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

Neocons Despair over Détente with Iran

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Neoconservatives Despair Over U.S.-Iran Diplomacy
Jim Lobe

Nervous about potential U.S. rapprochement with Tehran over its nuclear enrichment program, some neoconservatives are urging Israel to scuttle the deal by attacking Iran.


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Foreign Policy Research Institute

The Foreign Policy Research Institute is a conservative foreign policy think tank based in Philadelphia. Although many of its current scholars are realist skeptics of military interventionism, the institute has supported the work of a number of prominent hawks over the years, including Daniel Pipes, founder of the Middle East Forum. FPRI figures have advocated "standing aside" in Syria "so that some hateful, armed and dangerous people can get killed" and celebrated the military coup that brought down Egypt's elected Muslim Brotherhood government, which one FPRI writer claimed has been "directly influenced by the Nazis."

Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager is a conservative radio talk show host and columnist who promotes the “culture wars” as well as America's overseas wars. An unapologetic advocate of making the United States the "world's policeman," Prager has been an avid proponent of U.S. intervention in Syria, calling the recent agreement to avoid war by transferring Syria's chemical weapons out of the country an "American defeat by Russia, Syria, and Iran." On the cultural front, Prager has recently compared court rulings legalizing same-sex marriage in California to Egypt's military coup, and accused "virtually all black leaders" of having "hatred" for "white America."

Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research is an influential rightist think tank chaired by hedge fund magnate Paul Singer, an important financial backer of neoconservative advocacy groups like the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. The Manhattan Institute has promoted lower taxes on the rich, public service cuts for the poor, and controversial "stop and frisk" police practices. Through its influential quarterly magazine, City Journal, Manhattan Institute writers also weigh in on foreign policy. In a recent column, contributing editor Judith Miller—notorious for her efforts to relay Ahmed Chalabi's false intelligence about Iraq as a New York Times reporter—expressed "profound skepticism" about any international agreement to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons.

Charles Jacobs

Charles Jacobs is a Boston-based writer and political activist who has founded several organizations devoted to policing criticism of Israel and warning about the dangers of "radical Islam." Among these is the group Americans for Peace and Tolerance, which is well known in Boston for opposing the construction of a local Islamic center and for raising alarm about "Islamic extremism" in schools and universities. Jacobs has also put APT's name behind efforts to link Iran to the 1994 bombing of a prominent Buenos Aires Jewish center, despite reports that such accusations rely solely on testimony from controversial anti-regime Iranian exiles.

J.D. Crouch

J.D. Crouch II is a former deputy national security adviser and assistant to President George W. Bush who helped develop the “troop surge” in Iraq. One of the staunchest foreign policy hawks in the Bush administration, Crouch resigned from the government in 2007, first taking a fellowship with the National Institute for Public Policy—a think tank closely linked to military contractors—and then heading up a military contractor firm. He was recently named CEO of QinetiQ North America, the Virginia-based arm of the UK-based defense firm QinetiQ.

Bernard Marcus

Bernard Marcus is the billionaire co-founder and former CEO of Home Depot. Since retiring from the company in 2002, he has devoted his energies to philanthropy, political fundraising, and activism. Alongside his support for traditional philanthropic causes, Marcus has also emerged as a major funder of numerous Republican and neoconservative organizations, including the American Enterprise Institute, Christians United for Israel, and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. He has been among largest donors to the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies, having given nearly $11 million to the organization in 2011 alone.

Paul Singer

Billionaire investor Paul Singer is the founder and CEO of the Elliott Management Corporation, a hedge fund that once counted Dan Senor among its partners. Singer has used his largesse—some of it funneled through his eponymous family foundation—to finance a host of right-wing “pro-Israel” organizations, including the Republican Jewish Coalition, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Institute for the Study of War. A recent Salon report revealed that the secretive Singer is also the second-largest donor to the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies.


From the Wires

Hope and Pessimism as Israelis and Palestinians Resume Talks

Hardliners have begun to lose sway in the U.S. "pro-Israel" community, but the gulf between the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating positions remains formidable in the latest round of U.S.-brokered talks.

How Syria Brought the U.S. and Iran Together

The emerging U.S.-Iran modus vivendi over Syria could be the beginning of the end for three decades of mutual hostility and estrangement.

Iran Hawks Gear Up

As the United States and Iran move towards renewed talks over Tehran's nuclear enrichment program, anti-Iran hardliners in Washington and the Middle East are likely to step up their attacks on the process.

Remember Bibi’s Wisdom on Iraq 11 Years Ago

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu escalates his pressure on Washington to avert its rapprochement with Iran, critics recall his fervent support for the invasion of Iraq.

U.S., Iran Trade Cautious Overtures at U.N.

In their addresses to the UN General Assembly, U.S. President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani each indicated that they were committed to renewing diplomatic engagement between their two countries, which each administration appointing high-level diplomats to resume talks.

Speculation over Iran-U.S. Détente Continues Apace

With both sides sending conciliatory signals in advance of the UN General Assembly, a U.S.-Iran détente appears more within reach than ever—much to the chagrin of hawkish "pro-Israel" factions in the United States.


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Featured Profiles

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.


Laurence Silberman, a senior justice on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, was a mentor to controversial Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and has been a vocal supporter of right-wing foreign and domestic agendas, including the campaign to support the invasion of Iraq.


The People’s Mujahedin of Iran, or MEK, advocates regime change in Iran and has strong connections with a wide range of top political figures in the U.S.


Haim Saban is a media mogul and major donor to the Democratic Party known for his hardline stance on Israel and opposition to the Iran nuclear deal.


Eli Lake is a columnist for Bloomberg View who has a lengthy record of advocating for aggressive U.S. foreign policies towards the Middle East.


Brian Hook is the director of policy planning and senior policy advisor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and is the head of the Iran Action Group.


Josh Rogin is a journalist known for his support for neoconservative policies and views.


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From the Wires

The contradictions in Donald Trump’s foreign policy create opportunities for both rivals and long-standing (if irritated) US allies to challenge American influence. But Trump’s immediate priority is political survival, and his actions in the international arena are of little concern to his domestic supporters.


While the notion that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic is decades old, it has been bolstered in recent years, by the campaign to add to the definition of anti-Semitism any criticism that singles Israel out and doesn’t apply the same standard to other countries. The bottom line is that this entire effort is designed not to combat anti-Semitism but to silence criticism. 


Short-term thinking, expedience, and a lack of strategic caution has led Washington to train, fund, and support group after group that have turned their guns on American soldiers and civilians.


Trump is not the problem. Think of him instead as a summons to address the real problem, which in a nation ostensibly of, by, and for the people is the collective responsibility of the people themselves. For Americans to shirk that responsibility further will almost surely pave the way for more Trumps — or someone worse — to come.


The United Nations has once again turn into a battleground between the United States and Iran, which are experiencing one of the darkest moments in their bilateral relations.


In many ways, Donald Trump’s bellicosity, his militarism, his hectoring cant about American exceptionalism and national greatness, his bullying of allies—all of it makes him not an opponent of neoconservatism but its apotheosis. Trump is a logical culmination of the Bush era as consolidated by Obama.


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.”


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