Right Web

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

Mario Loyola

  • Texas Public Policy Foundation: Center Director
  • Foundation for Defense of Democracies: Former Visiting Fellow

Please note: IPS Right Web neither represents nor endorses any of the individuals or groups profiled on this site.

Mario Loyola directs the Center for Tenth Amendment Studies at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.[1] A prolific writer and commentator, he is a frequent contributor to the conservative National Review and other rightist outlets, including the Weekly Standard, the American Interest, and the Wall Street Journal. Dividing his time between right-wing think tanks and government, Loyola has held fellowships at the International Republican Institute and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, served as a consultant to the Donald Rumsfeld Pentagon, and advised the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee on foreign and defense policy.

Loyola embraces a range of conservative and hawkish viewpoints in his writings. On foreign policy, he champions the U.S. prerogative to wage preemptive war, especially in the Middle East.

Accordingly, Loyola has repeatedly defended the U.S. decision to go war in Iraq and advocated a similar course on Iran, which he has claimed is actively developing nuclear weapons, despite insistences by U.S. intelligence agencies to the contrary. “I cannot for my life understand why the administration insists on this stupid talking point about how nothing indicates that Iran has decided to develop nuclear weapons,” he wrote in February 2013. “All the relevant information indicates that Iran has decided to develop nuclear weapons.”[2]

Loyola has argued that asking whether military force can destroy Iran’s still-hypothetical nuclear weapons program is the wrong question. Rather, he insists, low-cost military force can be used in as part of a broader political program to dissuade Iran’s leaders from any nuclear ambitions. “The real military option against Iran is not a matter of destroying its program,” he wrote in February 2013, “but rather of convincing Iran to abandon it. If you start by asking what our military can do to rattle Iran’s nerves without risking a major war, you realize that Iran is a lavishly target-rich environment. Instead we’re busy making a shameful demonstration of how easy it is for any two-bit government to rattle our nerves.”[3] Many analysts have countered that any effort by the United States (or Israel) to intervene in Iran would only help convince the country’s public and leaders that they need nuclear weapons to deter attacks.

Despite his insistence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, Loyola has argued that such certitude is unnecessary when contemplating even preemptive war. “Even if the intel had been absolutely ambiguous” about Iraq’s illusory WMD program, Loyola wrote in March 2013, “the president would have been right to focus on WMDs, because it was the confluence of a rogue regime, its support for terrorism, and the possibility of such weapons that made Saddam’s regime so frightening after 9/11.” He added, “we will never be able to know what other countries have or don’t have [WMDs] by relying on our intelligence services. … The same issue now looms centrally in Iran’s nuclear program, and will dominate the 21st-century global security environment.”[4]

Loyola maintains that the Iraq War was necessary, and he vigorously criticized the war’s opponents at its height. In an April 4, 2007 article for the National Review titled "The Politics of Pessimism," Loyola argued that Democrats had "finally thrown down the gauntlet" in insisting on a deadline for withdrawal from Iraq. Spurred by what he termed the "pessimism in the electoral center," Loyola wrote that the Democrats in Congress had received "an incentive to precipitate America's defeat in Iraq." For congressional Democrats, he concluded, “bad news out of Iraq is political insurance, and good news is poison—just as for the Republicans, the reverse is true. That bodes ill for the war effort. It has become politically expedient for the Democrats to convince the wavering middle that we have been defeated in Iraq. And there may be no better way to convince them of that 'fact' than to make it happen."[5]

Loyola outlined his views on intervention and international law in a 2010 letter to the editor in Foreign Affairs. The sections of the UN charter governing the use of force, Loyola wrote, are “generally read as a blanket prohibition against using military force across borders, with only two exceptions: when the UN Security Council authorizes it and when it falls under the right of self-defense as outlined in Article 51.” But, he claimed, “Weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and failing states present threats that cannot be managed without the capacity to deploy preventive force and engage in humanitarian intervention. Today, these uses of force are technically illegal, and the United States is left with little choice but to ignore the law.” Loyola concluded by suggesting that the charter be amended to permit these actions, lest international law itself be “delegitimized” by U.S. disregard for it.[6]

Earlier, in the March 2004 issue of the American Enterprise, Loyola expressed similar views in a commentary defending the "Bush Doctrine" and its call for the use of preemptive force. Loyola argued that the UN Charter's "self-defense" provision, which allows for using military force in cases where there is an "imminent threat" ("whatever this may mean," quipped Loyola), should be translated in an age of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and rogue states as allowing for just such a military policy. He concluded: "Whether or not the president's doctrine of preemption is technically legal under international law, that doctrine is by definition consistent with the fundamental purpose of the UN—'the prevention and removal of threats to the peace.' What is inimical to that purpose is the UN's own Charter."[7]

Loyola has been among Donald Rumsfeld's staunchest defenders. In a November 2006 National Review piece, "The DOD after Rumsfeld," Loyola argued that although Rumsfeld deserves blame for such things as his handling of the Abu Ghraib scandal, he should be remembered as a visionary. Fawned Loyola: "One of the great benefits of historical perspective is that the reputations of important figures get separated from what people thought of them in their own time. So think of who he is. Flaws and all, Rumsfeld is a visionary with a great sense of history and a great devotion to this country. His tenure has been historic. He helped to end two terrible dictatorships and began a process of military transformation that will stay in motion long into the future."[8]

In a November 6, 2006 entry for the National Review's blog "The Corner," Loyola defended Rumsfeld from the "slamming" he had received in an Army Times editorial, arguing that the journal meant nothing to men and women in service. "What's so slimy about this is that the Army Times has created a story that will get reported as "Army Newspaper Calls for Rummy to Resign" right before the election—but no such thing has happened. This is just a random outfit that tailors USA Today articles to target the military. … The hard truth—and I know people don't want to hear it—is that Rumsfeld is hugely popular among the military, as is obvious in any of his Town Halls and speeches to them. It will be interesting to see how the military reacts to the Army Times editorial. I wouldn't be surprised by a fairly serious blowback."[9]

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[1] Texas Public Policy Foundation, “Experts,” Texas Public Policy Foundation website, http://www.texaspolicy.com/experts/mario-loyola.

[2] Mario Loyola, “All the Errors of Our Iran Policy, in Two Minutes,” National Review “Corner” blog, February 3, 2013, http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/339638/all-errors-our-iran-policy-two-minutes-mario-loyola.

[3] Mario Loyola, “All the Errors of Our Iran Policy, in Two Minutes,” National Review “Corner” blog, February 3, 2013, http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/339638/all-errors-our-iran-policy-two-minutes-mario-loyola.

[4] Mario Loyola, “Why We Invaded Iraq, National Review “Corner” blog, March 23, 2013, http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/343934/why-we-invaded-iraq-mario-loyola.

[5] Mario Loyola, "The Politics of Pessimism," National Review Online, April 4, 2007, http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/220520/politics-pessimism/mario-loyola

[6] Mario Loyola, “Legality over Legitimacy,” Foreign Affairs, July/August 2010, http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/66474/mario-loyola/legality-over-legitimacy.

[7] Mario Loyola, "The New First Line of Defense," American Enterprise, March 2004.

[8] Mario Loyola, "The DOD after Rumsfeld," National Review Online, November 6, 2006

[9] Mario Loyola, "Anti-Rumsfeld Editorial in a (Non) Army Paper," National Review Online Blog, "The Corner," November 6, 2006.

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Mario Loyola Résumé


  • Texas Public Policy Foundation: Center Director
  • Foundation for Defense of Democracies: Former Visiting Fellow
  • National Review Online: Contributor
  • American Enterprise Institute: Former Researcher
  • International Republican Institute: Former Fellow


  • Senate Republican Policy Committee: Former adviser
  • Department of Defense: Consultant for Communications and Policy Planning (2005-2006)


  • University of Wisconsin-Madison: B.A., European History
  • Washington University: J.D.


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