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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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Former Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO), a stalwart advocate of Pentagon spending now based at the right-wing Heritage Foundation, says he would have voted for the Iraq War even if he had known the Bush administration’s claims about WMDs were false.


Mike Pompeo (R-KS) is a conservative Republican congressman who was voted into office as part of the “tea party” surge in 2011 and nominated by Donald Trump to be director of the CIA.


Although better known for his domestic platform promoting “limited” government, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has expressed strong sympathies for projecting U.S. military power abroad.


James “Mad Dog” Mattis is a retired U.S Marine Corps general and combat veteran who served as commander of U.S. Central Command during 2010-2013 before being removed by the Obama administration reportedly because of differences over Iran policy.


Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) was one of Congress’s staunchest foreign policy hawks and a “pro-Israel” hardliner.


A self-styled terrorism “expert” who claims that the killing of Osama bin Laden strengthened Al Qaeda, former right-wing Lebanese militia member Walid Phares wildly claims that the Obama administration gave the Muslim Brotherhood “the green light” to sideline secular Egyptians.


Weekly Standard editor and PNAC cofounder Bill Kristol is a longtime neoconservative activist and Washington political operative.


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From the Wires

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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.


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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?


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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.


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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.


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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.


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


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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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