Romney's Neocons Hiding in plain sight

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by Justin Raimondo

Recently by Justin Raimondo: The Fall Guy

Dov Zakheim, Mitt Romney’s top foreign policy advisor, wants us to know the neocons aren’t in charge of RomneyWorld:

“One of the favorite canards that Obama activists and surrogates hurl at Mitt Romney is that he is surrounded by a group of wild-eyed George W. Bush neo-cons who cannot wait to bomb Iran and bring America into yet another Middle Eastern conflict….”

But these canard-disseminators “have it all wrong,” because:

“None of the staunchest ‘architects and advocates’ of the Iraq war, I repeat, none, is advising Governor Romney. Not Donald Rumsfeld. Not Dick Cheney. Not Paul Wolfowitz. Not Doug Feith. And none of their camp followers. None.”

Zakheim modestly leaves out … himself. Yet he has long been a key link in the chain that has bound Republican policymakers to that noxious little sect known as the neoconservatives.

Alongside the very neocons he denies have any influence in RomneyWorld, Zakheim joined the Committee for Peace and Security in the Gulf, a neocon front group organized in 1990 to support the first Gulf war: in 1998, CPSG issued a new clarion call for an invasion of Iraq addressed to President Bill, with the Usual Suspects (including Zakheim) as co-signers. Zakheim’s career as an up-and-comer in neoconservative precincts continued with the formation of the Project for a New American Century — Bill Kristol’s interventionist pressure group — on whose behalf he signed a series of open letters calling for war with Iraq. As recently as February, Zakheim continued his letter-signing spree, demanding — along with dozens of fellow neocon “camp followers” — that the President intervene in a vague-but-more-muscular fashion in Syria. In 2000, he co-authored a PNAC position paper on defense spending which called for a huge increase on the grounds that “the best defense is a good offense.” He shared credit for this proposal with Wolfowitz, Cohen, John Bolton, and Rumsfeld advisors Devon Cross and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby. As Undersecretary of State and Pentagon comptroller during the Bush administration — during which time the Pentagon lost track of $1 trillion — he was a key cog in a foreign policy shop dominated by his fellow neocons.

Aside from that, however, there are plenty of neocon “camp followers” — i.e. fellow travelers, as we McCarthyites used to say – serving the Romneyite cause. I won’t bother compiling a comprehensive list, since others have taken up that task. As Ari Berman noted in The Nation way back in May:

“Romney’s team is notable for including Bush aides tarnished by the Iraq fiasco: Robert Joseph, the National Security Council official who inserted the infamous ‘sixteen words’ in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union message claiming that Iraq had tried to buy enriched uranium from Niger; Dan Senor, former spokesman for the hapless Coalition Provisional Authority under Paul Bremer in Iraq; and Eric Edelman, a top official at the Pentagon under Bush.”

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Justin Raimondo [send him mail] is editorial director of Antiwar.com and is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard and Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.

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