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

Whose Democracy Agenda? Wattenberg, Dobriansky, and Fort

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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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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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