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

Election Post-Mortem

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FEATURED PROFILES

Sheldon Adelson

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, an important financial backer of right-wing “pro-Israel” groups in the United States and elsewhere in the world, donated tens of millions of dollars to super PACs supporting the campaigns of numerous Republican candidates, including the Mitt Romney campaign. In every case but one—that of Senator-elect Dean Heller in Nevada—Adelson’s candidate lost.

Rachel Abrams

Neoconservative blogger Rachel Abrams is notorious for her vindictive, hyperbolic rhetoric. After the re-election of President Obama, Abrams directed her invective at fellow Jews in the United States, who voted overwhelming for the president, writing: “We Jews have frequently enjoyed risking our own future in elections … and we’ve successfully done so once again.”

Karl Rove

GOP strategist and super PAC head Karl is renowned for being ruthless in trying to win elections. But after marshaling hundreds of millions of dollars in a failed bid to defeat President Obama and a slate of Democratic legislators—as well as an embarrassing meltdown on Fox News during election night—many observers are wondering whether Rove’s magic has worn off. His effort to explain away the debacle by arguing that Obama has “suppressed the vote” also failed to impress.

American Israel Public Affairs Committee

One of the most influential lobbying groups in Washington, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has been very successful at marshaling bipartisan support for an interventionist U.S. agenda in the Middle East—alongside staunch U.S. support for Israel. Although officially neutral in the 2012 presidential campaign, some observers argued that the group was quietly backing Mitt Romney, in part because of its advocacy of harsher measures against both Iran and Syria. AIPAC and the Romney campaign also shared personal connections: Dan Senor, the Bush spokesperson in Iraq and a key foreign policy adviser to the campaign, is a former AIPAC intern whose sister is the head of the lobby’s Israeli arm.

American Enterprise Institute

Among rightist beltway think tanks, the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute—with its mix of hardline free market advocacy and foreign policy militarism— arguably stood most to gain from a Romney victory. The last Republican occupant of the White House hired some two dozen AEI scholars to serve in high-level posts. Shortly after President Obama was projected to win on election night, AEI’s Michael Barone, who had predicted that Romney would win by a near landslide, penned a subdued commentary, deploring the great divide in the “Two Americas.” “One America listens to Rush Limbaugh,” simplified Barone, “the other to NPR.”

Jennifer Rubin

Jennifer Rubin, a prolific neoconservative blogger for the Washington Post, emerged during the 2012 campaign as an enthusiastic and largely uncritical supporter of the Mitt Romney campaign. “At every opportunity,” wrote the Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf, “Rubin wrote favorably about Romney and his campaign. And she didn't just get things wrong, sometimes absurdly, she always got them wrong in a way that redounded to Team Romney's benefit.


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Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and two-time failed presidential candidate, is a foreign policy hawk with neoconservative leanings who appears set to become the next senator from Utah.


Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman and longtime “superlobbyist” who has supported numerous neoconservative advocacy campaigns, has become embroiled in the special prosecutor’s investigation into the Donald Trump campaign’s potential collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.


Jon Lerner is a conservative political strategist and top adviser to US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. He was a key figure in the “Never Trump” Campaign, which appears to have led to his being ousted as Vice President Mike Pence’s national security adviser.


Pamela Geller is a controversial anti-Islam activist who has founded several “hate groups” and likes to repeat debunked myths, including about the alleged existence of “no-go” Muslim zones in Europe.


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.”


Although overlooked by President Trump for cabinet post, Gingrich has tried to shape affairs in the administration, including by conspiring with government officials to “purge the State Department of staffers they viewed as insufficiently loyal” to the president.


Former Sen Mark Kirk (R-IL) is an advisor for United Against Nuclear Iran. He is an outspoken advocate for aggressive action against Iran and a fierce defender of right-wing Israeli policies.


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From the Wires

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Other than the cynical political interests in Moscow and Tehran, there is no conceivable rationale for wanting Bashar al-Assad to stay in power. But the simple fact is, he has won the war. And while Donald Trump has reveled in positive press coverage of the recent attacks on the country, it is clear that they were little more than a symbolic act.


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The reality is that the Assad regime is winning the Syrian civil war, and this matters far less to U.S. interests than it does to that regime or its allies in Russia and Iran, who see Syria as their strongest and most consistent entrée into the Arab world. Those incontrovertible facts undermine any notion of using U.S. military force as leverage to gain a better deal for the Syrian people.


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An effective rhetorical tool to normalize military build-ups is to characterize spending increases “modernization.”


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The Pentagon has officially announced that that “long war” against terrorism is drawing to a close — even as many counterinsurgency conflicts  rage across the Greater Middle East — and a new long war has begun, a permanent campaign to contain China and Russia in Eurasia.


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Revelations that data-consulting firm Cambridge Analytica used ill-gotten personal information from Facebook for the Trump campaign masks the more scandalous reality that the company is firmly ensconced in the U.S. military-industrial complex. It should come as no surprise then that the scandal has been linked to Erik Prince, co-founder of Blackwater.


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As the United States enters the second spring of the Trump era, it’s creeping ever closer to more war. McMaster and Mattis may have written the National Defense Strategy that over-hyped the threats on this planet, but Bolton and Pompeo will have the opportunity to address these inflated threats in the worst way possible: by force of arms.


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We meet Donald Trump in the media every hour of every day, which blots out much of the rest of the world and much of what’s meaningful in it.  Such largely unexamined, never-ending coverage of his doings represents a triumph of the first order both for him and for an American cult of personality.


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