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

The recent massacres in the US and Paris have spurred anti-Islam fervor

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Frank Gaffney

Frank Gaffney, the brazenly Islamophobic ideologue who heads the neoconservative Center for Security Policy, agrees with GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson that Muslims should probably not be allowed to run for president. Gaffney also recently hosted avowed white supremacist Jared Taylor on his radio show, saying that he “appreciated tremendously” Taylor’s work.

Brigitte Gabriel

Brigette Gabriel, a vitriolic anti-Muslim demagogue, claims that President Obama “cannot bring himself” to say “anything bad about Islam” because of his “beautiful childhood memories” of “praying just like Osama bin Laden prayed.” She ludicrously alleges that “180 million to 300 million” Muslims are “dedicated to the destruction of Western civilization.”

Clare Lopez

Former CIA officer and Islamophobic activist Clare Lopez has claimed that members of the Muslim Brotherhood have infiltrated the U.S. government and shaped the Obama administration’s foreign policy towards the Middle East. “They’re very smart,” she has said of the alleged Muslim Brother operatives. “These guys are not camel-jockeys with towels on their heads.”

Max Boot

Max Boot, ardent neoconservative ideologue and official foreign policy advisor to the presidential campaign of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), argues that in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks the U.S. should send “at least 20,000 personnel” to fight ISIS. He has also called for the U.S. government to unilaterally declare an autonomous Sunni region in Iraq, claiming this is “something that the U.S. can effectively guarantee even without Baghdad’s cooperation.”

William Kristol

Introducing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the American Enterprise Institute’s recent “Irving Kristol” awards, Bill Kristol characterized the Israeli leader as the “preeminent leader of the free world.” Kristol, who called for 50,000 U.S. ground troops to be sent to fight ISIS in Syria after the Paris attacks, is one of a number of neoconservative figures promoting the presidential candidacy of Sen. Marco Rubio.

John Bolton

Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton has called for more leeway to be given to U.S. intelligence agencies in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks. He opined in a recent Fox News op-ed: “Knee-jerk, uninformed and often wildly inaccurate criticisms of programs (such as several authorized in the wake of 9/11 in the Patriot Act) have created a widespread misimpression in the American public about what exactly our intelligence agencies have been doing and whether there was a ‘threat’ to civil liberties.”

James Woolsey

Former CIA director James Woolsey, an unabashed neoconservative hardliner with deep ties to defense contractors, has helped spur misleading accusations that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is at least partly to blame for the terrorist attacks in Paris. “I think Snowden has blood on his hands from these killings in France,” he said in an interview.

Michael Hayden

Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA and NSA, is an unabashed supporter of surveillance and torture policies, as well as a proponent of a hardline “pro-Israel” U.S. agenda in the Middle East. He says that it is “cool” that two years after the Snowden revelations, all the NSA has had to do is slightly reform its “little 215 program about American telephony metadata.”

Arthur Waldron

Arthur Waldron is a professor of international relations at the University of Pennsylvania and a well-known China hawk. He called for the Obama administration to cancel the recent state visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping and argued that Washington should have “made clear something we dare not: namely that sanctions that bite are the alternative.” Waldron has been affiliated with a number of militarist groups, including the Center for Security Policy, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Project for the New American Century.

John Tkacik Jr.

John Tkacik is a former State Department officer and fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center. A long-standing China-hawk, Tkacik argues that as “China’s navy grows stronger … the U.S. Navy shrinks.” He claims that the United States “no longer has any real maritime strategists.”

Matthew Taylor

Matthew Taylor, a filmmaker with ties to the Republican Party, is the director of Los Abandonados, a controversial documentary that advances conspiracy theories about the Argentinian government. Observers have questioned the financial and political motives of the film’s producers and backers, in part because of Taylor’s track record of making films that advance right-wing causes and also because of the relationship between some of the filmmakers to investors who own part of Argentina’s national debt.

John Hay Initiative

The John Hay Initiative, a neoconservative-dominated group advising 2016 GOP presidential candidates, recently released the book Choosing to Lead: American Foreign Policy for a Disordered World. The book provides a decidedly militarist foreign policy vision for a future Republican presidential administration. Among its recommendations, the books calls on the United States to build the “capability to successfully conduct preemptive attacks on the small nuclear arsenals of particularly dangerous countries like North Korea and Iran.”

Fred Thompson (1942-2015)

Fred Thompson, a TV actor and former Republican Senator from Tennessee who was a vocal supporter of the Iraq War, passed away on November 1. He gained national prominence during his brief run for president in 2008, during which he pressed a stridently militaristic foreign policy platform. More recently, Thompson attacked President Obama for purportedly having “no concept” of the “founding principles of our government.”

Ahmed Chalabi (1944-2015)

Ahmad Chalabi, the notorious Iraqi political figure who played an instrumental role in promoting the U.S. invasion of Iraq, has passed away. He was 71 years old. As a McClatchy obituary stated, “perhaps no man had more lasting influence on American foreign policy than Chalabi, whose faulty intelligence Bush administration war boosters used to sell Americans on an ill-planned invasion whose legacy we see today in the Islamic State and the de facto partitioning of Iraq.”

David Albright

David Albright, a controversial nuclear non-proliferation “expert” with close ties to prominent neoconservatives, claims that a recent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on alleged past nuclear weapons work by Iran is wrong. He has also attacked other nuclear experts that disagree with his analysis, including Joe Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund, who replied on Twitter saying: “Suggest you stand down & apologize, whoever you are. The David Albright I know would never write such drivel.”

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John Bolton, the controversial former U.S. ambassador to the UN and dyed-in the-wool foreign policy hawk, has been selected by President Trump to replace National Security Adviser McMaster, marking a sharp move to the hawkish extreme by the administration.

The Institute for the Study of War is a D.C.-based counterinsurgency think tank that has supported long-term U.S. military intervention in the Greater Middle East, especially Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) has been an outspoken proponent of militarist U.S. foreign polices and the use of torture, aping the views of her father, Dick Cheney.

United against Nuclear Iran is a pressure group that attacks companies doing business in Iran and disseminates alarmist reports about the country’s nuclear program.

Gina Haspel is a CIA officer who was nominated to head the agency by President Donald Trump in March 2018. She first came to prominence because of accusations that she oversaw the torture of prisoners and later destroyed video evidence of that torture.

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).

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From the Wires

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New NSA John Bolton represents an existential threat to the Iran nuclear deal and any hopes for peace in the region.

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Hardliners at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies are working overtime to convince the Trump administration to “fix” the nuclear agreement with Iran on the pretext that it will give the US leverage in negotiations with North Korea.

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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.