The records of the foreign-policy advisors who congregated around Mitt Romney give an excellent idea of the international agenda the US will pop up if the Republican Party's presidential hopeful wins the race to the White House. The observation that comes to mind starting with the first glance is that the team predominantly consists of former G. Bush staffers – 17 of its 24 members held posts within the last Republican Administration where «uberhawk» D. Cheney used to oversee foreign-policy issues. Therefore, the dubious honor of pushing the US into the Afghan and Iraqi campaigns may be largely credited to the veterans who now have the privilege to preach directly to Romney.
For instance, Robert G. Joseph served as the Senior Director for Proliferation Strategy, Counterproliferation and Homeland Defense within the US National Security and is known to have squeezed the infamous passage on Iraq's alleged attempts to buy uranium in Niger into G. Bush's 2003 State of the Union address. Like C. Powell's accusations based on the claims that the regime of S. Hussein possessed stockpiles of bacteriological warfare, the uranium forgery took no time to collapse, but nobody in the US Administration was held responsible and the plan for a military campaign against Iraq started to spin off, eventually leaving over a million people dead and the once robust country - devastated.
John Bolton, another notorious hawk on Romney's foreign-policy panel, was the US envoy to the UN under G. Bush and is projected to jump to the post of the US Secretary of State if Romney's presidential bid goes through. Among other things, Bolton is a proponent of immediately attacking Iran and even suggested at one time that the country should come under a preemptive nuclear strike. The current impression is that Bolton more than anybody else shapes the positions Romney adopts on Iran. In an opinion piece in The Washington Post, Romney, in the broadest sense, subscribed to the R. Reagan style in foreign policy and sent the following message regarding Iran: «I will speak out on behalf of the cause of democracy in Iran and support Iranian dissidents who are fighting for their freedom. I will make clear that America’s commitment to Israel’s security and survival is absolute. I will demonstrate our commitment to the world by making Jerusalem the destination of my first foreign trip. Most important, I will buttress my diplomacy with a military option that will persuade the ayatollahs to abandon their nuclear ambitions».
Romney's foreign-policy advisor Eliot Cohen played in the team led by D. Cheney in the early 2000ies and became known for his ardent advocacy of the war with Iraq, the country which he eloquently called «the big prize». Cohen is also a co-founder of the neoconservative Project for the New American Century, a group with the mission of laying out the ideological framework for the unipolar world and the US hegemony. Established by W. Kristol and R. Kagan in 1997, the Project for the New American Century is a high-profile thinktank with considerable influence on the US foreign policy. Dan Senor, former chief spokesperson for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq and, like Cohen, a co-founder of the project, added a few expressive brush strokes to his reputation by praising the security and stability in Iraq and for justifying the killings of Iraqi citizens. Predictably, these days Senor is a key figure in the ranks of the tutors updating the Republican candidate on foreign-policy issues.
Both Cohen and Senor favor military action against Iran. Moreover, Senor indicated in a conversation with the media people last July that Romney would understand Israel if it opts for an attack on the country accused of pursuing a nuclear arms program. «If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing that capability the governor would respect that decision», said Senor. Norman Coleman, an advisor to Romney and the board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition, similarly pushes for a tighter US-Israeli alliance and pledges that approaches opposite to those of Obama's Administration would be adopted if the Republicans take over. In fact, one of the purposes behind the visit Romney paid to Tel Aviv last July was to highlight his differences with Obama on the Middle East. While Obama has never been to Israel as the US President and is obviously at odds with B. Netanyahu, Romney tends to stress his unlimited commitment to the security of Israel on every occasion that comes along.
Cofer Black, a CIA official turned vice chairman of the Blackwater security contractor with a record scarred by numerous bloody incidents in Iraq, counsels Romney on intelligence-related subjects. Romney's yet another advisor Max Boot was a member of the team centered around D. Cheney in the early 2000ies. In October, 2001, Boot made a curious case for the American empire, expressing the view that «The most realistic response to terrorism is for America to embrace its imperial role», and called for the invasion of Afghanistan. At the moment, Boot's wish list includes keeping the US forces in Afghanistan indefinitely, sending troops to Syria, and, of course, bombing Iran.
Principal Deputy Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs under G. Bush Eric Edelman looks hawkish even against such background. Edelman's recently stated point appears to be that – due to the difficulty of containing nuclear capabilities allegedly cultivated by Iran – there is no viable alternative to bombing the country.
Romney's team also counts an outspoken neocon and former World Bank president Robert Zoellick; a Cold War dinosaurs Richard Williamson who served in the US Administrations under R. Reagan and G. Bush, Jr.; co-founder of the Project for the New American Century and McCain's 2008 campaign advisor Robert Kagan, and Princeton University professor Aaron Friedberg who predicts military conflict with China and therefore offers the strategy of curbing its economic expansion. According to The Wall Street Journal, Romney is receptive to the recommendations coming in from George Shultz and James Baker, the US Secretaries of State under R. Reagan and Bush, Sr.
Foreign Policy contributor Adam Smith voiced serious concern over the fact that Romney so openly admires D. Cheney. Smith warns that a whole Romney-Cheney doctrine has materialized within the conservative camp and that the election of Romney would promise a replay – in a form even more frightening than the original - of the discredited policies which harmed the US during the presidency of G. Bush, Jr.
No doubt, Romney's victory in the upcoming poll spells trouble – likely, a new major war – for the whole world. Even C. Powell, not exactly a dove, judging by his role in unleashing the US war on Iraq, said in a May interview to MSNBC that the advisory board behind Romney narrowly reflected the leanings of the radical, extreme right fringe of the Republican Party. One might hope that, given the negative experiences the US earned in Afghanistan and Iraq, Romney will exercise a reasonable amount of restraint if elected, and that the current outpourings of hardline rhetoric are a game meant to sell his candidacy. It does have to be taken into account that Cheney and Co. rushed to invade both countries with no specific plans for the future in minds and with no intention to eventually bring the US forces back home. The conclusion made inescapable by what we hear is that the people who used to cosign Cheney's decisions and currently supply recipes to Romney learned nothing new from the past 11 years and continue to believe that everything was done right. They are simply too war-minded to reckon otherwise.
Romney can count on captains of the US military-industrial complex as he invites a new major war to the Middle East. A boost to the US defense budget which – even apart from the unannounced spending – already measures $711b is written on Romney's ticket, and, in order to put the design into practice, Romney will discharge from the Pentagon many of the officials whose service scrutinize is to scrutinies the expenditures. All it takes to start creating a land of unlimited opportunity for the warmongers, with the taxpayers picking up the tab, is a serious provocation that would jolt the US into a war.
It is objective reality that unexpected and deplorable developments - hostilities erupting here and there or smashing terrorist attacks – benefit Romney. This was the case, for example, with the obscurely sourced Innocence of Islam - coincidentally, neocon quarterback W. Kristol called in a paper published last May in The Washington Post for a war against politicized Islam, in which the front was supposed to stretch from Pakistan to Tunisia. Kristol, in particular, let out a stream of invective against Egypt and Turkey, asserting that Islamist regimes should be removed. A crusade against Islam must be brewing...