There weren’t too many surprises in Josh Rogin’s survey of the defense and foreign policy hands who might serve in a Romney administration, but there were a number of encouraging names. Jim Talent, the former Missouri senator known for his formidable intellect, would make for an excellent defense secretary. Robert Zoellick has been characterized as a disciple of James Baker, but he is best understood as someone who is very much in tune with the global power shifts that America will have to navigate over the next decade to maintain its dominance. Zoellick is also extremely experienced in economic diplomacy, which will be of central importance. Retired general Jack Keane deserves a prominent role, not least due to his successful but largely unheralded role in persuading the Bush White House to embrace the surge strategy in Iraq, which was chronicled in Thomas Ricks’ The Gamble. Much the same can be said of David Petraeus, who of course played a more direct role. Rogin also references Meghan O’Sullivan, a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School with a richly deserved reputation as one of the most creative foreign policy minds of her generation. Her too-rare Bloomberg View columns reflect her impressive range. Recently, she has focused on how the changing distribution of readily-accessible energy resources might impact the security landscape, e.g., Israel’s recent undersea natural gas discoveries, the deterioration of domestic oil production in Mexico due to chronic underinvestment and mismanagement, etc. Joe Lieberman would also be an excellent choice, though I wonder if he’d be a better fit as UN ambassador than as secretary of state.
Before we ever get to this point, however, we need Mitt Romney to craft a much better campaign narrative.