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

The “Freedom” Faction

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FreedomWorks
FreedomWorks, a key backer of the Tea Party movement that originally emerged from a neoconservative-aligned advocacy group called Empower America, has been rocked by an explosive internal scandal that saw the ouster of its board chair, former Rep. Dick Armey. The subsequent investigation has seen the disclosure of numerous potentially embarrassing revelations, including that the organization paid conservative radio hosts for favorable coverage and once filmed two interns depicting sex acts between Hillary Clinton and a panda.

Condoleezza Rice
Is former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice presidential material? According to a recent Fox News public opinion survey, George W. Bush’s one-time adviser trails closely behind Hillary Clinton as a leading contender for the presidency in 2016. If her advocacy on behalf of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign is any indication, Rice remains enthralled by the idea that the U.S. military is the most effective tool for imposing peace in the world.

Stephen Cambone
Appointed by the George W. Bush administration as the Pentagon’s first-ever “defense intelligence czar,” Stephen Cambone was closely involved in Pentagon efforts to loosen interrogation guidelines for “war on terror” detainees, which entangled him in the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal. Now a fellow at Villanova University, Cambone raised eyebrows during last year’s Aspen Security Forum when he described the decision to go to war in Iraq as “one of the great strategic decisions of the first half of the 21st century.”

Richard Cheney
Former Vice President Dick Cheney, arguably one of the leading voices advocating U.S. military intervention overseas and the use of torture, has been a vocal critic of many of the Obama administration’s national security policies. He recently attacked the president for nominating “second-rate” appointees like John Kerry, Chuck Hagel, and John Brennan. Cheney did, however, have kind words for the Obama administration’s targeted assassination program, which he called “a good policy” that should not require legislative checks and balances.

Will Marshall
Will Marshall, cofounder of the Democratic Leadership Council and head of the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), has been a leading advocate of a more hawkish and “market-friendly” Democratic Party for decades. A mainstay of Democratic support for the Bush administration’s so-called “freedom agenda,” Marshall continues to support military interventions and a “pro-Israel” U.S. posture from his perch at PPI.

Ted Cruz
Despite his domestic platform promoting “limited” government, newly elected Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has expressed strong sympathies for projecting U.S. military power abroad. In opposing the nomination of Chuck Hagel to head the Department of Defense, for example, Cruz charged the former Senator and military veteran with being “soft” toward America’s enemies and accused him of holding anti-Israel views. Noting that many of Cruz’s charges against Hagel rested on out-of-context quotes and willful misrepresentations, one observer described Cruz’s performance during Hagel’s confirmation hearings as “aggressively inaccurate” and “mendacious demagoguery at its finest.”

Elliott Abrams
Despite his checkered track record—which includes a criminal conviction for lying to Congress during the Reagan-era Iran-Contra affair—Elliott Abrams manages to retain a post at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). His antics, however, tend to place CFR under an uncomfortable media spotlight. Most recently, Abrams directed unsubstantiated accusations of anti-Semitism at former Sen. Chuck Hagel, the Obama administration’s nominee for secretary of defense. Such was the outcry over the accusation that CFR president Richard Haas was compelled to declare it “over the line.”

From the Wires

Political Violence Grips Egypt From All Sides
With its frequent and sometimes violent protests, Egypt’s secular opposition may be alienating potential supporters ahead of the country’s upcoming parliamentary elections.

Obama Administration Reveals Deep Divisions on Syria Policy
Despite the Obama administration’s apparent skepticism about the wisdom of providing U.S. arms to Syrian rebels, recent reports have indicated support for a more militarized U.S. role among key administration advisers.

U.S. Urged to Lean Harder on Bahrain’s Ruling Family
An array of policy experts are urging the Obama administration to press the Bahraini royal family to make genuine compromises with the predominantly Shi’a opposition.

Few Hopes for Iran Breakthrough
Many analysts are skeptical that Iran’s Supreme Leader is prepared to deal with the West at February’s P5+1 talks in Kazakhstan, even as many in Washington have come to doubt the long-term efficacy of sanctions.

Israeli Activists Invite Palestinian Vote
During the recent Israeli election, a group of Israeli activists called attention to Palestinian statelessness by offering their votes to Palestinians living in the occupied territories.

It’s All About Israel
Israel dominated the Senate hearings on Chuck Hagel’s nomination as defense secretary.

Setbacks Push Mideast Peace to Back Burner
Although Obama administration officials have expressed optimism about progress on Israeli-Palestinian peace, experts suspect that the political climates in Washington and Tel Aviv will preclude it.


Letters

Re: Reuel Marc Gerecht

I caught Mr. Gerecht's performanceon PBS Newshour several weeks ago. Somebody should inform him that he might be more interesting if he'd ditch his arrogant, supercilious manner. BTW, Ms. Mathews [Jessica Tuchman Mathews]was correct to insinuate that Gerecht's same-old tired and failed neoconservative snake oil was just that. Now that I think about it, almost all neoconservatives are arrogant and supercilious. That's why they advocate an arrogant, dictatorial foreign policy that usually gets a lot of American military personnel and innocent civilians killed in ill-advised and futile attempts to maintain the American Empire.

Lou Candell
Williamsburg, VA

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Featured Profiles

Former Vice President Dick Cheney was a leading framer of the “global war on terror” and a staunch supporter of aggressive U.S. military action around the world.


Mike Pompeo, the Trump administration’s second secretary of state, is a long time foreign policy hawk and has led the public charge for an aggressive policy toward Iran.


Right Web readers will be familiar with Mr. Fleitz, the former CIA officer who once threatened to take “legal action” against Right Web for publicizing reports of controversies he was associated with in the George W. Bush administration. Fleitz recently left his job at the conspiracy-mongering Center for Security Policy to become chief of staff to John Bolton at the National Security Council.


Norm Coleman is chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition and a former senator from Minnesota known for his hawkish views on foreign policy.


Billionaire hedge fund mogul Paul Singer is known for his predatory business practices and support for neoconservative causes.


Keith Kellogg, national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, is a passionate supporter of Trump’s foreign policy.


Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the largest “pro-Israel” advocacy group in the United States, is known for its zealous Christian Zionism and its growing influence in the Republican Party.


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From the Wires

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The Trumpian new regional order in the Middle East is predicated on strongman rule, disregard for human rights, Sunni primacy over Iran and other Shia centers of power, continued military support for pro-American warring parties regardless of the unlawfulness of such wars, and Israeli hegemony.


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A comparison of U.S. nuclear diplomacy with Iran and the current version with North Korea puts the former in a good light and makes the latter look disappointing. Those with an interest in curbing the dangers of proliferating nuclear weapons should hope that the North Korea picture will improve with time. But whether it does or not, the process has put into perspective how badly mistaken was the Trump administration’s trashing of the Iran nuclear agreement.


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Numerous high profile Trump administration officials maintain close ties with anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists. In today’s America, disparaging Islam is acceptable in ways that disparaging other religions is not. Given the continuing well-funded campaigns by the Islamophobes and continuing support from their enablers in the Trump administration, starting with the president himself, it seems unlikely that this trend will be reversed any time soon.


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The Trump administration’s nuclear proliferation policy is now in meltdown, one which no threat of “steely resolve”—in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s words—will easily contain. It is hemorrhaging in part because the administration has yet to forge a strategy that consistently and credibly signals a feasible bottom line that includes living with—rather than destroying—regimes it despises or fears. Political leaders on both sides of the aisle must call for a new model that has some reasonable hope of restraining America’s foes and bringing security to its Middle East allies.


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Congressional midterm elections are just months away and another presidential election already looms. Who will be the political leader with the courage and presence of mind to declare: “Enough! Stop this madness!” Man or woman, straight or gay, black, brown, or white, that person will deserve the nation’s gratitude and the support of the electorate. Until that occurs, however, the American penchant for war will stretch on toward infinity.


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To bolster the president’s arguments for cutting back immigration, the administration recently released a fear-mongering report about future terrorist threats. Among the potential threats: a Sudanese national who, in 2016, “pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to ISIS”; an Uzbek who “posted a threat on an Uzbek-language website to kill President Obama in an act of martyrdom on behalf of ISIS”; a Syrian who, in a plea agreement, “admitted that he knew a member of ISIS and that while in Syria he participated in a battle against the Syrian regime, including shooting at others, in coordination with Al Nusrah,” an al-Qaeda offshoot.


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The recent appointment of purveyors of anti-Muslim rhetoric to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom exposes the cynical approach Republicans have taken in promoting religious freedom.


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