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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

Although sometimes characterized as a Republican “maverick” for his bipartisan forays into domestic policy, Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is one of the Senate’s more vocal hawks.


Former CIA director Michael Hayden, a stalwart advocate of the Bush-era policies on torture and warrantless wiretapping, has been a vocal critic of Donald Trump


The former GOP presidential candidate and Speaker of the House has been a vociferous proponent of the idea that the America faces an existential threat from “Islamofascists.”


David Albright is the founder of the Institute for Science and International Security, a non-proliferation think tank whose influential analyses of nuclear proliferation issues in the Middle East have been the source of intense disagreement and debate.


A right-wing Christian and governor of Kansas, Brownback previously served in the U.S. Senate, where he gained a reputation as a leading social conservative as well as an outspoken “pro-Israel” hawk on U.S. Middle East policy.


Steve Forbes, head of the Forbes magazine empire, is an active supporter of a number of militarist policy organizations that have pushed for aggressive U.S. foreign policies.


Stephen Hadley, an Iraq War hawk and former national security adviser to President George W. Bush, now chairs the U.S. Institute for Peace.


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From the Wires

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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.


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


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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.”


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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