Ted Cruz’s panel of foreign policy advisers represent diverse perspectives

Ted Cruz meets voters at a campaign event
Ted Cruz meets voters at a campaign event

Well, I sometimes listen to the Hugh Hewitt show, and since foreign policy is his thing, I get to hear pretty much every foreign policy point of view there is. Imagine how surprised I am to find that practically everyone that Hugh has on as a guest is on Cruz’s foreign policy advisory panel.

This article from NewsMax explains:

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz unveiled his national security team, which includes former Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams, former Missouri Sen. Jim Talent and former U.S. Attorney Andrew McCarthy.

[…]Abrams, who served Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, praised the senator’s support for Israel, saying that “he has made it clear that he believes a strong Israel is America’s key ally and asset in the Middle East.

“He understands the power relationships in that region and he will put an end to the tensions of the Obama years that have weakened the U.S.-Israel alliance,” Abrams added. “He is very clearly the most pro-Israel candidate in the race today.”

Other members of Cruz’s team include:

  • Stewart Baker, former assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Health and Human Serves and general counsel of the National Security Agency.
  • Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council.
  • Retired Army Lt. General William Boykin, executive vice president of the Family Research Council.
  • Fred Fleitz, a former Central Intelligence Agency analyst.
  • Randy Fort, who has served in senior intelligence positions in the Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush administrations.
  • Frank Gaffney Jr., president and CEO of the Center for Security Policy.
  • Nile Gardiner, a former aide to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
  • Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
  • Katharine Gorka, president of the Council on Global Security.
  • Steven Groves, a senior research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
  • Mary Habeck, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
  • Kristofer Harrison, a co-founder of the China Beige Book who once served in the George W. Bush White House.
  • Jerry Hendrix, a retired Navy captain.
  • Michael Ledeen, an author who serves at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
  • Clare Lopez, a vice president at the Center for Security Policy.
  • Robert O’Brien, a partner at the Larson O’Brien LLP law firm in Los Angeles.
  • Michael Pillsbury, who was a Reagan campaign advisor in 1980.
  • Charles Stimson, the senior legal fellow and manager of National Security Law Program at the Heritage Foundation.
  • Daniel Vajdich, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.
  • Christian Whiton, a former State Department senior advisor in the Bush administration.

My favorite guys on that panel are Frank Gaffney, Andrew McCarthy, Nile Gardiner, William Boykin and Michael Ledeen. Gaffney is probably the most hawkish of all of them, so I was surprised that Cruz put him in there. I always thought that Cruz was more libertarian on foreign policy than I am. And maybe he is, but he put all my favorite hawkish guys on his panel anyway. I don’t know the specific people they listed from the Heritage Foundation, but it is my favorite think tank, so they have to be good. And I see someone named Mary Habeck from the American Enterprise Institute – my second favorite think tank. My favorite defense analyst from AEI is Mackenzie Eaglen, but they didn’t pick her, oh well.

This article from the radically leftist Bloomberg View notes that Cruz has a whole ton of moderate conservative voices on his foreign policy advisor panel to balance out the hawks that I like so much.

It says:

[…]Cruz’s team includes former officials who reject Gaffney’s broad view that any Muslim who believes in Sharia law by definition believes in a totalitarian and violent ideology at war with America.

“We’re at war with a coalition of radical Islamists and radical secularists. It’s not all one thing, nor is Islam all one thing,” Michael Ledeen, a former Reagan administration official and a Cruz campaign adviser, told me.

Jim Talent, a former Missouri Republican senator who was a key adviser to Romney in 2008 and 2012, is signed up for the Cruz team. So is Mary Habeck, a former staffer on George W. Bush’s national security council, who is an expert on jihadi organizations and has warned against demonizing the entire religion of Islam.

Another Cruz adviser, Elliott Abrams, helped craft Bush’s policy to empower moderate Muslims in the Middle East against radicals. He told me he feels much the same way as Habeck. “It’s now 15 years since 9/11, and I think it’s obvious that Muslim citizens in the U.S. and Muslim leaders abroad have an absolutely critical role to play in fighting jihadis and other Muslim extremists,” Abrams said. “This is partly a battle within Islam that they are going to have fight and win. Alienating these potential allies is the kind of foolish policy that the Obama administration has engaged in when it comes to Arab states that are our allies.”

Victoria Coates, who has been Cruz’s main adviser on national security since he came to the Senate, told me this tension on the policy team “is by design and not an accident.” She added: “Both Frank and Elliott are people I went out of my way to set up meetings with the Senator. He has met with both of them individually for years.”

[…]His new team of national security advisers, in this respect, has something for everyone.

I think this balanced approach matches Cruz’s approach in other areas. He isn’t looking for mediocre people who are loyal to him above all. He has hawkish people in his panel, but he also has respected moderates. I have heard Andrew McCarthy, Michael Ledeen and Jim Talent on Hugh Hewitt’s show many times. Victoria Coates is highly respected by everyone when it comes to foreign policy. The moderate people are the best at putting forward their view, just as Gaffney is the best at putting forward the hawkish view. Cruz’s approach will lead to good discussions, which will lead to smart policies. We certainly can do a lot better than the Obama administration’s “screw up then cover up” approach.

In contrast to Cruz, who does have good advisers on foreign policy, we are hearing this from Trump:

He says: “I’m speaking with myself, I have a very good brain”. That might for for Scrabble or balancing your check book, but we are talking about foreign policy and national security, here.

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