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

Bush III?

Featured Profiles Jeb Bush Shortly after President Obama won re-election, commentators began mentioning Jeb Bush as a possible contender for 2016, especially as the former Florida governor chastised members of his party for being out of step on some cultural and economic issues. Hindering his potential appeal, however, is Jeb’s pointed refusal to criticize the…

Featured Profiles

Jeb Bush

Shortly after President Obama won re-election, commentators began mentioning Jeb Bush as a possible contender for 2016, especially as the former Florida governor chastised members of his party for being out of step on some cultural and economic issues. Hindering his potential appeal, however, is Jeb’s pointed refusal to criticize the unpopular policies of his brother George W., leading many analysts to conclude that Jeb is unlikely to lead the Republican Party in the future. One ideological faction that may view him favorably are the neoconservatives, who successfully enlisted Jeb’s support in the launching of the Project for the New American Century in 1997.

Max Kampelman (1920-2013)

Max Kampelman, a Cold War-era arms control negotiator who often supported rightist “pro-Israel” policy groups, passed away in January 2013 at the age of 92. Like many of his neoconservative contemporaries, Kampelman's early politics leaned left. During World War II, Kampelman was a pacifist and conscientious objector. However, while working for Sen. Hubert Humphrey in the 1940s, Kampelman experienced a transformation in his politics, abandoning pacifism for a more aggressive view of national security. According to Kampelman, "The development of atomic and hydrogen bombs led me to doubt my earlier faith in the power of nonviolence to overcome evil in international relations.” Yet Kampelman’s views continued to evolve even late into life, as demonstrated by his efforts to promote global nuclear weapons abolition during his final years.

Harold Rhode

Harold Rhode is a retired Defense Department adviser based at the Gatestone Institute in New York, an activist group that promotes anti-Islamic ideas and policies. A proponent of a hawkish, "pro-Israel" U.S. agenda in the Middle East, Rhode used the occasion of Israel's recent apology to Turkey for killing unarmed Turkish activists in 2010 to accuse the Turkish government of aspiring to create a new "version of the Ottoman Empire." He argued that Israel would have to "remind its enemies who’s boss."

Hudson Institute

The Hudson Institute, part of a closely-knit group of neoconservative policy institutes that champion aggressive and Israel-centric U.S. foreign policies, has seen a number of its scholars in recent months press for regime change in Iran. Hudson’s “Scooter” Libby and Hillel Fradkin have worried in op-eds about nuclear-armed mullahs motived by the “religious obligation to create an Islamic new world order,” while Meyrav Wurmser has argued that because Iran’s purported nuclear program poses an “existential threat” to Israel, “Israel must possess the means to deter or defeat the realization of that threat."

Academi LLC (formerly Xe and Blackwater Worldwide)

The U.S. government has dropped most of its remaining weapons-trafficking charges against former executives from the military contractor Blackwater, now known as Academi. Reportedly, the company was able to prove that it had conducted dangerous missions, purchased weapons, and sold them overseas on behalf of the CIA itself, acting as a "virtual extension" of the intelligence agency at a time when its resources were strained. The case has shed new light on the increasing role that the U.S. government has given to private military contractors in conflict situations.

From the Wires

UN Greenlights Long-Awaited Arms Trade Treaty

Despite opposition from a tiny group of recalcitrant states as well as lobbies like the NRA, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to approve new controls on the international arms trade.

P5+1 Coalition Fraying on Eve of Second Almaty Talks with Iran

Tensions over Syria may undermine the unity of the P5+1 powers as they go back to Kazakhstan to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program.

Iraq, Afghanistan Wars Will Cost Trillion Dollars: Report

Costs to U.S. taxpayers of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will run between four and six trillion dollars, making them the most expensive conflicts in U.S. history.

As Iraq Anniversary Fades, “Strategic Narcissism” Stands out

The fact that major media outlets invited virtually no Iraqis to comment on the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of their country suggests that Americans remain as uncurious as ever about the world their government so actively intervenes in.

Obama’s Subtle Message To Israel: You’re Not My Top Priority Anymore

The subtext of Obama’s recent trip to Israel suggests that the president has much bigger fish to fry than placating Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Letters

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Featured Profiles

Zalmay Khalilzad is Donald Trump’s special representative to the Afghan peace process, having previously served as ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq under George W. Bush.


Robert Joseph played a key role in manipulating U.S. intelligence to support the invasion of Iraq and today is a lobbyist for the MEK.


Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is one of the Senate’s more vocal hawks, and one of the prime vacillators among Republicans between objecting to and supporting Donald Trump.


Elliott Abrams, the Trump administration’s special envoy to Venezuela, is a neoconservative with a long record of hawkish positions and actions, including lying to Congress about the Iran-Contra affair.


Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump second secretary of state, has driven a hawkish foreign policy in Iran and Latin America.


Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is known for his hawkish views on foreign policy and close ties to prominent neoconservatives.


Nikki Haley, Donald Trump’s first U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is known for her lock-step support for Israel and is widely considered to be a future presidential candidate.


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From the Wires

François Nicoullaud, the former French ambassador to Iran, discusses the ups and downs of Iran-France relations and the new US sanctions.


Effective alliances require that powerful states shoulder a far larger share of the alliance maintenance costs than other states, a premise that Donald Trump rejects.


The new imbroglio over the INF treaty does not mean a revival of the old Cold War practice of nuclear deterrence. However, it does reveal the inability of the West and Russia to find a way to deal with the latter’s inevitable return to the ranks of major powers, a need that was obvious even at the time the USSR collapsed.


As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump appeared to recognize the obvious problem of the revolving door. But as the appointment of Patrick Shanahan, who spent 30 years at Boeing, as the Trump administration’s acting secretary of defense reveals, little has changed. America is indeed great again, if you happen to be one of those lucky enough to be moving back and forth between plum jobs in the Pentagon and the weapons industry.


Domestic troubles, declining popularity, and a decidedly hawkish anti-Iran foreign policy team may combine to make the perfect storm that pushes Donald Trump to pull the United States into a new war in the Middle East.


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.


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