Politics is mostly about people, and nowhere is that more true than when it comes to foreign policy. From the fire-when-ready rhetoric of a John Bolton to the behind-the-scenes maneuvering of a Stephen Hadley to the intellectual suasion of a Bill Kristol, the relentless lobbying and insider machinations of surprisingly few people can often end up defining the foreign policy of entire administrations.
Americans may not realize it (after all, only 4 percent consider foreign affairs much of an issue in this year’s campaign at all), but with the start of the Republican and Democratic conventions, they are merely two months not only from choosing a president, but also from choosing the advisers who will determine the country’s course in the world.
So, to peel back the curtain on this rarefied part of the Establishment, Foreign Policy has compiled a list of the 50 Republicans who have the greatest influence on the GOP’s foreign policy. The people on this list are all GOP partisans (you will not find serving military officers or career civil servants here), but they come from different ideological traditions and they are currently fighting for the soul of their party’s foreign policy — realists, neoconservatives, even isolationists. If Mitt Romney wins the presidential election he will be handed the keys to the world, and the winner of these battles will determine what he does with it.