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 1, 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 3, 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 6, 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 8, 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 2, 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 8, 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 5, 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.
last updated: March 18, 2011
Commentary Magazine’s Contentions blog recently published an entry from Michael Rubin, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, in which he attacked Right Web for employing standards “embraced by conspiracy theorists like the LaRouchies, 9/11 revisionists, and Birthers.” He also criticized Right Web’s director and editor on the basis of a stark mischaracterization of a correspondence between the two from November 2009 and called on Congress to investigate PBS Frontline for publishing stories that provide links to Right Web material.
last updated: March 13, 2011
Ties between Latin America and the Middle East have drawn renewed attention, in part spurred by the tepid reactions of Latin American leaders to the deteriorating situation in Libya. But the main concern, at least among rightwing observers, is what the American Enterprise Institute unimaginatively terms the “Mullah-Caudillo Axis.” The relationship between Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadenijad is causing extreme handwringing on the right, spurring pundits to conjure fantastical scenarios about Iran exploiting America’s “soft underbelly.” Clearly, neoconservatives haven’t given up hope of attacking Iran—even if they have to go through Caracas to do it.
last updated: March 1, 2011
During the recent upheavals across the Greater Middle East, the various iterations of the neoconservative line—the optimistic pro-democracy, the paranoid Islamophobic, or the brazen combination of both—have all tended to share a single major fallacy: That the opposition movement in Iran, the so-called Green movement, is a movement that seeks the same goals as the neoconservatives and their allies. However, this embrace of a fantastical Iranian opposition reveals more about its promoters’ pathological fears than it does about the realities in Iran.
last updated: February 28, 2011
In a distinct echo of the tactics they pursued to encourage U.S. intervention in the Balkans and Iraq, a familiar clutch of neoconservatives appealed last Friday for the United States and NATO to “immediately” prepare military action to help bring down the regime of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
last updated: February 16, 2011
Though the recent uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt were unprecedented in the history of the modern Arab world, they are not altogether new to the Middle East. Similar events occurred in Iran in the 1950s, and the subsequent overthrow of its democratically elected government by the United States provides a chilling example of how western involvement in Middle East social change can produce disastrous long-term consequences. As Wael Ghonim, the now-famous Google executive arrested for helping plan the initial demonstrations, has written: “Dear Western Governments, You’ve been silent for 30 years supporting the regime that was oppressing us. Please don’t get involved now.”
last updated: February 2, 2011
The neoconservatives have repeatedly found themselves facing the discomforting reality that democratic change in the Middle East—which they have at times feverishly embraced—has led to governments that are opposed to Israel. Now, with the Egyptian street in upheaval, a stark divide has emerged in neocon discourse. The freedom crowd sees the uprising as vindication of Bush’s “global democratic revolution”; the Islamophobes have begun their predictable fear mongering about the Muslim Brotherhood and the threat of global Islamism.
last updated: January 18, 2011
The continuing influence of Syria, which has been reflected in the recent power struggles in Lebanon, clearly demonstrates that U.S. attempts to isolate Damascus have failed. Syria occupies an important strategic position in the Levant, and it sits at the crossroads of a number of U.S. interests. Despite efforts by rightwing “pro-Israel” groups in the United States to prevent rapprochement with Syria, direct and honest engagement is the only way to satisfy U.S. foreign policy goals, rein in violent extremism, and encourage political reforms.
last updated: December 18, 2010
Militarist advocacy organizations often employ exiles from Muslim countries to bolster their promotion of hardline U.S. policies. Individuals such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, and Nonie Darwish have used their perches at neoconservative think tanks to rise to prominence as “apostates” of Islam, speaking out against the religion for its purported backwardness and tendency to violence. Though making generalizations about the cultural predispositions of more than a billion people may be patently absurd, these individuals have provided considerable ammunition to efforts to justify military intervention and other hawkish U.S. policies in the region.
last updated: November 24, 2010
Right-wing supporters of Israel have countered complaints about the influence of the “Israel Lobby” by conjuring a multifarious boogeyman that supposedly has been swaying U.S. policy for decades—the “Arab Lobby.” Purportedly composed of a heady mélange of actors—including Palestinian activists, oil and weapons companies, Middle Eastern dictators, and Arab-Americans—this lobby shares a similar weakness with that of the Israeli version: It misleadingly groups together forces whose intentions are often opposed. The notion also disguises a deeper fault line over U.S. Mideast policy: The real battle is the one pitting the combined forces of hawkish “pro-Israeli” factions and Saudi-led oil interests—both of which advocate a steady flow of weapons and the perpetual presence of U.S. troops—against populist Middle East groups and their Western supporters.
last updated: November 9, 2010
The midterm elections have been hailed as a victory for the Tea Party, whose anti-establishment revolt seems to have captured the nation’s zeitgeist. However, while much has been written about the impact this new movement will have on U.S. domestic politics, much less has been said about the challenge the Tea Party poses to the militarist foreign policy wing of the conservative establishment. The neoconservatives, however, have taken notice, and they have been busy doing what they do best—endeavoring to co-opt a rival political faction before it becomes a threat. But will the neocons’ stratagems work this time around?
last updated: October 20, 2010
Siberia’s forbidden hinterlands have long been a source of friction between Russia and China. In recent years, the idea that a horde of Asian invaders stands ready to reclaim this land for the Middle Empire has inspired the fevered minds of both right-wing Americans and Russian nationalists. Nevertheless, tensions along the eastern Siberian frontier are just that—tensions. And there is nothing to indicate that Beijing sees a suicidal invasion as preferable to simply buying Siberian resources, and letting the Russians live with isolation, cold, and summer mosquitoes. But then again, conspiratorial minds will always discount the likely explanation in favor of an apocalyptic one.
last updated: September 21, 2010
There is little reason to think the recently revived Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations will result in success. Weakened leaders, growing instability in the Middle East, and rapidly changing international conditions will likely conspire to prevent a real and lasting peace. With U.S. geopolitical influence on the wane and the country’s domestic discourse taking a hard right turn, President Obama’s current peace processing could prove to be the last American diplomatic hurrah in the Middle East. What this spells for the future of the Holy Land is hard to predict, but neoconservatives and their Likud comrades will surely be pleased.
last updated: September 9, 2010
With their strategic goals discredited and their influence in policy circles on the wane, neoconservatives are making savvy use of the internet to promote their hawkish agenda on Iran, terrorism, and Middle East peace. A new generation of young neocons—bloggers and PR specialists—are employing slick websites and web videos to attract populist backing for their foreign policy agenda. The combination of a Democratic administration and growing disaffection among liberal Zionists for the right-wing policies of Israel’s Likud-led government has spurred neoconservatives to shift the focus of their activism from recruiting elite decision-makers to mobilizing the Republican Party’s ultra-conservative base. The implications of this shift, especially in a sooner-than-expected post-Obama era, could have significant repercussions in U.S. relations with the world.
last updated: August 18, 2010
SpinProfiles, a UK-based website that monitors the European conservative movement, was recently forced to shut down after Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, a well connected neoconservative based in London who is the son of writer Christopher Hitchens, complained about his profile on the website. According to a director of SpinProfiles, Meleagrou-Hitchens provided no evidence that he was slandered; rather, says David Miller, the incident represents a clear case of spurious censorship that calls into question the state of public debate in Britain. It also highlights the growing neoconservative network across the Atlantic.
last updated: August 4, 2010
Conservative acquiescence in the firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal appears to be a surprising commitment to the principle of civilian control of the military by the American right-wing. On the other hand, it may have presaged a campaign to lay the blame of a failed war in Afghanistan at the feet of a Democratic president. Since 2001, conservatives have strongly supported civilian control, in part because of military queasiness about the war in Iraq.Today, conservatives are using the principle of civilian control to place full responsibility for difficulties in the Afghanistan War on the shoulders of President Obama.
last updated: July 21, 2010
Once described as the “Everything Expert” by Time magazine, Amitai Etzioni, the renowned social scientist and public intellectual based at George Washington University, has in recent years turned his attention to U.S. foreign affairs. Offering at times contradictory views on how to handle perceived threats from North Korean, Russia, and elsewhere, Etzioni’s latest concern is Iran, which he claims will be impervious to nuclear deterrence and thus must be bombed. Mixing his controversial views on “nonrational” state behavior, Israeli security, and “muscular morality,” Etzioni’s discourse has found favor among Israel’s right-wing. But does it make any sense?
last updated: June 16, 2010
In recent years, there has been a growing tendency for think tanks and military brass to jointly pursue policy objectives, some of which are opposed by the public or the White House—take, for example, the campaigns to build support for the troop “surges” in both Iraq and Afghanistan. This trend, say critics, raises important questions about the appropriate role of the military in promoting particular policies and whether there is enough transparency and accountability in the work of policy groups. Should military brass be more circumspect in how they influence public debates? At what point do “non-partisan” wonks cease being non-partisan? And, just as importantly, will there be a new joint campaign aimed at pressuring the Obama administration to delay troop withdrawal from Afghanistan?
last updated: June 2, 2010
The vehement attacks against President Obama’s arms control initiatives reveal the extent to which the militarist extreme in the Republican Party’s foreign policy establishment has remained deeply entrenched despite the significant setbacks hawks have suffered since helping drive the country into war with Iraq. Using language that conjures images from the heyday of the Cold War, neoconservatives and other right-wing nationalists have endeavored to paint the administration as willing to sacrifice national security to achieve international acclaim. They have also drowned out more moderate voices in the Republican Party, whose realist views, although more in line with the policies pushed by the Obama administration, are failing to have an impact on conservative discourse.
last updated: May 11, 2010
China is rapidly expanding its influence in the Middle East. Side-lined during the Cold War, Beijing now has both the economic wherewithal and the military muscle to be a force to reckon with in the region. The country is busy deepening its ties with regional powers, including many of America’s Arab allies as well as its regional foes, and challenging U.S.-Israeli dominance. What impact could this have on efforts to forge Middle East peace? And could the region become a battleground for a twenty-first century conflict between a rising China and a stagnant United States?
last updated: April 1, 2010
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to arrive in Washington just in time to witness the dénouement in the showdown over healthcare reform was no coincidence. An obsessive consumer of Washington news and gossip—much of it filtered through the lens of U.S. rightwing interlocutors—Netanyahu likely thought he would meet the president just as the Age of Obama was coming to an end. Instead, he confronted a recharged leader angry over Israeli intransigence on settlements. While it is unlikely that current U.S.-Israeli tensions will lead to a long-term split, it is clear that “Bibi” will have to reassess his failed strategy of counting on rightwing allies to counterbalance pressure from the administration.
last updated: December 4, 2009
Neoconservatism is generally regarded as a distinctively American worldview that is characterized in part by a deep-seated belief in the moral righteousness of U.S. military force. Europeans, however, are increasingly using the term in their own foreign policy debates. These “Eurocons,” who can be found across the European political spectrum, see the continent embroiled in a Manichean struggle between western democracy and Islamist totalitarianism. However, while the neocons and their European cousins have some shared convictions, there are also many differences, and the Europeans themselves often disagree on many issues. So who exactly are the Eurocons?
last updated: October 16, 2009
In September, a network of hawks from the Christian Right to the neocons held a conference aimed at raising alarm about a purely theoretical threat. Titled “Protecting America Against Permanent Continental Shutdown From Electromagnetic Pulse,” the conference featured speakers who argued that “rogue” states like North Korea and Iran, as well as terrorists, are poised to wreak havoc on the United States by blasting nuclear weapons above the country, releasing an electromagnetic pulse that would shut down much of its infrastructure. That there is no evidence of EMP’s ostensibly far-reaching impact—or that anyone has developed EMP-optimized weapons—has not stopped hawks from making outlandish claims, like that within a year of an EMP attack, 9 out of 10 Americans would be dead. Despite the hype, it appears that only zealots take the threat seriously.
last updated: August 26, 2009
Despite their political plunge, neoconservatives—and the think tanks that sustain them—have been surprisingly skilled at reinventing themselves and forcing the Obama administration to give them a seat at the table. They have choreographed a clever “carrots and sticks” dance—throwing support behind the president when he has taken positions compatible with their dogma, and excoriating him when he has contravened it. They have also proved adept at making alliances with the liberal interventionists, like those at the Center for a New American Security, who are strikingly influential in and out of the Obama administration.
last updated: July 29, 2009
Some Israelis fear that Barack Obama is the second coming of Charles de Gaulle—a leader of a powerful global patron who is willing to turn his back on the Jewish state if it goes to war with Arab neighbors. Thus far, however, the Obama administration has merely repeated long-held U.S. policy goals in the region, albeit ones that contrast sharply with the neoconservative-tendencies of the Bush presidency. As Middle East observers wait for Obama to launch his Middle East peace initiative in the coming months, they wonder, can the president fill the political vacuum in Israel and Palestine and start pressing the two sides to consider making painful compromises?
last updated: May 19, 2009
Even as the Obama administration ramps up military engagement in Afghanistan, the motives for why the country went to war in Iraq remain clouded in debate. The Bush administration’s discredited public rationale, that the country was threatened by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, was at best only the tip of the iceberg, at worst a cynical attempt to cover up the actual motives for the war. A close inspection of the various arguments suggests that above all, the Iraq war was an extreme manifestation of a recent ideological tendency in U.S. foreign policy, and that the thinking that engendered it may not be fully in the rearview mirror.
last updated: April 16, 2009
The near simultaneous reappointment of a sacked Supreme Court judge and the signing of an agreement to allow Sharia courts in certain areas have created a bewildering judicial divide in Pakistan. In this battle of the courts, however, there is a real opportunity for President Obama to take a new approach toward Pakistan and depart from the disastrous path cut by President George W. Bush and his predecessors. But unless President Obama listens to the people of Pakistan and recognizes the currents of change in this traumatized country, the administration’s strategy of linking Pakistan and Afghan policy—the so-called Af-Pak plan—could spark a spiraling conflict with devastating, far-reaching repercussions
last updated: March 25, 2009
On Norouz, the day when Iranians celebrate the coming of spring and the new Iranian calendar year, President Barack Obama put the United States on a path to a fresh relationship with Iran. But given the upcoming Iranian presidential elections in June, the real question for the U.S. administration is when and how to further engage Iran. One thing is clear, the two countries have a number of shared concerns, which could provide them with a new basis for relations.
last updated: January 28, 2009
President Barack Obama might turn out to be a foreign policy pragmatist, eschewing the grand strategies and big-label crusades that inspire the minds of Washington’s cognoscenti. After eight years of the Bush administration’s foreign policy fantasies, the notion of an Obama administration muddling through foreign policy choices should be welcomed, even by those who will inevitably be disappointed when Obama fails to live up to their high expectations.
Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and two-time failed presidential candidate, is a foreign policy hawk with neoconservative leanings who appears set to become the next senator from Utah.
Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman and longtime “superlobbyist” who has supported numerous neoconservative advocacy campaigns, has become embroiled in the special prosecutor’s investigation into the Donald Trump campaign’s potential collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.
Jon Lerner is a conservative political strategist and top adviser to US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. He was a key figure in the “Never Trump” Campaign, which appears to have led to his being ousted as Vice President Mike Pence’s national security adviser.
Pamela Geller is a controversial anti-Islam activist who has founded several “hate groups” and likes to repeat debunked myths, including about the alleged existence of “no-go” Muslim zones in Europe.
Max Boot, neoconservative military historian at the Council on Foreign Relations, on Trump and Russia: “At every turn Trump is undercutting the ‘get tough on Russia’ message because he just can’t help himself, he just loves Putin too much.”
Although overlooked by President Trump for cabinet post, Gingrich has tried to shape affairs in the administration, including by conspiring with government officials to “purge the State Department of staffers they viewed as insufficiently loyal” to the president.
Former Sen Mark Kirk (R-IL) is an advisor for United Against Nuclear Iran. He is an outspoken advocate for aggressive action against Iran and a fierce defender of right-wing Israeli policies.
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Other than the cynical political interests in Moscow and Tehran, there is no conceivable rationale for wanting Bashar al-Assad to stay in power. But the simple fact is, he has won the war. And while Donald Trump has reveled in positive press coverage of the recent attacks on the country, it is clear that they were little more than a symbolic act.
The reality is that the Assad regime is winning the Syrian civil war, and this matters far less to U.S. interests than it does to that regime or its allies in Russia and Iran, who see Syria as their strongest and most consistent entrée into the Arab world. Those incontrovertible facts undermine any notion of using U.S. military force as leverage to gain a better deal for the Syrian people.
An effective rhetorical tool to normalize military build-ups is to characterize spending increases “modernization.”
The Pentagon has officially announced that that “long war” against terrorism is drawing to a close — even as many counterinsurgency conflicts rage across the Greater Middle East — and a new long war has begun, a permanent campaign to contain China and Russia in Eurasia.
Revelations that data-consulting firm Cambridge Analytica used ill-gotten personal information from Facebook for the Trump campaign masks the more scandalous reality that the company is firmly ensconced in the U.S. military-industrial complex. It should come as no surprise then that the scandal has been linked to Erik Prince, co-founder of Blackwater.
As the United States enters the second spring of the Trump era, it’s creeping ever closer to more war. McMaster and Mattis may have written the National Defense Strategy that over-hyped the threats on this planet, but Bolton and Pompeo will have the opportunity to address these inflated threats in the worst way possible: by force of arms.
We meet Donald Trump in the media every hour of every day, which blots out much of the rest of the world and much of what’s meaningful in it. Such largely unexamined, never-ending coverage of his doings represents a triumph of the first order both for him and for an American cult of personality.