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

10 Years Later: Any Regrets?

Featured Profiles

Project for the New American Century
The Project for the New American Century, a letterhead group closely associated with the American Enterprise Institute, served as the cornerstone of a neoconservative-led campaign to promote the 2003 invasion of Iraq, helping unite key figures from various ideological factions behind the cause. By 2006, as the United States became increasingly bogged down in a bloody counterinsurgency war in Iraq, the group phased out most operations. Its various directors and supporters, however, remain active today, particularly in the effort to push for war against Iran.

John Yoo
John Yoo, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and professor at the University of California-Berkeley, is a former Justice Department official who helped author the Bush administration's infamous “torture memos." Yoo has continued to defend the Bush administration's more controversial policies, speciously arguing on the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq that unless the war's critics are willing to restore the Baath Party to power in Iraq, they must concede "that on balance, the benefits of the war outweigh the costs." Yoo has also defended the Obama administration's targeted assassination program, including targeting U.S. citizens.

Richard Perle
A fierce advocate of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq while an adviser to the Bush administration, Richard Perle later expressed misgivings about some aspects of the war, arguing that the Iraqis would likely not have handled the postwar situation "as badly as we did. We sent thousands of Americans over there to run a country they knew nothing about." Regarding the decision to invade, however, Perle states: "You can’t, a decade later, go back and say, 'Well we shouldn’t have done that.'"

Paul Wolfowitz
Veteran Middle East hawk Paul Wolfowitz—a key architect of the Iraq War—continues to support the decision to topple Saddam Hussein. In a recent interview with the Sunday Times, Wolfowitz said that although the Bush administration had certainly made errors in Iraq, “we still don’t know how all this is all going to end,” offering South Korea as an example of a country that eventually democratized decades after a U.S.-led intervention.

John Bolton
Former UN ambassador John Bolton, a vocal advocate of unilateral U.S. military intervention, is unapologetic about the U.S. war in Iraq, even by the standards of most neoconservatives. While dismissing those critical of the humanitarian impact of the war as admirers of "totalitarianism," Bolton brushed aside the notion that the war was at all about "making life better for Iraqis." Invoking a war in which the United States was actually attacked, Bolton declared, "we didn't wage war after Pearl Harbor to do nation-building for our enemies."

Michael Goldfarb
Michael Goldfarb, a former researcher at the Project for the New American Century, is a neoconservative pundit, activist, and consultant who has proven adept at funneling anonymous Republican donations into high-profile advocacy efforts. Sensationalistic reports published by the Washington Free Beacon—a conservative blog of Goldfarb's Center for American Freedom—have cemented his reputation as a self-styled provocateur with little regard for the facts.

Philanthropy Roundtable
The Philanthropy Roundtable is a research and advocacy group that helps right-wing donors channel money to an assortment of philanthropic and political causes. The group, which has had numerous connections to neoconservative foundations and advocacy groups over the years, recently attracted notice for its role in helping bankroll efforts to fight environmental regulations.

Washington Free Beacon
The Washington Free Beacon is a news and commentary site published by the right-wing Center for American Freedom. Modeling itself after liberal blogs like Think Progress, the Beacon has developed a reputation for personal attacks and sensationalistic headlines, often hyping neoconservative narratives. The Beacon's "tabloid-style" coverage led one columnist to lambast the site as "a down-market version of the Weekly Standard."

From the Wires

Hawks Defend War on Low-Key 10th Anniversary of Iraq Invasion
Most of the U.S. media and foreign policy commentariat opted to overlook the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq—save for the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute, which held a low-key event devoted to celebrating the so-called "surge" in 2007.

Ten Years After Iraq War, Neo-Cons Struggle to Hold Republicans
Neoconservatives and like-minded militarists continue to hold sway over the Republican Party's foreign policy establishment 10 years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, but they face a growing insurrection from libertarian deficit hawks.

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Featured Profiles

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.


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.


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From the Wires

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.


Falsely demonizing all Muslims, their beliefs, and their institutions is exactly the wrong way to make Americans safer, because the more we scare ourselves with imaginary enemies, the harder it will be to find and protect ourselves from real ones.


Division in the ranks of the conservative movement is a critical sign that a war with Iran isn’t inevitable.


Donald Trump stole the headlines, but the declaration from the recent NATO summit suggests the odds of an unnecessary conflict are rising. Instead of inviting a dialogue, the document boasts that the Alliance has “suspended all practical civilian and military cooperation between NATO and Russia.” The fact is, NATO was a child of the Cold War, when the West believed that the Soviets were a threat. But Russia today is not the Soviet Union, and there’s no way Moscow would be stupid enough to attack a superior military force.


War with Iran may not be imminent, but neither was war with Iraq in late 2001.


Donald Trump was one of the many bets the Russians routinely place, recognizing that while most such bets will never pay off a few will, often in unpredictable ways. Trump’s actions since taking office provide the strongest evidence that this one bet is paying off handsomely for the Russians. Putin could hardly have made the script for Trump’s conduct at the recent NATO meeting any more to his liking—and any better designed to foment division and distrust within the Western alliance—than the way Trump actually behaved.


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