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Romney Welcomes Back The Same Foreign Policy Geniuses Who Led Us Into Iraq

Memo Pad Politics

Romney Welcomes Back The Same Foreign Policy Geniuses Who Led Us Into Iraq


With Mitt Romney’s announcement of the foreign policy team that will be counseling his campaign, the former Massachusetts governor has dispelled any remaining mystery about his own outlook. He has likewise done away with any illusion that he is “moderate” on diplomatic and national security issues — or that his nomination would mark a departure from his party’s incredibly costly global blunders of the past decade.

If Romney is elected, the nation can evidently expect more of the same, for the names he has listed are all too familiar to anyone who remembers the unhappy history of deception, disgrace, and war in the last Bush administration. Discredited though they may be, the neoconservatives — with all their bloody baggage — are back.

Or as Romney himself put it: “Their remarkable experience, wisdom, and depth of knowledge will be critical to ensuring that the 21st century is another American Century.” A stirring statement to be sure, except for its eerie echo of the Project for A New American Century (or PNAC), the lobbying organization set up by Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, his sidekick Robert Kagan, and a neoconservative coterie to promote war with Iraq (and possibly Iran, too). Conspiratorial thinking was not required to fix considerable blame for the Iraq fiasco on PNAC and its founders, several of whom, including Kagan and former Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky, have now turned up among Romney’s top advisers.

Near the top of the Romney roster is Cofer Black, the former CIA official whose idea of “taking the gloves off” after 9/11 led the United States government into systematic use of torture, rendition and other “dark side” disgraces that helped ruin American prestige internationally (and failed to dispatch Osama bin Laden, Black’s primary responsibility that was only fulfilled long after he left government). Upon leaving the Bush administration, he took an executive position at Blackwater Associates, the infamous private army, and then founded an outfit ominously known as “Total Intelligence Solutions,” which dispenses “security” advice to corporate leaders. What sort of advice Black provides to Romney isn’t clear, except that he urged that American politicians should never describe waterboarding as torture and thus besmirch the good name of the United States. (Although if we had avoided the actual practice of waterboarding — a crime for which the U.S. prosecuted Japanese war criminals after World War II — we might not have to worry so much about our reputation in the first place.)

Those nostalgic for the dark comedies of the Bush years will also recognize the names of Robert Joseph, a former National Security Council official responsible for counter-proliferation, and Dan Senor, an investment banker who served for a couple of years as the spokesman for the “Coalition Provisional Authority” in Baghdad. Joseph was implicated in the fakery about an Iraqi nuclear program that led to the Iraq invasion. Senor actively participated in misleading the public about the consequences of that blunder on a daily basis, as the mouthpiece for the disastrous post-Saddam administration set up by the White House under Paul Bremer.

Further down the list are such figures as Eric Edelman, a former Pentagon official who once berated Hillary Rodham Clinton, then serving in the U.S. Senate, for asking how and when the Bush administration planned to withdraw American troops from Iraq. “Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq,” he barked inappropriately, “much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon, and Somalia.” And then there is Nile Gardiner, a British national, ultra-conservative, and former Unification Church devotee, who is thinking deep thoughts about Europe for Romney. Gardiner once said that we would only discover why we had invaded Iraq after the fall of Baghdad, when records proving Saddam Hussein’s collaboration with Al Qaeda would fall into our hands. (Is he still waiting for that?)

The experience of these individuals was “remarkable,” indeed, if rather painful for everyone else. Perhaps they have mulled over the past, and in that “wisdom” perceived only by Romney, they will urge him to avoid the stupidity, corruption, waste, bloodshed, and tragedy caused by the policies they have supported so fervently over the past decade. But probably not. Their predominant role in his campaign should be ample warning to war-weary voters, who may still wonder why we spent $4 trillion to underwrite a government in Baghdad whose closest allies are the dictatorial mullahs in Tehran.

Joe Conason

A highly experienced journalist, author and editor, Joe Conason is the editor-in-chief of The National Memo, founded in July 2011. He was formerly the executive editor of the New York Observer, where he wrote a popular political column for many years. His columns are distributed by Creators Syndicate and his reporting and writing have appeared in many publications around the world, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Nation, and Harpers.

Since November 2006, he has served as editor of The Investigative Fund, a nonprofit journalism center, where he has assigned and edited dozens of award-winning articles and broadcasts. He is also the author of two New York Times bestselling books, The Hunting of the President (St. Martins Press, 2000) and Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth (St. Martins Press, 2003).

Currently he is working on a new book about former President Bill Clinton's life and work since leaving the White House in 2001. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, including MSNBC's Morning Joe, and lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

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  1. StanleyEBalgobin October 7, 2011

    Military Industrial Complex is Big Business and off to a great start in the 21st Century. The “Age of Aquarius” dream has festered into a culture of Fear of the “other” and we are living today in a climate where the 99% are subject to the Rule of the Rich and Powerful. There has never in the history of mankind been the level of Injustice masquerading as Exceptionalism and Democracy. The American Uprising is here, WE won’t take it anymore!

  2. kurt.lorentzen October 7, 2011

    Romney continues to reveal more of his colors as a political insider. His “private sector” experience is all Wall Street. Dems should embrace Romney as the Republican candidate – his nomination will ensure Obama’s re-election.

  3. ANTONIO October 7, 2011

    The right wing are desperate to protect their ill gotten wealth and class privileges. They will tell any tell, do any deed to protect themselves as they feel their largely imaginary power slipping throug their fingers. They will stop at nothing. Get the pop corn and watch the show, because its coming.

  4. Ralph October 7, 2011

    So,it looks like RINO Willard Mittens Romney is trying to Flip Or Flop and win both
    George W Bush & George H W Bush Endorsements, in order to go with Romney also trying
    to become “Bush Lite” here…Since,after RINO Romney will surely win Messiah from
    Kenyan Barack Hussein Obama’s Endorsement to become “Obama Lite” as well! Flip! And
    Flop! What a Leader Willard Mittens Romney! Just say No to Willard Mittens Romney!

  5. Newborn October 7, 2011

    To me, what’s incredible is that people in U.S., and as people I mean real people, not puppets manipulated by the media, still can elect someone like Romney to preside their country. And go head on to disaster.

  6. pmk October 7, 2011

    Just out of interest how many Jews make up his “team”? One wonders if these neocons care an iota for the US and if all the policies are intended to keep Israel safe, after all a huge country, and a great ally of the US!

    Where are all the neocons that convinced Bush to attack Iraq? Heard of Pearl and Wolf- – -something lately? Hiding in the woodwork no doubt as the US was bled-huge loss of brave young Americans to say nothing of the financial damage done to the US treasury- by these great patriots!

    But the Republicans seem never to learn the lessons of history and will continue to make the same grievous errors time and time again. Romney is perhaps the best candidate but he is a captive of the lunatic fringe. Too bad because he could defeat Obama.

  7. seajg144 October 8, 2011

    We, the American people, cannot afford another disaster like what happened to our domestic and international status during the greedy, immoral and egotistical Republican decade that is proving to be more difficult to fix than any other economic and social issues in our country’s history. The wealthy and their puppets are starting to have their strings pulled in an attempt to sell our future. This can’t be allowed to happen. We, the People, are the majority and will rescue our freedom loving country from the hands of these pseudo-political gangsters.

  8. mmmmikkimac October 8, 2011

    Why do ultra conservatives/evangelicals think they are the morals police for this country? What is it about the Constitution they don’t understand that we are NOT a theocratic nation and we never will be? Our Constitution and laws are based somewhat on the Magna Carta of 1215. The Separatists and Puritans were persecuted in England because they didn’t believe in the teachings of the Church of England and some were arrested and prevented from leaving England to live in Holland with free practice of their religion. They came to the British colony of Massachusetts Bay. They say they want less govt in our lives, yet they are trying to take away a womans right to choose on reproductive care and abortion. They stick their noses into peoples bedrooms and want to know about sexual relations between two people, that should not concern them. They appear to talk out of both sides of their mouths. I, for one, have very little trust in Congress. They accept donations to their campaigns for re-election from Wall St., large corporations,from PAC’s, and lobbyists and those people expect something in return. Congress isn’t there representing their constiuents, but big business. They are career politicians who are legally stealing from the people who voted them into office. I guess the members of Congress have forgotten about Karma and what goes around, comes around.

  9. Bassicdave October 8, 2011

    That is all.

  10. Bassicdave October 8, 2011

    That is all.

  11. daddyoo October 8, 2011

    GW Bush , and the GOP , the Christian Coalition, the 700 club , FOX news , are all the rah rah boys of GW Bush..
    WMD , Armagedon , battle of the good and Evil..spend money that we don’t have , sell our economy to China…spend $55 trillion surplus of the Clinton era.killed more than 100k Iraqi , mum or hurt 100K Americans soldiers, killed in action 50K American soldiers ,.but do we get the real enemy of the US.. now Obama ,the great get Osama ,get US no.1 enemy …and the no 2 ,in the horn of Africa, the Al Queda was dismantlement, and on the run..Obama the Great , champion on national security….4 more years …Go out and vote ,put all Democrats , in the House and senate , never mind if the GOP ,say no check and balance, they always say NO to the economic plan of Prez Obama..fight back Americans dump all the Republican candidate in the dumpster…

  12. rumpunch October 12, 2011

    That deer in the headlights look on Romney’s face is genuine. These guys birthed out of the American elite are truly clueless. Can we once and for all just send them home to continue spending daddy’s money and leave the running of the country to intelligent people with a sense of morality? WE DON’T NEED THE OLD NEO-CON BUNCH DESTROYING OUR COUNTRY AND GETTING OUR SOLDIERS, SAILORS AND MARINES KILLED!!! THESE PEOPLE HAVE NEVER PUT THEIR MORTAL LIVES ON THE LINE FOR THIS COUNTRY AND IT’S TIME FOR THEM TO JUST GO AWAY!!! And before someone wants to use Pres. Obama’s history as a counter example, his running for and serving as President is more dangerous than the majority of us will ever experience.

  13. John Steinsvold October 17, 2011

    If the people knew about it, they would demand it.

    Several decades ago, Margaret Thatcher claimed: “There is no alternative”. She was referring to capitalism. Today, this negative attitude still persists.

    I would like to offer an alternative to capitalism for the American people to consider. Please click on the following link. It will take you to an essay titled: “Home of the Brave?” which was published by the Athenaeum Library of Philosophy:


    John Steinsvold

    Perhaps in time the so-called dark ages will be thought of as including our own.
    –Georg C. Lichtenberg

  14. RayCohn October 24, 2011

    Mitt Romney’s team are the people who brought you the Iraq War. They were set up originally as Dick Cheney’s government in exile. They planned the Iraq war and several of them became part of the new administration and helped it lie us into this war that has killed about 4,400 US soldiers. Over 20,000 were injured.

    Those who were part of the Project for the New American Century who helped lies into the war included, Cheney, his close ally Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; Dick Armitage, a deputy secretary of state who helped out Valerie Plame Wilson as a CIA operative; UN ambassador John R. Bolton, Paul Wolfowicz, I Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Cheney’s chief of staff, Elliott Abrams, better known in his role in the Iran-Contra scandal in the Ronald Reagan administration, Richard Perle and Gary SChmidt, a GOP conservative strategist. Several were close to and some were advisers to Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    Romney’s choices should be viewed with dismay. Remember he has no foreign policy experience. Like the Obama campaign said in an ovious political dig his foreign policy experience is limited to shipping thousands of US jobs overseas. Ray A. Cohn


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