Shortly after President Obama won re-election, commentators began mentioning Jeb Bush as a possible contender for 2016, especially as the former Florida governor chastised members of his party for being out of step on some cultural and economic issues. Hindering his potential appeal, however, is Jeb’s pointed refusal to criticize the unpopular policies of his brother George W., leading many analysts to conclude that Jeb is unlikely to lead the Republican Party in the future. One ideological faction that may view him favorably are the neoconservatives, who successfully enlisted Jeb’s support in the launching of the Project for the New American Century in 1997.
Max Kampelman (1920-2013)
Max Kampelman, a Cold War-era arms control negotiator who often supported rightist “pro-Israel” policy groups, passed away in January 2013 at the age of 92. Like many of his neoconservative contemporaries, Kampelman's early politics leaned left. During World War II, Kampelman was a pacifist and conscientious objector. However, while working for Sen. Hubert Humphrey in the 1940s, Kampelman experienced a transformation in his politics, abandoning pacifism for a more aggressive view of national security. According to Kampelman, "The development of atomic and hydrogen bombs led me to doubt my earlier faith in the power of nonviolence to overcome evil in international relations.” Yet Kampelman’s views continued to evolve even late into life, as demonstrated by his efforts to promote global nuclear weapons abolition during his final years.
Harold Rhode is a retired Defense Department adviser based at the Gatestone Institute in New York, an activist group that promotes anti-Islamic ideas and policies. A proponent of a hawkish, "pro-Israel" U.S. agenda 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."
The Hudson Institute, part of a closely-knit group of neoconservative policy institutes that champion aggressive and Israel-centric U.S. foreign policies, has seen a number of its scholars in recent months press for regime change in Iran. Hudson’s “Scooter” Libby and Hillel Fradkin have worried in op-eds about nuclear-armed mullahs motived by the “religious obligation to create an Islamic new world order,” while Meyrav Wurmser has argued that because Iran’s purported nuclear program poses an “existential threat” to Israel, “Israel must possess the means to deter or defeat the realization of that threat."
The U.S. government has dropped most of its remaining weapons-trafficking charges against former executives from the military contractor Blackwater, now known as Academi. Reportedly, the company was able to prove that it had conducted dangerous missions, purchased weapons, and sold them overseas on behalf of the CIA itself, acting as a "virtual extension" of the intelligence agency at a time when its resources were strained. The case has shed new light on the increasing role that the U.S. government has given to private military contractors in conflict situations.
From the Wires
Despite opposition from a tiny group of recalcitrant states as well as lobbies like the NRA, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to approve new controls on the international arms trade.
Tensions over Syria may undermine the unity of the P5+1 powers as they go back to Kazakhstan to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program.
Costs to U.S. taxpayers of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will run between four and six trillion dollars, making them the most expensive conflicts in U.S. history.
The fact that major media outlets invited virtually no Iraqis to comment on the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of their country suggests that Americans remain as uncurious as ever about the world their government so actively intervenes in.
The subtext of Obama’s recent trip to Israel suggests that the president has much bigger fish to fry than placating Prime Minister Netanyahu.
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