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Romney’s National Security Team Is Like the Second Voyage of the Titanic

Romney’s National Security Team Is Like the Second Voyage of the Titanic

Republican Candidate Calls Up the Team that Gave Us Iraq

CAP's National Security team documents the slew of foreign policy bungles Mitt Romney's advisors advocated for in the past and still cling to. America doesn't need more headaches like these.

Mitt Romney's foreign policy team supports the Iraq invasion, nuclear war with Iran, and new arms race. (AP/Julie Jacobson)
Mitt Romney's foreign policy team supports the Iraq invasion, nuclear war with Iran, and new arms race. (AP/Julie Jacobson)

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney revealed yesterday the national security advisors (22 special advisors as well as leaders of 13 separate regional and issue-specific working groups) behind his plan to ensure the 21st century is an American Century (making sure the United States remains dominant in political, economic, and military terms). This is the second go-round for this crew and a Project for a New American Century, a neoconservative think tank. The last time they tried this strategy, they brought us the war in Iraq, which former Reagan administration head of the National Security Agency Gen. Bill Odom called “the worst strategic disaster in U.S. history.”

Despite that calamity, Romney’s advisors still can’t quit Iraq and are urging the United States to keep a large number of troops there indefinitely. But that’s not all. They are pushing for a war to overthrow the Iranian regime, a new nuclear arms race, and are even too anti-Islamic for Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who in February held hearings in the House of Representatives on his inflammatory charges about “radicalized Muslims” in America.

Romney putting together this team is like reassembling the Titanic’s navigation crew. America is still suffering from the consequences of their last debacle. We can’t afford to go through that again.

Romney advisors publicly urged the overthrow of Saddam Hussein to stop nonexistent weapons of mass destruction in 1998

Paula Dobrianksy, Vin Weber, and Robert Kagan: "The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy." — Project for a New American Century Letter to President Bill Clinton, January 26, 1998

Romney advisors publicly urged the overthrow of Hussein in response to 9/11 and to ensure Middle East peace

Eliot Cohen, Robert Kagan, and John Lehman: “Furthermore, Mr. President, we urge you to accelerate plans for removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. As you have said, every day that Saddam Hussein remains in power brings closer the day when terrorists will have not just airplanes with which to attack us, but chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons, as well. … moreover, we believe that the surest path to peace in the Middle East lies not through the appeasement of Saddam and other local tyrants, but through a renewed commitment on our part, as you suggested in your State of the Union address, to the birth of freedom and democratic government in the Islamic world.” — Project for a New American Century Letter to President George W. Bush, April 3, 2002

Romney advisors don’t understand the enormity of mistakes in Iraq, and they lied to the American people about it

Meghan O’Sullivan: Larry Diamond, former advisor to the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority Paul Bremmer, on O’Sullivan: “‘The reality is that if Iraq implodes, [O’Sullivan will] probably go nowhere,’ Mr. Diamond said. ‘Because she will have been associated in an integral way with one of the biggest failures in the history of American foreign policy.’ … he added, ‘And I’m not sure she adequately grasps all the mistakes we have made.’” — New York Times, June 12, 2006

Dan Senor: As chief spokesperson for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq (a transitional government following the American invasion), Senor lied to the American people and the world about the security situation on the ground in Iraq. From Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s book on the CPA, Imperial Life in the Emerald City: “Behind the podium, Senor never conceded a mistake, and his efforts to spin failures into successes sometimes reached the point of absurdity … when Senor was frank, it wasn’t for publication. In April 2004, a few reporters asked him about a paroxysm of violence that had Americans hunkering down in the Green Zone. ‘Off the record: Paris is burning,’ he told them. ‘On the record: Security and stability are returning to Iraq.’”

Norm Coleman: It is easy to lose sight of the fact that we are in Iraq as part of a global war on terror. There is no question that Iraq has become the key battleground of this war.” — The Star Tribune, January 11, 2007

Romney advisors are still urging more troops stay in Iraq

Norm Coleman, Eric Edelman, Robert Kagan, and Dan Senor: “Failure to leave a significant U.S. military presence in Iraq will leave the country more vulnerable to internal and external threats, thus imperiling the hard-fought gains in security and governance made in recent years at significant cost to the United States.” — Foreign Policy Initiative Letter to President Barack Obama, September 15, 2011

Romney advisors want war with Iran and a new nuclear arms race

Eliot Cohen: “The choices are now what they ever were: an American or an Israeli strike, which would probably cause a substantial war, or living in a world with Iranian nuclear weapons, which may also result in war, perhaps nuclear, over a longer period of time. … it is, therefore, in the American interest to break with past policy and actively seek the overthrow of the Islamic Republic.” — Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2009

Kim Holmes: “A nuclear Iran would force us to develop and deploy a new generation of nuclear weapons. That’s the only way to convince Tehran that any attempt to use nuclear weapons against us would fail to achieve their political or military objectives—whatever they might be.” — Washington Times, March 2010

Romney advisor too Islamophobic for Rep. Peter King

Walid Phares: Remarkably, Walid Phares was dropped from the witness list for Rep. Peter King’s controversial hearings targeting Muslims in America. Perhaps it was for statements like this: Phares warns that “jihadists within the West pose as civil rights advocates” and patiently recruit until “[a]lmost all mosques, educational centers, and socioeconomic institutions fall into their hands.”

Ken Gude is Managing Director of National Security, Ken Sofer is a Special Assistant, Colin Cookman is a Research Associate, Peter Juul is a Policy Analyst, and Alex Rothman is a Special Assistant at American Progress.

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Ken Gude

Senior Fellow

Ken Sofer

Senior Policy Adviser

Colin Cookman

Policy Analyst

Peter Juul

Former Senior Policy Analyst

Alex Rothman

Policy Analyst