Once the counsel on the House International Relations Committee and an Illinois congressman after that, Mark Kirk has deployed to Afghanistan on multiple occasions as a naval reserve intelligence officer and has emerged as a leading Senate voice on Russia and the Middle East. A skeptic of the U.S-Russian reset and an opponent of cooperation with the Kremlin on nuclear arms control, Kirk and fellow Senator Jon Kyl were once described by a Russian diplomat as "monsters of the Cold War." Despite being sidelined by a stroke in January, he has been quietly marshaling support for harsher sanctions on Iran. The junior senator, who filled Obama's vacant seat in 2010, is a member of the powerful Appropriations Committee and appears to be positioning himself to be the next big foreign-policy heavyweight in the GOP, with the imminent departure of Kyl and Dick Lugar from the Senate.
This father-son duo is making the Zakheim name synonymous with GOP foreign policy. One of President George W. Bush's so-called Vulcans, father Dov has been a recurring character in Republican Defense Departments over the past two decades, including as a senior official during the Reagan administration and then as Pentagon comptroller during the second Bush administration. Today, the elder Zakheim, who blogs for FP's Shadow Government, is a senior foreign-policy advisor to the Romney campaign and has called for U.S. intervention in Syria, while vocally attacking what he sees as disastrous cuts to the defense budget. His son Roger, meanwhile, is one of a group of Republicans on the Hill looking to prevent those cuts. The younger Zakheim -- a Defense Department official in the second Bush administration who currently works on the staff of the House Armed Services Committee for Chairman Buck McKeon -- is a key member of Romney's shadow cabinet on international issues and co-chairs its defense working group.
A former staffer on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Danielle Pletka is currently a vice president at the American Enterprise Institute and a doyenne of Washington's neoconservative circles. An expert on national security, terrorism, and weapons proliferation, she also offers regular congressional testimony on Iran and the Middle East. Pletka has lamented the "silent coup d'état" in Iran in 2009, chastised the Obama administration for "sitting on its hands for days" while Muammar al-Qaddafi marched on Tripoli, and attacked the president for his handling of the Syria situation. (In a recent Washington Post op-ed, she argued in favor of using American airpower to create a "joint air-patrolled safe zone," as well as a "corridor" for refugees.)
A Romney advisor and professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, where he runs the Strategic Studies program, Eliot Cohen is the author or editor of more than half a dozen books on military history. (In 2002, prior to the invasion of Iraq, President Bush let slip that he was reading Supreme Command, Cohen's magnum opus on civilian leadership in times of conflict.) Once an Army reservist and a supporter of the Iraq war, the neoconservative Cohen criticized the administration's handling of the occupation in a 2005 Washington Post article called "A Hawk Questions Himself as His Son Goes to War." Despite those qualms and his criticism of the term "war on terror" ("Terror is the tactic, not the enemy"), Condoleezza Rice tapped Cohen in 2007 to serve as State Department counselor. A staunch supporter of Israel who has argued that the United States should "seek the overthrow of the Islamic Republic" in Iran, Cohen wrote the foreword to Romney's foreign-policy white paper, released last fall, which accused Obama of "waffling on trade agreements with friends" and "currying favor with our enemies."
The 91-year-old George Shultz has served as secretary of labor, Treasury, and state and worked in three Republican administrations, so it's not surprising that the Romney campaign lists him as one of the candidate's advisors. But the Hoover Institution fellow is also out of step with the contemporary GOP on some major issues, favoring a carbon tax to cut emissions and joining with fellow éminences grises Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn, and William J. Perry to call for a world without nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, his credential as one of the men closest to Ronald Reagan (and his approach to the Soviets) still lends him significant behind-the-scenes influence within the party.