Right Web

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

Whose Democracy Agenda? Wattenberg, Dobriansky, and Fort

FEATURED ARTICLE

Whither the "Global Democratic Revolution"?
By Tom Barry

Promoting democratic change is a worthy foreign policy goal that has deep roots in both the Republican and Democratic Parties. The challenge is to promote that policy in the post-Bush era so that the ideal is not tainted by narrow national interests or ideological agendas. Read full story.

SEE ALSO: The Democracy Vanguard

Right Web Profile: National Endowment for Democracy

Right Web Profile: International Republican Institute

Right Web Profile: Freedom House

FEATURED PROFILES

Ben Wattenberg
An early neocon trailblazer, Wattenberg, host of PBS’s Think Tank and an AEI fellow, thinks America should let in more immigrants, in part to support a larger military, which he envisions chasing down terrorists across the globe.

Paula Dobriansky
A vocal proponent of the Bush administration’s democracy agenda within the State Department, among Dobriansky’s more recent assignments has been tackling the growing refugee crisis created by the war she helped promote.

Randall Fort
A former director at Goldman Sachs and TRW, Randall Fort heads the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, one of the few intel agencies that challenged the Bush administration’s assertions about pre-war Iraq.

ALSO NEW ON RIGHT WEB

Base Politics
By Daniel Luban

A congressional bill to prevent the establishment of permanent military bases in Iraq is symbolic and little else, say critics. Read full article.

An Unwitting War Machine?
By Khody Akhavi

A little help from the media went a long way in helping the Bush administration edge America into the Iraq War, says a new documentary film. Read full article.

LETTERS

Re: Right Web Profile: Freedom House

Right Web’s profile of Freedom House quotes an article from the Financial Times that mischaracterizes the work of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) and its founding chair Peter Ackerman.

First of all, despite implications to the contrary, ICNC is not Peter Ackerman’s personal entity, but is a legally chartered private operating foundation. In fact, since becoming chair of the board for Freedom House, he has stepped down as chair for ICNC. ICNC’s tax returns—including its sources of funding—are fully public and no funding comes from any government, corporation, or other foundation. Its independence from the U.S. government is not merely what Dr. Ackerman "says," but is a well-documented fact.

Secondly, ICNC arranged only one workshop in Dubai, and it was not on "lessons learned from east European movements," but about the core ideas and strategic aspects of many nonviolent struggles in history. It was also not "discreet" but was publicly advertised through flyers given openly to Iranian participants before they chose to attend.

Thirdly, the implication that ICNC’s work is focused on regimes opposed by the U.S. government is untrue. In addition to the workshop for Iranians, ICNC has done more than 20 workshops for other nationalities, including Palestinians, Maldivians, Sahrawis, Eritreans, Egyptians, Papuans, Fijians, Tongans, Guatemalans, and many other peoples engaged in various kinds of struggles for justice and against oppression, including peoples opposing regimes supported by the U.S. government.

Fourthly, the fact that Ackerman happened to introduce President Bush when he spoke at Freedom House should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the administration’s policies but the normal courtesy expected of any board chair when an organization is hosting an honored guest. Indeed, Ackerman happens to oppose a number of policies of the current administration.

Finally, I happen to serve as chair of the ICNC’s academic advisory board and have co-led a number of their workshops overseas on strategic nonviolent action. Not only would I refuse to serve in either capacity for an organization that receives government funding or advances the Bush administration’s agenda, but—given my reputation as highly visible critic of U.S. foreign policy (such as serving as an advisory board member and Middle East editor for Foreign Policy In Focus)—there is no way a group supportive of the Bush agenda would ever include someone like me in an influential position.

—Stephen Zunes

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Featured Profiles

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.


Laurence Silberman, a senior justice on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, was a mentor to controversial Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and has been a vocal supporter of right-wing foreign and domestic agendas, including the campaign to support the invasion of Iraq.


The People’s Mujahedin of Iran, or MEK, advocates regime change in Iran and has strong connections with a wide range of top political figures in the U.S.


Haim Saban is a media mogul and major donor to the Democratic Party known for his hardline stance on Israel and opposition to the Iran nuclear deal.


Eli Lake is a columnist for Bloomberg View who has a lengthy record of advocating for aggressive U.S. foreign policies towards the Middle East.


Brian Hook is the director of policy planning and senior policy advisor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and is the head of the Iran Action Group.


Josh Rogin is a journalist known for his support for neoconservative policies and views.


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From the Wires

The contradictions in Donald Trump’s foreign policy create opportunities for both rivals and long-standing (if irritated) US allies to challenge American influence. But Trump’s immediate priority is political survival, and his actions in the international arena are of little concern to his domestic supporters.


While the notion that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic is decades old, it has been bolstered in recent years, by the campaign to add to the definition of anti-Semitism any criticism that singles Israel out and doesn’t apply the same standard to other countries. The bottom line is that this entire effort is designed not to combat anti-Semitism but to silence criticism. 


Short-term thinking, expedience, and a lack of strategic caution has led Washington to train, fund, and support group after group that have turned their guns on American soldiers and civilians.


Trump is not the problem. Think of him instead as a summons to address the real problem, which in a nation ostensibly of, by, and for the people is the collective responsibility of the people themselves. For Americans to shirk that responsibility further will almost surely pave the way for more Trumps — or someone worse — to come.


The United Nations has once again turn into a battleground between the United States and Iran, which are experiencing one of the darkest moments in their bilateral relations.


In many ways, Donald Trump’s bellicosity, his militarism, his hectoring cant about American exceptionalism and national greatness, his bullying of allies—all of it makes him not an opponent of neoconservatism but its apotheosis. Trump is a logical culmination of the Bush era as consolidated by Obama.


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.”


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