Possible Bush Pick Irks Neocons

By Marc Perelman

Published May 20, 2005, issue of May 20, 2005.

Neo-conservatives are reportedly marshaling forces against the possible appointment of an ideological opponent as ambassador to the European Union.

C. Boyden Gray, who was White House counsel in the administration of George H.W. Bush, is a top contender to be named to the increasingly important diplomatic position in Brussels. This is said to have angered some powerful neo-con figures.

Conservative columnist Robert Novak reported last week that leading neo-conservative Elliott Abrams, Bush’s chief Middle East adviser on the National Security Council, had opposed Gray in writing.

According to Novak, Gray recently met with Howard Kohr, executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel Washington lobby, in an attempt to blunt opposition. Several sources speculated that some Jewish groups may resent Gray’s association with Bush senior, but they knew of no plans by Jewish groups to come out against him.

Aipac declined to comment. Gray didn’t return calls seeking comment.

Gray’s deeper problem appears to be his alignment with Republicans from the so-called “realist” school of foreign policy. The realist school, often associated with Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to the senior Bush, opposes the neo-conservatives’ vision of projecting American force in order to bring democracy to the Middle East.

Gray is identified with the younger Bush on domestic policy, and is known as a leading advocate of the administration’s effort to appoint conservative judges to the federal bench. At the same time, Gray is a member of a small group of Republicans, known as the Committee for the Republic, who oppose parts of the president’s foreign policy. After America’s invasion of Iraq, the committee issued a manifesto to “educate Americans about the dangers of empire and the need to return to our founding traditions and values.”

The committee includes a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Charles W. Freeman Jr.; Stephen P. Cohen, a national scholar with the dovish Israel Policy Forum; John B. Henry, a Washington businessman, and William A. Nitze, son of recently deceased Cold War strategist and Reagan administration arms control negotiator Paul Nitze.



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