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

The Neocons’ Chechen Problem

Featured Profiles American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus The American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus, a largely defunct Freedom House initiative that aimed to isolate Russia, attracted media attention after the Boston bombings because of its neoconservative-led efforts to “make friends” with Muslims in that corner of the globe in the wake of…

Featured Profiles

American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus

The American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus, a largely defunct Freedom House initiative that aimed to isolate Russia, attracted media attention after the Boston bombings because of its neoconservative-led efforts to “make friends” with Muslims in that corner of the globe in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. As one writer commented shortly after the Boston attack, “even neocons were for Chechens before they were against them.”

Henry Jackson Society

A bastion of trans-Atlantic neoconservatism and Islamophobia, the UK-based Henry Jackson Society promotes “regime change” in Iran and hardline "pro-Israel" policies. In recent publications, members of the group have called on the United States to lead an armed intervention in Syria and dismissed the P5+1 talks between western powers and Iran as “sham negotiations” that “defang the military threat of any credibility.” The group’s head, Alan Mendoza, warned an audience at this year’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee convention that increasing Muslim immigration to Europe is weakening the continent’s support for Israel, while its associate director Douglas Murray has proposed that “Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board.”

Clarion Project

A controversial activist group closely connected to anti-Islamic political factions, the Clarion Project has released a series of films and publications that attack “Radical Islam” and call into question the trustworthiness of Muslims in general. It now claims to be working on a film about "the cruel and often violent oppression of Muslim women."

Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs

A prominent member of the rightwing “pro-Israel” lobby, JINSA purports to be "the most influential group on the issue of U.S.-Israel military relations." Specializing in facilitating military-to-military ties between the United States and Israel, JINSA recently hired Michael Makovsky as its CEO. A dual U.S.-Israeli citizen who reportedly spent time in the Israeli army, Makovsky previously ran the foreign policy program at the Bipartisan Policy Center, where he oversaw numerous studies aimed at pressuring the United States to adopt a more confrontational approach with Iran.

Jackson Diehl

Since Jackson Diehl took over as the Washington Post’s deputy editorial page editor in 2001, the newspaper’s editorial slant has become increasingly hawkish and conservative. Among Diehl’s favorite targets have been the Middle East and populist leaders in Latin America. On the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War, for example, Diehl penned a column calling for U.S. intervention in Syria. That same month, he excoriated “the leftist populist rulers of Venezuela, Ecuador and Nicaragua” for “gutting democratic institutions in their countries” and seeking “to punish the Inter-American Commission for calling attention to their offenses.”

Harold Rhode

Harold Rhode is a retired Defense Department adviser based at the Gatestone Institute in New York, an activist group that promotes anti-Islamic rhetoric and ideas. A proponent of hawkish, "pro-Israel" policies in the Middle East, Rhode used the occasion of Israel's recent apology to Turkey for killing unarmed Turkish activists in 2010 to accuse the Turkish government of aspiring to create a new "version of the Ottoman Empire." He argued that Israel would have to "remind its enemies who’s boss."

United Against Nuclear Iran

United against Nuclear Iran is an activist group that pressures companies to stop doing business in Iran and disseminates alarmist reports about the country's nuclear program. Although the group's website proclaims a relatively centrist agenda, its advisory board is packed with foreign policy hawks from both sides of the Atlantic who have advocated military action against Iran on ideological grounds.

From the Wires

Kerry’s Mideast Trip Seen as “Going Through the Motions”

Although several Obama administration officials have visited the Middle East in recent months, many analysts believe the administration has given up on negotiating an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement with the current Israeli government.

More Diplomacy, Less Pressure Needed for Iran Settlement – Report

Even as 'pro-Israel' advocacy groups press for harsher sanctions on Iran, an emerging think tank consensus in Washington emphasizes bolstering diplomatic efforts long neglected because of Congress’s focus on military force and crippling sanctions.

Hunger Strikes Put Guantanamo Back in the Spotlight

A compelling op-ed published by a Guantanamo detainee on hunger strike has helped spur renewed scrutiny of the Obama administration's failure to close the detention facility.

Libya Intervention More Questionable in Rear View Mirror

The NATO intervention in Libya left behind an unstable state and helped to spread Libyan arms into conflicts throughout the region, but it may have wrought its most consequential damage on great-power relations.

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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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