Attack of the Surrogates
By Edited by Michael Flynn September 19, 2012
Richard Williamson, a former UN ambassador and undersecretary of state, has been an aggressive and sometimes controversial surrogate for the Mitt Romney campaign. He has argued that as president, Romney would put military force on “on the table” to prevent an Iranian “nuclear breakout,” that President Obama is to blame for declining “respect” for the United States abroad, and that the administration is effectively to blame for the attacks on U.S. embassies that erupted in reaction to the anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims.
Farid Ghadry, a Syrian-American defense contractor turned activist, is the founder of the “Reform Party of Syria,” a Washington-based regime change lobby made up primarily of Syrian emigrants based in Europe and the United States. Because of his efforts to promote U.S.-led regime change in Syria—which reportedly entailed collaborating with various neoconservative officials in the George W. Bush administration—Ghadry has been characterized as a Syrian Ahmed Chalabi. He regularly inveighs against the Syrian regime and its “appeasers” in the Obama administration on his personal blog.
Max Boot, a vocal proponent of U.S. military intervention abroad based at the Council on Foreign Relations, has served an adviser on defense policy to the Mitt Romney presidential campaign. He has endorsed Romney’s claim that Palestinian “culture”—rather than the Israeli occupation—is responsible for underdevelopment in the Palestinian territories. And although he concedes that a U.S. or Israeli bombing campaign on Iran could at best delay the alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program, he nonetheless argues that war is the “only credible option” for dealing with the country.
Dan Senor, a venture capitalist and Bush administration spokesman during the Iraq War, is a key foreign policy adviser and spokesman for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Senor appears to have played a pivotal role in shifting the Romney camp’s foreign policy rhetoric to the neoconservative right. In an April 2012 statement he was later forced to walk back, Senor seemingly endorsed a unilateral Israeli strike on Iran on behalf of the Romney campaign. More recently, he attempted to help the campaign capitalize on violent protests at U.S. embassies in the Middle East, even though Romney himself had already been roundly criticized for politicizing the deaths of U.S. diplomats.
John Bolton, the notorious hardliner who served as President Bush’s UN ambassador, has been an attack dog for the Mitt Romney presidential campaign, arguing—among other things—that President Obama is to blame for the assaults on U.S. embassies sparked by the anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims. Ignoring the administration’s aggressive tactics to root out Al Qaeda members and other radical forces in the Greater Middle East, Bolton told Fox News that the embassy attacks were in “large measure caused by the weakness and fecklessness of the Obama administration's policies.”
The Mitt Romney campaign’s effort to politically capitalize on the attacks on U.S. embassies spurred by the film Innocence of Muslims is the latest in a series of gaffs that raise questions about the former governor’s ability to adequately manage U.S. foreign affairs.
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