Tom Donilon: This longtime Democratic operative succeeded Gen. James Jones as national-security adviser. A behind-the-scenes operator, he gets credit for orchestrating the White House response to the Arab Spring revolutions and the raid that killed bin Laden.
FOREIGN POLICY: ROMNEY
SPECIFIC POLICY POSITIONS
Romney has positioned himself to the right of Obama, saying he would “double Guantánamo” detainees. He has also refused to rule out the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” such as waterboarding. He has favored the use of military commissions over federal courts to prosecute suspected terrorists, pledging that under his administration a conversation with a “would-be suicide bomber will not begin with the words, ‘You have the right to remain silent.’ ” In asserting that terrorism suspects at Guantánamo have no constitutional rights, Romney seems to ignore a Supreme Court ruling that detainees in fact have the right of habeas corpus.
He believes that Obama’s outreach to Moscow and “reset” in relations is badly misguided and will be perceived as weakness by the reinstalled President Vladimir Putin, who has described the collapse of the Soviet Union as the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century. The GOP nominee charges that Russia ships arms to Syria that Bashar al-Assad uses to kill his people; uses its oil resources as a bludgeon to intimidate Eastern and Central Europe; and still has troops illegally occupying portions of Georgia. Most of all, Romney and many other Republicans believe that Obama will yield to Moscow’s insistence to weaken a planned U.S. missile-defense shield in Europe.
THE MIDDLE EAST
Romney faults the Obama administration for pressuring Israel to grant one-sided concessions, such as halting settlement activity, to the Palestinians. He says that the president was out of line in suggesting that Israel should accept post-1967-war borders with agreed-upon land swaps as the starting point for negotiations over a two-state solution. Romney has criticized Obama for attempting to engage with Iran; for being slow to criticize Tehran’s brutal crackdown on democracy protesters in 2009; and for openly discouraging Israel from launching a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Acknowledging that the United States must actively engage with China on a host of issues, Romney has promised to take a harder line and challenge the Chinese over mercantilist trade policies that violate World Trade Organization agreements, including Beijing’s currency manipulation and indifference to intellectual-property rights. China’s systematic exploitation of other economies amounts to a direct
assault on American jobs, the Romney campaign argues.
A former governor, Romney has no real foreign-affairs record. If elected, he promises to cut the foreign-aid budget, a position that resonates with House Republicans, who recently advocated trimming Obama’s request 9 percent by slashing economic aid and contributions to the United Nations and the World Bank. Advisers say that Romney would subject foreign aid to an annual review that closely scrutinizes support for nations such as Pakistan, which is working at cross-purposes with the United States in neighboring Afghanistan.
Romney has promised to label China a currency manipulator on the first day of his presidency if Beijing does not move quickly to float its currency. “If you are not willing to stand up to China, you will get run over by China, and that’s what’s happened for 20 years,” he says.
John Lehman: Romney’s advisers cast his philosophy as reminiscent of President Reagan’s “peace through strength” approach, so having Reagan-era Navy Secretary Lehman on board makes sense. He may be behind Romney’s pledge to increase Navy shipbuilding from nine to 15 ships a year.
Richard Williamson: A lawyer and former ambassador, Williamson has served three Republican presidents, including a stint in the Reagan White House and as George W. Bush’s special envoy to Sudan. He has written seven books, most recently American Primacy and Multilateral Cooperation.
Robert Kagan: Frequently associated with the neoconservative movement, Kagan wrote The World America Made, a refutation of the narrative of American decline. This book is Kagan’s most recent and fortifies Romney’s foreign-policy philosophy of “American exceptionalism.”
Kerry Healey: One of Romney’s longest-serving and most trusted aides, Healey was his lieutenant governor in Massachusetts and is now a foreign-policy adviser.