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

The MEK Lobby: Chumming with Terrorists No More

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FEATURED PROFILES

People’s Mujahedin of Iran
The People’s Mujahedin of Iran—or MEK—is a militant organization advocating the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which for many years was listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. In September 2012, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the group would be removed from the terrorist list. The decision was a major victory for the group’s backers, who spent millions on an aggressive lobbying campaign that included a host of prominent former U.S. officials and a crop of longtime neoconservatives. The decision also raised a number of concerns about a potential backlash from Iran, which could have repercussions on efforts to negotiate limits to that country’s nuclear program.

Marc Thiessen
A torture apologist and speechwriter for President George W. Bush, Marc Thiessen is a columnist for the Washington Post who has used his perch to advance a number of right-wing talking points on national security. Thiessen recently publicized a misleading claim about President Obama’s White House tenure alleging that the president skipped half of his intelligence briefings, when in reality the president had simply opted to read them rather than have them delivered orally. It was a claim the Post’s own fact checker called specious and “curious.”

Tommy Thompson
Tommy Thompson, a former governor of Wisconsin and secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush, is the Republican Party’s 2012 Senate nominee for Wisconsin. His record on foreign policy is thin—indeed, the only marginally relevant section on his campaign website concerns the construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which he argues will help free the United States from the “manipulation” of “hostile” countries. Thompson has also endorsed the U.S. alliance with Israel (despite his history of making insensitive statements about Jews) and warned that a nuclear Iran could choke off the “Gulf” of Hormuz.

Réalité-EU
Réalité-EU is a hawkish policy outfit that promotes aggressive European policies toward Iran and other “threats” in the Middle East. The group purports to be based in London, but investigations by progressive blogs have suggested that the group is linked with The Israel Project, a neoconservative-leaning “pro-Israel” advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. The organization’s website no longer lists a London address, but it continues to churn out hawkish analyses and policy recommendations aimed at European policymakers.

Fred Iklé (1924-2011)
Fred Iklé, who passed away in November 2011, was a well known foreign policy analyst and government official who supported a host of militarist foreign policies dating back to the 1970s—including rolling back détente with the Soviet Union and the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. His case, however, presents an interesting reflection on the efforts of militarists today to expand U.S. military engagement in the Middle East. In particular, like many other erstwhile supporters of the Iraq War, Iklé eventually grew disillusioned with the neoconservative-led campaign to reshape the region’s geopolitical landscape and argued that an attack on Iran would be a “catastrophic failure.”


ALSO NEW ON RIGHT WEB

U.S. to Take Iran Anti-Regime Group Off Terrorism List
In a move certain to ratchet up already high tensions with Iran, the Obama administration has announced that it will remove the MEK from the State Department’s terrorism list.

Nobel Laureate Calls for Armed Intervention in Nigeria
On the International Day of Peace, Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka visited the United Nations—and called for armed intervention against the terrorist group Boko Haram in his home country of Nigeria.

U.N. Chief Jabs Media for Overblown Coverage of Hate Crimes
In the wake of an International Day of Peace marred by reports of violent riots from across the Islamic world, UN officials are calling on the international media not to amplify inflammatory hate speech.

Amid Tension in Islamic World, U.N. Chief Pleads for Harmony
Against a backdrop of international conflict and turmoil in the Middle East, UN officials are pleading for new investments in peacebuilding, a rollback in military spending, and a more democratic United Nations.


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Former Vice President Dick Cheney was a leading framer of the “global war on terror” and a staunch supporter of aggressive U.S. military action around the world.


Mike Pompeo, the Trump administration’s second secretary of state, is a long time foreign policy hawk and has led the public charge for an aggressive policy toward Iran.


Right Web readers will be familiar with Mr. Fleitz, the former CIA officer who once threatened to take “legal action” against Right Web for publicizing reports of controversies he was associated with in the George W. Bush administration. Fleitz recently left his job at the conspiracy-mongering Center for Security Policy to become chief of staff to John Bolton at the National Security Council.


Norm Coleman is chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition and a former senator from Minnesota known for his hawkish views on foreign policy.


Billionaire hedge fund mogul Paul Singer is known for his predatory business practices and support for neoconservative causes.


Keith Kellogg, national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, is a passionate supporter of Trump’s foreign policy.


Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the largest “pro-Israel” advocacy group in the United States, is known for its zealous Christian Zionism and its growing influence in the Republican Party.


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From the Wires

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The Trumpian new regional order in the Middle East is predicated on strongman rule, disregard for human rights, Sunni primacy over Iran and other Shia centers of power, continued military support for pro-American warring parties regardless of the unlawfulness of such wars, and Israeli hegemony.


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A comparison of U.S. nuclear diplomacy with Iran and the current version with North Korea puts the former in a good light and makes the latter look disappointing. Those with an interest in curbing the dangers of proliferating nuclear weapons should hope that the North Korea picture will improve with time. But whether it does or not, the process has put into perspective how badly mistaken was the Trump administration’s trashing of the Iran nuclear agreement.


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Numerous high profile Trump administration officials maintain close ties with anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists. In today’s America, disparaging Islam is acceptable in ways that disparaging other religions is not. Given the continuing well-funded campaigns by the Islamophobes and continuing support from their enablers in the Trump administration, starting with the president himself, it seems unlikely that this trend will be reversed any time soon.


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The Trump administration’s nuclear proliferation policy is now in meltdown, one which no threat of “steely resolve”—in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s words—will easily contain. It is hemorrhaging in part because the administration has yet to forge a strategy that consistently and credibly signals a feasible bottom line that includes living with—rather than destroying—regimes it despises or fears. Political leaders on both sides of the aisle must call for a new model that has some reasonable hope of restraining America’s foes and bringing security to its Middle East allies.


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Congressional midterm elections are just months away and another presidential election already looms. Who will be the political leader with the courage and presence of mind to declare: “Enough! Stop this madness!” Man or woman, straight or gay, black, brown, or white, that person will deserve the nation’s gratitude and the support of the electorate. Until that occurs, however, the American penchant for war will stretch on toward infinity.


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To bolster the president’s arguments for cutting back immigration, the administration recently released a fear-mongering report about future terrorist threats. Among the potential threats: a Sudanese national who, in 2016, “pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to ISIS”; an Uzbek who “posted a threat on an Uzbek-language website to kill President Obama in an act of martyrdom on behalf of ISIS”; a Syrian who, in a plea agreement, “admitted that he knew a member of ISIS and that while in Syria he participated in a battle against the Syrian regime, including shooting at others, in coordination with Al Nusrah,” an al-Qaeda offshoot.


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The recent appointment of purveyors of anti-Muslim rhetoric to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom exposes the cynical approach Republicans have taken in promoting religious freedom.


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