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

Featured Profiles

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Marc Thiessen is a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush and currently a Washington Post columnist and American Enterprise Institute visiting fellow. Known for his defense of controversial U.S. security and defense policies—including “enhanced interrogation techniques”—Theissen recently joined the neoconservative chorus calling for U.S. ground forces to be sent into Syria and Iraq to fight ISIS. Thiessen has also attempted to whip up fear about the Ebola crisis, arguing that “Suicide bombers infected with Ebola could blow themselves up in a crowded place … spreading infected tissue and bodily fluids.”

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Ray Takeyh is a senior fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations and a former official in the Obama State Department who has been called Washington’s “go-to” Iran analyst. He has for years taken a stridently alarmist tone with respect to Iran’s nuclear program and has been critical of the Obama administrations nuclear negotiations with Iran. In July 2014, Takeyh co-authored a report by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs that called for increasing “pressure” on Iran during the on-going negotiations.

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Chris Griffin, executive director of the neoconservative Foreign Policy Initiative, thinks it was a “mistake” for the Obama administration to refuse to use U.S. ground troops in the war against ISIS. Griffin also hopes for missions creep in the fight against ISIS, arguing that Obama’s anti-ISIS plan should also “train and arm mainstream group on a large scale” in Syria to “bring about a post-Assad Syria that is free of terror.”

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James Woolsey, the former CIA director and chairman of the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies, argues that President Obama is "heading in the right direction" in his approach to the Islamic State but he insists that the president must make a declaration of war. Woolsey also thinks thatNSA whistleblower Edward Snowden should to be “hanged” if convicted of treason. 

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Mitchel Reiss, a former U.S. diplomat who held numerous posts in the George W. Bush administration, is concerned that the United States may be getting “suckered” by Iran. He has criticized the Obama administration’s nuclear negotiations with Iran, calling for broadening the “scope of negotiations” with Iran to “include Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and its systemic violation of human rights.” Experts at Harvard’s Belfer Center for International Affairs have referred to Reiss’ position as “mindless maximalism.”

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Ashton Carter, former deputy secretary of defense in the Barack Obama administration, is a longtime academic and Pentagon bureaucrat who has advocated using military force as part of controversial nuclear counter-proliferation programs. During his time as deputy defense secretary, Carter strongly criticized cuts in the defense budget. One observer responded to Carter’s criticisms arguing that the cuts “resulted in part from the inefficient and unsound choices the Pentagon has made over the past decade, much of it occurring on Carter’s own watch.” Carter was recently appointed senior executive at the Markle Foundation, an organization that “works to realize the potential of information technology to address previously intractable public problems, for the health and security of all Americans.”

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Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, is now arguably better known as a member of the NCAA’s College Football Playoff selection committee. As an official in the George W. Bush administration, Rice was closely associated with the government’s warrantless wiretapping and interrogation programs, during which detainees were tortured. In 2014, it was revealed that she helped kill a 2003 New York Times story about a failed CIA attempt to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program. The journalist behind the story, James Risen, eventually put the story in a book and endured several years of court battles with the U.S. government over the identity of his sources, which he eventually lost. 

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From the Wires

October, 21 2014

Obama’s decision to airdrop new weapons and supplies to Kurdish fighters in the besieged town of Kobani has been praised by Republican hawks, who have called for much stronger action, including no-fly zones and attacks on Syrian military targets.


October, 21 2014

Democrats and Republicans in Washington have been swift in their efforts to discredit human rights groups who have criticized the Israeli government’s talking points on Gaza.


October, 15 2014

The crumbling Levant poses a greater danger than ISIL and must be addressed first and foremost by the states of the region.


October, 15 2014

America’s Cold-War era Middle East policy of relying on a cast of autocratic states plus Israel must change.


October, 14 2014

The longstanding U.S. policy of not engaging Iran and working to contain its influence in the Middle East has in fact contributed to rising sectarian tensions and extremism in the region.


October, 09 2014

The U.S. track record of using military force in the Middle East has tended to make things worse rather than better, and there is no reason to believe things will be different in the campaign against ISIS.


October, 07 2014

The Obama administration has announced that the strict standards it set-out last year to prevent civilian deaths in U.S. drone strikes will not apply to U.S. military actions in Iraq and Syria.


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