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WHO GAMES AND ROMNEY’S FOREIGN POLICY

October 28, 2012

WHO GAMES AND ROMNEY’S FOREIGN POLICY

I have freely used the findings of Wayne Barrett (an investigative reporter for the Village Voice, as reported in the October 15 edition of The Washington Spectator), for background support in writing this essay.

Who is Campbell Brown? She is a former CNN anchor who was in Baghdad during the Iraqi war where she met and married Dan Senor.

So who is Dan Senor? He is a noted neocon, pit bull and war hawk and was an advisor to the Bremer Administration that George Bush appointed to run everyday Iraq after the war, a disaster by every standard. He is now regarded as a middle eastern expert by some, has written a book and is a regular on Morning Joe, an MSNBC morning show involving news and commentary. He and Bremer helicoptered out of Iraq in June of 2004 ahead of a transition of power to Iraqis, upon which he became a paid Fox News analyst, and from which he has since established his own private equity firm in New York, which, interestingly, is represented not by a New York but by a Michigan law firm that includes Scott Romney.

So who is Scott Romney? The plot thickens. He is the brother of Mitt Romney. (So what is wrong with New York law firms, someone in the neighborhood, Mr. Senor? Are you cozying up to Mitt’s brother for another big time appointment by his brother with your pretended credentials?)

So who is Mitt Romney? That depends upon what day it is. No one can tell just who he is since he changes his positions on both foreign and domestic public policy propositions so often, or at least pretends to. We do know that he is a candidate for president of the United States, and we do know that, unlike Obama, he has had zero experience in foreign policy. What follows here are some things we did not and could not know about what he apparently has in mind for the foreign policy of this country.

Like George Bush, Romney has had no foreign policy experience and must rely on those who have. The word is out that if elected he will choose Senor, a saber-rattling neocon bully, to be chief of staff or national security advisor in a Romney Administration. Senor was thanked by Romney in his book, No Apologies, for sharpening “my appreciation of the dangers presented” by the Obama “shift in our foreign policy.” Translation: We are going back to George Bush’s pit bull policies run by doctrinaire neocons which, among other things, would consider military action in Iran (one of Senor’s targets if empowered).

The people who knew Senor and his self-serving antics in Iraq do not agree that he should be at or near the pinnacle of presidential power. One reporter who watched him in Iraq wrote that Senor “traded up on every bad situation,” and “left behind a great deal of damage, yet learned nothing from Iraq.” Another said that Senor was “so obsessed with managing the story in the American media that they had completely given up on the Arab media and the Iraqi media,” adding that Senor himself “didn’t have much interaction” with his Iraqi journalists.

George Packer wrote in his 2005 book, The Assassin’s Gate, that Senor “stood up at daily press conferences” and issued statements “that were usually at odds with the facts, on occasion flatly untrue, and often in direct contradiction to statements made a day or a week earlier (Shades of Mitt! – my words) – all the while insisting that American policy remained firm and the violence was sporadic, minor and under control.” In Baghdad, his words “took on the tone of farce, and the audience that mattered most – the Iraqis – wasn’t fooled.”

Packer goes on to write that he (Packer) recalls Bremer’s visit with stuffed animals to a maternity hospital outside Baghdad, when he came upon “a withered and skeletal” baby and a 3-year-old with its head “lolling back against its mother’s body, mouth open,” and Bremer asked photographers to stop taking pictures. When Packer started talking to doctors, who told him that the electricity hadn’t been on for a week and was only supplied “because we were here,” a Senor aide who had worked for Bush in the South Carolina primary pushed the conversation back on message. “Are you happy with Saddam gone?” he asked. (This is a prime example of neocon compassion – my words.)

There is an old saying that we are known by the company we keep. Here is some of the company Senor keeps: William Kristol and Robert Kagan, noted neocons, who started a new organization, Foreign Policy Initiative, after their old Project for a New American Century was damaged so badly because of its extreme and unpopular hawkishness. The FPI added a new member to its board, Dan Senor. At the first meeting of FPI, there was a meeting of the Iraq and Afghan war cheerleaders –  Kagan’s brother Fred, who pushed the troop surge in Iraq; John McCain, who flogged the troop surge in Afghanistan; and I.F. “Scooter” Libby, Cheney’s chief of staff before he was convicted in the Valerie Plame affair, and retired General David Barno, who had commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

The meeting of the newly resurrected neocon propaganda machine was called to sustain Bush’s foreign policy while Obama was president. Currently FPI is calling for U.S. intervention in Syria, a large U.S. force in Afghanistan beyond 2013, an open-ended deployment of 20,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, and increased pressure on Iran (read a run up to war).

Senor remains on the FPI board as he advises Romney, and if Romney is elected, we are told FPI will return “moral clarity” and “muscular diplomacy” (read wars) to the White House.

Dan Senor, neocon  bully extraordinaire, is slated for high office in the event Romney is elected. His advice to date and its effect on Romney is obvious to those paying attention to Romney’s occasional mention of how he wants more money budgeted for a military (that doesn’t need or want it in some instances – see my recent blog on new tanks to be forced on the Army to rust with 3,000 others sitting on a desert army base in California). Romney, of course, wraps all such increases in military budgeting in the flag, a flag he chose not to defend as a draft dodger during the Viet Nam war.

BOTTOM LINE: Bush fell under the spell of neocons such as Senor because Bush had zero experience in foreign policy. Romney, like Bush, also has zero experience in foreign policy and has similarly fallen under the toxic influence of neocon propaganda organizations such as FPI and Bill Kristol’s magazine efforts to bulldoze American policy in the middle east. I am here to point out that these American neocons are in business to have their good friend and Israeli prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu, dictate our policy in the middle east, even when our policy objectives differ. Though nominally pro-Israeli myself, I am opposed to a covert handing over of our sovereignty to carry out our own foreign policy objectives to any foreign country irrespective of whether they are allies, friendly etc., and that includes Israel.

Senor did a lousy job during his tenure in Bush’s postwar operations in Iraq, so I will ask the question asked in the title to The American Spectator (which inspired this essay): WHY IS FAILED IRAQ NEOCON DAN SENOR DICTATING ROMNEY’S FOREIGN POLICY?

There are better choices from which to choose if Romney is elected, many of whom are career officers in the State Department specializing in middle eastern affairs, Arabic speakers, knowledgeable of the area’s history, and otherwise very qualified to work on the knotty problems we can expect to have there for the foreseeable future. We need not pick out neocon ideologues to project how tough we are. The world is already familiar with our overwhelming power and our occasional use of it.

I early-voted today, and my vote was not for Romney. I think there are many good reasons not to vote for him, especially with his day to day changes (and even denials) on issues both foreign and domestic. What we can know of his foreign policy plans is limited, but I find it disturbing that he is choosing the same neocon structural apparatus that Bush employed in his failed postwar administration of Iraq. Can’t he learn from history – a history he has himself lived through?

Though one is not smart on foreign policy issues, that does not mean that one cannot be smart in picking the right people to assist in handling such matters. Romney’s out front choice of neocon ideologues to fashion a “robust” foreign policy is a disturbing move borne out of an apparent need to project strength and muscle, a return to playing cop for the world.

We have had that discussion, and I thought it was settled. Apparently it is not settled. His statements of the need to increase military spending and other (Senor-inspired) saber-rattling statements emanating from his campaign are what are unsettling. There are other ways to project strength than through military power, ways that are less costly in blood and treasure and longer lasting in effect. War or the threat of it should be a last resort, not a continuing exercise in playground macho by neocon bullies. It is more than unfortunate that Romney has chosen the latter approach, a disaster in the making if he is elected.

Romney’s worldview presents a risk to the world and to America that we need not take, so I urge all of you of whatever party who have not yet voted to vote for his opponent.  GERALD  E

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