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Romney Would Have Bush-Like Foreign Policy

The Vulcans rise again as Republican candidate’s advisers

Marc Tracy
May 09, 2012
Ann and Mitt Romney at the Boston Celtics playoffs game Sunday.(Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Ann and Mitt Romney at the Boston Celtics playoffs game Sunday.(Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The cover story in this week’s Nation argues that, on foreign policy, putative Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney can be expected to continue to follow much the same agenda and tone of the Bush administration: many of the very same people would staff his White House.

“Many hail from the neoconservative wing of the party, were enthusiastic backers of the Iraq War and are proponents of a U.S. or Israeli attack on Iran,” reports Ari Berman. One top Romney adviser is Dan Senor, co-author of Start-Up Nation (guess what the start-up nation is?). Former foreign policy communications adviser Richard Grenell may have been openly gay, leading to his ignominious departure last week, but more relevant for these purposes is that Grenell was the chief-of-staff to John Bolton, the hawkish Bush-era United Nations ambassador (whom Newt Gingrich wanted for Secretary of State). According to Berman, “Bolton is one of eight Romney advisers who signed letters drafted by the Project for a New American Century,” a neoconservative movement; and three of the four board members of the Foreign Policy Initative, PNAC’s successor, are also advising the onetime Massachusetts governor.

All of this is less of a given than you might think. A comparativey moderate New England Republican like Romney might be suspected to subscribe to the realist wing of the party, best embodied by former Secretary of State Brent Scowcroft, which tends to be less friendly to Israel (and which opposed the Iraq War).

However, Berman reports, “The hardliners on Romney’s team have sidelined moderates like Mitchell Reiss, the candidate’s principal foreign policy adviser in 2008 and former director of policy planning at the State Department under Colin Powell.” He adds, “Elder statesmen from the George H.W. Bush administration like Powell and Scowcroft are much closer to Obama than to Romney.”

This is supposed to be a selling point for President Obama to Nation readers. I imagine it is less of one to ours!

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.