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

Bush’s Messes in Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan; Plus NGOWatch, Richard Perle, and more

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FEATURED ARTICLE

Somalia in the Crosshairs
By Najum Mushtaq | February 1, 2007

The Bush administration’s Somalia policy has been consistently dictated by an exaggerated fear of al-Qaida’s strength in Somalia, leading it to equate the indigenous Somali Islamic courts with the global network of terrorism. Read full story.

ALSO NEW THIS WEEK ON RIGHT WEB

Afghanistan: Upping the Ante
By Jim Lobe | February 1, 2007

Despite widespread opposition to the Iraq “surge” plan, few seem to oppose U.S. efforts to increase its troop levels in Afghanistan. Read full story.

Iraq: Who’s the Enemy?
By Jim Lobe | February 1, 2007

January has proved a bewildering month for U.S. forces, under attack from various armed factions whose loyalties are often far from clear. Read full story.

NEW RIGHT WEB PROFILES

NGOWatch
Regarded by some as a “McCarthyite blacklist,” NGOWatch is a joint project between the neoconservative-affiliated American Enterprise Institute and the Federalist Society, a powerful right-wing judicial group.

Richard Perle
The onetime “Prince of Darkness” and current neocon black sheep, Perle has turned into a prince of pessimism when it comes to the war in Iraq.

Iran Policy Committee
This group of retired military brass and rightist policy wonks hopes the president will add regime change in Iran to his call for a “surge” in Iraq.

Richard Allen
The Defense Policy Board member and former national security adviser guesses that Reagan would have done a better job than Bush when it comes to Iraq.

ODDS & ENDS

“Scoop” Jackson Lives

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is the latest recipient of the Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson Distinguished Service Award, which is presented annually by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), a neoconservative-aligned policy center that fosters military-to-military relations between Israel and the United States. The award honors Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson, a hardline, pro-Israel Democratic senator from Washington State whose office in the 1970s served as a rallying point for a host of nascent neoconservatives in their efforts to rollback the “appeasement” policies of the post-Vietnam War Democratic Party.

Speaking at the JINSA award dinner on December 5 in Washington, DC, McCain said that the United States has moral and strategic ties with Israel, and that “we will stand with Israel as she fights the same enemy.” McCain said that “American support for Israel should intensify—to include providing needed military equipment and technology.” McCain, who traveled to Israel with Senator Jackson in 1979, joins a long line of hawks from both parties who have received JINSA’s Jackson Award, including Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), Paul Wolfowitz, Curt Weldon, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Dick Cheney, Max Kampelman, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and Duncan Hunter.

McCain warned that “Tehran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons clearly poses an unacceptable risk” and noted that Iran is flouting the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. However, he neglected to mention Israel’s own nuclear arsenal and refusal to join the nonproliferation accord.

Freedom’s Just Another Word …

In a January 26 Financial Times op-ed, Anatol Lieven of the New America Foundation takes Freedom House and the U.S. government to task for making an overly facile connection between freedom and elections. He writes: “In recent years … U.S. official and semi-official rhetoric has too often reduced Freedom with a capital ‘F’ chiefly to the right to vote. Even freedom of expression is usually taken to mean little more than unrestricted private media ownership, even if this leads to oligarchic or monopolistic control of the sources of mass information. This attitude has survived what should have been the sobering experience of the elections in Iraq and Afghanistan. Loudly touted at the time as critically important signs of these countries’ progress, two years later they appear to have achieved precisely nothing in terms of the creation of national polities or working states, let alone of peace, progress, and security.”

Lieven notes that in the new “Freedom in the World” country index compiled by Freedom House, “China’s freedom rating today is—grotesquely—barely different from its score in 1972, when China was undergoing the murderous Cultural Revolution.” Lieven contrasts Freedom House’s “simplistic” freedom benchmarks, whose activities are partially funded by the U.S. government, with the broader view offered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 1941 “Four Freedoms” speech, in which FDR highlighted America’s international commitment to freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. Lieven points out that Roosevelt defined freedom from fear “in terms of the permanent abolition of aggressive war.”

In the Freedom House rating system, Lieven observes, “The United States, of course, invariably gets top marks for political rights and civil liberties. Meanwhile, the ‘Freedom’ ratings of other countries show a marked tendency to move up and down according to the degree of their alliance with the United States and their commitment to a U.S. version of unrestricted capitalism.”

Adds Lieven, “What will create real freedom for people in such countries will not be a simplistic version of ‘democracy’ based on meaningless elections and a pro-U.S. policy, but economic development leading to education and a real sense of individual rights and personal dignity, accompanied by the development of working state institutions.”

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Featured Profiles

Rep. Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), former chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, is a leading ”pro-Israel” hawk in Congress.


Brigette Gabriel, an anti-Islamic author and activist, is the founder of the right-wing group ACT! for America.


The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), one of the more effective U.S. lobbying outfits, aims to ensure that the United States backs Israel regardless of the policies Israel pursues.


Frank Gaffney, director of the hardline neoconservative Center for Security Policy, is a longtime advocate of aggressive U.S. foreign policies, bloated military budgets, and confrontation with the Islamic world.


Shmuley Boteach is a “celebrity rabbi” known for his controversial “pro-Israel” advocacy.


United against Nuclear Iran is a pressure group that attacks companies doing business in Iran and disseminates alarmist reports about the country’s nuclear program.


Huntsman, the millionaire scion of the Huntsman chemical empire, is a former Utah governor who served as President Obama’s first ambassador to China and was a candidate for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.


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From the Wires

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AIPAC has done more than just tolerate the U.S. tilt toward extreme and often xenophobic views. Newly released tax filings show that the country’s biggest pro-Israel group financially contributed to the Center for Security Policy, the think-tank that played a pivotal role in engineering the Trump administration’s efforts to impose a ban on Muslim immigration.


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It would have been hard for Trump to find someone with more extreme positions than David Friedman for U.S. ambassador to Israel.


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Although the mainstream media narrative about Trump’s Russia ties has been fairly linear, in reality the situation appears to be anything but.


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Reagan’s military buildup had little justification, though the military was rebuilding after the Vietnam disaster. Today, there is almost no case at all for a defense budget increase as big as the $54 billion that the Trump administration wants.


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The very idea of any U.S. president putting his personal financial interests ahead of the U.S. national interest is sufficient reason for the public to be outraged. That such a conflict of interest may affect real U.S. foreign policy decisions is an outrage.


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The new US administration is continuing a state of war that has existed for 16 years.


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