Today former Massachusetts governor and current Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced his campaign’s foreign policy team. Many of the names are drawn from the foreign policy establishment and prominent Republican-associated security circles. “Their remarkable experience, wisdom, and depth of knowledge will be critical to ensuring that the 21st century is another American Century,” Romney said in a statement. Notably, several of Romney’s advisers were among the most forceful proponents a “new American Century” already, one that involved primarily pushing for war in Iraq.
Cohen, who was a member of the short-lived Committee for the Liberation of Iraq that agitated for an invasion in 2002 and early 2003 and now directs the Johns Hopkins international affairs school, stuck to the theme that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction right up until the eve of the U.S. invasion. Though he eventually walked-back his support for the war, in February 2003, Cohn told NBC Nightly News:
I would suspect that if there’re going to be heavy civilian casualties, they’ll mainly be caused by the Iraqis and would flow from the use of chemical weapons or biological weapons.
Kagan, a founder of the Project For A New American Century (PNAC) and the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), argued for the military overthrow of Saddam Hussein beginning in the mid 1990s. In late 1998, after President Bill Clinton launched airstrikes against Iraq, Kagan complained on NPR that the attack didn’t go far enough and that Hussein needed to be overthrown:
I would agree that firing even several hundred cruise missiles into Iraq cannot be the end of the story. You really do have to go to the heart of the problem. The heart of the problem is Saddam Hussein himself, and any strategy the administration undertakes has to have a practical goal of removing Saddam Hussein from power.
PNAC, one of the groups Kagan founded (along with neoconservative don Bill Kristol), made statements and wrote a series of open letters to Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush from 1998 to 2003 that referred to Iraq, often calling for the military overthrow of Saddam Hussein and accusing him both of possessing weapons of mass destruction and having ties to Al Qaeda. Among the signatories to the letters were a bevy of those listed today as Romney advisers, including Kagan himself, Cohen, Paula Dobriansky, Vin Weber, John Lehman (a National Security Advisory Council member of the Islamophobic Center for Security Policy), now-super-lobbyist Vin Weber.
After the invasion, Iraq fell under the control of L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. viceroy in charge of the Coalition Provisional Authority that is widely blamed for botching the early days of the occupation. Two of Bremer’s top advisers — Meghan O’Sullivan, who later served as a Deputy National Security Advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan in the Bush administration and is now a Harvard professor, and CPA spokesperson Dan Senor, now with the neoconservative Foreign Policy Initiative (think PNAC 2.0, formed in 2009 by Senor, Kagan and Kristol) — are now with Romney’s team.