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

The Attack-Syria Coalition: Then and Now

FEATURED ARTICLE The Attack-Syria Coalition: Then and Now By Samer Araabi The ongoing crisis in Syria has become a litmus test for Bush-era neoconservatives, as well as the larger interventionist coalition that pushed for the Iraq War under the banner of the Project for the New American Century. Just as we saw during the years…

FEATURED ARTICLE

The Attack-Syria Coalition: Then and Now

By Samer Araabi

The ongoing crisis in Syria has become a litmus test for Bush-era neoconservatives, as well as the larger interventionist coalition that pushed for the Iraq War under the banner of the Project for the New American Century. Just as we saw during the years preceding the invasion of Iraq, the emergence of a pro-intervention coalition is occurring in the absence of a serious discussion about the complexity of the circumstances surrounding Syria’s spiraling civil war, the challenges inherent in any outside military engagement, and the dangers of a zero-sum approach to the conflict. Read article.

FEATURED PROFILES

Paul Ryan

Prepping for tonight’s vice presidential debate? Here’s the skinny on Paul Ryan. Although much better known for his austere budget proposals and extreme anti-abortion views, Ryan also shares Mitt Romney’s faith in American exceptionalism, believes that America is under attack by “Islamic fascists,” and advocates aggressive U.S. military intervention abroad. Since being named Romney’s running mate, Ryan has also walked back his past support for ending the U.S. embargo on Cuba—now accusing the Obama administration of “appeasing” the Castro regime—and attempted to distance himself from his well-documented admiration for the novelist and amateur philosopher Ayn Rand, who held that altruism is evil and greed is good.

Dinesh D’Souza

Dinesh D’Souza—the pseudo-academic writer who once claimed that slaves in the United States were treated “pretty well” and blamed the 9/11 attacks on “The Vagina Monologues” and gay marriage—has made a splash on the right-wing circuit with his film “2016: Obama’s America,” which argues that President Obama’s reelection will herald economic collapse, World War III, and a “United States of Islam” in the Middle East—all in the next four years. Mainstream critics have lambasted the documentary for stooping to “fear-mongering of the worst kind,” but that hasn’t prevented conservative heavyweights from endorsing it.

Michael Doran

Michael Doran is a Brookings Institution scholar and a former member of the George W. Bush National Security Council. Although he has at times criticized prevailing neoconservative notions on the Middle East—particularly on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and on al-Qaeda’s grievances against the United States—Doran has been broadly supportive of the neoconservative’s regime-change agenda, including in Iraq, Iran, and Syria. In a recent New York Times op-ed co-written with Max Boot, Doran argued that the United States should promptly intervene in Syria’s civil war and provide assistance to anti-Assad rebel forces.

Patrick Clawson

Patrick Clawson is director of research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a spin-off of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. A longtime advocate of sabotaging Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program, Clawson recently raised eyebrows by obliquely suggesting that the United States fabricate a “Gulf of Tonkin” incident to justify a U.S. war with Iran. “If in fact the Iranians aren’t going to compromise,” Clawson told guests at a September WINEP presentation, “it would be best if somebody else started the war.”

Ilan Berman

Ilan Berman, vice president of the hawkish American Foreign Policy Council, is a frequent public commentator on U.S. Iranian policy, typically promoting efforts to increase pressure on Tehran. A fan of the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment—a 1970s-era policy that threatened trade relations with the Soviet Union if it didn’t allow Jewish emigration to Israel—Berman has urged the United States to adopt a similar strategy today to increase pressure on Iran, even if it risks “a temporary downturn” in relations with China and Russia.  

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Featured Profiles

Zalmay Khalilzad is Donald Trump’s special representative to the Afghan peace process, having previously served as ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq under George W. Bush.


Robert Joseph played a key role in manipulating U.S. intelligence to support the invasion of Iraq and today is a lobbyist for the MEK.


Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is one of the Senate’s more vocal hawks, and one of the prime vacillators among Republicans between objecting to and supporting Donald Trump.


Elliott Abrams, the Trump administration’s special envoy to Venezuela, is a neoconservative with a long record of hawkish positions and actions, including lying to Congress about the Iran-Contra affair.


Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump second secretary of state, has driven a hawkish foreign policy in Iran and Latin America.


Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is known for his hawkish views on foreign policy and close ties to prominent neoconservatives.


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.


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From the Wires

François Nicoullaud, the former French ambassador to Iran, discusses the ups and downs of Iran-France relations and the new US sanctions.


Effective alliances require that powerful states shoulder a far larger share of the alliance maintenance costs than other states, a premise that Donald Trump rejects.


The new imbroglio over the INF treaty does not mean a revival of the old Cold War practice of nuclear deterrence. However, it does reveal the inability of the West and Russia to find a way to deal with the latter’s inevitable return to the ranks of major powers, a need that was obvious even at the time the USSR collapsed.


As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump appeared to recognize the obvious problem of the revolving door. But as the appointment of Patrick Shanahan, who spent 30 years at Boeing, as the Trump administration’s acting secretary of defense reveals, little has changed. America is indeed great again, if you happen to be one of those lucky enough to be moving back and forth between plum jobs in the Pentagon and the weapons industry.


Domestic troubles, declining popularity, and a decidedly hawkish anti-Iran foreign policy team may combine to make the perfect storm that pushes Donald Trump to pull the United States into a new war in the Middle East.


The same calculus that brought Iran and world powers to make a deal and has led remaining JCPOA signatories to preserve it without the U.S. still holds: the alternatives to this agreement – a race between sanctions and centrifuges that could culminate in Iran obtaining the bomb or being bombed – would be much worse.


With Bolton and Pompeo by his side and Mattis departed, Trump may well go with his gut and attack Iran militarily. He’ll be encouraged in this delusion by Israel and Saudi Arabia. He’ll of course be looking for some way to distract the media and the American public. And he won’t care about the consequences.


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