Rudolph “Rudy” Giuliani: Trump lawyer, former NYC mayor, serial repeater of 9-11, and long-time supporter of Mojahedin-e Khalq-e Iran (MEK), a cult-like militant group that advocates the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran and was long classified as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. A foreign policy hawk who has been a major Trump backer, Giuliani’s recent appointment to Trump’s outside legal team quickly led to controversy as he repeatedly made ill-advised public statements about payments Trump allegedly made to keep a sexual affair quiet and called for regime change in Iran. But Giuliani is legendary for going off half cocked, like accusing President Barack Obama of having “founded ISIS.”
Bernard Marcus is the co-founder and former CEO of The Home Depot. He has used his vast wealth to fund a long list of neoconservative organizations and militaristic political candidates. In 2016, he was Donald Trump’s second biggest donor and publicly supported Trump’s “alt-right” adviser, Steve Bannon, even going so far as to confront more centrist Jewish groups who charged Bannon with anti-Semitism. He has also called the nuclear deal with Iran a “deadly, deadly treaty.”
David Makovsky is a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy—a spin-off of the better known American Israel Public Affairs Committee—where he directs the Project on the Middle East Peace Process. Makovsky is a centrist on Israel-Palestine, strongly advocating a two-state solution, from a strongly pro-Israel vantage point. “Israel needs to align its settlement policy with a two-state approach that enables Israeli-Palestinian compromise,” he has written. On Iran, however, he generally takes a harder, though he has been mostly quiet since Trump took office.
Sheldon Adelson is a casino magnate who is known for his lavish donations to Republican Party politicians, as well as his support for numerous right-wing “pro-Israel” organizations. A major booster of both Donald Trump and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, Adelson is thought to have significant influence on their policies. Adelson has seen his investment in Trump pay off as the president has made highly controversial moves on two issues that are priorities for Adelson, withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman said of Adelson that “it is troubling that one man, with a willingness and ability to give away giant sums, can now tilt Israeli and American politics his way at the same time.”
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) is a prominent Republican Party figure and a darling of neoconservatives whose militaristic views on foreign policy have helped him gain popularity across the political right. A leading hawk on Iran and a reliable pro-Likud voice in the Senate, Cotton was known for his efforts to push the United States into violating international law by reneging on its commitments under the Iran nuclear agreement. Karl Rove has said of Cotton, “He’s a rising star. He’s capable of building bridges within the Party.” And Steve Bannon: “How many guys in town can give a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations and also get kudos in the pages of Breitbart? The answer is, one guy.”
Lewis “Scooter” Libby is the senior vice president of the neoconservative think tank, the Hudson Institute. The chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, Libby was convicted on a number of counts related to the revelation of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity in 2007 as part of the campaign to undermine opponents of the disastrous U.S. invasion of Iraq. George W. Bush commuted Libby’s sentence and President Donald Trump recently pardoned him in a symbolic gesture widely interpreted as a sign that Trump would wield the pardon pen to protect his associates.
Donald Trump campaigned on getting the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear agreement. He has now fulfilled that promise, heedless of the dramatic consequences this may have on the Middle East. Trump’s policies and decisions have also raised tensions across other parts of the world, from Asia to Europe to the Americas, and his tenure has been marked by questions about collusion with Russia during his election campaign and weakening relations with key allies. While he has lauded his rapprochement with North Korea, in fact it was Trump’s aggression that prompted Pyongyang to rapidly build up its nuclear weapons capabilities, and then call for a summit meeting, which the ruling dynasty had sought for decades.
The US is suffering from the delusions of a hegemonic power that can no longer impose its will on other nations yet refuses to acknowledge the new reality. It has now manufactured another unnecessary, destructive, and imprudent crisis with Iran, which is bound to bring a future clash between US and Iran to the detriment of world peace.
Significant numbers of military combat operations across the globe are being outsourced to the private sector with little accountability, including in Syria where both Russia and the United States have put contractors to war.
Among the many disturbing images from the ceremony redesignating a U.S. consulate building in Jerusalem as the new U.S. embassy was the participation of two bigoted American preachers, Robert Jeffress and John Hagee, which reveals just how far removed the issue has become from any presumed effort to provide succor or shelter to a historically persecuted religious minority. Only dogma and raw power remain.
The costs of America’s “war on terror,” still spreading in the Trump era, are incalculable. Just look at photos of the cities of Ramadi or Mosul in Iraq, Raqqa or Aleppo in Syria, Sirte in Libya, or Marawi in the southern Philippines, all in ruins in the wake of the conflicts Washington set off in the post–9/11 years, and try to put a price on them. That number is not included in the $5.6 trillion that the “Costs of War Project” at Brown University’s Watson Institute estimates has been spent since September 12, 2001.
Given the chaotic policymaking process in the White House, Iran policy will likely be implemented in an ad hoc fashion subject to the interplay between President Trump’s continued incoherence and a drive toward confrontation pushed primarily by John Bolton.