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

Restrictionism, Katrina, Bush Foreign Policy Team

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This Week on the Right

Restrictionism Resurgent

The Conservative Caucus, a pillar of right-wing politics in the United States, has joined the anti-immigrant bandwagon. For them and other right-wing stalwarts, the war on terrorism has morphed into the war on immigrants. Instead of United We Stand bumper stickers, Howard Phillips’ Conservative Caucus is distributing free Protect America bumper stickers to its anti-big government and social conservative constituents.

With the immigration issue, Phillips, who serves as chairman of the New Right organization founded by Richard Viguerie in 1974, is attempting to revive the backlash populism of the 1970s that turned against liberals and progressives—the “liberal establishment” in the 1970s and 1980s. Phillips is campaigning to collect 10 million signatures in support of the Conservative Caucus’ “Protect America—No Amnesty” drive—as part of an effort to “stop Congress and the President from granting amnesty to 10 million illegal aliens.”

Group Watch Profile: Conservative Caucus

Right Web Analysis: Politics and Ideologies of Anti-Immigrant Forces

Another core right-wing group not formerly known for its anti-immigrant focus that is joining the restrictionists bandwagon is the Mountain States Legal Foundation. In a recent mailing, the legal foundation, which generally focuses on private enterprise, public lands, and environmental issues, encourages its supporters and others to write a letter to Cong. Tom Tancredo, the leader of the House Immigration Reform Caucus, to support MSLF’s decision to defend Proposition 200 (Protect Arizona Now), the anti-immigrant referendum, taking to task the ACLU and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) for attempting to have the proposition declared unconstitutional.

Both the Conservative Caucus and Mountain States Legal Foundation take aim at the Mexican government, saying in the case of the CC that the “Mexican government is helping its citizens to illegally invade America” which “in days gone by would have been considered an act of war by a foreign country.” MSLF encourages the United States to withdraw from the UN Commission on Human Rights in retaliation for a statement by a Mexican diplomat that the Mexican government might consider taking the United States before the commission for violating the rights of Mexican immigrants.

Right Web Profile: Immigration Reform Caucus

Featured Analysis

Foreign Policy Aftermath of Katrina

By Jim Lobe (Excerpted from new Right Web analysis at: https://rightweb.irc-online.org/rw/631)

The fact that an unprecedented number of Republican lawmakers have criticized the federal government’s response to the crisis is one indication that the president is headed quickly toward lame-duck status or worse.

“The Bush Era is over,” declared Post political columnist E.J. Dionne Jr., who argued that the “source of Bush’s political success was his claim that he could protect Americans,” but that that notion was drowned “in the surging waters of New Orleans .”

Others have pointed to the fact that some 7,000 National Guard troops from Louisiana and Mississippi , who could have been available for rescue and security operations at home, were instead deployed to Iraq , along with their equipment, when Katrina hit.

“They should be fighting the effects of flood waters at home—helping people in the communities they know best—not battling Iraqi people who want them to go away,” noted left-wing media analyst Norman Solomon.

Even before Katrina made landfall, however, some of Washington ’s foreign policy elite was worrying that the U.S. difficulties in Iraq were souring many citizens on global engagement—at least in the form pursued by the Bush administration—much as an increasingly unpopular Vietnam War turned the country inward, if not isolationist, beginning in the late 1960s.

Just hours before much of New Orleans was submerged in floodwater, Francis Fukuyama, famous for his 1992 “The End of History,” published a broadside attack in the New York Times on the administration’s decision to take the country to war in Iraq instead of building a more sustainable international coalition focused on destroying al-Qaida, and pressing for a stricter proliferation regime that would have attracted far more domestic and foreign support.

The article, entitled “Invasion of the Isolationists,” noted that Republican support for the Iraq war has been confined to only two sectors—“the neoconservatives (who lack a political base of their own but who provide considerable intellectual firepower) and from … ‘Jacksonian America’—American nationalists whose instincts lead them toward a pugnacious isolationism.”

That Katrina’s wrath was focused on the Deep South, the heartland of the “Jacksonians” (named for former President Andrew Jackson, the brutal Indian fighter who also, coincidentally, expelled the British from the United States at the Battle of New Orleans in 1814) was especially ironic—and potentially politically significant—given the weight Fukuyama gives that constituency in sustaining Bush’s aggressive unilateralism.

“I think there are a lot of southern Republicans who are asking why we’re still spending blood and treasure in Iraq and Afghanistan when we can’t seem to take care of our own at home,” said one Congressional aide this week. “Katrina brings home those kinds of policy choices in a very dramatic and concrete way.”

Indeed, the American Conservative Union (ACU), another Jacksonian bastion that has been very reluctant to criticize the five-billion-dollars-a-month costs of the Iraq War and the nearly 500-billion-dollar annual-defense budget, issued a statement Tuesday warning of a political revolt by its constituents.

“(C)onservatives throughout the United States are increasingly losing faith in the president and the Republican leadership in Congress to adequately prioritize and rein in overall federal spending,” said ACU president David Keene.

He noted that even before Katrina, “American taxpayers have witnessed the largest spending increase under any preceding president and Congress since the Great Depression.”

Anatol Lieven, a foreign policy analyst at the New America Foundation, also foresees foreign policy consequences to Katrina. “I wouldn’t call it withdrawal from the world, but there had already been a certain tailoring of ambition as a result of Iraq ,” he said. “But Katrina will push it further both because of the public mood and the financial constraints.”

Jim Lobe contributes to the Right Web project of the International Relations Center (www.irc-online.org) and is a regular writer for Inter Press Service, which first published this analysis.

See also

Bush Bad Neighbor Foreign Policy Team

A new Right Web chart, linked to hundreds of profiles of right-wing policy institutes, think tanks and foundations, illustrates the array of ways that the Bush Foreign Policy Team forms part of an informal coalition of militarists, social conservatives, and ideologues.

See the Right Web connections that bind such figures as Cheney, Abrams, Libby, Negroponte, Hadley, Cambone, Rice, Bolton, and Gershman together at:
https://rightweb.irc-online.org/charts/fpteam.php

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