End of the neocon consensus: The GOP field on foreign policy
Beyond Afghanistan, Romney has been hard to pin down to a single school of foreign policy thought. His campaign told me, when I asked about his ambitious statement from 2007, that Romney thinks “the United States should take a leadership role in assembling the donor and technical resources of international partners—both public and private—to advance stability, modernity, and democracy in the Islamic world.” Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Romney continues to have an ideologically eclectic group of official and unofficial advisers. In addition to Reiss and Senor, the others he listens to on foreign policy are former Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey; Jim Talent, a former U.S. senator from Missouri; and Cofer Black, the head of the CIA’s counterterrorist center before and after September 11 and later vice chairman of the controversial security contractor company Blackwater. Talent is quite conservative—he said in 2006 that he would have voted to authorize the Iraq war even knowing that there were no weapons of mass destruction to be found—while Black is widely viewed in Washington as a sort of anti-terrorist uber-hawk, thanks in part to his portrayal in The Dark Side by Jane Mayer and Bush at War by Bob Woodward. In the latter book, Black is quoted as saying, “When we’re through with them they will have flies walking across their eyeballs.”
BECAUSE THE ISSUES of the moment all revolve around the Middle East—Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Al Qaeda—there has been all too little discussion during the campaign of other key questions, such as the rise of China and the role of economics in foreign policy. On these issues, there is the intriguing possibility that Texas Governor Rick Perry, should he get into the race, could introduce yet another worldview into the already-complex GOP foreign policy mix. As governor of Texas, Perry has been identified with a sort of business-first approach to foreign affairs. This philosophy, too, could in its own way represent a new challenge to the neocon establishment.