last updated: October 10, 2012
The ongoing crisis in Syria has become a litmus test for Bush-era neoconservatives, as well as the larger interventionist coalition that pushed for the Iraq War under the banner of the Project for the New American Century. Just as we saw during the years preceding the invasion of Iraq, the emergence of a pro-intervention coalition is occurring in the absence of a serious discussion about the complexity of the circumstances surrounding Syria’s spiraling civil war, the challenges inherent in any outside military engagement, and the dangers of a zero-sum approach to the conflict.
last updated: July 01, 2012
Although he has developed a reputation for ideological flexibility, Mitt Romney’s campaign rhetoric on foreign policy seems calibrated to allow him the least possible amount of breathing room if he were to become president—a trend that is buttressed by a slate of hawkish advisers who have apparently marginalized the more moderate voices in the candidate’s circle. Romney obviously believes that a hawkish approach provides the best antidote to President Obama’s foreign policy record. If he’s right, it may prove difficult to tack back to a more responsible foreign policy once he’s in the Oval Office.
last updated: May 03, 2012
Tensions have been reaching near fevered pitch over Iran’s nuclear program as Israeli leaders and their supporters in the United States have pressed for military action to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons. However, a number of factors have been working against the hawks, including recent progress at the P5+1 talks and the lack of enthusiasm for another conflict among a war-weary U.S. public. In recent weeks, a new force has emerged that seems to have made the threat of war even less imminent—the unprecedented wave of dissent from current and former top Israeli officials.
last updated: April 18, 2012
As pressure mounts to arm rebels in Syria, there is need for a sober assessment of the costs and consequences of the increasing militarization of the conflict there. If history is any guide, a foreign-backed armed rebellion will likely not produce the kind of victory—or engender the kind of support—that the anti-Assad fighters will require to usher in a new Syria. Additionally, there is the very real possibility that many of the rebels—as we’ve seen in Libya—will turn out to be little better than the regime they seek to replace.
last updated: March 05, 2012
Before a skeptical audience of delegates from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, President Obama affirmed U.S-Israeli ties and challenged detractors to impugn his administration’s record of support for the Jewish state. However, while insisting that that the United States would consider military options in the event of Iran’s developing a nuclear weapon, he also warned Israeli allies of “loose talk” about war, which Obama said only empowers the Iranian regime and decreases prospects for a diplomatic solution.
last updated: January 31, 2012
Tehran's threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, coupled with mounting threats from hawks in Israel and the United States, has brought the possibility of war sharply into view. But a number of influential members of the U.S. foreign policy establishment—including several prominent liberal interventionists who supported the invasion of Iraq—are warning against further escalation.
last updated: December 19, 2011
The purported “end of the neocon consensus” has hardly meant an end to hawkishness in the GOP fold. With the Republican candidates virtually all gunning for Iran, backing right-wing Israeli policies toward the Palestinians, and stabling a passel of neoconservative advisers (Ron Paul excepted), voters have plenty of clues about what the foreign policy of a new GOP administration would look like. And while some of the candidates have expressed wariness with neoconservative notions of armed democracy promotion, all the signs indicate that if a Republican wins next year, we will likely be in for a bit if George W. redux.
last updated: December 13, 2011
With key members of the "Israel Lobby" acknowledging the importance of providing a broader space to Israel’s critics, the indelibly beltway Politico recognizing the influence of such critics in a full-length feature, and core Democratic organizations showing an increasing sensitivity to inappropriate uses of the anti-Semite charge, is the United States finally willing to undertake a real debate on what are the best U.S. interests in the Middle East?
last updated: November 08, 2011
The issue of whither U.S. relations with China is an important test case for observing the divide between the free market and neoconservative wings of the Republican Party. Thus far, the GOP presidential candidates have largely failed to articulate a vision of China that comes anywhere close to reflecting the complexity of U.S.-Chinese relations. Among the leading candidates, Mitt Romney has arguably been the most aggressive in his discussion of China policy. Yet, his embrace of a hawkish line towards Beijing would appear to indicate that President Obama’s would-be challengers have not yet found an alternative vocabulary for talking and thinking about one of the critical foreign policy issues of the 2012 election. It seems clear that even though neoconservatives lack grassroots support, they offer what is effectively the only option for an “establishment” GOP candidate, a fact that could have lasting impact both on the viability of any Republican Party foreign policy platform as well as future U.S. decision-making vis-à-vis other hotspots like Iran, Israel, and North Korea.
last updated: October 31, 2011
Since Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s call for an independent Palestinian state at the UN General Assembly in September, the mood in Washington towards the Palestinians has turned increasingly hostile. Led by the likes of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), hawkish “pro-Israel” policymakers and pundits have been pushing for an end to U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority in an effort to punish it. But the steady erosion of Israel’s international legitimacy, combined with diminishing U.S. influence in the region, could well lead to an eventual solution, particularly if this situation forces Israel to loosen its iron grip on the Palestinian territories and participate in meaningful dialogue.
last updated: September 22, 2011
President Obama’s decision to come out against the Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN General Assembly this week might have spelled an end to four-decades of U.S. leadership on Middle East peace. Boxed in by the Palestinians and the surging international support for their cause, Obama is also facing tremendous pressure at home, where presidential-election politics threaten to further drive the United States into isolation in its one-sided support for Israel. Leading the charge is Texas Governor Rick Perry, the Republican presidential candidate who claimed at a press conference earlier in the week that “help is on the way” and that his Christian faith gives him “clear directive to support Israel.” Such faith apparently does not include giving moral support to the Palestinians, whom Perry equated with “orchestrators of terrorism.”
last updated: August 28, 2011
In a ground-breaking new report, the Center for American Progress reveals the small group of inter-connected foundations, think tanks, pundits, and bloggers that has been behind a decades-long campaign to promote fear of Islam and Muslims in the United States. The report, "Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America," identifies seven foundations that have quietly provided a total of more than $42 million to individuals and organisations that have spearheaded the anti-Islam campaign. They include funders that have long been associated with the extreme right, as well as several family foundations that have supported right-wing and settler groups in Israel. The network also includes what the report calls "misinformation experts," such as Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, Daniel Pipes of Middle East Forum, Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, David Yerushalmi of the Society of Americans for National Existence, and Robert Spencer of Stop Islamization of America--all of whom often appear on national TV news networks and right-wing radio shows to comment on Islam and its alleged threat to U.S. national security.
last updated: August 23, 2011
Tunisia, Egypt, now Libya. Each of these revolutions have occurred under the watchful eye of the House of Saud, which has sought to stifle change and suffocate democratic aspirations in the Arab world. While the United States appears to have viewed Saudi machinations as serving its interests in the short term, there can be little doubt that U.S. acquiescence to Saudi interests will have serious implications down the road. At a watershed political moment, the United States has failed to act in accordance with its own principles, and thus could lose the respect and cooperation of yet another generation of Arabs. The potential fallout from these mistakes could haunt U.S. policy for decades to come.
last updated: August 02, 2011
Anders Behring Breivik’s hateful rhetoric is part of a larger right-wing trend demonizing Islam. This kind of discourse, as Richard Hofstadter pointed out in his classic The Paranoid Style in American Politics, views the purported enemy as “being totally evil and totally unappeasable,” thus requiring its utter elimination, “if not from the world, at least from the theater of operations to which the paranoid directs his attention.” America has seen this kind of phenomenon before, with McCarthyism and the Ku Klux Klan, both of which emerged at times during which the United States was confronted with the limits of its power. To understand the likes of Anders Breivik, we must look beyond the American anti-Muslim bloggers who schooled him, and begin to ask what in U.S. politics and society has nurtured these purveyors of hate and paranoia in the first place.
last updated: June 30, 2011
Despite vocal efforts by some foreign policy hawks to view the war on drugs as an extension of the war on terror, the emerging consensus—even among the political establishment—is that the war on drugs has been a dismal failure. Drug production—and body counts—surge in Latin America, opium is a staple crop in Afghanistan despite the presence of tens of thousands of occupying troops, and anti-drug policies that have helped put hundreds of thousands of non-violent offenders behind bars have had no discernible impact on usage. But for much of the rightwing establishment, drug prohibition is just like any other war: deserving of uncritical support even in the face of defeat.
last updated: June 08, 2011
A number of conservatives and security hawks have used the death of Osama bin Laden as a prop in their public relations war on behalf of torture. Despite evidence to the contrary, these pundits and “experts”—led by a passel of former Bush administration officials—allege that without “enhanced interrogation techniques” bin Laden would still be living and that Barack Obama’s efforts to stop the use of torture have endangered the United States. But their claims have amounted to little more than an embellishment of the historical record and a distortion of the real impact of torture on U.S. policy and security.
last updated: May 31, 2011
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand that Israel be recognized as a “Jewish state” is unprecedented in the history of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Rooted in a nineteenth century European-nationalist worldview, the concept has been officially opposed by the United States, and with good reason—it goes against basic principles of international law and has served to undermine efforts to negotiate a lasting Middle East peace.
last updated: May 17, 2011
Just as they did in their effort to push for war in Iraq, hawks are assiduously laying the groundwork for their campaign to push for a U.S. attack on Iran. Although taking cues from the same playbook they used after 9/11, thus far the war campaigners have yet to see all the necessary pieces fall into place for a successful crusade. But theirs is a long game, and we would be severely remiss if we failed to acknowledge that the hawks are preparing themselves to take advantage of any crisis or significant political change to push through their agenda.
last updated: April 26, 2011
As the Arab Spring confronts increasing resistance from entrenched interests in the region, the Palestinian cause appears to be at best a fading concern of demonstrators—or so “pro-Israel” ideologues would have us believe. But this myth of a divide between Arab demonstrators and Palestinians does not stand up to the evidence. And just as importantly, it fails to take into account that what we are witnessing across the Arab world is a broad-based movement aimed at asserting democratic rights and undermining the grip of hegemonic forces in the region, and that nowhere is the need for this movement more acute than in Palestine.
last updated: April 05, 2011
The Palestinian people — and the rest of the world — have begun to realize that even an iron fist can only maintain its grip for so long. And yet, despite the widespread anger that led to the fall of the Mubarak regime in Egypt, western powers are busily building its counterpart in the West Bank. Palestinian anger has become larger and more coordinated than many expected, and its “Mubarak moment” may be very close at hand. If the Arab revolutions empower Palestinians to build a mass movement for independence, and if the new Arab governments push Israel’s neighbors to play a more active role in the Palestinian struggle, then Israeli regional hegemony could be significantly compromised.
Founded by neoconservative trailblazer Irving Kristol in 1985, the National Interest has drifted away from its neocon roots since its takeover by the realist-oriented Nixon Center in 2001. Editor Jacob Heilbrunn, for example, recently defended libertarian Sen. Rand Paul against an onslaught of criticism from GOP hawks—including Irving Kristol's son William—who battered the Kentucky Republican over his opposition to U.S. intervention in Syria and Ukraine. Heilbrunn, who held out that Paul could revive the realist Republican school of foreign policy, likened Paul's critics to Cold War-era hawks who "were all full of talk of confrontation and readiness to resort to nuclear war" but who ultimately failed at the brass tacks of foreign policy.
James Schlesinger, who passed away in March, was an elite member of hawkish policy circles for decades. In the 1970s, he served under several administrations as the director of the CIA, secretary of defense, and secretary of energy, before entering the corporate world and serving on government advisory panels for the remainder of his career. A lifelong advocate of nuclear weapons, he was once called the “Yoda” of nuclear strategists. Despite his generally hawkish views, Schlesinger evinced an independent streak, once warning military leaders not to take any order to mobilize from President Richard Nixon—whom Schlesinger thought was dangerously unstable—unless he or Henry Kissinger had approved it.
Bret Stephens, a Wall Street Journal columnist who has long trumpeted a hawkish “pro-Israel” line on Mideast policy, recently penned a satirical op-ed calling on Republicans to vote for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in the next presidential primary, because—he explained—what Republicans need as a “nominee in 2016 is a man of … glaring disqualifications. Someone so nakedly unacceptable to the overwhelming majority of sane Americans that only the GOP could think of nominating him.” Among the issues that mark Paul as a right-wing crazy, according to Stephens, is his insistence that Vice President Dick Cheney helped manufacture a “war in Iraq” for his friends in business and politics. But, asks Stephens, “Cui bono—to whose benefit? It's the signature question of every conspiracy theorist with an unhinged mind. Cheney. Halliburton. Big Oil. The military-industrial complex. Neocons. 9/11. Soldiers electrocuted in the shower. It all makes perfect sense, doesn't it?”
Jaime Daremblum, a former Costa Rican ambassador to the United States who now works at the neoconservative Hudson Institute, is a vocal proponent of conspiracy theories concerning an alleged Iranian plot to attack the United States in alliance with left-leaning governments in South America. He has been especially alarmist about Venezuela, whose democratically elected government he has described as a "virtual dictatorship," as well as Argentina, whose government he has accused of cooperating with an Iranian coverup of the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.
Concerned Women for America (CWA), a Christian Right advocacy group founded to combat the influence of “anti-God” feminists, recently made “support for Israel” one of its core issues. As part of its newfound mission, the group lobbied in support of the Kirk-Menendez “insurance policy” sanctions on Iran, which critics said were designed to scuttle the ongoing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. The group has also drawn controversy in recent years for supporting anti-gay legislation in Russia and for publishing a host of anti-Islamic statements.
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April, 17 2014
Sen. Mark Kirk, the strongly hawkish Republican from Illinois who has accused the State Department of playing politics by negotiating with Iran, has grown increasingly strident in his support for Israel as campaign donations from “pro-Israel” groups has ballooned.
April, 15 2014
A recent resolution passed by the European Parliament promoting renewed engagement between Iran and the EU has angered Iran because it scrutinizes Tehran's human rights record and calls on EU diplomats to meet with Iranian dissidents.
April, 13 2014
A new book argues that President Harry Truman, the U.S. president who first recognized the state of Israel, was skeptical of a Jewish-led state, preferring instead a joint Jewish-Arab federation in Palestine.
April, 09 2014
In its report on GOP mega-donor Paul Singer's financial support for gay rights causes, the Washington Post neglected to mention Singer's potentially greater support for hardline neoconservative foreign policy outfits.
April, 07 2014
Although Palestinians have sought to pressure Israel by applying for membership in a host of international organizations, they have so far refrained from joining the International Criminal Court, which would enable them to bring war crimes cases against Israel.
April, 01 2014
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks may serve the interests of political leaders in Washington, Ramallah, and Tel Aviv, but they appear doomed to failure.
March, 31 2014
A recent report by a Brookings scholar recommends passing a congressional authorization for war in the event that Iran abandons nuclear negotiations with the west.