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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 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

Bernard Lewis was a renowned historian of Islam and the Middle East who stirred controversy with his often chauvinistic attitude towards the Muslim world and his associations with high-profile neoconservatives and foreign policy hawks.


John Bolton, the controversial former U.S. ambassador to the UN and dyed-in the-wool foreign policy hawk, is President Trump’s National Security Adviser McMaster, reflecting a sharp move to the hawkish extreme by the administration.


Michael Joyce, who passed away in 2006, was once described by neoconservative guru Irving Kristol as the “godfather of modern philanthropy.”


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.


Max Boot, neoconservative military historian at the Council on Foreign Relations, on Trump and Russia: “At every turn Trump is undercutting the ‘get tough on Russia’ message because he just can’t help himself, he just loves Putin too much.”


Michael Flynn is a former Trump administration National Security Advisor who was forced to step down only weeks on the job because of his controversial contacts with Russian officials before Trump took office.


Since taking office Donald Trump has revealed an erratic and extremely hawkish approach to U.S. foreign affairs, which has been marked by controversial actions like dropping out of the Iran nuclear agreement that have raised tensions across much of the world and threatened relations with key allies.


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From the Wires

Soon after a Saudi-led coalition strike on a bus killed 40 children on August 9, a CENTCOM spokesperson stated to Vox, “We may never know if the munition [used] was one that the U.S. sold to them.”


The West has dominated the post-war narrative with its doctrine of liberal values, arguing that not only were they right in themselves but that economic success itself depended on their application. Two developments have challenged those claims. The first was the West’s own betrayal of its principles: on too many occasions the self interest of the powerful, and disdain for the victims of collateral damage, has showed through. The second dates from more recently: the growth of Chinese capitalism owes nothing to a democratic system of government, let alone liberal values.


Falsely demonizing all Muslims, their beliefs, and their institutions is exactly the wrong way to make Americans safer, because the more we scare ourselves with imaginary enemies, the harder it will be to find and protect ourselves from real ones.


Division in the ranks of the conservative movement is a critical sign that a war with Iran isn’t inevitable.


Donald Trump stole the headlines, but the declaration from the recent NATO summit suggests the odds of an unnecessary conflict are rising. Instead of inviting a dialogue, the document boasts that the Alliance has “suspended all practical civilian and military cooperation between NATO and Russia.” The fact is, NATO was a child of the Cold War, when the West believed that the Soviets were a threat. But Russia today is not the Soviet Union, and there’s no way Moscow would be stupid enough to attack a superior military force.


War with Iran may not be imminent, but neither was war with Iraq in late 2001.


Donald Trump was one of the many bets the Russians routinely place, recognizing that while most such bets will never pay off a few will, often in unpredictable ways. Trump’s actions since taking office provide the strongest evidence that this one bet is paying off handsomely for the Russians. Putin could hardly have made the script for Trump’s conduct at the recent NATO meeting any more to his liking—and any better designed to foment division and distrust within the Western alliance—than the way Trump actually behaved.


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