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

The Neocons’ Chechen Problem

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American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus

The American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus, a largely defunct Freedom House initiative that aimed to isolate Russia, attracted media attention after the Boston bombings because of its neoconservative-led efforts to “make friends” with Muslims in that corner of the globe in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. As one writer commented shortly after the Boston attack, “even neocons were for Chechens before they were against them.”

Henry Jackson Society

A bastion of trans-Atlantic neoconservatism and Islamophobia, the UK-based Henry Jackson Society promotes “regime change” in Iran and hardline "pro-Israel" policies. In recent publications, members of the group have called on the United States to lead an armed intervention in Syria and dismissed the P5+1 talks between western powers and Iran as “sham negotiations” that “defang the military threat of any credibility.” The group’s head, Alan Mendoza, warned an audience at this year’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee convention that increasing Muslim immigration to Europe is weakening the continent’s support for Israel, while its associate director Douglas Murray has proposed that “Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board.”

Clarion Project

A controversial activist group closely connected to anti-Islamic political factions, the Clarion Project has released a series of films and publications that attack “Radical Islam” and call into question the trustworthiness of Muslims in general. It now claims to be working on a film about "the cruel and often violent oppression of Muslim women."

Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs

A prominent member of the rightwing “pro-Israel” lobby, JINSA purports to be "the most influential group on the issue of U.S.-Israel military relations." Specializing in facilitating military-to-military ties between the United States and Israel, JINSA recently hired Michael Makovsky as its CEO. A dual U.S.-Israeli citizen who reportedly spent time in the Israeli army, Makovsky previously ran the foreign policy program at the Bipartisan Policy Center, where he oversaw numerous studies aimed at pressuring the United States to adopt a more confrontational approach with Iran.

Jackson Diehl

Since Jackson Diehl took over as the Washington Post’s deputy editorial page editor in 2001, the newspaper’s editorial slant has become increasingly hawkish and conservative. Among Diehl’s favorite targets have been the Middle East and populist leaders in Latin America. On the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War, for example, Diehl penned a column calling for U.S. intervention in Syria. That same month, he excoriated “the leftist populist rulers of Venezuela, Ecuador and Nicaragua” for “gutting democratic institutions in their countries” and seeking “to punish the Inter-American Commission for calling attention to their offenses.”

Harold Rhode

Harold Rhode is a retired Defense Department adviser based at the Gatestone Institute in New York, an activist group that promotes anti-Islamic rhetoric and ideas. A proponent of hawkish, "pro-Israel" policies in the Middle East, Rhode used the occasion of Israel's recent apology to Turkey for killing unarmed Turkish activists in 2010 to accuse the Turkish government of aspiring to create a new "version of the Ottoman Empire." He argued that Israel would have to "remind its enemies who’s boss."

United Against Nuclear Iran

United against Nuclear Iran is an activist group that pressures companies to stop doing business in Iran and disseminates alarmist reports about the country's nuclear program. Although the group's website proclaims a relatively centrist agenda, its advisory board is packed with foreign policy hawks from both sides of the Atlantic who have advocated military action against Iran on ideological grounds.


From the Wires

Kerry’s Mideast Trip Seen as “Going Through the Motions”

Although several Obama administration officials have visited the Middle East in recent months, many analysts believe the administration has given up on negotiating an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement with the current Israeli government.

More Diplomacy, Less Pressure Needed for Iran Settlement – Report

Even as 'pro-Israel' advocacy groups press for harsher sanctions on Iran, an emerging think tank consensus in Washington emphasizes bolstering diplomatic efforts long neglected because of Congress’s focus on military force and crippling sanctions.

Hunger Strikes Put Guantanamo Back in the Spotlight
A compelling op-ed published by a Guantanamo detainee on hunger strike has helped spur renewed scrutiny of the Obama administration's failure to close the detention facility.

Libya Intervention More Questionable in Rear View Mirror

The NATO intervention in Libya left behind an unstable state and helped to spread Libyan arms into conflicts throughout the region, but it may have wrought its most consequential damage on great-power relations.


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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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