Mitt Romney’s Foreign Policy Team Includes Former Nat'l Security Figures, Conservative Scholars

Patrick Goodenough | October 7, 2011 | 4:50am EDT
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Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks at a town hall meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011, at The Villages in Fla. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)

( – Ahead of a major foreign policy speech on Friday, Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney on Thursday released a comprehensive list of foreign policy and national security advisers, including senior members of previous GOP administrations and some leading conservative experts.

“America and our allies are facing a series of complex threats,” Romney said in a statement. “To shape them before they explode into conflict, our foreign policy will have to be guided by a strategy of American strength.”

The group comprises 22 “special advisers” and 28 co-chairs of 13 working groups, each dedicated to a geographical region or a theme such as counter-terrorism. Fourteen of the special advisers double as working group co-chairs.

“I am deeply honored to have the counsel of this extraordinary group of diplomats, experts, and statesmen,” he said. “Their remarkable experience, wisdom, and depth of knowledge will be critical to ensuring that the 21st century is another American Century.”

Romney is due to deliver a speech Friday in Charleston, S.C. in which, according to excerpts released by his campaign, he will take aim at some of President Obama’s foreign policy stances.

“If you do not want America to be the strongest nation on Earth, I am not your president – you have that president today,” he is expected to say.

Romney will say that as president he will prevent big cuts in defense spending, further strengthen ties with Israel and the “special relationship” with Britain; and hold a review on the transition in Afghanistan.

Among top names on his campaign’s special adviser roster from previous administrations are Michael Chertoff, who served as Homeland Security Secretary from 2005-2009; Michael Hayden, National Security Agency chief from 1999-2005 and CIA director from 2006-2009; and Cofer Black, who directed the CIA Counterterrorism Center from 1999-2002 and was State Department coordinator for counter-terrorism from 2002-2004.

Other George W. Bush administration State Department figures on the Romney roster include former undersecretary for global affairs Paula Dobriansky; former undersecretary for international security and arms control Robert Joseph; former undersecretary for management Christopher Burnham; former counselor to the State Department Eliot Cohen; assistant secretary for international organization affairs Kim Holmes; former ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues Pierre Prosper; and former State Department policy planning chief Mitchell Reiss, who also served as special envoy for Northern Ireland.

From the Bush Department of Defense are former undersecretary for policy Eric Edelman and former Pentagon comptroller Dov Zakheim.

Also on the special adviser roster are former ambassadors John Danilovich (Brazil 2004-2005 and Costa Rica 2001-2004) and Richard Williamson (U.N. Commission on Human Rights 2004), who also served as special envoy to Sudan in 2008-2009; and Kerry Healey, who served as Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts during Romney’s term as governor from 2003-2007 and is president of Friends of the Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan.

Joining them are John Lehman, Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration and a member of the 9/11 Commission; Foreign Policy Initiative director and co-founder Daniel Senor; Brookings Institution senior fellow Robert Kagan; and Walid Phares, a Lebanon-born Mideast scholar and professor of global strategies at the National Defense University in Washington.

Rounding out the 22-strong special advisers’ list are former Sen. Norm Coleman (Minn.) and former Reps. Vin Weber (Minn.) and Jim Talent (R-Mo.).

The seven foreign policy working groups dealing with geographic regions are Afghanistan and Pakistan; Africa; Asia-Pacific; Europe; Latin America; Middle East and North Africa; and Russia.

The six thematic working groups are counter-proliferation; counter-terrorism and intelligence; defense; human rights; international assistance; and international organizations.

The conservative Heritage Foundation is well represented in the line-up. Apart from special adviser Holmes, who is Heritage vice-president of foreign and defense policy studies, other Heritage scholars in the team are Ray Walser, who will co-chair the Latin America working group, and Nile Gardiner, who will co-chair the working group on Europe. Former Rep. Talent is also a distinguished fellow at Heritage.

American Enterprise Institute director of Russian studies Leon Aron will co-chair the Russia working group.
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