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

Bush III?

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Jeb Bush

Shortly after President Obama won re-election, commentators began mentioning Jeb Bush as a possible contender for 2016, especially as the former Florida governor chastised members of his party for being out of step on some cultural and economic issues. Hindering his potential appeal, however, is Jeb’s pointed refusal to criticize the unpopular policies of his brother George W., leading many analysts to conclude that Jeb is unlikely to lead the Republican Party in the future. One ideological faction that may view him favorably are the neoconservatives, who successfully enlisted Jeb’s support in the launching of the Project for the New American Century in 1997.

Max Kampelman (1920-2013)

Max Kampelman, a Cold War-era arms control negotiator who often supported rightist “pro-Israel” policy groups, passed away in January 2013 at the age of 92. Like many of his neoconservative contemporaries, Kampelman's early politics leaned left. During World War II, Kampelman was a pacifist and conscientious objector. However, while working for Sen. Hubert Humphrey in the 1940s, Kampelman experienced a transformation in his politics, abandoning pacifism for a more aggressive view of national security. According to Kampelman, "The development of atomic and hydrogen bombs led me to doubt my earlier faith in the power of nonviolence to overcome evil in international relations.” Yet Kampelman’s views continued to evolve even late into life, as demonstrated by his efforts to promote global nuclear weapons abolition during his final years.

Harold Rhode

Harold Rhode is a retired Defense Department adviser based at the Gatestone Institute in New York, an activist group that promotes anti-Islamic ideas and policies. A proponent of a hawkish, "pro-Israel" U.S. agenda in the Middle East, Rhode used the occasion of Israel's recent apology to Turkey for killing unarmed Turkish activists in 2010 to accuse the Turkish government of aspiring to create a new "version of the Ottoman Empire." He argued that Israel would have to "remind its enemies who’s boss."

Hudson Institute

The Hudson Institute, part of a closely-knit group of neoconservative policy institutes that champion aggressive and Israel-centric U.S. foreign policies, has seen a number of its scholars in recent months press for regime change in Iran. Hudson’s “Scooter” Libby and Hillel Fradkin have worried in op-eds about nuclear-armed mullahs motived by the “religious obligation to create an Islamic new world order,” while Meyrav Wurmser has argued that because Iran’s purported nuclear program poses an “existential threat” to Israel, “Israel must possess the means to deter or defeat the realization of that threat."

Academi LLC (formerly Xe and Blackwater Worldwide)

The U.S. government has dropped most of its remaining weapons-trafficking charges against former executives from the military contractor Blackwater, now known as Academi. Reportedly, the company was able to prove that it had conducted dangerous missions, purchased weapons, and sold them overseas on behalf of the CIA itself, acting as a "virtual extension" of the intelligence agency at a time when its resources were strained. The case has shed new light on the increasing role that the U.S. government has given to private military contractors in conflict situations.


From the Wires

UN Greenlights Long-Awaited Arms Trade Treaty

Despite opposition from a tiny group of recalcitrant states as well as lobbies like the NRA, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to approve new controls on the international arms trade.

P5+1 Coalition Fraying on Eve of Second Almaty Talks with Iran

Tensions over Syria may undermine the unity of the P5+1 powers as they go back to Kazakhstan to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program.

Iraq, Afghanistan Wars Will Cost Trillion Dollars: Report

Costs to U.S. taxpayers of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will run between four and six trillion dollars, making them the most expensive conflicts in U.S. history.

As Iraq Anniversary Fades, “Strategic Narcissism” Stands out

The fact that major media outlets invited virtually no Iraqis to comment on the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of their country suggests that Americans remain as uncurious as ever about the world their government so actively intervenes in.

Obama’s Subtle Message To Israel: You’re Not My Top Priority Anymore

The subtext of Obama’s recent trip to Israel suggests that the president has much bigger fish to fry than placating Prime Minister Netanyahu.


Letters

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Featured Profiles

Former Vice President Dick Cheney was a leading framer of the “global war on terror” and a staunch supporter of aggressive U.S. military action around the world.


Mike Pompeo, the Trump administration’s second secretary of state, is a long time foreign policy hawk and has led the public charge for an aggressive policy toward Iran.


Right Web readers will be familiar with Mr. Fleitz, the former CIA officer who once threatened to take “legal action” against Right Web for publicizing reports of controversies he was associated with in the George W. Bush administration. Fleitz recently left his job at the conspiracy-mongering Center for Security Policy to become chief of staff to John Bolton at the National Security Council.


Norm Coleman is chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition and a former senator from Minnesota known for his hawkish views on foreign policy.


Billionaire hedge fund mogul Paul Singer is known for his predatory business practices and support for neoconservative causes.


Keith Kellogg, national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, is a passionate supporter of Trump’s foreign policy.


Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the largest “pro-Israel” advocacy group in the United States, is known for its zealous Christian Zionism and its growing influence in the Republican Party.


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From the Wires

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The Trumpian new regional order in the Middle East is predicated on strongman rule, disregard for human rights, Sunni primacy over Iran and other Shia centers of power, continued military support for pro-American warring parties regardless of the unlawfulness of such wars, and Israeli hegemony.


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A comparison of U.S. nuclear diplomacy with Iran and the current version with North Korea puts the former in a good light and makes the latter look disappointing. Those with an interest in curbing the dangers of proliferating nuclear weapons should hope that the North Korea picture will improve with time. But whether it does or not, the process has put into perspective how badly mistaken was the Trump administration’s trashing of the Iran nuclear agreement.


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Numerous high profile Trump administration officials maintain close ties with anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists. In today’s America, disparaging Islam is acceptable in ways that disparaging other religions is not. Given the continuing well-funded campaigns by the Islamophobes and continuing support from their enablers in the Trump administration, starting with the president himself, it seems unlikely that this trend will be reversed any time soon.


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The Trump administration’s nuclear proliferation policy is now in meltdown, one which no threat of “steely resolve”—in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s words—will easily contain. It is hemorrhaging in part because the administration has yet to forge a strategy that consistently and credibly signals a feasible bottom line that includes living with—rather than destroying—regimes it despises or fears. Political leaders on both sides of the aisle must call for a new model that has some reasonable hope of restraining America’s foes and bringing security to its Middle East allies.


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Congressional midterm elections are just months away and another presidential election already looms. Who will be the political leader with the courage and presence of mind to declare: “Enough! Stop this madness!” Man or woman, straight or gay, black, brown, or white, that person will deserve the nation’s gratitude and the support of the electorate. Until that occurs, however, the American penchant for war will stretch on toward infinity.


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To bolster the president’s arguments for cutting back immigration, the administration recently released a fear-mongering report about future terrorist threats. Among the potential threats: a Sudanese national who, in 2016, “pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to ISIS”; an Uzbek who “posted a threat on an Uzbek-language website to kill President Obama in an act of martyrdom on behalf of ISIS”; a Syrian who, in a plea agreement, “admitted that he knew a member of ISIS and that while in Syria he participated in a battle against the Syrian regime, including shooting at others, in coordination with Al Nusrah,” an al-Qaeda offshoot.


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The recent appointment of purveyors of anti-Muslim rhetoric to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom exposes the cynical approach Republicans have taken in promoting religious freedom.


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