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

Bush’s Messes in Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan; Plus NGOWatch, Richard Perle, and more

FEATURED ARTICLE Somalia in the Crosshairs By Najum Mushtaq | February 1, 2007 The Bush administration’s Somalia policy has been consistently dictated by an exaggerated fear of al-Qaida’s strength in Somalia, leading it to equate the indigenous Somali Islamic courts with the global network of terrorism. Read full story. ALSO NEW THIS WEEK ON RIGHT…

FEATURED ARTICLE

Somalia in the Crosshairs
By Najum Mushtaq | February 1, 2007

The Bush administration’s Somalia policy has been consistently dictated by an exaggerated fear of al-Qaida’s strength in Somalia, leading it to equate the indigenous Somali Islamic courts with the global network of terrorism. Read full story.

ALSO NEW THIS WEEK ON RIGHT WEB

Afghanistan: Upping the Ante
By Jim Lobe | February 1, 2007

Despite widespread opposition to the Iraq “surge” plan, few seem to oppose U.S. efforts to increase its troop levels in Afghanistan. Read full story.

Iraq: Who’s the Enemy?
By Jim Lobe | February 1, 2007

January has proved a bewildering month for U.S. forces, under attack from various armed factions whose loyalties are often far from clear. Read full story.

NEW RIGHT WEB PROFILES

NGOWatch
Regarded by some as a “McCarthyite blacklist,” NGOWatch is a joint project between the neoconservative-affiliated American Enterprise Institute and the Federalist Society, a powerful right-wing judicial group.

Richard Perle
The onetime “Prince of Darkness” and current neocon black sheep, Perle has turned into a prince of pessimism when it comes to the war in Iraq.

Iran Policy Committee
This group of retired military brass and rightist policy wonks hopes the president will add regime change in Iran to his call for a “surge” in Iraq.

Richard Allen
The Defense Policy Board member and former national security adviser guesses that Reagan would have done a better job than Bush when it comes to Iraq.

ODDS & ENDS

“Scoop” Jackson Lives

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is the latest recipient of the Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson Distinguished Service Award, which is presented annually by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), a neoconservative-aligned policy center that fosters military-to-military relations between Israel and the United States. The award honors Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson, a hardline, pro-Israel Democratic senator from Washington State whose office in the 1970s served as a rallying point for a host of nascent neoconservatives in their efforts to rollback the “appeasement” policies of the post-Vietnam War Democratic Party.

Speaking at the JINSA award dinner on December 5 in Washington, DC, McCain said that the United States has moral and strategic ties with Israel, and that “we will stand with Israel as she fights the same enemy.” McCain said that “American support for Israel should intensify—to include providing needed military equipment and technology.” McCain, who traveled to Israel with Senator Jackson in 1979, joins a long line of hawks from both parties who have received JINSA’s Jackson Award, including Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), Paul Wolfowitz, Curt Weldon, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Dick Cheney, Max Kampelman, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and Duncan Hunter.

McCain warned that “Tehran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons clearly poses an unacceptable risk” and noted that Iran is flouting the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. However, he neglected to mention Israel’s own nuclear arsenal and refusal to join the nonproliferation accord.

Freedom’s Just Another Word …

In a January 26 Financial Times op-ed, Anatol Lieven of the New America Foundation takes Freedom House and the U.S. government to task for making an overly facile connection between freedom and elections. He writes: “In recent years … U.S. official and semi-official rhetoric has too often reduced Freedom with a capital ‘F’ chiefly to the right to vote. Even freedom of expression is usually taken to mean little more than unrestricted private media ownership, even if this leads to oligarchic or monopolistic control of the sources of mass information. This attitude has survived what should have been the sobering experience of the elections in Iraq and Afghanistan. Loudly touted at the time as critically important signs of these countries’ progress, two years later they appear to have achieved precisely nothing in terms of the creation of national polities or working states, let alone of peace, progress, and security.”

Lieven notes that in the new “Freedom in the World” country index compiled by Freedom House, “China’s freedom rating today is—grotesquely—barely different from its score in 1972, when China was undergoing the murderous Cultural Revolution.” Lieven contrasts Freedom House’s “simplistic” freedom benchmarks, whose activities are partially funded by the U.S. government, with the broader view offered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 1941 “Four Freedoms” speech, in which FDR highlighted America’s international commitment to freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. Lieven points out that Roosevelt defined freedom from fear “in terms of the permanent abolition of aggressive war.”

In the Freedom House rating system, Lieven observes, “The United States, of course, invariably gets top marks for political rights and civil liberties. Meanwhile, the ‘Freedom’ ratings of other countries show a marked tendency to move up and down according to the degree of their alliance with the United States and their commitment to a U.S. version of unrestricted capitalism.”

Adds Lieven, “What will create real freedom for people in such countries will not be a simplistic version of ‘democracy’ based on meaningless elections and a pro-U.S. policy, but economic development leading to education and a real sense of individual rights and personal dignity, accompanied by the development of working state institutions.”

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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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