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Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Featured Profiles:

Mike Pompeo

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Mike Pompeo is a “tea party” Republican was serves as CIA director in the Trump administration. A vocal Iran critic, Pompeo has called for preemptive bombing of Iranian nuclear sites. After the surprise US missile strike on Syria in April 2017, Pompeo warned that the strike was also a signal to Iran concerning its adherence to the agreement on its nuclear program (the JCPOA). He said, “We should all be mindful, given what took place in Syria, and go back and read that JCPOA when it talks about declared facilities and undeclared facilities and how much access [inspectors]will have to each of those two very distinct groups,”

Ted Cruz

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Facing stiff Democratic competition for his Senate seat, Sen Ted Cruz, an erstwhile fervent critic of Donald Trump, has warmed to the new president, including on foreign policy. He has backed Trump’s approach on Iran, in particular with respect to the agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. During the 2016 campaign, Cruz advocated “ripping the deal to shreds.” However, the senator has more recently backed Trump’s wish to “renegotiate” the deal. Cruz said at a recent conference, “What [Trump] has said he intends to do is vigorously enforce the deal and renegotiate it so that it better protects our interests. If that’s the path he has chosen, I encourage him to do exactly that.”

 

 

James Mattis

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Since taking over as Defense Secretary, Mattis has pressed an aggressive stance on Iran. He is one of several administration figures to have recently complained about the country’s “destabilizing” influence. Pointing to Tehran’s role in Yemen’s conflict, Mattis said: “We will have to overcome Iran’s efforts to destabilize yet another country and create another militia in their image of Lebanese Hezbollah.” The comments were made at the same time that Trump announced a review of the Iran nuclear deal and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson complained about “alarming ongoing provocations” by Iran, which he said has “the potential to travel the same path as North Korea and to take the world along with it.”

Mark Kirk

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Since losing his Senate seat in the November elections, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) has continued his advocacy of hardline U.S. foreign policies. During a United Against Nuclear Iran and Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs briefing in early 2017, Kirk pressed the Trump administration to turn up the heat on Iran. He focused attention on ways to attack the Iran nuclear agreement, including “declassifying” the deal. “The best thing the Trump administration can do is declassify the entire agreement and publish it so the Congress and the American people can look at it and see the negotiating record and understand all of the terms as they were put forward before the parties.”

 

Walid Phares

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A self-styled terrorism “expert” who was associated with right-wing militia during the Lebanese Civil War and served as an adviser to the 2016 Trump campaign, Walid Phares has long pushed a hardline on Iran. After the Trump administration’s cruise-missile strike against Syria in the wake of the Assad regime’s apparent use of chemical weapons, Phares highlighted “Iran’s agenda,” telling Fox: “The US has drawn a red line on the use by Assad and his allies of chemical weapons anywhere. On the other hand Russia is drawing a line on toppling Assad now by military means. However even assuming we eliminate ISIS and get to a political solution for Syria later, the remaining problem is Iran’s agenda.”

William Kristol

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Since his much ridiculed failure to launch a third-party presidential candidate in 2016, Bill Kristol has grown ever closer to embracing Donald Trump. The replacement of Michael Flynn with General McMaster and the bombing of Syria appear to have sealed the deal. Kristol is now hopeful that the Trump administration will end “nondisastrously.”

 

 

 

Frank Gaffney

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Frank Gaffney, an anti-Islam ideologue who heads the neoconservative Center for Security Policy (CSP), argues that Donald Trump is “Reaganesque” in his foreign policy vision. After Trump’s executive orders banning immigration from several Muslim-majority countries, many observers drew the connection between Gaffney/CSP and these policies. According to one report, “In 2015, Gaffney commissioned [Trump aide Kellyanne] Conway’s firm to produce” the poll that Trump cited on the campaign trail when he demanded “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

 

 

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From the Wires

Spurred by anti-internationalist sentiment among conservative Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration, the US is headed for a new confrontation with the UN over who decides how much the US should pay for peacekeeping.


Decent developments in the Trump administration indicate that the neoconservatives, at one point on the margins of Washington’s new power alignments, are now on the ascendent?


As the end of Donald Trump’s first 100 days as president approaches, it seems that his version of an “America-first” foreign policy is in effect a military-first policy aimed at achieving global hegemony, which means it’s a potential doomsday machine.


Hopeful that Donald Trump may actually be their kind of guy, neoconservatives are full of praise for the cruise-missile strike against Syria and are pressing for more.


Steve Bannon’s removal from the NSC’s Principals Committee doesn’t mean that he’s gone from the White House or no longer exerts a powerful influence on Trump. His office is still located very close to the Oval Office, and there’s nothing to indicate that his dark and messianic worldview has changed.


Promoting sanctions that could undermine the Iran nuclear deal, pushing security assistance for Israel, combatting BDS, and more.


Contrary to some wishful thinking following the Trump administration’s decision to “put Iran on notice” and seemingly restore U.S.-Saudi ties, there are little signs of apprehension in Tehran.


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