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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 Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO), a stalwart advocate of Pentagon spending now based at the right-wing Heritage Foundation, says he would have voted for the Iraq War even if he had known the Bush administration’s claims about WMDs were false.


Mike Pompeo (R-KS) is a conservative Republican congressman who was voted into office as part of the “tea party” surge in 2011 and nominated by Donald Trump to be director of the CIA.


Although better known for his domestic platform promoting “limited” government, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has expressed strong sympathies for projecting U.S. military power abroad.


James “Mad Dog” Mattis is a retired U.S Marine Corps general and combat veteran who served as commander of U.S. Central Command during 2010-2013 before being removed by the Obama administration reportedly because of differences over Iran policy.


Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) was one of Congress’s staunchest foreign policy hawks and a “pro-Israel” hardliner.


A self-styled terrorism “expert” who claims that the killing of Osama bin Laden strengthened Al Qaeda, former right-wing Lebanese militia member Walid Phares wildly claims that the Obama administration gave the Muslim Brotherhood “the green light” to sideline secular Egyptians.


Weekly Standard editor and PNAC cofounder Bill Kristol is a longtime neoconservative activist and Washington political operative.


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From the Wires

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Spurred by anti-internationalist sentiment among conservative Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration, the US is headed for a new confrontation with the UN over who decides how much the US should pay for peacekeeping.


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Decent developments in the Trump administration indicate that the neoconservatives, at one point on the margins of Washington’s new power alignments, are now on the ascendent?


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As the end of Donald Trump’s first 100 days as president approaches, it seems that his version of an “America-first” foreign policy is in effect a military-first policy aimed at achieving global hegemony, which means it’s a potential doomsday machine.


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Hopeful that Donald Trump may actually be their kind of guy, neoconservatives are full of praise for the cruise-missile strike against Syria and are pressing for more.


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Steve Bannon’s removal from the NSC’s Principals Committee doesn’t mean that he’s gone from the White House or no longer exerts a powerful influence on Trump. His office is still located very close to the Oval Office, and there’s nothing to indicate that his dark and messianic worldview has changed.


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Promoting sanctions that could undermine the Iran nuclear deal, pushing security assistance for Israel, combatting BDS, and more.


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Contrary to some wishful thinking following the Trump administration’s decision to “put Iran on notice” and seemingly restore U.S.-Saudi ties, there are little signs of apprehension in Tehran.


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