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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

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.


Former Vice President Dick Cheney was a leading framer of the “global war on terror” and a staunch supporter of aggressive U.S. military action around the world.


Mike Pompeo, the Trump administration’s second secretary of state, is a long time foreign policy hawk and has led the public charge for an aggressive policy toward Iran.


Right Web readers will be familiar with Mr. Fleitz, the former CIA officer who once threatened to take “legal action” against Right Web for publicizing reports of controversies he was associated with in the George W. Bush administration. Fleitz recently left his job at the conspiracy-mongering Center for Security Policy to become chief of staff to John Bolton at the National Security Council.


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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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