Zakheim has a proven track record of sketchy behavior. Aside from the highly controversial disappearance of a massive amount of money while comptroller of the Pentagon, he runs Foreign Policy’s “Shadow Government” blog where he argues for even more aggressive drone strikes and rails against Obama’s foreign policy. Zakheim is a staunch supporter of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a lobbying group that pushes hard for intervention in Iran and was adamant about the push for war in Iraq.
3. John Bolton – Trusted personal policy adviser, potential cabinet appointee
Mitt Romney once said of John Bolton that, “John’s wisdom, clarity and courage are qualities that should typify our foreign policy.” If this is true, be very afraid. Bolton could be the most hawkish of Romney’s advisers. He is a signatory to numerous letters to presidents past and present, including one to Bill Clinton in 1998 from the defunct Neocon think tank, “Project for a New American Century (PNAC)” urging Clinton to get rid of Saddam. In a March letter to President Obama from Romney’s foreign policy team, Bolton signed off on statements saying the president is too soft on Iran, not supportive enough of Israel’s interests, should have left troops in Iraq, and has potentially crippled the U.S. military with budget cuts.
4. Robert Kagan, Special adviser
Who’s ready for some good old-fashioned regime change? If Robert Kagan gets his way, that’s what you can expect. Aside from wanting to oust Iranian leadership and cause massive conflict, Kagan is on the board of directors for the Foreign Policy Initiative, or as I like to call it, PNAC 2.0, where he served as a project director. A quintessential Neocon, Kagan has time and time again steadfastly supported the war in Iraq, saying that the war was a good idea, that Iraq was getting more secure in 2004, and that the Arab Spring can be attributed to U.S. efforts in Iraq. It’s hard to find someone more disillusioned in the policy community.
While some could chalk up all of Romney’s rhetoric to early election cycle hogwash, his advisers haven’t changed their tunes. Given that Mitt is about as informed as a table lamp on foreign policy, I shudder to think of the consequences of his team having carte blanche. Whether they suffer from groupthink – since many of them have worked and continue to work in the same place –or just a lack of ability to see the errors of their predictions, something has to balance them out. Hopefully that something is a loss at the polls in November.