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

China, the new Mideast power; Profiles on Kristol, Abdelnour, Gaffney, AIPAC, and more.

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China and America Jostle in the Middle East
By Richard Javad Heydarian

China is rapidly expanding its influence in the Middle East. Sidelined 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 21st century conflict between a rising China and a stagnant United States? Read full article.



Ziad Abdelnour

A Lebanese-American investment banker closely tied to militarist advocacy groups, Abdelnour wants the United States or Israel to “annihilate” Hezbollah.

William Kristol

The Weekly Standard editor and Fox News pundit, Kristol has been busy since the election of Barack Obama supporting a string of new pressure groups aimed at promoting the same neoconservative agenda that helped shaped George W. Bush’s “war on terror.”

American Israeli Public Affairs Committee

AIPAC, “America’s pro-Israel lobby,” has been a major backer of sanctions legislation that some observers argue will hurt the Obama administration’s attempts to curtail Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

Frank Gaffney

Gaffney thinks that the Obama administration’s new logo for the Missile Defense Agency, which features a crescent-like shape, fits a “worrying pattern of official U.S. submission to Islam and the theo-political-legal program the latter’s authorities call Shariah.”

U.S. Committee for a Free Lebanon

Since the election of President Obama, this neocon-aligned advocacy group has endeavored to paint itself as a centrist organization, “just the ultimate lobbyists and powerbrokers for a Free and Democratic Lebanon.”

Patrick Clawson

In a recent paper for the “pro-Israel” WINEP, Clawson argues for cautious measures in approaching Iranian factions about that country’s nuclear program.



IRAN: U.S. Sanctions versus UN Sanctions

Efforts by Congress to pass sanctions on Iran could jeopardize efforts by the Obama administration to organize multilateral sanctions through the UN or negotiate a diplomatic solution with Tehran.

Failed Bomb Plot Tests U.S.-Pakistan Ties

The failed Times Square bombing attempt has highlighted the challenges facing the United States in trying to pressure Pakistan on anti-terror efforts.

The Israeli Exception 

North Korea and Israel have a lot in common, but partly as a result of U.S. policy toward them, one country is an official rogue while the other only plays one on Arab TV.

Whither the Proximity Talks? 

U.S.-backed proximity talks between the Israelis and Palestinians are scheduled to begin, just as a growing alignment of international sympathy for the Palestinian perspective of the conflict has started to emerge.

Iran Sanctions Push 

As midterm elections approach, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are eager to demonstrate their strong support for Israel, in part by arguing for “crippling” sanctions against Tehran.



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Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), President Trump’s nominee for secretary of state to replace Rex Tillerson, is a “tea party” Republican who previously served as director of the CIA.

Richard Goldberg is a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who served as a foreign policy aide to former Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL).

Reuel Marc Gerecht, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, has been advocating regime change in Iran since even before 9/11.

John Hannah, Dick Cheney’s national security adviser, is now a leading advocate for regime change in both Iran and Syria based at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Dennis Ross, a U.S. diplomat who served in the Obama administration, is a fellow at the “pro-Israel” Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Sheldon Adelson is a wealthy casino magnate known for his large, influential political contributions, his efforts to impact U.S. foreign policy discourse particularly among Republicans, and his ownership and ideological direction of media outlets.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is known for his hawkish views on foreign policy and close ties to prominent neoconservatives.

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From the Wires

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North Korea and Iran both understand the lesson of Libya: Muammar Qaddafi, a horrifyingly brutal dictator, gave up his nuclear weapons, was eventually ousted from power with large-scale US assistance, and was killed. However, while Iran has a long and bitter history with the United States, North Korea’s outlook is shaped by its near-total destruction by forces led by the United States in the Korean War.

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Europe loathes having to choose between Tehran and Washington, and thus it will spare no efforts to avoid the choice. It might therefore opt for a middle road, trying to please both parties by persuading Trump to retain the accord and Iran to limit missile ballistic programs and regional activities.

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Key members of Trump’s cabinet should recognize the realism behind encouraging a Saudi- and Iranian-backed regional security agreement because the success of such an agreement would not only serve long-term U.S. interests, it could also have a positive impact on numerous conflicts in the Middle East.

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Given that Israel failed to defeat Hezbollah in its war in Lebanon in 2006, it’s difficult to imagine Israel succeeding in a war against both Hezbollah and its newfound regional network of Shiite allies. And at the same time not only is Hezbollah’s missile arsenal a lot larger and more dangerous than it was in 2006, but it has also gained vast experience alongside its allies in offensive operations against IS and similar groups.

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Donald Trump should never be excused of responsibility for tearing down the respect for truth, but a foundation for his flagrant falsifying is the fact that many people would rather be entertained, no matter how false is the source of their entertainment, than to confront truth that is boring or unsatisfying or that requires effort to understand.

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It would be a welcome change in twenty-first-century America if the reckless decision to throw yet more unbelievable sums of money at a Pentagon already vastly overfunded sparked a serious discussion about America’s hyper-militarized foreign policy.

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President Trump and his advisers ought to ask themselves whether it is in the U.S. interest to run the risk of Iranian withdrawal from the nuclear agreement. Seen from the other side of the Atlantic, running that risk looks dumb.