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

In Bed with the Generals; Profiles on Fred Kagan, Institute for Study of War, Blackwater, and more

FEATURED ARTICLE

“The Surge of Ideas”

By Michael Flynn

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? Read full article.

 

FEATURED PROFILES

 

Institute for the Study of War
Although it calls itself a “non-partisan” think tank, ISW has repeatedly demonstrated its partisan preferences for longer and bigger wars.

Michael O’Hanlon
O’Hanlon, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, has a knack for getting invited on military-sponsored tours of war zones and then promoting the views of the generals in op-eds for major newspapers.

Frederick Kagan
In a recently published book, Kagan, a neoconservative writer at the American Enterprise Institute, argues that the United States must remain committed to fighting “Long Wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Blackwater (Xe)
The controversial U.S. security contractor, Xe Services—formerly Blackwater—was recently put up for sale by it’s founder, Erik Prince.

Norman Augustine
A former Lockheed Martin CEO and board member at the Center for a New American Security, Augustine recently led a defense acquisitions task force organized by Business Executives for National Security, a group that aims to help government do national security “faster,” “better,” and “cheaper.”

 

ALSO NEW ON RIGHT WEB

 

Bad News from Afghanistan
Senior military officials are conceding privately that their much-touted counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan is not working out as planned despite the “surge” of some 20,000 additional U.S. troops over the past six months.  

Neo-Conservatives Lead Charge against Turkey 
A familiar clutch of neo-conservative hawks is going on the offensive against who they see as the Gaza flotilla’s chief defender, Turkey.

AFGHANISTAN: Shades of Iraq in 2006? 
Gen. Stanley McChrystal, head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, confronts the specter of a collapse of U.S. political support for the war in Afghanistan in coming months comparable to the one that occurred in the Iraq War in late 2006.

Draft U.N. Treaty Targets Security Firms in War Zones 
A UN working group is leading efforts to draft a new global treaty aimed at reining in human rights abuses committed by private security firms employed in war zones.

The Trillion-Dollar Question 
The Obama administration wants to cut several outdated defense items not so that it can balance the budget or expand healthcare, but in order to boost the war effort in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Doubts Grow Over Israel’s Value as U.S. Ally 
Doubts about Israel’s value to the United States have recently been expressed by a diverse group of people, including the head of Israel’s foreign-intelligence agency, the Mossad, and leading centrist analysts in Washington.

“Israel Lobby” Mobilizes, Threatens 
The U.S. “Israel Lobby” has pulled out all the stops in its efforts to defend Israel’s attack on the Palestine aid flotilla.

 

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Featured Profiles

Update was slow, but still no lag in the editor window, and footnotes are intact.     This has been updated – Bernard Lewis, who passed away in May 2018, was a renowned British-American historian of Islam and the Middle East. A former British intelligence officer, Foreign Office staffer, and Princeton University professor, Lewis was…


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From the Wires

Trump is not the problem. Think of him instead as a summons to address the real problem, which in a nation ostensibly of, by, and for the people is the collective responsibility of the people themselves. For Americans to shirk that responsibility further will almost surely pave the way for more Trumps — or someone worse — to come.


The United Nations has once again turn into a battleground between the United States and Iran, which are experiencing one of the darkest moments in their bilateral relations.


In many ways, Donald Trump’s bellicosity, his militarism, his hectoring cant about American exceptionalism and national greatness, his bullying of allies—all of it makes him not an opponent of neoconservatism but its apotheosis. Trump is a logical culmination of the Bush era as consolidated by Obama.


For the past few decades the vast majority of private security companies like Blackwater and DynCorp operating internationally have come from a relatively small number of countries: the United States, Great Britain and other European countries, and Russia. But that seeming monopoly is opening up to new players, like DeWe Group, China Security and Protection Group, and Huaxin Zhongan Group. What they all have in common is that they are from China.


The Trump administration’s massive sales of tanks, helicopters, and fighter aircraft are indeed a grim wonder of the modern world and never receive the attention they truly deserve. However, a potentially deadlier aspect of the U.S. weapons trade receives even less attention than the sale of big-ticket items: the export of firearms, ammunition, and related equipment.


Soon after a Saudi-led coalition strike on a bus killed 40 children on August 9, a CENTCOM spokesperson stated to Vox, “We may never know if the munition [used] was one that the U.S. sold to them.”


The West has dominated the post-war narrative with its doctrine of liberal values, arguing that not only were they right in themselves but that economic success itself depended on their application. Two developments have challenged those claims. The first was the West’s own betrayal of its principles: on too many occasions the self interest of the powerful, and disdain for the victims of collateral damage, has showed through. The second dates from more recently: the growth of Chinese capitalism owes nothing to a democratic system of government, let alone liberal values.


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