With the final presidential debate on foreign policy coming up this Monday, Rachel Maddow again reminded us of the fact that Mitt Romney, with no real experience of his own, is just reassembling George Bush's foreign policy team and hoped that this is a topic that is finally discussed during the debate on Monday evening.
Maddow again featured too wrong to fail, Dan Senor, who's been traveling around working with vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan on the campaign trail for now. And she took the viewers through the long list of other Bushies who Mitt Romney has hired.
For more on that, here's some recommended reading.
From Ari Berman at The Nation: Mitt Romney's Neocon War Cabinet:
Romney is loath to mention Bush on the campaign trail, for obvious reasons, but today they sound like ideological soul mates on foreign policy. Listening to Romney, you’d never know that Bush left office bogged down by two unpopular wars that cost America dearly in blood and treasure. Of Romney’s forty identified foreign policy advisers, more than 70 percent worked for Bush. Many hail from the neoconservative wing of the party, were enthusiastic backers of the Iraq War and are proponents of a US or Israeli attack on Iran. Christopher Preble, a foreign policy expert at the Cato Institute, says, “Romney’s likely to be in the mold of George W. Bush when it comes to foreign policy if he were elected.” On some key issues, like Iran, Romney and his team are to the right of Bush. Romney’s embrace of the neoconservative cause—even if done cynically to woo the right—could turn into a policy nightmare if he becomes president. [...]
Romney knew little about foreign policy when he ran for president in 2008. An internal dossier of John McCain’s presidential campaign said at the time that “Romney’s foreign affairs resume is extremely thin, leading to credibility problems.” After being branded as too liberal by conservative GOP activists four years ago, Romney aligned himself with Bolton and other neocons in 2012 to protect his right flank. Today there’s little daylight between the candidate and his most militant advisers. “When you read the op-eds and listen to the speeches, it sounds like Romney’s listening to the John Bolton types more than anyone else,” says Brian Katulis, a senior fellow for national security at the Center for American Progress. (The Romney campaign’s openly gay foreign policy spokesman, Richard Grenell, who had been an indefatigable defender of Bolton as the latter’s PR flack in the Bush years, was forced to resign after harsh attacks by anti-gay conservatives.)
Bolton is one of eight Romney advisers who signed letters drafted by the Project for a New American Century, an influential neoconservative advocacy group founded in the 1990s, urging the Clinton and Bush administrations to attack Iraq. PNAC founding member Paula Dobriansky, leading advocate of Bush’s ill-fated “freedom agenda” as an official in the State Department, recently joined the Romney campaign full time. Another PNAC founder, Eliot Cohen, counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from 2007 to 2009, wrote the foreword to the Romney campaign’s foreign policy white paper, which was titled, perhaps not coincidentally, “An American Century.” Cohen was a tutor to Bush administration neocons. Following 9/11, he dubbed the war on terror “World War IV,” arguing that Iraq, being an “obvious candidate, having not only helped Al Qaeda, but…developed weapons of mass destruction,” should be its center. In 2009 Cohen urged the Obama administration to “actively seek the overthrow” of Iran’s government. Read on...
From Kimball at Daily KOS: The vital narrative of the next debate:
There was a key foreign policy moment linked to a debate question on Tuesday. No, not Libya, although that moment did much to show how President Obama will defuse Mitt Romney’s most likely line of attack. The question I’m talking about didn’t exactly create a “moment” – that instance of villager consciousness less delicately referred to as “collective idiocy” – but such debate lines lost in the details can still give us important insight into embryonic narratives. [...]
The close links between the Bush foreign policy team and Romney’s closest advisers on the subject has been discussed repeatedly in this venue. In an article published in July in Foreign Policy magazine, Adam Smith pointed out…
Out of Romney's 24 special advisors on foreign policy, 17 served in the Bush-Cheney administration. If Romney were to win, it's likely that many of these people would serve in his administration in some capacity -- a frightening prospect given the legacy of this particular group. The last time they were in government, it was disastrous.
For example, one of Romney's top surrogates on the campaign trail is John Bolton, who served as President George W. Bush's ambassador to the United Nations. Bolton embodies the reckless neoconservative thinking that was largely responsible for getting us into Iraq under false pretenses. Today, he openly roots for diplomacy with Iran to fail and is all-too-eager to send our men and women in uniform into war. Last year, for instance, Bolton said that, "It would be in our interest to overthrow this regime in Syria."
When Romney blustered his way into the Libya incident just over a month ago, many commentators were reminded of Smith’s observation and the long list of neoconservatives motivating the Republican candidate’s posture…
Chris Good and Shushannah Walshe, published at abc news:
Dan Senor is one of Romney’s closest advisers on foreign policy. Since Paul Ryan has been selected as the GOP’s vice presidential candidate, Senor has been traveling with Ryan–but today, he left the trail because of the “foreign policy developments” and is in Boston and NYC.
Senor is the former spokesman for the American government in Iraq (the Coalition Provisional Authority at the beginning of the Iraq war under George W. Bush) and is a particularly close adviser to Romney on the Middle East. (He has traveled with Romney to Israel three times, as well as written a book on Israel that Romney often cites). With Ryan, he consults on domestic and foreign policy issues.
Last month, the New York Times described Senor as an “advocate of neoconservative thinking that has sought to push presidents to the right for years on Middle East policy.”
…and Meteor Blades in the hallowed halls of this dailykos:
Heading up the list of those advisers is John Bolton. Romney's public statements reflect his views more than any other. Even though he didn't sign the 1997 mission statement of the Project for a New American Century, Bolton has been lockstep with those who did. That was the first major organization to state neo-conservative imperialist objectives nakedly, though neo-conservatives were well on their way to getting their hands on the levers of U.S. foreign policy with the second incarnation of the Committee on the Present Danger in 1976.
Nine of Romney's advisers did sign that PNAC mission statement and/or one of its several public policy letters. They are Paula Dobriansky, Vin Weber, Daniel Senor, Eliot Cohen, Eric Edelman, John Lehman, Donald Kagan, Robert Kagan and Aaron Friedberg. These guys couch their philosophy in the boilerplate of democracy, but they have never shied away from the term "imperialism." These guys have Romney's ear. These guys whose advice has cost so many thousands of lives of Americans and others are telling the GOP candidate that Russia (which they sometimes call the "Soviet Union") is the most important geostrategic threat to the United States. These guys tell us Iran should have been bombed yesterday.
And here's more on Senor from Think Progress: Meet Dan Senor, Mitt Romney’s ‘Closest’ Foreign Policy Adviser:
Since his 2008 run for the presidency, Mitt Romney has gotten his foreign policy advice from a gaggle of moderates and neoconservatives and other hawks. In this election cycle, the neoconservatives and other “Cheney-ites” reportedly marginalized moderates on the staff. One of the neocons — Dan Senor, who has been advising Romney since 2006 — seems to have stepped into the breech.
Despite a high profile, Senor came under a brighter spotlight in recent weeks for his role in two Romney campaign moves amid the GOP hopeful’s trip to Israel. Senor grabbed attention by, as one campaign official put it, getting “a little ahead” of Romney by backing an Israeli strike on Iran. Then Romney cited Senor’s book about Israeli entrepreneurship in his heavily criticized remarks that suggested economic disparities between Israelis and Palestinians could be chalked up to “culture.”
In a new report, the New York Times looked into Senor’s role on the Romney campaign and found that Senor is Romney’s “closest” foreign policy adviser and “has had his ear” since at least 2006:
His presence in the tight orbit of advisers around the Republican candidate foreshadows a Romney foreign policy that could take a harder line against Iran, embrace Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move away from being the honest broker in the conflict with Palestinians.
In light of the Times report, here’s a few items from Senor’s resume that may serve to preview what a Romney presidency may look like:
MENTORED BY BILL KRISTOL: “Beginning with Kristol, who is almost two decades his elder, Senor has flourished under the watch of a succession of father figures,” Tablet reported in a recent profile. Kristol, who led the charge into the Iraq war, has been so eager to bomb Iran that even George W. Bush mocked him as a “bomber boy.”
FLACKING FOR THE U.S. IN IRAQ: Remember those famous “rose-colored glasses” through which the Bush administration viewed the Iraq war — or, rather, used to present the Iraq war to the public? That was Senor, who flacked for the Coalition Provisional Authority through its disastrous reign over Iraq. Washington Post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran wrote in his book on the CPA that Senor, who was just 31 when he joined up, did “a masterful job of spinning the media.” He reported that Senor once told reporters: “Well, off the record, Paris is burning. But on the record, security and stability are returning to Iraq.”
WALL STREET HEDGE FUND: Since leaving government, Senor attended Harvard Business School and took up positions in prominent businesses, first at the defense giant the Carlyle Group, then at a Wall Street hedge fund. His boss at the hedge fund, Paul Singer, a “vulture capitalist,” is a major Romney backer who, while speculating on oil, funded a Karl Rove-led group that blamed President Obama for gas prices.
NEOCON PRESSURE GROUP: In 2009, Senor joined forces with Kristol to form the Foreign Policy Initiative, modeling it on the group that spearheaded the campaign for war with Iraq. Most recently, FPI called for direct U.S. military intervention in Syria. (Senor did not sign on, but fellow Romney advisers Robert Kagan, Eric Edelman, Stephen Rademaker, and Max Boot did.)