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

Whose Democracy Agenda? Wattenberg, Dobriansky, and Fort

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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

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.


Norm Coleman is chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition and a former senator from Minnesota known for his hawkish views on foreign policy.


Billionaire hedge fund mogul Paul Singer is known for his predatory business practices and support for neoconservative causes.


Keith Kellogg, national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, is a passionate supporter of Trump’s foreign policy.


Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the largest “pro-Israel” advocacy group in the United States, is known for its zealous Christian Zionism and its growing influence in the Republican Party.


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From the Wires

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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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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