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

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Ashton Carter, former deputy secretary of defense in the Barack Obama administration, is a longtime academic and Pentagon bureaucrat who has advocated using military force as part of controversial nuclear counter-proliferation programs. During his time as deputy defense secretary, Carter strongly criticized cuts in the defense budget. One observer responded to Carter’s criticisms arguing that the cuts “resulted in part from the inefficient and unsound choices the Pentagon has made over the past decade, much of it occurring on Carter’s own watch.” Carter was recently appointed senior executive at the Markle Foundation, an organization that “works to realize the potential of information technology to address previously intractable public problems, for the health and security of all Americans.”


Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, is now arguably better known as a member of the NCAA’s College Football Playoff selection committee. As an official in the George W. Bush administration, Rice was closely associated with the government’s warrantless wiretapping and interrogation programs, during which detainees were tortured. In 2014, it was revealed that she helped kill a 2003 New York Times story about a failed CIA attempt to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program. The journalist behind the story, James Risen, eventually put the story in a book and endured several years of court battles with the U.S. government over the identity of his sources, which he eventually lost. 


David Horowitz is a writer and pundit known for his shrill right-wing and anti-Islamic rhetoric. Horowitz directs the David Horowitz Freedom Center, an umbrella organization that operates a number of far-right websites and blogs. In a recent article for National Review titled “Thank you, ISIS,” Horowitz suggested that beheadings by the Islamic State terrorist group benefits conservatives by accomplishing “what our small contingent of beleaguered conservatives could never have achieved by ourselves.” He also accused “virtually every major Muslim organization in America” of being in league with the Muslim Brotherhood, which he called “the fountainhead of Islamic terror.”


Established in 2007, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) is widely considered to be a go-to security policy think tank for the Obama administration. CNAS’ staff includes a host counterinsurgency enthusiasts, some of whom have supported neoconservative-led policy campaigns. In 2014, CNAS hired prominent neoconservative academic and vociferous Obama critic, Eliot Cohen, as an adjunct senior fellow. 


A professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Eliot Cohen has been described as "the most influential neocon in academe." Cohen has been a vociferous critic of the Obama administration, accusing it of being insufficiently committed to using military force abroad and "promiscuous" in its diplomacy with traditional U.S. adversaries. Cohen, who had multiple roles in the Bush administration, recently was given a position at the “liberal hawk” think tank Center for a New American Security, which is widely viewed as having played an important role shaping many of the Obama administration’s military policies. 


Michele Flournoy is a former undersecretary of defense for policy in the Obama administration and head of the “liberal hawk” Center for a New American Security. Recently named to the president’s Intelligence Advisory Board, Flournoy has warned against a preemptive U.S. or Israeli strike on Iran, although she once told the rightwing Jerusalem Post that “Israel can rely on Obama to stop a nuclear Iran. … [T]he policy is not containment and I think he is serious about that.” Flournoy has also called for increases in defense spending, writing in an op-ed with former Bush Pentagon official Eric Edelman that "the U.S. military must be able to deter or stop aggression in multiple theaters, not just one, even when engaged in a large-scale war.”


Christians United for Israel, a Christian Zionist advocacy organization that promotes the idea that Christians “have a biblical obligation to defend Israel,” has cultivated powerful allies in both the United States and Israel, many of whom have used CUFI’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. to express their devotion to Israel.  Among the featured speaker’s at its 2014 annual conference was presumptive 2016 Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz. Also on the podium was Israeli Defense Forces Sgt. Benjamin Anthony, who used the occasion to argue, “Hamas started this war, the soldiers of Israel must smash their skulls and break their spines.”

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From the Wires

October, 15 2014

America’s Cold-War era Middle East policy of relying on a cast of autocratic states plus Israel must change.

October, 14 2014

The longstanding U.S. policy of not engaging Iran and working to contain its influence in the Middle East has in fact contributed to rising sectarian tensions and extremism in the region.

October, 09 2014

The U.S. track record of using military force in the Middle East has tended to make things worse rather than better, and there is no reason to believe things will be different in the campaign against ISIS.

October, 07 2014

The Obama administration has announced that the strict standards it set-out last year to prevent civilian deaths in U.S. drone strikes will not apply to U.S. military actions in Iraq and Syria.

October, 07 2014

President Obama’s anti-ISIL strategy is drawing growing skepticism amid ISIL gains against the Kurds in the Syrian town of Kobani and on the eastern edge of Al-Anbar province in Iraq in spite of U.S.-led airstrikes and recent U.S. helicopter gunship attacks.

October, 07 2014

With a wide gap between the two sides in the Iran nuclear talks over how much nuclear enrichment capacity Iran should have, the prospect of not reaching a deal is on the horizon. Tolerating Iranian operation of nine or ten thousand centrifuges would be the lesser of two evils – the greater evil being no deal.

October, 04 2014

President Obama does not lack a “will to fight,” as many of his critics claim, especially given the many military interventions that have taken place under his watch. He does, however, lack a will to fight hawkish opponents in Congress and the media.

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