The Zoellick Panic
Josh Rogin reports on the absurdly overblown reaction to Robert Zoellick’s position as the head of Romney’s national security transition team. Even though Zoellick signed a 1998 Project for a New American Century letter in favor of regime change in Iraq*, he is considered too much of a realist to be acceptable to many of Romney’s other hawkish advisers, and they are making their dissatisfaction known. The most interesting part of the story is what this episode may tell us about the general cluelessness prevailing inside the Romney campaign:
Zoellick’s critics are still struggling to process what his reemergence as a key player means. But many say that the Romney campaign’s apparent lack of awareness and preparedness for the blowback shows that top advisors are still giving short shrift to national security issues.
“Whether or not anybody can do anything about it is a question. This is the campaign that hired and fired a foreign-policy spokesman within two weeks,” one outside advisor to the campaign told The Cable, referring to the Richard Grenell episode. “Apparently the top echelon of the campaign believes that foreign policy isn’t a priority, and it shows.”
The speed with which the campaign has conceded that Zoellick will have no influence on policy is one more sign that Romney is inclined to bend to the wishes of his more hawkish advisers. What is striking about the episode is that only Zoellick’s opponents think there is any chance that he might have some influence on Romney’s foreign policy. There couldn’t be a better signal that Romney has no time for realists that displease the hard-liners in his campaign. Why should we expect anything to be different once Romney is in office?
* Five of the fifteen signatories of that PNAC letter are Romney campaign advisers or work for Romney in some capacity.