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

Neoconservatives anoint Sen. Marco Rubio

Sheldon Adelson

Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate and “pro-Israel” hardliner who has spent hundreds of millions of dollars attempting to influence the outcome of U.S. elections, apparently has decided to throw his support behind Sen. Marco Rubio. According to Donald Trump, “Sheldon Adelson is looking to give big dollars to Rubio because he feels he can mold him into his perfect little puppet. I agree!”

Paul Singer

Hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, a “pro-Israel” megadonor, recently endorsed Senator Rubio for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, calling him the “best explainer of conservative in public life today” and the “strongest choice” for the nomination.” According to a report by the Center for Responsive Politics, Singer personally gave more than $11.5 million to conservative groups in 2014, “more than any Republican in the country.” Singer has also supported a slate of neoconservative advocacy organizations, including the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, the Center for Security Policy, and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Marco Rubio

The endorsement of billionaire GOP funder Paul Singer appears to put Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in the driver’s seat for the Republican presidential nomination. With a passel of neoconservative advisers and support from another major rightwing “pro-Israel” megadonor—the controversial Israeli casino magnate Sheldon Adelson—Rubio is poised to give the war party its most effective advocate since the first George W. Bush administration and the Iraq War.

Jamie Fly

Jamie Fly is a foreign policy advisor to Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign. “If you want a foreign policy adviser with strong ties to the neocon world, it's hard to do better than Fly,” writes one observer. Fly has opposed diplomacy with Iran and argued for military strikes against the country as far back as 2011, when he opined: “It is time to take military action against the Iranian government elements that support terrorism and its nuclear program. More diplomacy is not an adequate response."

John Bolton

Although John Bolton, President Bush’s notorious UN ambassador, has ruled out running in the 2016 presidential election, he still regularly provides starkly hardline comments on U.S. foreign policy. Regarding the Iran nuclear deal, Bolton argued recently that now “only a preemptive military strike can block Iran from becoming a nuclear-weapons state.”

Bill Kristol

Neoconservative talking head Bill Kristol has not been happy about Donald Trump’s surge in the Republican presidential primary race. He says that if Trump wins the nomination, he would “support getting someone good on the ballot as a third party candidate.” Kristol has yet to explicitly endorse Rubio and has instead described an “excellent independent ticket” as being comprised of former Vice President Dick Cheney and uber-hawkish Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR).

Dick Cheney

Former Vice President Dick Cheney has been a vocal and bombastic critic of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. He has characterized the Iran nuclear deal as Obama giving the Iranians “everything they asked for.” Cheney recently coauthored a book with his daughter, Liz Cheney, which according to the Washington Post is a “relentlessly militaristic to-do list for the next commander in chief.”

Paul Wolfowitz

Controversial former Bush administration official Paul Wolfowitz serves as a foreign policy advisor to Jeb Bush’s faltering presidential campaign, joining a host of other neoconservative figures who previously were associated with the administration of his brother George W. Bush. Wolfowitz has also been critical of the Iran nuclear deal, claiming it “concedes” too much to Iran.

Michael Rubin

Michael Rubin, a neoconservative pundit based at the American Enterprise Institute, has described the Iran nuclear deal as “craven capitulation” and called for the United States to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a “terrorist entity.” He advocates a “recapitalization of American defense capabilities” to “undertake unilateral military action against the Islamic Republic in the event of material breach of the JCPOA or some other casus belli.”

Max Boot

Neoconservative military historian Max Boot, a longtime proponent of war with Iran, has denounced the Iran nuclear deal as a “massive capitulation” by the Obama administration and tantamount to ceding American “dominance” in the Middle East to “Iranian imperium.” According to Boot, “the only credible option for significantly delaying the Iranian nuclear program would be a bombing campaign.”

David Frum

According to Atlantic columnist David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter, the Iran nuclear deal “upends the security of the Middle East.” He argues that the United States has made “too much of a priority out of the Islamic State” while the “West’s most important strategic threat in the region” is Iran. Quips one observer: “The notion that Iran is a greater threat than the Islamic State and therefore demands a tougher response is nonsense.”

Michael Ledeen

Michael Ledeen, a neoconservative activist who was once described by a Bill Clinton aide as a “channel for Israeli intel,” has argued that the United States faces a new “Axis of Evil,” which he says is comprised of the original three George W. Bush-designated countries of Iran, North Korea, and even post-U.S. invasion Iraq, along with “Russia, China, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and other countries, and terrorist groups including al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and the Islamic State.” He claims that there is “no escape” from war with this axis.

Daniel Pipes

Daniel Pipes, the Islamophobic director of the Middle East Forum, has given to hyperventilating over the Iran nuclear deal, claiming that it is “arguably the worst international accord not just in American history or modern history, but ever.” He has also lambasted President Obama as a “leftist who sees the imperialism, militarism, and corporate greed of the United States as a menace to the outside world.”

Jennifer Rubin

Jennifer Rubin, a bellicose Washington Post blogger and “pro-Israel” ideologue, predicted that Congress would scuttle the Iran nuclear agreement. After Congress failed to vote to block the deal, Rubin claimed that there was “no longer true bipartisan support for Israel” and that there was only “one party, the Republican Party, for whom support for Israel is a litmus test.”

American Enterprise Institute

Since the end of the Bush years, there has been a steady exit of hardline neocons from the American Enterprise Institute, including most recently Richard Perle. These moves notwithstanding, the think tank clearly remains a preeminent member of the right-wing “pro-Israel” lobby. Case in point: AEI recently announced it would be rewarding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with its top honor, the “Irving Kristol Award.” Said Netanyahu: “I was fortunate to have known Irving, who was a towering intellectual, a stalwart friend of Israel, and a great champion of the US-Israel alliance. I look forward to receiving this award and discussing ways in which the unique friendship between Israel and the United States can continue to grow deeper.”

Middle East Forum

The Middle East Forum (MEF) is a hardline “pro-Israel” think tank that frequently publishes anti-Islamic reports. Founded by Daniel Pipes, MEF fellows have recently claimed that suicide terrorism is “all but unthinkable without the Islamic tradition,” that the Iran nuclear deal was “horrendous,” and that the Obama White House is “led by social justice ideologues” who “understand nothing about a revolutionary Islamist regime.”

Center for Security Policy

The Center for Security Policy (CSP), a neoconservative think tank led by the unabashedly Islamophobic Frank Gaffney, held its annual gala dinner recently. A featured speaker at the event called Islam an enemy that has “existed for 1,400 years” and “brought devastation to nearly the same number of humans as the plague.”

Hudson Institute

The Hudson Institute, part of a closely-knit group of neoconservative policy institutes, champions aggressive and Israel-centric U.S. foreign policies. It recently hosted hawkish Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), who used the Hudson perch to claim that President Obama has a “tendency” to give terrorists “a hand and help them up off the mat.”

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From the Wires

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.


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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.


With President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talking openly about a possible “escalation between us and the Iranians,” there is a real risk that some combination of the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia could initiate a war with Iran. If there’s one lesson to be learned from U.S. wars since 9/11, it’s “don’t start another one.”


The former Kansas congressman and now Secretary of State in the Trump administration once told his constituents in Wichita, “The threat to America is from people who deeply believe that Islam is the way and the light and the only answer.” In this conception, if totalitarianism or terrorism is the content of the Iranian policy, then the Islamic Republic is its enabling form.


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