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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

Bret Stephens is a columnist for the New York Times who previously worked at the Wall Street Journal and the neoconservative flagship magazine Commentary.


Joe Lieberman, the neoconservative Democrat from Connecticut who retired from the Senate in 2013, co-chairs a foreign policy project at the American Enterprise Institute.


The daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney has emerged as the most visible advocate of hardline security policies in the Cheney family.


Former attorney general Edwin Meese, regarded as one of President Ronald Reagan’s closest advisers despite persistent allegations of influence peddling and bribery during his tenure, has been a consummate campaigner on behalf of rightist U.S. foreign and domestic policies. He currently serves as a distinguished visiting fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution.


The Heritage Foundation, a mainstay of the right-wing advocacy community, has long pressured the United States to adopt militaristic U.S. foreign policies


David Addington, who helped author the “torture memos” and other controversial legal documents while serving as an aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, left the right-wing Heritage Foundation to become VP and general counsel for the National Federation of Independent Business, a business lobby.


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.


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From the Wires

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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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Trump’s reorganization of the foreign policy bureaucracy is an ideologically driven agenda for undermining the power and effectiveness of government institutions that could lead to the State Department’s destruction.


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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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