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

Featured Profiles

John Bolton


Although he was blindsided by President Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria, controversial National Security Adviser John Bolton remains committed to a militarist U.S. agenda in the Middle East, including his “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran. In an apparent effort to keep the administration on course, Bolton replaced his previous deputy, the disgraced Mira Cardel—who was forced out after angering Melania Trump—with an even more hawkish confederate, Charles Kupperman, a defense industry exec and veteran of the Committee on the Present Danger whose career spans opposition to détente with the Soviet Union to advocacy against the Iran nuclear deal.

Charles M. Kupperman


In selecting Charles Kupperman as his new Deputy National Security Adviser, John Bolton “has indicated that he intends to double down on his ‘maximum pressure’ campaign against Tehran.” Kupperman is a familiar face in neoconservative and ultra-hawkish policy circles. He is a veteran of the Reagan White House, an influential member of the boards of numerous hawkish and Islamophobic institutions, and a long-time weapons industry executive.



William Barr


William Barr, President Donald Trump’s choice as his second attorney general, may provide the president’s efforts to expand executive power and clamp down on the investigations of the Justice Department. As one critic writes, it is “notable that Barr seems to believe it isn’t so necessary to erect a wall between the presidency and the nation’s top law enforcement official—a wall that Trump has long desired to demolish.” Barr’s nomination, which came after he repeatedly expressed criticism of the investigations into Trump’s activities, raised eyebrows across the political landscape. With his history of undercutting a special investigation into the Iran-Contra scandal when he was attorney general under George H.W. Bush, many share the view with Sen. Chuck Schumer that Barr “is fatally conflicted from being able to oversee the Special Counsel’s investigation and he should not be nominated to be Attorney General.”

Charles Krauthammer


Charles Krauthammer, who died in mid-2018, called Donald Trump’s response to violent white supremacists in Virginia “a moral disgrace,” But Krauthammer’s intense distaste for Trump never translated into opposition to many of his policies. He supported Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris climate change accord and the Iran nuclear deal, among other decisions, while repeatedly attacking Trump’s character and outbursts. Krauthammer was a long-time fellow traveler of the neoconservative movement although he rejected the label. Like many of this ilk, he began as a Democrat and drifted to the right in the 1970s and 80s.

William Kristol


“The goal of freedom with its noble simplicity and even quiet grandeur. … gives meaning and elevation to the American experiment.” This is how Bill Kristol—the son of the trailblazing neoconservative, Irving Kristol, and notorious war-hawk who promoted the invasion of Iraq —summed up what he thinks U.S. foreign policy should be. Kristol was the founder of the recently shuttered neoconservative periodical, The Weekly Standard. Although once chief of staff to Vice President dan Quayle, Kristol’s contributions to right-wing politics have been more prominent as a pundit. He was a key supporter of the “war on terror” and is known to have been influential in many Republican Party decisions, including the selection of Sarah Palin as VP in 2008. Kristol is widely seen as a leader of the “Never Trump” movement and has been vociferous in his opposition to first Trump’s candidacy and, later, many of his administration’s policies.

Jon Kyl


Jon Kyl says of Donald Trump, “I don’t like his style. Much of it is boorish. I think he’s his own worst enemy.” Kyl, the outgoing senator from Arizona—having retired after three months as John McCain’s replacement—stood by those comments even after he was appointed to the Senate in September 2018. He had previously served in the Senate from 1995 through 2013. Prior to being re-appointed to the Senate, Kyl was assigned to guide Judge Brett Kavanaugh through the confirmation process to join the U.S. Supreme Court. During his time in the Senate, Kyl established himself as a staunch conservative on domestic policy and an interventionist hawk in foreign policy.

Paul Ryan


In one of his final acts as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)—set to retire from Congress in January 2019—used a procedural maneuver to prevent the House from interfering with U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen. Said one observer, “Under his aegis, there was no oversight either of corruption or misdeeds by Trump, his family, his staff and his Cabinet. … no hearings on the Puerto Rico hurricane disaster, child separation, budget cuts to the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] leaving us more vulnerable to pandemics, or any other examples of failures in governance.”

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From the Wires

The same calculus that brought Iran and world powers to make a deal and has led remaining JCPOA signatories to preserve it without the U.S. still holds: the alternatives to this agreement – a race between sanctions and centrifuges that could culminate in Iran obtaining the bomb or being bombed – would be much worse.

With Bolton and Pompeo by his side and Mattis departed, Trump may well go with his gut and attack Iran militarily. He’ll be encouraged in this delusion by Israel and Saudi Arabia. He’ll of course be looking for some way to distract the media and the American public. And he won’t care about the consequences.

When will Mike Pompeo realize that his ideological proclivities against Iran and disregard for people’s desire to live freely and in dignity are no substitute for regional progress?

As this past week began, with the shutdown of parts of the US government entering its third week, Republicans, desperate to force the Democrat’s hand, decided to play the “Israel card.” The effort failed.

National Security Advisor John Bolton is bringing reinforcements into the White House to bolster his push for war with Iran.

President Donald Trump’s sudden decision to pull troops out of Syria has given hardliners reason to celebrate, even as they prepare for the next battle with what they believe are US-supported jihadist forces.

Although a widespread movement has developed to fight climate change, no counterpart has emerged to take on the rising danger of nuclear disaster — yet.

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