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

Move America Forward

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Move America Forward (MAF) bills itself as a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that is “committed to supporting America’s efforts to defeat terrorism and supporting the brave men and women of our Armed Forces.”[1] As an advocacy organization, MAF disseminates its information mostly through radio and television ads. It has also engaged in online petitions, organized rallies on a variety of topics, and sent gourmet coffee to U.S. troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.[2]

But Move America Forward is far from nonpartisan. It has consistently attacked President Obama’s policies as well as those of other Democrats. Moreover, it has repeatedly advocated for militarist foreign policies, including attacking “North Korea’s offensive capability.” Danny Gonzalez, MAF’s director of communications, said in response to North Korea’s November 2010 isolated shelling of South Korean territory: “Obama should have responded immediately with a missile strike to take out the bases where those artillery shells came from, or a strike on some of South Korea’s navy, or their anti-air missile systems. There are many ways to respond with force, but in some way he should have had a military strike to disarm or disable North Korea’s offensive capability. America cannot tolerate direct attacks on our allies, and the longer Obama waits to respond, the weaker position we are in. We’re calling for Obama to initiate a direct military response immediately.”[3]

During the debt crisis fight in July 2011, MAF put out a statement claiming Obama’s proposal for defense cuts were dangerous for the country, and that while “many local political leaders—governors, mayors, county executives and their staffs—believe it's better to reduce the bloated military budget than cutting social programs, they forget the axiom, ‘We must fight them over there, so we don't have to fight them over here.’"[4]

The organization calls itself the “largest organization of veterans, military families and their supporters” and consistently claims to speak on behalf of all veterans. But its defense policy positions appear to be rooted in an ideology similar to that of neoconservatism, though without the same institutional connections.

Former California state assemblyman Howard Kaloogian, radio personality Melanie Morgan, and Republican political operative Sal Russo co-founded the organization. Kaloogian and Morgan serve as MAF co-chairs. The two joined forces in 2003 for MAF’s first activity: the successful movement to recall California governor Gray Davis. Other board members are Lieutenant Colonel Robert “Buzz” Patterson, a retired air force officer who served under President Clinton, and Lewis K. Uhler, the founder of the National Tax Limitation Committee who served in various posts for Governor Reagan. Siobhan Guiney is MAF’s executive director, having formerly served as legislative assistant to several congressional leaders. Russo is the chief strategist for MAF, and “has spent over 30 years in the field of political consulting and public affairs.” Russo has worked on the political campaigns of Ronald Reagan, Alfonse D’Amato, George Pataki, Jack Kemp, and Orrin Hatch.[5]

During the Bush administration, two MAF initiatives were strategically and tactically linked: to move the United Nations headquarters out of the United States and to support John Bolton as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.[6] MAF regards Bolton as one of the few U.S. diplomats who can “stand up to the ‘Blame America First’ crowd at the United Nations.”[7] In one of its television ads, MAF highlighted Kofi Annan’s purported “close association” with Yasser Arafat, Saddam Hussein, and Fidel Castro, while in the same alarmist tone labeled the UN as a “corrupt, anti-American body.” Even though the UN Secretary General was absolved of any involvement in the Oil for Food scandal, MAF continued to vilify Annan, implying that the UN supports terrorism. The MAF website featured an image of a boxing match with photos of Bolton and Annan in opposing corners.[8]

According to MAF, the United Nations is an “apologist and defender of terrorist organizations and their agents.” In one of its television ads, MAF argued that the United States should no longer “harbor” the UN, and that we should begin “kicking the UN out of the United States” as a necessary step “to move America forward.”[9]

The group has supported right-wing nativist arguments on immigration. As part of their “Secure Our Borders” campaign, MAF collaborated with NoMoreAmnesty.com in the “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” initiative. The two organizations sought to reform immigration laws by holding a rally in Washington, DC, to “confront Congress” and make sure that unauthorized U.S. residents cannot legally obtain drivers’ licenses. [10]

MAF also sponsored a campaign to have Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11 censored or banned before its release in the summer of 2004. The group initially tried to prevent movie theaters from showing the documentary, until Lions Gate Films released a statement condemning MAF’s attempt “to interfere with the rights of people who may want to decide for themselves. Regardless of a person's political perspective, we hope that everybody can agree that censorship is antithetical to the American way.”[11]

MAF’s website has showcased a number of articles featuring advanced weaponry, support for increased troops in Afghanistan, and an appeal to ease the “restrictive” rules of engagement for military personnel.[12] The organization also campaigned to force President Obama to fire Attorney General Eric Holder for “failing to bring terrorists to proper justice.”[13]

There is little public information about MAF's funding sources, though as of 2008 MAF received nearly $2 million in annual public donations.[14]

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Sources

[1]Move America Forward, http://www.moveamericaforward.org/.

[2]Move America Forward: “Gourmet Coffee for our Troops,” http://www.moveamericaforward.org/index.php/MAF/CurrentProject/coffee_for_the_troops/.

[3] Move America Forward, “MAF Calls on Obama to Attack North Korea's Offensive Capability,” November 23, 2010, http://moveamericaforward.org/release.php?id=35.

[4] Move America Forward, “Top Military Brass Say Obama Putting Military at ‘High risk,’” July 29. 2010, http://moveamericaforward.org/article.php?id=157.

[5]Move America Forward, “About Move America Forward,” http://www.moveamericaforward.org/index.php/MAF/AboutUs.

[6]Move America Forward, “Get the U.N. Out of the U.S.,” http://www.moveamericaforward.org/index.php/SpecialProjects/UN-Out-Of-The-US.

[7]Move America Forward, “Support John Bolton for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations,” http://www.moveamericaforward.org/index.php/SpecialProjects/SupportBolton.

[8]Move America Forward, “Get the U.N. Out of the U.S.,” http://www.moveamericaforward.org/index.php/SpecialProjects/UN-Out-Of-The-US.

[9]Move America Forward, “Get the U.N. Out of the U.S.,” http://www.moveamericaforward.org/index.php/SpecialProjects/UN-Out-Of-The-US.

[10]Hold Their Feet to the Fire, http://www.nomoreamnesty.com/.

[11]Carla Marinucci, "Conservatives launch pre-emptive strike against documentary critical of Bush 'Fahrenheit 9/11' called propaganda." San Francisco Chronicle, June 16, 2004, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2004/06/16/MNGED76SI31.DTL&type=printable.

[12]Move America Forward, “News,” http://www.moveamericaforward.org/news.php.

[13]Move America Forward, “Fire Attorney General Eric Holder,” http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/fire_holder/.

[14]GuideStar, Move America Forward: 2008 Form 990, http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2008/841/627/2008-841627277-07018f5c-9.pdf.

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Move America Forward Résumé

Contact Information

Move America Forward
8795 Folsom Boulevard
Suite 103
Sacramento, CA 95826
Phone: (916) 441-6197
Email: info@MoveAmericaForward.org

Founded

2004

About

We are dedicated to supporting our troops in their fight against worldwide terrorism. We encourage you to help us send them care packages and lift their spirits and moral by keeping them aware of how much we appreciate everything they are doing daily to keep America safe and free.

Selected Principals

  • Sal Russo: Co-founder
  • Howard Kaloogian: Co-founder, Co-chair
  • Melanie Morgan: Co-founder, Co-chair
  • Danny Gonzalez: Communications Director

Related:

Move America Forward News Feed


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