Those foreign policy advisers in full (but where are the women?)

by | Oct 5, 2007

The Washington Post has helpfully published a comprehensive list of who is advising which Presidential candidates on foreign policy. Quite how policy coherence and/or a clear pecking order is supposed to be established with so many advisers (Clinton has 20, Obama 23) is anyone’s guess, but if it’s a case of ‘the more the merrier’, then there’s quite a party getting underway.

Among the Clinton highlights are Madeleine Albright, Sandy Berger, Wes Clark, Richard Holbrooke, Michael O’Hanlon, Strobe Talbott and Joseph Wilson; the Obama camp, meanwhile, is home to Zbigniew Brzezinksi, Richard Clarke, Ivo Daalder, Tony Lake, Rob Malley, Susan Rice, Dennis Ross. (Incidentally, we hope that the latter lot are happy where they are. We have it on good authority that this time around, Team Clinton has put the word out that the usual process – whereby foreign policy advisers to other candidates are allowed to switch horses as and when their candidate gets eliminated during primary season – has been abolished, at least as far as Hillary as concerned. The ‘you’re with us or against us’ ethos is no longer limited to the GOP, it seems…)

What of the Republicans? It’s McCain who wins first prize for sheer surfeit of advice, with no less than 35 foreign policy advisers. Included in his gang, nay, army: Richard Armitage, Max Boot, Lawrence Eagleburger, Niall Ferguson, Alexander Haig, Robert Kagan, Henry Kissinger, William Kristol, Colin Powell, Brent Scowcroft, George Schultz and James Woolsey. Mitt Romney, meanwhile, must surely win some sort of special achievement award for including Cofer Black on his team, who the rest of us will forever know affectionately as “the flies on the eyeball guy“.

All of which just leaves one burning question. Amid this extraordinary roster of expertise, how many women are included on each team? Well, bearing in mind that we may be a little out in cases where it’s not immediately clear what gender is implied by the forename in question, here’s our reckoning of the overall ranking:

  1. Barack Obama: 4 out of 23 – 17 per cent
  2. Hillary Clinton: 2 out of 20 – 10 per cent
  3. Rudy Giuliani: 1 out of 33 – 3 per cent
  4. John Edwards: 0 out of 11 – 0 per cent
  5. Mitt Romney: 0 out of 25 – 0 per cent
  6. John McCain: 0 out of 35 – 0 per cent

It’s lucky that Team McCain has Robert Kagan on board to explain why they don’t need any women. Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus, remember?


  • Alex Evans

    Alex Evans is founder of the Collective Psychology Project, which explores how we can use psychology to reduce political tribalism and polarisation, a senior fellow at New York University, and author of The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough? (Penguin, 2017). He is a former Campaign Director of the 50 million member global citizen’s movement Avaaz, special adviser to two UK Cabinet Ministers, climate expert in the UN Secretary-General’s office, and was Research Director for the Business Commission on Sustainable Development. He was part of Ethiopia’s delegation to the Paris climate summit and has consulted for Oxfam, WWF UK, the UK Cabinet Office and US State Department. Alex lives with his wife and two children in Yorkshire.

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