Gingrich Culls War Hawks For His National Security Team

Reposted by arrangement with Think Progress

Former House Speaker and GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich announced his national security team last night, ahead of tonight’s CNN national security debate. Foreign Policy points out that the group, which “seems a little long in the tooth,” is a mixed bag. But some advisers have staked out right-wing militaristic positions on Iraq and now Iran. Here’s a rundown of a few key figures:

A fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (or AEI, where Gingrich is a former senior fellow), Wurmser served on the staffs of two top Bush administration hawks, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton and Vice President Dick Cheney (where Stephen Yates, another Gingrich adviser, also served). In 2007, a U.N. official called Wurmser one of the “new crazies” who wanted to attack Iran. In 1996, Wurmser co-authored a paper from a right-wing pro-Israel group advocating the removal of Saddam Hussein from power. The group wrote:

Israel can shape its strategic environment… by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.

Berman, the vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council (which also gave the Gingrich campaign Herman Pirchner and Yates) and editor of the Jewish Institute For National Security Affairs journal, has advocated U.S.-led regime change in Iran and wrote that military action against Iran should be a “last resort.” But he’s also attempted to minimize negative effects of an attack and, in 2005 at a Middle East Forum briefing, said Iran is a “prime candidate” for Iraq-style pre-emption:

I supported the war in Iraq… The minimum nexus the President [Bush] was talking about was the confluence of a regime that sponsors terrorism and the presence of weapons of mass destruction. The fact that we haven’t found WMD… undercuts the case for pre-emption in later circumstances, unfortunately. Which is too bad because I think Iran is a prime candidate for this sort of discussion.

Woolsey served as honorary co-chair of Islamophobe Frank Gaffney‘s Center For Security Policy and is a current leadership board and executive team member at the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). Woolsey advocated for the Iraq war, supports illegal Israeli West Bank settlement construction, and now pushes a confrontational stance on Iran. In 1998, Woolsey signed onto a Project For a New American Century letter urging the military removal of Saddam Hussein:

The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power.


McFarlane, a former Reagan administration National Security Adviser, serves on the leadership council of FDD. In 1988, McFarlane plead guilty to four counts of withholding information from Congress in the Iran-Contra scandal, in which he played a major role, even secretly travelling to Iran in the early arms-for-hostages part of the affair. (McFarlane, who attempted suicide three hours before he was meant to testify before Congress in 1987, was pardoned in 1992.) McFarlane also served as an adviser to Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential run.

Ali Gharib

Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; the Buffalo Beast; Huffington Post; Mondoweiss; Right Web; and Alternet. He holds a Master's degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A proud Iranian-American and fluent Farsi speaker, Ali was born in California and raised in D.C.