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

The recent massacres in the US and Paris have spurred anti-Islam fervor

Frank Gaffney Frank Gaffney, the brazenly Islamophobic ideologue who heads the neoconservative Center for Security Policy, agrees with GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson that Muslims should probably not be allowed to run for president. Gaffney also recently hosted avowed white supremacist Jared Taylor on his radio show, saying that he “appreciated tremendously” Taylor’s work. Brigitte…

Frank Gaffney

Frank Gaffney, the brazenly Islamophobic ideologue who heads the neoconservative Center for Security Policy, agrees with GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson that Muslims should probably not be allowed to run for president. Gaffney also recently hosted avowed white supremacist Jared Taylor on his radio show, saying that he “appreciated tremendously” Taylor’s work.

Brigitte Gabriel

Brigette Gabriel, a vitriolic anti-Muslim demagogue, claims that President Obama “cannot bring himself” to say “anything bad about Islam” because of his “beautiful childhood memories” of “praying just like Osama bin Laden prayed.” She ludicrously alleges that “180 million to 300 million” Muslims are “dedicated to the destruction of Western civilization.”

Clare Lopez

Former CIA officer and Islamophobic activist Clare Lopez has claimed that members of the Muslim Brotherhood have infiltrated the U.S. government and shaped the Obama administration’s foreign policy towards the Middle East. “They’re very smart,” she has said of the alleged Muslim Brother operatives. “These guys are not camel-jockeys with towels on their heads.”

Max Boot

Max Boot, ardent neoconservative ideologue and official foreign policy advisor to the presidential campaign of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), argues that in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks the U.S. should send “at least 20,000 personnel” to fight ISIS. He has also called for the U.S. government to unilaterally declare an autonomous Sunni region in Iraq, claiming this is “something that the U.S. can effectively guarantee even without Baghdad’s cooperation.”

William Kristol

Introducing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the American Enterprise Institute’s recent “Irving Kristol” awards, Bill Kristol characterized the Israeli leader as the “preeminent leader of the free world.” Kristol, who called for 50,000 U.S. ground troops to be sent to fight ISIS in Syria after the Paris attacks, is one of a number of neoconservative figures promoting the presidential candidacy of Sen. Marco Rubio.

John Bolton

Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton has called for more leeway to be given to U.S. intelligence agencies in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks. He opined in a recent Fox News op-ed: “Knee-jerk, uninformed and often wildly inaccurate criticisms of programs (such as several authorized in the wake of 9/11 in the Patriot Act) have created a widespread misimpression in the American public about what exactly our intelligence agencies have been doing and whether there was a ‘threat’ to civil liberties.”

James Woolsey

Former CIA director James Woolsey, an unabashed neoconservative hardliner with deep ties to defense contractors, has helped spur misleading accusations that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is at least partly to blame for the terrorist attacks in Paris. “I think Snowden has blood on his hands from these killings in France,” he said in an interview.

Michael Hayden

Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA and NSA, is an unabashed supporter of surveillance and torture policies, as well as a proponent of a hardline “pro-Israel” U.S. agenda in the Middle East. He says that it is “cool” that two years after the Snowden revelations, all the NSA has had to do is slightly reform its “little 215 program about American telephony metadata.”

Arthur Waldron

Arthur Waldron is a professor of international relations at the University of Pennsylvania and a well-known China hawk. He called for the Obama administration to cancel the recent state visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping and argued that Washington should have “made clear something we dare not: namely that sanctions that bite are the alternative.” Waldron has been affiliated with a number of militarist groups, including the Center for Security Policy, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Project for the New American Century.

John Tkacik Jr.

John Tkacik is a former State Department officer and fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center. A long-standing China-hawk, Tkacik argues that as “China’s navy grows stronger … the U.S. Navy shrinks.” He claims that the United States “no longer has any real maritime strategists.”

Matthew Taylor

Matthew Taylor, a filmmaker with ties to the Republican Party, is the director of Los Abandonados, a controversial documentary that advances conspiracy theories about the Argentinian government. Observers have questioned the financial and political motives of the film’s producers and backers, in part because of Taylor’s track record of making films that advance right-wing causes and also because of the relationship between some of the filmmakers to investors who own part of Argentina’s national debt.

John Hay Initiative

The John Hay Initiative, a neoconservative-dominated group advising 2016 GOP presidential candidates, recently released the book Choosing to Lead: American Foreign Policy for a Disordered World. The book provides a decidedly militarist foreign policy vision for a future Republican presidential administration. Among its recommendations, the books calls on the United States to build the “capability to successfully conduct preemptive attacks on the small nuclear arsenals of particularly dangerous countries like North Korea and Iran.”

Fred Thompson (1942-2015)

Fred Thompson, a TV actor and former Republican Senator from Tennessee who was a vocal supporter of the Iraq War, passed away on November 1. He gained national prominence during his brief run for president in 2008, during which he pressed a stridently militaristic foreign policy platform. More recently, Thompson attacked President Obama for purportedly having “no concept” of the “founding principles of our government.”

Ahmed Chalabi (1944-2015)

Ahmad Chalabi, the notorious Iraqi political figure who played an instrumental role in promoting the U.S. invasion of Iraq, has passed away. He was 71 years old. As a McClatchy obituary stated, “perhaps no man had more lasting influence on American foreign policy than Chalabi, whose faulty intelligence Bush administration war boosters used to sell Americans on an ill-planned invasion whose legacy we see today in the Islamic State and the de facto partitioning of Iraq.”

David Albright

David Albright, a controversial nuclear non-proliferation “expert” with close ties to prominent neoconservatives, claims that a recent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on alleged past nuclear weapons work by Iran is wrong. He has also attacked other nuclear experts that disagree with his analysis, including Joe Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund, who replied on Twitter saying: “Suggest you stand down & apologize, whoever you are. The David Albright I know would never write such drivel.”

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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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