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

Attacking the new nuclear posture; Flotilla fallout; Ed Meese, Michael Rubin, and more.

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The Nuclear Posture Attack

By Robert Farley

The vehement attacks against President Obama’s arms control initiatives reveal the extent to which the militarist extreme in the Republican Party’s foreign policy establishment has remained deeply entrenched despite the significant setbacks hawks have suffered since helping drive the country into war with Iraq. Using language that conjures images from the heyday of the Cold War, neoconservatives and other right-wing nationalists have endeavored to paint the administration as willing to sacrifice national security to achieve international acclaim. They have also drowned out more moderate voices in the Republican Party, whose realist views, although more in line with the policies pushed by the Obama administration, are failing to have an impact on conservative discourse. Read full article.

Special Section: Fallout from the Gaza Flotilla Attack

Since Israel’s pre-dawn attack in international waters on a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to people living in Gaza, the usual suspects have been pushing back against the condemnation the attack has ignited around the world. The Israel government blames the activists; the neocons blame the UN and Europeans for upholding flawed notions of proportionality; and the White House has gone into full-fledged damage-control mode.

Obama Seeks to Quiet Outrage over Gaza Flotilla Killings
By Jim Lobe
While calling the blockade against Gaza "unsustainable and unacceptable,” the Obama administration has steadfastly avoided assigning blame for the deadly Israeli attack on the Gaza aid flotilla. Read full article.

ISRAEL: Spinning the Attack on the Gaza Aid Flotilla
By Mel Frykberg   
The Israeli government has launched a full-throttle defense of its attack on the Gaza aid flotilla as outrage over the attack grows around the world. Read full article.

PROFILE: Michael Rubin
The AEI scholar has been a vociferous defender of Israel since its deadly attack on the Gaza aid flotilla, accusing Europeans of being weak in their defense of liberalism and warning the Obama administration that if it takes a tough line on the attack Israel will decide it has a green light to bomb Iran.

PROFILE: Clifford May
The former New York Times writer and head of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies has tried to defend Israel’s flotilla attack by citing press reports about purported anti-Semitic chants among flotilla participants that are based on assertions by government representatives that were not confirmed by any independent source.

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Edwin Meese
The Reagan-era Cold Warrior recently re-emerged on the national scene when he co-wrote an op-ed for the right-wing Washington Times that called for a return to the principles of “peace through strength” and warned that America’s very existence was in jeopardy because of a dazzling array of purported threats, including insecure borders, Sharia law, and unlawful combatants.

Robert Joseph
Joseph, a controversial Bush administration arms control official, now peddles diatribes on the Obama administration’s efforts to reform strategic policies from his perch at the National Institute for Public Policy.  

National Institute for Public Policy
Although NIPP claims to have moved beyond Cold War ideas in its analysis of strategic policies, its writers continue to be deeply ensconced in Soviet-era ideas, as evidenced by their recent criticisms of the Obama administration.

Lagon, Mark
A State Department official during the Bush administration with a history of working for neoconservative groups, Lagon recently became a visiting professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

Tanter, Raymond
Tanter, founder of the hawkish Iran Policy Committee, recently revived his arguments for why the U.S. should support the People's Mujahedin Organization (MEK), an Iranian opposition group classified as a terrorist organization by the State Department.

Goldfarb, Michael
The former Weekly Standard editor recently became a VP at Orion Strategies, a PR firm that has lobbied for the expansion of NATO and is home to rightist political operatives pushing a potential Sarah Palin presidential run.

Also New on Right Web

Obama Security Strategy Stresses Economy, Multilateralism
In his first National Security Strategy, President Obama pledged to maintain the U.S.'s "military superiority" while stressing that the persistence of the nation's global power will depend more on the health of its domestic economy and international cooperation.

IRAN: Fuel Swap Deal Shakes Sanctions Push
Despite continued U.S. efforts to dismiss the Iran nuclear deal with Turkey and Brazil, there are signs that the deal is spurring diplomatic pressure from UN Security Council members, particularly Russia and China.

U.S. Defense Spending Far Outpaces Rest of the World
The United States continues to lead the world in defense spending, according to a new report by the Centre for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, a U.S.-based nonpartisan research organization.

IRAN: U.S. Covert Ops versus Sanctions?
At the same time that it is working with the Senate to gain flexibility in pushing Iran sanctions, the Obama administration seems to be upping the potential for covert operations in the region.

U.S. Militarization in Latin America
A recent report by several Washington-based policy groups reveals growing disenchantment with the Obama administration’s lack of effort to curb U.S. militarization in Latin America.

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Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), President Trump’s nominee for secretary of state to replace Rex Tillerson, is a “tea party” Republican who previously served as director of the CIA.

Richard Goldberg is a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who served as a foreign policy aide to former Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL).

Reuel Marc Gerecht, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, has been advocating regime change in Iran since even before 9/11.

John Hannah, Dick Cheney’s national security adviser, is now a leading advocate for regime change in both Iran and Syria based at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Dennis Ross, a U.S. diplomat who served in the Obama administration, is a fellow at the “pro-Israel” Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Sheldon Adelson is a wealthy casino magnate known for his large, influential political contributions, his efforts to impact U.S. foreign policy discourse particularly among Republicans, and his ownership and ideological direction of media outlets.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is known for his hawkish views on foreign policy and close ties to prominent neoconservatives.

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From the Wires

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North Korea and Iran both understand the lesson of Libya: Muammar Qaddafi, a horrifyingly brutal dictator, gave up his nuclear weapons, was eventually ousted from power with large-scale US assistance, and was killed. However, while Iran has a long and bitter history with the United States, North Korea’s outlook is shaped by its near-total destruction by forces led by the United States in the Korean War.

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Europe loathes having to choose between Tehran and Washington, and thus it will spare no efforts to avoid the choice. It might therefore opt for a middle road, trying to please both parties by persuading Trump to retain the accord and Iran to limit missile ballistic programs and regional activities.

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Key members of Trump’s cabinet should recognize the realism behind encouraging a Saudi- and Iranian-backed regional security agreement because the success of such an agreement would not only serve long-term U.S. interests, it could also have a positive impact on numerous conflicts in the Middle East.

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Given that Israel failed to defeat Hezbollah in its war in Lebanon in 2006, it’s difficult to imagine Israel succeeding in a war against both Hezbollah and its newfound regional network of Shiite allies. And at the same time not only is Hezbollah’s missile arsenal a lot larger and more dangerous than it was in 2006, but it has also gained vast experience alongside its allies in offensive operations against IS and similar groups.

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Donald Trump should never be excused of responsibility for tearing down the respect for truth, but a foundation for his flagrant falsifying is the fact that many people would rather be entertained, no matter how false is the source of their entertainment, than to confront truth that is boring or unsatisfying or that requires effort to understand.

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It would be a welcome change in twenty-first-century America if the reckless decision to throw yet more unbelievable sums of money at a Pentagon already vastly overfunded sparked a serious discussion about America’s hyper-militarized foreign policy.

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President Trump and his advisers ought to ask themselves whether it is in the U.S. interest to run the risk of Iranian withdrawal from the nuclear agreement. Seen from the other side of the Atlantic, running that risk looks dumb.