The Case for Mitt Romney as Secretary of State

Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney walks off his campaign plane past Donald Trump's plane in Las Vegas in 2012.

We now live in a world where Donald Trump is going to be the 45th President of the United States of America. Love it or hate it, this is where we are. And as such, Trump is filling out his cabinet with numerous names. We’ve seen Reince Priebus as the Chief of Staff, Steve Bannon as the Chief White House Strategist, he’s nominated Jeff Sessions as his Attorney General, Mike Pompeo for CIA Director, and just recently he’s nominated South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley for the US Ambassadorship to the UN, and school choice advocate Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education.

Now, with all that said, one cabinet position that has caused quite the hubbub over the past few weeks is the position of Secretary of State. Now, secretly, we all hope that Donald Trump bucks the trend and picks Ron Paul as the head of the State Department, but the list of names we’ve seen suggests that it will come down to former UN Ambassador John Bolton, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, or former Massachusetts Governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who we will be focusing on in this article.

Make no mistake, Mitt Romney is not my first choice. Of the named candidates for the position, I would have liked to see Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, also the Chair on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, take the position. But I also realize that this is becoming exceedingly less likely by the hour, as much as we’d like to assume it’s not. So this has unfortunately become an argument based on pragmatism rather than principle, and faced with the prospect of either John Bolton, a noted neoconservative and interventionist, Rudy Giuliani, who would just seem to be woefully out of place, his own personal positions aside, or Mitt Romney, I would take Mitt in a heartbeat.

Many of Romney’s detractors for the position, such as Mike Huckabee and Sean Hannity, claim that giving such a position to a non-Trump loyalist shows a breach of trust, and that such people won’t be loyal to the President-Elect.

I see this point differently.

I think that giving such a position to such a staunch critic of Trump in Romney would show that Trump is trying to mend wounds within the party, and would help to paint the picture that Trump can take criticism, and, at the end of the day, is trying to get the right solution, not just his solution to the problem. Remember: Abraham Lincoln had a “team of rivals”, himself. While this doesn’t mean that he should nominate Bernie Sanders as his Treasury Secretary just to challenge his ideas, this does mean that he should surround himself with relatively like-minded people who maybe don’t agree with him on everything, or maybe doesn’t agree with his chosen solution to a problem.

Another point made by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich suggests that Romney’s own views on foreign policy are incompatible to the “Trump vision of foreign policy”, and that there are “more qualified” options than Romney to fill the position. This coming from a man who supposedly supports Rudy Giuliani for the position.

Make no mistake, Giuliani is good on a number of issues, but to suggest that the former New York Mayor would be more qualified than Romney is a shaky claim to make. Let’s not forget that Romney was the chairman of the organizing committee for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, was a Mormon missionary abroad, and created a veritable who’s who of noted GOP foreign policy heavyweights, including former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, former Senators Norm Coleman and Jim Talent, and former CIA Director Michael Hayden. Giuliani has been a Mayor, an Attorney, and a US Associate Attorney General, a resume more befitting of an Attorney General, not a Secretary of State.

And on the topic of experience, I do recognize that if experience was the only criteria that Trump is looking at, former UN Ambassador John Bolton should be the only person he’s looking at.

John Bolton has an extensive list of credentials in foreign policy experience, but his actual policy prescriptions are tremendously naive and dangerous to the overall stability of our standing in the world. He is an unapologetic supporter of the Iraq War, he advocates for regime change in the Middle East; but, notably in Syria, he wrote he would create an “independent Sunni state” in an oped to the New York Times. Bolton has advocated for a strong defense and a refutation and reworking of the Iranian nuclear deal, two things I personally agree with, but he seems to use this belief that we need a strong defense and a strong military as justification that we need to use it in response to perceived threats, and use it often.

Mitt Romney is no perfect figure when it comes to foreign policy. He advocates for reinstating the Cuban embargo, he threatens military action against Iran if they develop a nuclear weapon, he wanted to double the amount of inmates in Guantanamo Bay, and he refused to say whether or not the President needed to consult Congress before making war.

But this comes down to who can we see as less of a threat to cause war and needless intervention in foreign countries. And Mitt Romney, at least for me, fits the bill. He sees Russia not as an enemy, but an adversary, and he wants a treaty to reduce the amount of nuclear weapons possessed by both us and Russia. He believes in American exceptionalism, he doesn’t want us to cater to the whim of every despot that wants our guns. He believes in a strong defense, but he doesn’t want to use it in every situation possible. Romney wasn’t my first choice, but faced with the prospect of either Bolton or Giuliani, I would choose Mitt Romney in a heartbeat.

* Steven Barhorst is a high school student from suburban Chicago. He works at his high school’s TV station as a News Anchor and host of a political talk show.

This article was edited for grammar, style, and spelling, but not for content. The views expressed are that of the author, Martin van Staden, exclusively, and do not reflect that of BeingLibertarian.com or Being Libertarian LLC

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Martin van Staden is the Editor-in-Chief of BeingLibertarian.com and a final year LL.B law student at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. He is a co-founder of the Rational Standard (rationalstandard.com) and the Southern African Academic Programs Director at Students For Liberty (studentsforliberty.org).

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