Sunday, October 21, 2012

Romney's Dangerous Ship of Fools

One criteria undecided voters must consider in this presidential election are the people who will influence policy direction in either a second term for Obama or during a Romney presidency. Ultimately, we are not just electing an individual but an administration. Assessing the likely character of an administration is especially vital when determining which candidate would be the best commander and chief.

I suspect that even after tomorrow night’s foreign policy debate, since Romney is the challenger, his behind the scenes advisors are largely unknown to undecided voters. Perhaps undecided voters (yes they do exist!) have not given this a moment’s thought.

Hence, when discussing the presidential election with any un-decided voters who are your friends, colleagues or relatives, you may want to inform them of a few pertinent items. 

Mitt Romney’s campaign website identifies twenty-four individuals as “Special Advisers” that he announced on October 6, 2011.  There are also additional individuals not referenced on his campaign website. Reviewing the credentials and track records of these individuals whether acknowledged publicly as advisers or not is instructive. As the July 12, 2012, edition of Foreign Policy magazine reported,
“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.”
In September, ABC News reported that eight of Romney’s advisers participated in the Project For A New American Century co-founded by William Kristol in 1997. Some of you may recall this group was hoping for a “Pearl Harbor” in order to flex American muscle in the Persian Gulf and Iraq. This group of neocons exploited 9/11 to justify invading and occupying Iraq, costing America blood and treasure as well as jeopardizing our geopolitical position.

It is disquieting to contemplate any of these people enjoying access, influence and power in a Romney administration just as America is regaining its footing in the world. I’ve summarized six of them below:

Elliot Abrams

Not referenced on Romney’s campaign website but rumored to be an adviser in a Romney administration. In August, Abrams wrote an article for the Weekly Standard advocating that congress authorize the use of force against Iran.

Abrams was convicted in 1991 for two misdemeanor counts for withholding information from congress during the Iran-Contra affair while serving in the Reagan administration and later pardoned by President George Herbert Walker Bush.

Abrams served in George W. Bush’s administration as a Special Assistant and senior director for democracy, human rights and international operations. Of course George W. Bush's administration was infamous for serial abuses of human rights. This is a scary man who has demonstrated throughout his career that he is unfit for public service.

Cofer Black

Listed on Romney’s campaign website and Romney’s chief intelligence adviser. The Daily Beast profiled Black in its April 11, 2012 edition. While serving in the CIA he famously promised George W. Bush he would deliver Osama Bin Laden’s head on a pike. Bin Laden of course was not eliminated until President Obama’s national security team made it a priority. When Black left government service in 2004 he became the Vice Chairman of the infamous security contractor, Blackwater USA and managed a subsidiary called Total Intelligence Solutions. As some of you may recall, Blackwater USA. Blackwater USA employees repeatedly undermined American diplomatic efforts in both Iraq and Afghanistan with immoral and illegal conduct. Black essentially profited handsomely from blood money.

John Bolton

Although not referenced in Mitt Romney’s website as an adviser, David Sanger reported in the May 12, 2012 edition of the New York Times that,
”But what has struck both his advisers and outside Republicans is that in his effort to secure the nomination, Mr. Romney’s public comments have usually rejected mainstream Republican orthodoxy. They sound more like the talking points of the neoconservatives — the “Bolton faction,” as insiders call the group led by John Bolton, the former ambassador to the United Nations. In a stormy tenure in the Bush administration, Mr. Bolton was often arguing that international institutions, the United Nations included, should be routed around because they so often frustrate American interests.”
As with most neocons, Bolton is not inclined to favor the sort of coalition building that Obama has skillfully utilized during his presidency. Bolton was too controversial to be approved by the Senate and President George W. Bush utilized a recess appointment to put make this reckless buffoon America’s UN Ambassador.

Robert Kagan

Listed on Romney’s campaign website. Although Kagan rejects the neoconservative label, he was a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century with William Kristol. Put simply, you are who you associate yourself with, and Kagan’s friends are reckless and crazy war mongers. 

Daniel Senor

Listed on Romney’s campaign website, Senor was America’s former spokesman in Iraq and regarded in numerous accounts as a close adviser. In August, the New York Times reported that,
“In Mr. Senor, Mr. Romney turned to an advocate of neoconservative thinking that has sought to push presidents to the right for years on Middle East policy. (His sister, Wendy Senor Singer, runs the Jerusalem office of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, an influential lobbying organization.)”
In other words, Senor has been another advocate for the sort of reckless foreign policy and philosophy that isolated America diplomatically and undermined our national security.

Jim Talent

Listed on Romney’s campaign website and a former senator from Missouri. Wikipedia reports that,
“Although Talent was not in Congress at the time of the 2002 vote authorizing the war in Iraq, he stated in October 2006 that he would have voted for the war knowing that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. Talent did not support a timetable for troop withdrawal from Iraq until American troops are able to train up an Iraqi army capable of maintaining security within the country.

Talent has written that defense spending should remain at an elevated level, even after all American forces are withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Foreign Policy magazine reports that Talent is rumored to be a Romney’s choice as Secretary of Defense.

Simply put, with a Romney administration, America is more likely to engage in another conflict in the Middle East with increased defense spending when our resources have already been overextended in Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, our allies in Europe are in economic disarray and what will replace the old order in the Arab world is still evolving. Now is not the time to elect an untested leader who appears to be malleable to appeasing the extremist foreign policy views within the Republican Party.

So tell any friend, relatives or colleagues who are undecided to please use their heads this November. Our blood and treasure depend on it.

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