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

Attacking the new nuclear posture; Flotilla fallout; Ed Meese, Michael Rubin, and more.

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The Nuclear Posture Attack

By Robert Farley

The vehement attacks against President Obama’s arms control initiatives reveal the extent to which the militarist extreme in the Republican Party’s foreign policy establishment has remained deeply entrenched despite the significant setbacks hawks have suffered since helping drive the country into war with Iraq. Using language that conjures images from the heyday of the Cold War, neoconservatives and other right-wing nationalists have endeavored to paint the administration as willing to sacrifice national security to achieve international acclaim. They have also drowned out more moderate voices in the Republican Party, whose realist views, although more in line with the policies pushed by the Obama administration, are failing to have an impact on conservative discourse. Read full article.

Special Section: Fallout from the Gaza Flotilla Attack

Since Israel’s pre-dawn attack in international waters on a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to people living in Gaza, the usual suspects have been pushing back against the condemnation the attack has ignited around the world. The Israel government blames the activists; the neocons blame the UN and Europeans for upholding flawed notions of proportionality; and the White House has gone into full-fledged damage-control mode.

Obama Seeks to Quiet Outrage over Gaza Flotilla Killings
By Jim Lobe
While calling the blockade against Gaza "unsustainable and unacceptable,” the Obama administration has steadfastly avoided assigning blame for the deadly Israeli attack on the Gaza aid flotilla. Read full article.

ISRAEL: Spinning the Attack on the Gaza Aid Flotilla
By Mel Frykberg   
The Israeli government has launched a full-throttle defense of its attack on the Gaza aid flotilla as outrage over the attack grows around the world. Read full article.

PROFILE: Michael Rubin
The AEI scholar has been a vociferous defender of Israel since its deadly attack on the Gaza aid flotilla, accusing Europeans of being weak in their defense of liberalism and warning the Obama administration that if it takes a tough line on the attack Israel will decide it has a green light to bomb Iran.

PROFILE: Clifford May
The former New York Times writer and head of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies has tried to defend Israel’s flotilla attack by citing press reports about purported anti-Semitic chants among flotilla participants that are based on assertions by government representatives that were not confirmed by any independent source.

Featured Profiles

Edwin Meese
The Reagan-era Cold Warrior recently re-emerged on the national scene when he co-wrote an op-ed for the right-wing Washington Times that called for a return to the principles of “peace through strength” and warned that America’s very existence was in jeopardy because of a dazzling array of purported threats, including insecure borders, Sharia law, and unlawful combatants.

Robert Joseph
Joseph, a controversial Bush administration arms control official, now peddles diatribes on the Obama administration’s efforts to reform strategic policies from his perch at the National Institute for Public Policy.  

National Institute for Public Policy
Although NIPP claims to have moved beyond Cold War ideas in its analysis of strategic policies, its writers continue to be deeply ensconced in Soviet-era ideas, as evidenced by their recent criticisms of the Obama administration.

Lagon, Mark
A State Department official during the Bush administration with a history of working for neoconservative groups, Lagon recently became a visiting professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

Tanter, Raymond
Tanter, founder of the hawkish Iran Policy Committee, recently revived his arguments for why the U.S. should support the People's Mujahedin Organization (MEK), an Iranian opposition group classified as a terrorist organization by the State Department.

Goldfarb, Michael
The former Weekly Standard editor recently became a VP at Orion Strategies, a PR firm that has lobbied for the expansion of NATO and is home to rightist political operatives pushing a potential Sarah Palin presidential run.

Also New on Right Web

Obama Security Strategy Stresses Economy, Multilateralism
In his first National Security Strategy, President Obama pledged to maintain the U.S.'s "military superiority" while stressing that the persistence of the nation's global power will depend more on the health of its domestic economy and international cooperation.

IRAN: Fuel Swap Deal Shakes Sanctions Push
Despite continued U.S. efforts to dismiss the Iran nuclear deal with Turkey and Brazil, there are signs that the deal is spurring diplomatic pressure from UN Security Council members, particularly Russia and China.

U.S. Defense Spending Far Outpaces Rest of the World
The United States continues to lead the world in defense spending, according to a new report by the Centre for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, a U.S.-based nonpartisan research organization.

IRAN: U.S. Covert Ops versus Sanctions?
At the same time that it is working with the Senate to gain flexibility in pushing Iran sanctions, the Obama administration seems to be upping the potential for covert operations in the region.

U.S. Militarization in Latin America
A recent report by several Washington-based policy groups reveals growing disenchantment with the Obama administration’s lack of effort to curb U.S. militarization in Latin America.

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Featured Profiles

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and two-time failed presidential candidate, is a foreign policy hawk with neoconservative leanings who appears set to become the next senator from Utah.


Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman and longtime “superlobbyist” who has supported numerous neoconservative advocacy campaigns, has become embroiled in the special prosecutor’s investigation into the Donald Trump campaign’s potential collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.


Jon Lerner is a conservative political strategist and top adviser to US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. He was a key figure in the “Never Trump” Campaign, which appears to have led to his being ousted as Vice President Mike Pence’s national security adviser.


Pamela Geller is a controversial anti-Islam activist who has founded several “hate groups” and likes to repeat debunked myths, including about the alleged existence of “no-go” Muslim zones in Europe.


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.”


Although overlooked by President Trump for cabinet post, Gingrich has tried to shape affairs in the administration, including by conspiring with government officials to “purge the State Department of staffers they viewed as insufficiently loyal” to the president.


Former Sen Mark Kirk (R-IL) is an advisor for United Against Nuclear Iran. He is an outspoken advocate for aggressive action against Iran and a fierce defender of right-wing Israeli policies.


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From the Wires

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Other than the cynical political interests in Moscow and Tehran, there is no conceivable rationale for wanting Bashar al-Assad to stay in power. But the simple fact is, he has won the war. And while Donald Trump has reveled in positive press coverage of the recent attacks on the country, it is clear that they were little more than a symbolic act.


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The reality is that the Assad regime is winning the Syrian civil war, and this matters far less to U.S. interests than it does to that regime or its allies in Russia and Iran, who see Syria as their strongest and most consistent entrée into the Arab world. Those incontrovertible facts undermine any notion of using U.S. military force as leverage to gain a better deal for the Syrian people.


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An effective rhetorical tool to normalize military build-ups is to characterize spending increases “modernization.”


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The Pentagon has officially announced that that “long war” against terrorism is drawing to a close — even as many counterinsurgency conflicts  rage across the Greater Middle East — and a new long war has begun, a permanent campaign to contain China and Russia in Eurasia.


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Revelations that data-consulting firm Cambridge Analytica used ill-gotten personal information from Facebook for the Trump campaign masks the more scandalous reality that the company is firmly ensconced in the U.S. military-industrial complex. It should come as no surprise then that the scandal has been linked to Erik Prince, co-founder of Blackwater.


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As the United States enters the second spring of the Trump era, it’s creeping ever closer to more war. McMaster and Mattis may have written the National Defense Strategy that over-hyped the threats on this planet, but Bolton and Pompeo will have the opportunity to address these inflated threats in the worst way possible: by force of arms.


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We meet Donald Trump in the media every hour of every day, which blots out much of the rest of the world and much of what’s meaningful in it.  Such largely unexamined, never-ending coverage of his doings represents a triumph of the first order both for him and for an American cult of personality.


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