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

Whose Democracy Agenda? Wattenberg, Dobriansky, and Fort

FEATURED ARTICLE

Whither the "Global Democratic Revolution"?
By Tom Barry

Promoting democratic change is a worthy foreign policy goal that has deep roots in both the Republican and Democratic Parties. The challenge is to promote that policy in the post-Bush era so that the ideal is not tainted by narrow national interests or ideological agendas. Read full story.

SEE ALSO: The Democracy Vanguard

Right Web Profile: National Endowment for Democracy

Right Web Profile: International Republican Institute

Right Web Profile: Freedom House

FEATURED PROFILES

Ben Wattenberg
An early neocon trailblazer, Wattenberg, host of PBS’s Think Tank and an AEI fellow, thinks America should let in more immigrants, in part to support a larger military, which he envisions chasing down terrorists across the globe.

Paula Dobriansky
A vocal proponent of the Bush administration’s democracy agenda within the State Department, among Dobriansky’s more recent assignments has been tackling the growing refugee crisis created by the war she helped promote.

Randall Fort
A former director at Goldman Sachs and TRW, Randall Fort heads the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, one of the few intel agencies that challenged the Bush administration’s assertions about pre-war Iraq.

ALSO NEW ON RIGHT WEB

Base Politics
By Daniel Luban

A congressional bill to prevent the establishment of permanent military bases in Iraq is symbolic and little else, say critics. Read full article.

An Unwitting War Machine?
By Khody Akhavi

A little help from the media went a long way in helping the Bush administration edge America into the Iraq War, says a new documentary film. Read full article.

LETTERS

Re: Right Web Profile: Freedom House

Right Web’s profile of Freedom House quotes an article from the Financial Times that mischaracterizes the work of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) and its founding chair Peter Ackerman.

First of all, despite implications to the contrary, ICNC is not Peter Ackerman’s personal entity, but is a legally chartered private operating foundation. In fact, since becoming chair of the board for Freedom House, he has stepped down as chair for ICNC. ICNC’s tax returns—including its sources of funding—are fully public and no funding comes from any government, corporation, or other foundation. Its independence from the U.S. government is not merely what Dr. Ackerman "says," but is a well-documented fact.

Secondly, ICNC arranged only one workshop in Dubai, and it was not on "lessons learned from east European movements," but about the core ideas and strategic aspects of many nonviolent struggles in history. It was also not "discreet" but was publicly advertised through flyers given openly to Iranian participants before they chose to attend.

Thirdly, the implication that ICNC’s work is focused on regimes opposed by the U.S. government is untrue. In addition to the workshop for Iranians, ICNC has done more than 20 workshops for other nationalities, including Palestinians, Maldivians, Sahrawis, Eritreans, Egyptians, Papuans, Fijians, Tongans, Guatemalans, and many other peoples engaged in various kinds of struggles for justice and against oppression, including peoples opposing regimes supported by the U.S. government.

Fourthly, the fact that Ackerman happened to introduce President Bush when he spoke at Freedom House should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the administration’s policies but the normal courtesy expected of any board chair when an organization is hosting an honored guest. Indeed, Ackerman happens to oppose a number of policies of the current administration.

Finally, I happen to serve as chair of the ICNC’s academic advisory board and have co-led a number of their workshops overseas on strategic nonviolent action. Not only would I refuse to serve in either capacity for an organization that receives government funding or advances the Bush administration’s agenda, but—given my reputation as highly visible critic of U.S. foreign policy (such as serving as an advisory board member and Middle East editor for Foreign Policy In Focus)—there is no way a group supportive of the Bush agenda would ever include someone like me in an influential position.

—Stephen Zunes

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Featured Profiles

Update was slow, but still no lag in the editor window, and footnotes are intact.     This has been updated – Bernard Lewis, who passed away in May 2018, was a renowned British-American historian of Islam and the Middle East. A former British intelligence officer, Foreign Office staffer, and Princeton University professor, Lewis was…


Bernard Lewis was a renowned historian of Islam and the Middle East who stirred controversy with his often chauvinistic attitude towards the Muslim world and his associations with high-profile neoconservatives and foreign policy hawks.


John Bolton, the controversial former U.S. ambassador to the UN and dyed-in the-wool foreign policy hawk, is President Trump’s National Security Adviser McMaster, reflecting a sharp move to the hawkish extreme by the administration.


Michael Joyce, who passed away in 2006, was once described by neoconservative guru Irving Kristol as the “godfather of modern philanthropy.”


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.


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.”


Michael Flynn is a former Trump administration National Security Advisor who was forced to step down only weeks on the job because of his controversial contacts with Russian officials before Trump took office.


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From the Wires

Trump is not the problem. Think of him instead as a summons to address the real problem, which in a nation ostensibly of, by, and for the people is the collective responsibility of the people themselves. For Americans to shirk that responsibility further will almost surely pave the way for more Trumps — or someone worse — to come.


The United Nations has once again turn into a battleground between the United States and Iran, which are experiencing one of the darkest moments in their bilateral relations.


In many ways, Donald Trump’s bellicosity, his militarism, his hectoring cant about American exceptionalism and national greatness, his bullying of allies—all of it makes him not an opponent of neoconservatism but its apotheosis. Trump is a logical culmination of the Bush era as consolidated by Obama.


For the past few decades the vast majority of private security companies like Blackwater and DynCorp operating internationally have come from a relatively small number of countries: the United States, Great Britain and other European countries, and Russia. But that seeming monopoly is opening up to new players, like DeWe Group, China Security and Protection Group, and Huaxin Zhongan Group. What they all have in common is that they are from China.


The Trump administration’s massive sales of tanks, helicopters, and fighter aircraft are indeed a grim wonder of the modern world and never receive the attention they truly deserve. However, a potentially deadlier aspect of the U.S. weapons trade receives even less attention than the sale of big-ticket items: the export of firearms, ammunition, and related equipment.


Soon after a Saudi-led coalition strike on a bus killed 40 children on August 9, a CENTCOM spokesperson stated to Vox, “We may never know if the munition [used] was one that the U.S. sold to them.”


The West has dominated the post-war narrative with its doctrine of liberal values, arguing that not only were they right in themselves but that economic success itself depended on their application. Two developments have challenged those claims. The first was the West’s own betrayal of its principles: on too many occasions the self interest of the powerful, and disdain for the victims of collateral damage, has showed through. The second dates from more recently: the growth of Chinese capitalism owes nothing to a democratic system of government, let alone liberal values.


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