New Kids on the Block

Meet the foreign-policy powers for the new GOP congress.

Illustration by Demetrios Psillos for FP
Illustration by Demetrios Psillos for FP
Illustration by Demetrios Psillos for FP

Sen. Mark Kirk: A Navy reservist from Illinois who once worked at the State Department, Kirk might have the best foreign-policy chops of any new senator. As a member of the House of Representatives, he co-sponsored several bills calling for harsh sanctions on Iran's petroleum sector, large parts of which eventually found their way into the bill signed into law by President Barack Obama last July.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: The new chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee has expressed skepticism about U.S. funding for the United Nations and the Palestinian Authority. Hailing from southern Florida, she's even more hawkish on Cuba, having once called for the assassination of Fidel Castro. "She's no Dick Lugar," said one House aide, referring to her temperate Senate counterpart. "She and her staff often go for the jugular."

Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon: Even before taking over the House Armed Services Committee, the California congressman was pushing for higher defense budgets. And with a reportedly close relationship with Gen. David Petraeus, McKeon is well placed to be a wrench in the works as Obama tries to stick to his planned July drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Sen. Mark Kirk: A Navy reservist from Illinois who once worked at the State Department, Kirk might have the best foreign-policy chops of any new senator. As a member of the House of Representatives, he co-sponsored several bills calling for harsh sanctions on Iran’s petroleum sector, large parts of which eventually found their way into the bill signed into law by President Barack Obama last July.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: The new chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee has expressed skepticism about U.S. funding for the United Nations and the Palestinian Authority. Hailing from southern Florida, she’s even more hawkish on Cuba, having once called for the assassination of Fidel Castro. “She’s no Dick Lugar,” said one House aide, referring to her temperate Senate counterpart. “She and her staff often go for the jugular.”

Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon: Even before taking over the House Armed Services Committee, the California congressman was pushing for higher defense budgets. And with a reportedly close relationship with Gen. David Petraeus, McKeon is well placed to be a wrench in the works as Obama tries to stick to his planned July drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Sen. Marco Rubio: Of all the freshman senators, the spotlight shines brightest on this ambitious young Cuban-American from Florida, a Tea Party icon. And he’s no fan of the president’s foreign policy. “The Obama doctrine of appeasing our enemies, alienating our allies, and delegating our national security to the international community may have won President Obama a Nobel Peace Prize, but it has made the world a more volatile and dangerous place,” he said during the campaign.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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