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

The Neocons’ Chechen Problem

Featured Profiles

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

Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is one of the Senate’s more vocal hawks, and one of the prime vacillators among Republicans between objecting to and supporting Donald Trump.


Ron Dermer is the Israeli ambassador to the United States and has deep connections to the Republican Party and the neoconservative movement.


The Washington-based American Enterprise Institute is a rightist think tank with a broad mandate covering a range of foreign and domestic policy issues that is known for its strong connections to neoconservatism and overseas debacles like the Iraq War.


Max Boot, neoconservative military historian at the Council on Foreign Relations, on Trump and Russia: “At every turn Trump is undercutting the ‘get tough on Russia’ message because he just can’t help himself, he just loves Putin too much.”


Since taking office Donald Trump has revealed an erratic and extremely hawkish approach to U.S. foreign affairs, which has been marked by controversial actions like dropping out of the Iran nuclear agreement that have raised tensions across much of the world and threatened relations with key allies.


Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas and an evangelical pastor, is a far-right pundit known for his hawkish policies and opposition to an Israeli peace deal with the Palestinians.


Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is known for her lock-step support for Israel and considered by some to be a future presidential candidate.


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From the Wires

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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