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

Neocons and Republican candidates go nuclear over historic Iran deal

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American Israel Public Affairs Committee

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is mobilizing its infamous lobbying infrastructure to pressure members of Congress to revoke the Iran nuclear agreement. But why is AIPAC so adamantly opposed to the Iran nuclear deal? Comments by former AIPAC employees suggest that the lobby is motivated as much by its own survival as it is the survival of Israel. A recent Nelson Report newsletter quoted a former AIPAC official who stated that “Iran has been an enormously lucrative fundraiser for AIPAC” and that “without this cause AIPAC and this Israeli government” may have to “focus on more critical issue [sic], like peace with the Palestinians.”

Lindsey Graham

2016 Republican presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham calls the Iran deal a “disaster” and a “death sentence for Israel.” Renowned for his hysteric rhetoric, Graham also claims that the agreement was the “biggest mistake any president of the United States could make.”

Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran

Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran (CNFI) is an offshoot of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that was founded to “educate the public about the dangers” of the Iran nuclear agreement. The group has launched a multimillion-dollar ad campaign against the deal, primarily aimed at Democratic constituencies. One prominent nuclear expert has described CNFI’s TV ads as “very misleading.”

Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), a 2016 Republican presidential candidate, wildly claims that the Iran deal has effectively made the “Obama administration the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism.” His comments have earned him criticism from across party lines, including from Mitt Romney who has said Cruz went “way over the line.”

Mike Huckabee

2016 Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee appears intent on making the craziest claims regarding the Iran deal among his fellow candidates, saying that Obama appears intent on marching the Israelis “to the door of the oven.” His comments were condemned by numerous Jewish organizations as well Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, who said they were inappropriate.

Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Pundits at the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies have assailed the nuclear deal reached between Iran and major world powers. “Mr. Obama seeks to accommodate and appease Iran’s rulers,” argues FDD President Clifford, adding: “It would be an exaggeration to say that such policies always lead to major wars and holocausts. But can you tell me when such policies have led to good outcomes?”

Eli Lake

Eli Lake, the hawkish columnist for Bloomberg View and a strident critic of diplomatic efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear dispute, has lambasted the Iran deal, calling it “an abandonment of traditional American leadership in the Middle East and in the areas of nonproliferation and terrorism.”

Leon Wieseltier

In a recent article, Atlantic columnist Leon Wieseltier, a proponent of U.S intervention abroad for purportedly liberal causes and a “pro-Israel” ideologue, lambasted the nuclear deal with Iran, saying it would “strengthen a contemptible regime.” He added that the United States should resume its “hostility to the Iranian regime” and “arm the enemies of Iran in Syria Iraq.” Responded one observer: “Does he know who Iran’s enemies in Iraq are? Let me give some hints: they don’t care much about the Freedom Agenda or the Iranian people—they like beheading Shiites.”

Scott Walker

Wisconsin governor and presidential candidate Scott Walker has denounced the nuclear deal with Iran, saying that he would “repudiate” it on his first day in office regardless of whether U.S. allies are on board for re-imposing sanctions on Iran. Walker has also doubled down on comments he previously made about not knowing whether President Obama was a Christian. “I don’t know. I presume he is. … But I’ve never asked him about that,” Walker recently said at a Koch network donor summit.

Marco Rubio

Sen. Marco Rubio, reportedly a favorite Republican candidate of “pro-Israel” GOP-donor Sheldon Adelson, has joined his fellow candidates in attacking the Iran nuclear deal. Rubio has misleadingly argued that the U.S. will have to protect Iran’s nuclear sites, claiming that “if any other country tries to undermine [Iran’s]nuclear program, we have to help them defend themselves against Israel, Egypt, Saudis, our own allies." Politifact has rated this claim as “false.”

Michael Doran

Michael Doran, a former Bush administration foreign policy advisor and proponent of interventionist U.S. policies in the Middle East, has denounced the diplomatic agreement between Iran and six world powers. He claims that it would be “irresponsible” for a future Republican president to do “anything else” other than terminate the deal on his “first day in office.” He characterizes the agreement as the “foremost foreign policy challenge of our time.”


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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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