George W Bush has not been a central topic in this GOP election cycle but significant elements of his administration are lurking in the shadows of the Romney campaign. Twenty three of Romney's senior advisers served under Bush in some capacity, several serving in key roles in the administration. Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security from 2005-2009, a champion of full body scanners and TSA security techniques, is one of the most recognizable names on Romney's national security team. Another notable name is Michale Hayden, Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) from '99-'05 and then Director of the CIA from 2006-'09. Then there is the notorious Cofer Black, former Vice Chairman of Blackwater, who served the Bush administration as the State Department's Ambassador-at-large for counter terrorism from 2002-04.
There are also lesser known names on Romney's list that played key roles in the Bush Administration. Meghan O'Sullivan was deputy national security adviser on Iraq and Afghanistan under George W Bush. According to Bob Woodward's book State of Denial O'Sullivan was the original champion of the surge strategy in Iraq. She also served on the political front in Iraq in the early days of the war.
Since national security and foreign policy is always a fluid situation that could change drastically before the time Romney would take office it is difficult to pin him down on particulars, but what is evident is that his overall worldview would not be much different from George W Bus. Romney has not denounced the practice of first strikes by the US as in unilateral, preemptive wars against countries that do not pose a direct threat to the continental United States.
It should not be shocking that so many of Romney's advisers come from the George W Bush administration because the pool of Republican establishment Washington foreign policy experts is quite small. What is unsettling is that Romney is not making the choice to move away from that pool of the Washington establishment and has instead chosen to embrace them.
George W Bush has not directly surfaced as a topic of interest in the GOP primary. But it is worth remembering that it was Obama's successful linking of McCain to Bush on economic policy that allowed Obama to pull away in the final days of the 2008 election. There is no question that a Republican candidate with such deep ties to Bush's foreign policy will be a target in the general election.
The Mitt Romney white paper on foreign policy here: An American Century: A strategy to secure America's interests and Ideals
About the Author: Shaun Booth is editor of MilwaukeeStory.com.