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

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James Schlesinger, who passed away in March, was an elite member of hawkish policy circles for decades. In the 1970s, he served under several administrations as the director of the CIA, secretary of defense, and secretary of energy, before entering the corporate world and serving on government advisory panels for the remainder of his career. A lifelong advocate of nuclear weapons, he was once called the “Yoda” of nuclear strategists. Despite his generally hawkish views, Schlesinger evinced an independent streak, once warning military leaders not to take any order to mobilize from President Richard Nixon—whom Schlesinger thought was dangerously unstable—unless he or Henry Kissinger had approved it.


Bret Stephens, a Wall Street Journal columnist who has long trumpeted a hawkish “pro-Israel” line on Mideast policy, recently penned a satirical op-ed calling on Republicans to vote for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in the next presidential primary, because—he explained—what Republicans need as a “nominee in 2016 is a man of … glaring disqualifications. Someone so nakedly unacceptable to the overwhelming majority of sane Americans that only the GOP could think of nominating him.” Among the issues that mark Paul as a right-wing crazy, according to Stephens, is his insistence that Vice President Dick Cheney helped manufacture a “war in Iraq” for his friends in business and politics. But, asks Stephens, “Cui bono—to whose benefit? It's the signature question of every conspiracy theorist with an unhinged mind. Cheney. Halliburton. Big Oil. The military-industrial complex. Neocons. 9/11. Soldiers electrocuted in the shower. It all makes perfect sense, doesn't it?”


Jaime Daremblum, a former Costa Rican ambassador to the United States who now works at the neoconservative Hudson Institute, is a vocal proponent of conspiracy theories concerning an alleged Iranian plot to attack the United States in alliance with left-leaning governments in South America. He has been especially alarmist about Venezuela, whose democratically elected government he has described as a "virtual dictatorship," as well as Argentina, whose government he has accused of cooperating with an Iranian coverup of the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.


Concerned Women for America  (CWA), a Christian Right advocacy group founded to combat the influence of “anti-God” feminists, recently made “support for Israel” one of its core issues. As part of its newfound mission, the group lobbied in support of the Kirk-Menendez “insurance policy” sanctions on Iran, which critics said were designed to scuttle the ongoing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. The group has also drawn controversy in recent years for supporting anti-gay legislation in Russia and for publishing a host of anti-Islamic statements.


Michael Hayden, the former top U.S. intelligence official who presided over the Bush administration's controversial warrantless wiretapping program, has been a staunch defender of the “enhanced interrogation” techniques championed by the Bush administration after the 9/11 attacks. When Sen. Diane Feinstein recently argued that a Senate-approved report on the CIA’s torture programs should be publicly released in order to help prevent such practices from being used again, Hayden claimed on Fox News that the senator was showing ”deep emotional feeling” but not objectivity, prompting a sharp backlash from critics who called the remark sexist and inaccurate.


Billionaire investor and GOP super-donor Paul Singer has attracted some positive press lately for his role as a leading Republican funder of gay rights groups, with the Washington Post describing him as "one of the foremost backers of LGBT rights on the right." But Singer is also a leading funder of neoconservative foreign policy outfits—including the American Enterprise Institute and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, among several others—that have promoted U.S. military action against Iran. Singer, who has millions of dollars at stake in the ongoing dispute over Argentina's 2001 debt default, has also directed his largesse toward efforts to link Argentina to Iran, directing millions to right-wing think tanks and politicians that have accused Argentina of abetting an Iranian cover-up of Hezbollah's alleged role in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.


Defying warnings of “Bush fatigue,” GOP donors are courting Jeb Bush to run for president in 2016--with the Washington Post quoting a GOP bundler that the “‘vast majority’ of Romney’s top 100 donors would back Bush in a competitive nomination fight.” Hinting at his own interest, Bush recently met with GOP super-donor Sheldon Adelson at a gathering of the Republican Jewish Coalition, where Bush reportedly blasted “American passivity” under President Obama and cautioned against "neo-isolationsim."

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From the Wires

April, 15 2014

A recent resolution passed by the European Parliament promoting renewed engagement between Iran and the EU has angered Iran because it scrutinizes Tehran's human rights record and calls on EU diplomats to meet with Iranian dissidents.

April, 13 2014

A new book argues that President Harry Truman, the U.S. president who first recognized the state of Israel, was skeptical of a Jewish-led state, preferring instead a joint Jewish-Arab federation in Palestine.

April, 09 2014

In its report on GOP mega-donor Paul Singer's financial support for gay rights causes, the Washington Post neglected to mention Singer's potentially greater support for hardline neoconservative foreign policy outfits.

April, 07 2014

Although Palestinians have sought to pressure Israel by applying for membership in a host of international organizations, they have so far refrained from joining the International Criminal Court, which would enable them to bring war crimes cases against Israel.

April, 01 2014

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks may serve the interests of political leaders in Washington, Ramallah, and Tel Aviv, but they appear doomed to failure.

March, 31 2014

A recent report by a Brookings scholar recommends passing a congressional authorization for war in the event that Iran abandons nuclear negotiations with the west.

March, 31 2014

The United States appears to have dropped a key Israeli demand that Iran 'confess' to past nuclear weapons research—which Iran has denied conducting—as a condition for a future deal.

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