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

Washington Debates Syria | Gingrich Repents

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Major U.S. Debate Over Wisdom of Syria Attack
By Jim Lobe
Recent allegations that Bashar al-Assad’s forces used chemical weapons have bolstered the standing of Washington’s Syria hawks, even as experts warn that any kind of military intervention would have serious repercussions.

Obama Should “Resist the Call” to Intervene in Syria
By Robert E. Hunter

A former U.S. ambassador to NATO warns President Obama to avoid the temptation to intervene militarily in Syria and advises him to "place his bet on vigorous and unrelenting diplomacy for a viable post-Assad Syria."


Featured Profiles

Newt Gingrich

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich—a vocal proponent of the idea that the United States faces an existential threat from “Islamofascists”—surprised many observers recently when he suggested that he "should have known better" about supporting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, categorically ruled out supporting U.S. intervention in Syria, and praised Tea Party favorites Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz for "raising the right questions" about U.S. foreign policy. Has the one-time neoconservative fellow traveler turned neo-isolationist?

Robert P. George

Robert P. George is a conservative Catholic writer and activist who has been called his generation's Richard John Neuhausfor his efforts to unite conservative Catholics and evangelicals into a cohesive political movement. George is well known for his arguments that "natural law" prohibits abortion and same-sex marriage, as well as for arguing that just war theory made the Iraq War not only permissible but "required." Although he has accused the Obama administration of waging a "massive assault on religious liberty," he recently accepted the chairmanship of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Groundswell

Many conservative activists cried foul after the 2010 discovery of JournoList, a listserv where well-known moderate-to-progressive reporters and wonks discussed politics and current events. But now Mother Jones has reported the existence of Groundswell, which one observer describes as "a B-list of extreme foreign policy hawks, social conservatives, anti-immigration activists, and voter ID proponents" dedicated to sharpening right-wing talking points across a variety of issues—in other words, "a weird parody of … what [conservatives] imagined JournoList to be." Participants in the group include the spouse of a Supreme Court Justice, at least two former members of Congress, and a staffer to Sen. Ted Cruz, as well as outspoken foreign policy hawks like John Boltonand Frank Gaffney.

Elliott Broidy

Elliott Broidy is an Israeli-American investor and philanthropist who has been active on the boards and advisory councils of various philanthropic organizations and right-wing pressure groups, including the Republican Jewish Coalition. In early 2013, Broidy helped found the Bipartisan Coalition for American Security, an advocacy group co-chaired by former Sen. Joe Lieberman that promotes a robust U.S. military budget, corporate-friendly free-trade policies, and a hawkish U.S. posture toward Iran and other purported threats to the United States. In 2009, Broidy pled guilty to bribing New York State pension officials in an effort to secure a $250-million contract for his former company, Markstone Capital.

Institute on Religion and Public Life

The Institute on Religion and Public Life publishes First Things magazine, a journal of contemporary religious right thought. Founded by the late Richard John Neuhaus—a "theocon" who blended conservative religious views with hawkish foreign policy advocacy—IRPL aims "to advance a religiously informed public policy for the ordering of society." Although First Things tends to focus on cultural and theological debates, its authors helped promote the invasion of Iraq, defended the war in Afghanistan, and criticized pacifist Christianity as "morally perverse" and "eschatological madness."

Jennifer Rubin

Jennifer Rubin, a neoconservative blogger for the Washington Post, has attracted many critics for her confrontational writing style and frequent employment of right-wing talking points. Now, even the Post’s former ombudsman has joined the fray. “Fire Jennifer Rubin,” he recently wrote in an open letter to new Post owner Jeff Bezos. “She doesn’t travel within a hundred miles of Post standards. She parrots and peddles every silly right-wing theory to come down the pike in transparent attempts to get Web hits.” Her columns, he concluded, “at best are political pornography; they get a quick but sure rise out of the right, but you feel bad afterward.”

Michael Rubin

A skeptic of Islamist democratic movements, American Enterprise Institutefellow Michael Rubin has shown particular hostility to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. A veteran of the Bush-era Pentagon office that provided faulty intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war, Rubin welcomed the recent coup that toppled Egypt's democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood government, writing that "If democracy is the goal, then the United States should celebrate Egypt’s coup." A month later, even after military crackdowns had killed hundreds of unarmed Islamist protesters, Rubin was still insisting that "our side is with" the coup government and maintained that Washington should continue to fund Egypt's military.


From the Wires

Washington’s Worries Grow Over Saudi Ties

Saudi Arabia, traditionally the linchpin of U.S. policy in the Persian Gulf, has increasingly distanced itself from Washington's dictates, seeking an outside understanding with Russia over Syria and encouraging Egypt's crackdown on supporters of the ousted President Mohamed Morsi.

U.S., UK, France Seek Wider U.N. Support for Syria Probe

Over the objections of Russia and China, the United States, the UK, and France have been circulating a letter among UN member states pushing for a wider investigation into the Assad regime's alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria.

The American Right’s Holy War in Egypt

The neoconservative split over Egypt may not be symptomatic of what’s happening among other elements of the U.S. right, where a number of commentators have characterized the unrest in sectarian terms, arguing that the bloody military crackdown on Islamist protesters is a defense of Egypt's Christians.

U.S. Arms Industry Would Lose Big from Egypt Aid Cut-Off

Most of the $1.3 billion in annual U.S. "aid" to Egypt goes directly to U.S.-based military contractors.

U.S. Condemns Military Crackdown in Egypt but No Aid Cut-off

Although it harshly condemned Egypt's horrific crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood supporters, Washington has indicated that it will continue to finance the Egyptian military.

While Officials Talk, Israelis Build

Illegal settlement growth continues in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem even as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators meet to discuss the division of land for a potential Palestinian state.


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Featured Profiles

Jon Lerner is a conservative political strategist and top adviser to US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. He was a key figure in the “Never Trump” Campaign, which appears to have led to his being ousted as Vice President Mike Pence’s national security adviser.


Pamela Geller is a controversial anti-Islam activist who has founded several “hate groups” and likes to repeat debunked myths, including about the alleged existence of “no-go” Muslim zones in Europe.


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.”


Although overlooked by President Trump for cabinet post, Gingrich has tried to shape affairs in the administration, including by conspiring with government officials to “purge the State Department of staffers they viewed as insufficiently loyal” to the president.


Former Sen Mark Kirk (R-IL) is an advisor for United Against Nuclear Iran. He is an outspoken advocate for aggressive action against Iran and a fierce defender of right-wing Israeli policies.


A military historian, Kimberly Kagan heads the Institute for the Study of War, where she has promoted the continuation of U.S. war in Afghanistan.


A “non-partisan” policy institute that purports to defend democracies from “militant Islamism,” the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) is an influential base of hawkish advocacy on Middle East policy.


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From the Wires

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Other than the cynical political interests in Moscow and Tehran, there is no conceivable rationale for wanting Bashar al-Assad to stay in power. But the simple fact is, he has won the war. And while Donald Trump has reveled in positive press coverage of the recent attacks on the country, it is clear that they were little more than a symbolic act.


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The reality is that the Assad regime is winning the Syrian civil war, and this matters far less to U.S. interests than it does to that regime or its allies in Russia and Iran, who see Syria as their strongest and most consistent entrée into the Arab world. Those incontrovertible facts undermine any notion of using U.S. military force as leverage to gain a better deal for the Syrian people.


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An effective rhetorical tool to normalize military build-ups is to characterize spending increases “modernization.”


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The Pentagon has officially announced that that “long war” against terrorism is drawing to a close — even as many counterinsurgency conflicts  rage across the Greater Middle East — and a new long war has begun, a permanent campaign to contain China and Russia in Eurasia.


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Revelations that data-consulting firm Cambridge Analytica used ill-gotten personal information from Facebook for the Trump campaign masks the more scandalous reality that the company is firmly ensconced in the U.S. military-industrial complex. It should come as no surprise then that the scandal has been linked to Erik Prince, co-founder of Blackwater.


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As the United States enters the second spring of the Trump era, it’s creeping ever closer to more war. McMaster and Mattis may have written the National Defense Strategy that over-hyped the threats on this planet, but Bolton and Pompeo will have the opportunity to address these inflated threats in the worst way possible: by force of arms.


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We meet Donald Trump in the media every hour of every day, which blots out much of the rest of the world and much of what’s meaningful in it.  Such largely unexamined, never-ending coverage of his doings represents a triumph of the first order both for him and for an American cult of personality.


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