Right Web

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

Americans for Victory over Terrorism

Please note: IPS Right Web neither represents nor endorses any of the individuals or groups profiled on this site.

Print Friendly

Americans for Victory over Terrorism (AVOT) was founded shortly after the 9/11 attacks by a number of conservatives led by former Education Secretary William Bennett to press for an aggressive “war on terror.” By 2005, AVOT had merged with the Claremont Institute,[1] a rightist policy center based in Claremont, California, that has hosted a number of high-profile neoconservative figures and acolytes of the political theorist Leo Strauss.

As of 2010, AVOT’s mission statement on the Claremont Institute website read, “AVOT is dedicated to victory in the War on Terrorism. Through the shaping of public opinion, the encouragement of a foreign policy based on the founding principles of America, increased research about Islam and Islamism, and a steadfast commitment to attacking those who would blame America first, AVOT will work toward victory in this first great war of the 21st century.”[2] As of 2017, AVOT seems to have largely ceased operations and The Claremont Institute no longer includes information on AVOT on its Website.

AVOT senior advisers as of 2010 included William Bennett, President Ronald Reagan’s education secretary and long-time rightist activist who has led a number of pressure groups, including the now-defunct Empower America; Lawrence Kadish, a real estate investor who was the founding chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition and supporter of several neoconservative groups, including the Hudson Institute and the Center for Security Policy; Brian T. Kennedy, former president of the Claremont Institute; Seth Liebsohn, a Claremont fellow and founder of a local chapter of the Federalist Society at Northeastern University; and Thomas Karako, a Claremont senior fellow and visiting professor at Kenyon College.[3]

AVOT’s web page, previously hosted on the Claremont website, was being used mainly to promote publications of like-minded colleagues based at other organizations and media outlets like the neoconservative flagship the Weekly Standard. AVOT promoted publications by Sen. John McCain, Daniel Pipes, Liz Cheney, David Horowitz, Bernard Lewis, Benjamin Netanyahu, Steven Emerson, and Samuel Huntington. Many of these publications promote the notion that the United States is in an existential conflict with Islam and press a view of Middle East peace largely in line with that of Israel’s rightwing Likud Party.[4]

When AVOT was initially launched in 2002, its stated purposed was “to defend America’s war on terrorism against those who would weaken the nation’s resolve and erode our commitment to end the international menace of terrorism.” The group fervently supported President George W. Bush’s pro-war policies, in particular “where [that support was] needed most—college campuses, seminar rooms, editorial pages, and other media outlets.” AVOT’s early advisers included such figures as former CIA director James Woolsey, Reagan-era attorney general William Barr, former envoy to Iraq L. Paul Bremer, and Frank Gaffney.

During its inaugural press conference, AVOT leaders announced that as part of the effort to combat the internal “threat” posed by opponents of the war on terror, they had compiled a list of statements by professors, legislators, and writers that the group deemed objectionable—an effort that mirrored an earlier initiative to monitor war opponents by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a group founded by Lynne Cheney, spouse of Vice President Dick Cheney, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman. Among those mentioned on the AVOT list were Lewis Lapham, the longtime editor of Harper’s Magazine, former President Jimmy Carter, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), and novelist John Edgar Wideman.[5]

Frank Gaffney, the head of the hawkish Center for Security Policy and an AVOT founder, said at the inaugural press conference: “[We must] pay special attention to friends like Saudi Arabia and Egypt whose ongoing use of media are creating problems for our allies.” Any criticism of the administration’s conduct of the war, he added, could be “interpreted in such a way as to hurt national resolve … [and] embolden the enemy.”[6]

According to journalist Jim Lobe, AVOT was initially “funded primarily by Lawrence Kadish, chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition and a top donor to the Republican Party. Kadish, a real estate investor in New York and Florida, was cited by Mother Jones magazine as one of the country’s top individual donors, having given $532,000 to the GOP.”[7]

AVOT’s Statement of Principles, which was posted on the Claremont website, stated:[8]

“1. America is confronted with an enemy no less dangerous and no less determined than the twin menaces of fascism and communism we faced in the 20th century. And as we were victorious over them, so we must prevail in this, the first war of the 21st century. AVOT will, as its first task, remind citizens of the paramount importance of this effort.

“2. The radical Islamists who attacked us did so because of our democratic ideals, our belief in, and practice of, liberty and equality. AVOT will take to task those who blame America first and who do not understand-or who are unwilling to defend-our fundamental principles.

“3. America’s foreign policy should be guided by those same principles upon which America itself was founded. AVOT will call for a foreign policy that emphasizes democracy and human rights.

“4. In this war, our closest and most trusted allies must be our fellow democracies. AVOT will advocate steadfast support for our friends and oppose policies that place short-term ‘allies’ above them.

“5. By President Bush’s declaration to Congress, America is at war with states that harbor terrorists or sponsor terrorism-in all its guises. AVOT will inform Americans about nations that pose a threat to us or that help those that threaten us.

“6. Because of the threat posed by radical Islamists and others, Americans will have to rethink many of their preconceptions about fighting terrorism. AVOT will defend policies that preserve civil liberties without sacrificing common sense and our common defense.

“7. The best defense is a good offense, and America must have a military capacity that enables us to defend ourselves while rooting out terrorists. AVOT will support an increased budget for the Department of Defense, research and deployment of a missile defense system, and an even more capable military.

“8. Improving our gathering and effective utilization of intelligence is a necessity. AVOT will support responsible efforts by our nation’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies to collect and utilize more-and more pertinent-information and to facilitate interagency communication.

“9. A necessary front in this war is the battle for international public opinion. AVOT will support radio, television, and other mass media patterned on Radio Free Europe to show how America has stood up for Muslims and other persecuted peoples throughout the years and to explain the virtues of democracy.

“10. Finally, we must understand our enemies better. AVOT will encourage scholarly research into various aspects of Islamic theology, history, and culture. AVOT will hold such scholarship to a serious and rigorous standard.”

Share RightWeb

Please note: IPS Right Web neither represents nor endorses any of the individuals or groups profiled on this site.

Sources

[1]Web Archive, “Americans for Victory over Terrorism,” March 23, 2005,http://web.archive.org/web/20050323093825/http://www.avot.org/.

[2]Claremont Institute, “Americans for Victory over Terrorism,” http://www.claremont.org/projects/projectid.35/project_detail.asp.

[3]Claremont Institute, “Americans for Victory over Terrorism: AVOT Senior Advisors,” http://www.claremont.org/projects/pageID.2487/default.asp.

[4]Claremont Institute, “Americans for Victory over Terrorism: AVOT Reading List,” http://www.claremont.org/projects/pageID.2489/default.asp. See also Claremont Institute, “Americans for Victory over Terrorism,” http://www.claremont.org/projects/projectid.35/project_detail.asp.

[5]Jim Lobe, “The War on Dissent Widens,” Alternet.org, March 12, 2002, http://www.alternet.org/story/12612.

[6]Jim Lobe, “The War on Dissent Widens,” Alternet.org, March 12, 2002, http://www.alternet.org/story/12612.

[7]Jim Lobe, “The War on Dissent Widens,” Alternet.org, March 12, 2002,http://www.alternet.org/story/12612.

[8] Claremont Institute, “Americans for Victory over Terrorism: AVOT Statement of Principles,” http://www.claremont.org/projects/pageID.2486/default.asp.

Share RightWeb

Americans for Victory over Terrorism Résumé

CONTACT INFORMATION

Americans for Victory over Terrorism
937 W. Foothill Blvd., Suite E
Claremont, CA 91711
Phone: 909-621-6825
Fax: 909-626-8724
Email: info@claremont.org
Website: http://www.claremont.org/projects/projectid.35/project_detail.asp

Founded

2002


AVOT MISSION STATEMENT
(as of 2010)

AVOT is dedicated to victory in the War on Terrorism. Through the shaping of public opinion, the encouragement of a foreign policy based on the founding principles of America, increased research about Islam and Islamism, and a steadfast commitment to attacking those who would blame America first, AVOT will work toward victory in this first great war of the 21st century.

AVOT PRINCIPALS (as of 2010)

Related:

For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly

The Trump administration appears to have been surprised by this breach among its friends in the critical Gulf strategic area. But it is difficult to envision an effective U.S. role in rebuilding this Humpty-Dumpty.


Print Friendly

A recent vote in the European Parliament shows how President Trump’s relentless hostility to Iran is likely to isolate Washington more than Tehran.


Print Friendly

The head of the Institute for Science and International Security—aka “the Good ISIS”—recently demonstrated again his penchant for using sloppy analysis as a basis for politically explosive charges about Iran, in this case using a faulty translation from Persian to misleadingly question whether Tehran is “mass producing advanced gas centrifuges.”


Print Friendly

Trump has exhibited a general preference for authoritarians over democrats, and that preference already has had impact on his foreign policy. Such an inclination has no more to do with realism than does a general preference for democrats over authoritarians.


Print Friendly

The President went to the region as a deal maker and a salesman for American weapon manufacturing. He talked about Islam, terrorism, Iran, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without the benefit of expert advice in any of these areas. After great showmanship in Riyadh, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem, he and his family left the region without much to show for or to benefit the people of that war-torn region.


Print Friendly

Although the Comey memo scandal may well turn out to be what brings Trump down, this breach of trust may have had more lasting effect than any of Trump’s other numerous misadventures. It was an unprecedented betrayal of Israel’s confidence. Ironically, Trump has now done what even Barack Obama’s biggest detractors never accused him of: seriously compromised Israel’s security relationship with the United States.


Print Friendly

Congress and the public acquiesce in another military intervention or a sharp escalation of one of the U.S. wars already under way, perhaps it’s time to finally consider the true costs of war, American-style — in lives lost, dollars spent, and opportunities squandered. It’s a reasonable bet that never in history has a society spent more on war and gotten less bang for its copious bucks.


RightWeb
share