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

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Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) was recently indicted by the Justice Department on federal corruption charges for what the New York Times characterized as a “brazen pattern of gifts and favors exchanged by Mr. Menendez, one of the most powerful Democrats in Washington, and Dr. Salomon Melgen, a Dominican-born eye surgeon who invested heavily in Mr. Menendez’s political career and was never shy about calling in favors.” The charges have spurred calls for him to relinquish his Senate seat, including from the New York Time’s editorial board, which opined that “he would be doing a disservice to New Jersey by clinging to power as a disgraced politician.”

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Maryam Rajavi, leader of the controversial People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), an Iranian opposition group that for years was listed by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist group, was recently invited to testify at a congressional hearing on ISIS, spurring widespread criticism and prompting two former officials who were scheduled to appear at the hearing to declare they would not testify alongside her. According to one journalist, the “MEK’s influence in Washington, particularly with Iran hawks, has coincided with a flow of money from the group to American politicians.”

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Before there was a campaign to attack Iran there was the campaign to attack Iraq, and one of the leaders of that effort was the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq (CLI), a short-lived yet apparently influential group supported by many of the same ideological actors who are today pushing a hardline on Tehran. According to CLI founder Bruce Jackson, the group was formed at the behest of Bush administration officials who asked him to replicate his earlier success pushing for NATO expansion through his U.S. Committee on NATO.

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Founded in 2008 as a joint initiative of two influential right-wing groups, the American Enterprise Institute and the Federalist Society, Global Governance Watch (GGW) monitors international organizations, reflecting the anxiety often expressed by neoconservatives and other right-wingers regarding efforts to constrain U.S. sovereignty. As one observer points out, GGW uses the term “global governance” in a “pejorative fashion,” connoting a “general feeling of lost control over new sources of power, often located beyond nation-states.”

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The Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) is U.S.-based pressure group that has pushed for the United States to attack Iran and has smeared critics of hawkish Israeli policies. ECI has stridently opposed the Obama administration’s nuclear negotiations with Iran and has characterized the recent framework nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 as a “litany of concessions to Iran.” ECI has called on members of Congress to do their “duty” and “kill this proposed deal.”

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Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) has been harshly criticized for claiming that an attack on Iran would be a cakewalk—or, as he put it, “something more along the lines of what President Clinton did in December 1998 during Operation Desert Fox. Several days air and naval bombing against Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction facilities for exactly the same kind of behavior.” One observer remarked that Cotton’s notion of a war with Iran “smacks of the prediction neoconservative hawks made about the Iraq war.”

 

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George Weigel, a theologian often referred to as a “neoconservative Catholic” by his critics, has a long track record calling for more aggressive U.S. foreign policies. In a recent fear-mongering op-ed, he claimed that President Obama was destroying the “world order,” writing:  “[T]he United States itself is not going to come apart at the seams in the wake of the Obama administration. But very little of the world order of which the United States was the linchpin and guarantor will be left on January 21, 2017.” Weigel has also contended that Obama is “complementing appeasement” of U.S. adversaries “by dismantling the U.S. military in all its component parts.”

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From the Wires

April 28, 2015

Rep. Ted Poe’s unusual invitation to MEK-leader Maryam Rajavi to provide testimony on ISIS before Congress may be due to the significant funding Poe receives from MEK supporters.


April 20, 2015

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) recently spoke bluntly about his aim to rely on “pro-Israel” funding to support his potential run for president.


April 18, 2015

Prominent neoconservatives like Bill Kristol are upset over the watered-down Corker-Menendez bill on the Iranian nuclear negotiations, which President Obama has said he will not veto.


April 14, 2015

United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI), the secretive neoconservative group, is apparently intent on distancing itself from the comments of its own president, Gary Samore, who has spoken favorably of the framework agreement reached with Iran.


April 08, 2015

Hedge-fund billionaire Paul Singer, a major Republican donor and “pro-Israel” hawk, has recently been sounding the alarm about the alleged threat of an electromagnetic pulse attack.


April 07, 2015

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has stated that critics of a nuclear deal do not want a war with Iran, even as a long list of individuals associated with AIPAC have explicitly called for war with Iran.


April 07, 2015

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) is a major recipient of funding from prominent hawkish donors and AIPAC-aligned political action committees.


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