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Meet Newt’s foreign-policy brain trust

GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is rolling out his foreign policy and national security team today, as the candidates get ready to spar on foreign policy issues tonight. Newt’s team, which has been working together informally for months, is led by Herman Pirchner, the founding president of a small, conservative think tank in Washington called ...

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GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is rolling out his foreign policy and national security team today, as the candidates get ready to spar on foreign policy issues tonight.

Newt’s team, which has been working together informally for months, is led by Herman Pirchner, the founding president of a small, conservative think tank in Washington called the American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC). Also on Team Newt is AFPC Vice President Ilan Berman and AFPC Senior Fellow for Asian Studies Stephen Yates, a former staffer for Vice President Dick Cheney.

Cheney’s top Middle East advisor David Wurmser is also part of the Newt campaign advisory team, along with former President Ronald Reagan‘s National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, Reagan-era National Security Council (NSC) senior directors Norman Bailey and Ken deGraffenreid, Reagan-era Undersecretary of State for security assistance, science, and technology Bill Schneider, former CIA Director James Woolsey, and others. We’re also told Newt is talking to former Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Peter Pace and former Central Command head Gen. John Abizaid.

If Newt’s foreign policy team seems a little long in the tooth, it is. Most of these experts have known Newt for decades, and see themselves as helping a candidate who already boasts a long track record and well-formed intellectual identity when it comes to foreign policy.

"I have depended on the counsel of this world-class group of experts throughout my career, and I am honored that they have decided to be with me as we work to ensure that the United States remains the safest, strongest, and freest country in the world," Gingrich said in his Tuesday press release. "I look forward to drawing on their vast knowledge and experience as we assert our vision of an exceptional America that, contrary to what Barack Obama may believe, will continue to be both the world’s leading power and most assiduous defender of freedom for generations to come."

"In order to lead, one must have a comprehensive knowledge of world issues and dynamics that can only come from decades of study and experience," said Pirchner.  "I have worked with Speaker Gingrich for many years, and in these dangerous times, he is by far the best candidate to lead when American lives and American interests are at stake."

As House speaker, Gingrich weighed in on the U.S. interventions in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Haiti and was a key supporter of North American Free Trade Agreement and other major Clinton-era trade deals. Since leaving politics, he has researched, as an independent scholar, the roles of Reagan and Pope John Paul II in the closing days of the Cold War. He holds a PhD in modern European history.  

As to his stance on foreign policy, Gingrich is not a realist in the sense of Henry Kissinger or Brent Scowcroft, nor is he a neoconservative in the model often attributed to Paul Wolfowitz or Doug Feith.

"I don’t think either of those labels would apply to Newt Gingrich," Yates told The Cable today. "His world view is one that emphasizes being actively competitive. We don’t need to impose our will in the world but we ought not to be hiding behind our desks."

For a more detailed idea of how President Gingrich would organize his national security and foreign policy priorities, a campaign advisor provided to The Cable a memo Newt sent to the Defense Department leadership in 2003 titled "Seven Strategic Necessities."

"We need an elevated debate about the larger zone of American security and the threats to that security," Newt wrote.

He advocated that the debate over national security should aim to divide the nation into three factions: "Those who would hide and ignore reality (essentially the McGovern-Dean Democrats), those who pretend to be responsible but really want to carp and complain without an effective alternative, and those who understand that this will be a hard campaign and may take years and will involve mistakes."

Newt also advocated strong support for moderate Palestinians who were fighting against Hamas for control of Palestinian society and government.

"The only hope for peace between Israel and the Palestinian people is for the United States to overtly ally with those Palestinians who will accept Israel if they have safety, health, prosperity and freedom and in this alliance defeat and ultimately eliminate the threat of the terrorists, " he wrote. "Victory in the Israel-Palestinian conflict thus inherently means victory both in a campaign against terrorists and in a campaign to build a safe, healthy, prosperous, free Palestinian society."

Several members of Newt’s foreign policy team will be on hand tonight for the AEI/Heritage/CNN foreign policy-focused presidential debate. Your humble Cable guy and Foreign Policy’s Election 2012 team will be at the debate and covering it in real time, so watch this space.

For a rundown of Newt’s foreign policy positions during this campaign season, check out his profile on FP’s new Election 2012 channel here. See a full list of Newt’s foreign policy advisory team with bios after the jump:

Norman A. Bailey is an Adjunct Professor of Economic Statecraft at the Institute of World Politics in Washington and President of the Institute for Global Economic Growth.  Dr. Bailey served as a professor at the City University of New York until 1981, when President Reagan appointed him Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director of International Economic Affairs on the staff of the National Security Council. Since 1984 Dr. Bailey has been an international economic consultant to governments, government agencies, corporations, banks, investment banking firms, trade associations and trading companies on five continents.


Ilan Berman is Vice President of the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, DC. An expert on regional security in the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Russian Federation, he has consulted for both the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Department of Defense. Mr. Berman is a member of the Associated Faculty at Missouri State University’s Department of Defense and Strategic Studies. He also serves as a member of the reconstituted Committee on the Present Danger, a columnist for, and as Editor of The Journal of International Security Affairs.

Ken deGraffenreid is currently Professor of Intelligence Studies at The Institute of World Politics. Following service in the US Navy as a naval aviator and intelligence officer, he was appointed to President Reagan’s National Security Council in 1981.  Mr. deGraffenreid was Senior Director of Intelligence Programs at the National Security Council from 1981 to 1987, when he was charged with evaluating and coordinating a broad range of intelligence, counterintelligence, security countermeasures, space policy, arms control, strategic nuclear and command, control and communications issues. He served at the Pentagon in the second Bush Administration as Deputy Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy, then as Deputy National Counterintelligence Executive at the Central Intelligence Agency.


Robert McFarlane has had a distinguished record of public service including ten years in ?the White House and State Department serving variously as Military Advisor to Henry Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft, Counselor to the Secretary of State and rising ultimately ?to serve President Reagan as his National Security Advisor. He is perhaps best remembered as the architect of the comprehensive set of U.S. policies?- including most notably the Strategic Defense Initiative – which so?stressed the Soviet economy as to bring it down and in the process accelerated the?collapse of Marxism in the former Soviet Union. He is a graduate of the US Naval?Academy and served in the US Marine Corps (where he commanded an artillery battery in?the first landing of American forces in Vietnam).

Herman Pirchner is the founding President of the American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC), a non-profit public policy organization headquartered in Washington, DC since 1982. Under his leadership, AFPC has hosted the Washington visits of hundreds of foreign officials, ranging from the Prime Minister of Malta to the Prime Minister of Russia; conducted hundreds of briefings for members of Congress and their staffs; and organized dozens of fact-finding missions abroad for current and former senior American officials. Prior to founding AFPC, Pirchner worked for current Iowa Senator Charles Grassley and former Iowa Senator Roger Jepsen.

Tina Ramirez is the Director of International and Government Relations for the Becket Fund, a non-profit, public-interest legal and educational institute that protects the free expression of all faiths. Previously, she served in a number of positions in Congress as a senior foreign policy advisor and expert on international religious freedom, and helped establish and direct the Congressional International Religious Freedom Caucus.  Ms. Ramirez and the Caucus played a critical role in raising the profile of numerous religious freedom issues in Congress and with both the Bush and Obama Administrations, leading to the release of many individuals imprisoned for their faith and ensuring relief for many suffering under religious persecution.


Bill Schneider is President of International Planning Services, Inc. and an Adjunct Fellow of the Hudson Institute. Dr. Schneider served as Under Secretary of State for Security Assistance, Science, and Technology (1982-86) under President Reagan, following service as Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget (1981-82). He served as Chairman of the General Advisory Committee on Arms Control and Disarmament from 1987-93, then as Chairman of the Defense Science Board (DSB) from 2001-9, and currently serves as a Senior Fellow of the DSB. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates awarded Schneider the DoD’s Medal for Distinguished Public Service in November 2009.

Kiron Skinner is the W. Glenn Campbell Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, where she is a member of the Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy. She also is an associate professor of international relations and politics at Carnegie Mellon University and director of the university’s Center for International Relations and Politics. Her government service includes membership on the US Defense Department’s Defense Policy Board as an adviser on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (2001-7); the Chief of Naval Operations’ (CNO) Executive Panel (2004-present); the National Academies Committee on Behavioral and Social Science Research to Improve Intelligence Analysis for National Security (2009-11); and the National Security Education Board (2004-11).

Abraham Wagner teaches in the areas of national security and intelligence at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. Outside of SIPA he is also a Senior Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies on Terrorism and serves as a consultant to several U.S. Government agencies. Prior to joining the Columbia faculty Prof. Wagner served in the U.S. Government, holding positions at the National Security Council, the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community.

R. James Woolsey is Chairman of Woolsey Partners LLC, a Venture Partner with Lux Capital Management, and Chair of the Board of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Mr. Woolsey previously served in the U.S. Government on five different occasions, where he held Presidential appointments in two Republican and two Democratic administrations, most recently (1993-95) as Director of Central Intelligence.  During his 12 years of government service, in addition to heading the CIA and the Intelligence Community, Mr. Woolsey was: Ambassador to the Negotiation on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), Vienna, 1989-1991; Under Secretary of the Navy, 1977-1979; and General Counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, 1970-1973.  He was also appointed by the President to serve on a part-time basis in Geneva, Switzerland, 1983-1986, as Delegate at Large to the U.S.-Soviet Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) and Nuclear and Space Arms Talks (NST).


David Wurmser is the executive and founding member of the Delphi Global Analysis Group, LLC, where he provides analysis on the geopolitics and economics of Israel and the Middle east. Dr. Wurmser was the senior advisor to Under Secretary of State John Bolton at the State Department until 2003, then rose to senior advisor to Vice President Richard Cheney on Middle East, proliferation and strategic affairs.  Before entering government, Dr. Wurmser founded the Middle East studies program at the American Enterprise Institute in 1996. While at AEI Dr. Wurmser, published Tyranny’s Ally: America’s Failure to Defeat Saddam Hussein and over 35 articles in major periodicals.


Stephen Yates has been the president of DC International?Advisory, a consultancy, since 2006. Before opening DC International Advisory, Mr. Yates served in the White House as Deputy Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs from 2001 through 2005. During his tenure in government, he was deeply involved in the development and execution of U.S foreign policy priorities in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Mr. Yates previously served as Senior Policy Analyst at the Heritage Foundation from 1996 to 2001, and from 1991 to 1996 he served as an international affairs analyst at the U.S. Department of Defense.

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

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