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

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Ahmed Chalabi, the onetime Iraqi exile who aggressively courted neoconservative support for the U.S. invasion of Iraq by spreading falsehoods about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs, long ago fell out of favor in Washington and has never enjoyed much popular support in Iraq, where he currently serves in parliament. But amid Iraq's current political crisis, Chalabi has been floated as a possible compromise candidate to replace Nouri al-Maliki as the prime minister of Iraq—and some of his old neoconservative allies, especially Richard Perle, have expressed joy at the possibility. Concluded a writer for the Washington Post, "It seems a sad indication of the absurdity of the past 11 years of Iraqi history that the man who helped dupe U.S. officials into that invasion should now be backed in his bid for leadership by those very same people."

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Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and an avid foreign policy hawk in her own right, is slowly returning to the spotlight after her disastrous primary challenge to Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) last year. In addition to penning hawkish screeds against the Obama administration’s policies in Iraq and cofounding a hardline new 501(c)4 group with her father Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney is reportedly seeking to mend ties with the Republican establishment she alienated during her Senate bid, possibly in preparation for another run for office.

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Dan Senor, who served as the Bush administration's spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, gained notoriety for his misleading and deeply politicized statements about U.S. "progress" in the disintegrating country. Undeterred, Senor—who is also an investment banker and the cofounder of the neoconservative Foreign Policy Initiative—has re-emerged to urge the Obama administration to send "air power" and "special ops" to Iraq to prop up the beleaguered sectarian government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

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Newly released documents have revealed that government investigators were aware of serious misconduct by Blackwater employees in Iraq even before the notorious Nisour Square massacre in 2007, during which Blackwater employees killed 17 Iraqi civilians. In a memo to his State Department superiors, one investigator revealed that Blackwater's chief of operations in Iraq—a former Navy SEAL—had threatened to kill him during a meeting to discuss the company's abuses. The U.S. embassy then sent the investigators home after they reported the threat, leading them to conclude—in a memo filed just weeks before the Nisour Square massacre—that "The contractors, instead of [State] Department officials, are in command and in control" at the U.S. embassy in Iraq. The company formerly known as Blackwater and Xe Services rebranded itself as Academi in 2011. 

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Jay Garner, the retired lieutenant general who oversaw reconstruction efforts in Iraq for less than a month before being replaced by George W. Bush loyalist Paul Bremer, has broken sharply with his successor over how to respond to the latest ISIS offensive in Iraq. While Bremer has called for boots on the ground, Garner said recently, “The Iranians should solve this problem, not us.” Instead, Garner advocates sending arms to Iraqi Kurdistan, where he served during the first Gulf War and later invested in oil interests.

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As the U.S. envoy in  postwar Iraq from 2003-2004, former diplomat Paul Bremer was responsible for the extremely controversial decision to disband the Iraqi armed forces and rebuild them anew—a factor strongly linked to the rise of a Sunni insurgency and Iraq's subsequent descent into sectarian bloodletting. Despite his own role in the U.S. occupation of the country, Bremer has blamed the rise of ISIS and Iraq's disintegration on the Obama administration's decision to complete the U.S. troop withdrawal initiated by President Bush. "I thought it was odd to be listening to Bremer’s advice on this," said James Mann, author of Rise of the Vulcans, an influential book about the Bush administration's war cabinet. "He’s the guy who disbanded the [Iraqi] army, and that single action probably had the greatest causative effect to the mess we see now of anyone."

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“Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many,” wrote Dick Cheney in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed criticizing the Obama administration’s decision to complete the U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq three years ago. The op-ed prompted instant backlash from the left as well as the right, with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly telling Cheney, “Time and time again, history has proven that you got it wrong as well in Iraq.” The op-ed was part of a rollout of Alliance for a Stronger America, a hawkish new 501c4 group Cheney recently launched with his daughter Elizabeth.

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From the Wires

June, 30 2014

As it did in Vietnam, the United States has strenuously sought to blame others for the mess it created by invading Iraq.


June, 28 2014

While many realists in Washington support U.S. cooperation with Iran and even Syria to roll back gains made by ISIS in Iraq, neoconservatives and Washington's Gulf allies are rallying against any normalization of U.S. relations with Iran.


June, 26 2014

While opposition to the U.S. Export-Import bank, which financially incentivizes the purchase of U.S. exports, previously came from the left, the House Tea Party faction has launched a revolt against the bank and its backers in the business community and the GOP establishment.


June, 21 2014

Despite their ubiquity on television talk shows and newspaper op-ed pages, the hawks who propelled the U.S. into war in Iraq 11 years ago appear to be falling short in their efforts to persuade the public and Congress that Washington needs to return.


June, 17 2014

Some European supporters of the exiled Iranian opposition group MEK have played down the role of ISIS in Iraq, painting the violence plaguing the country as a popular revolution against an Iranian-backed autocrat.


June, 14 2014

Although Iraq’s Sunnis have a multitude of legitimate grievances against Shia Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, much of the country’s current unrest is a result of preexisting social fractures, Western meddling, and predatory behavior by the country’s largely Sunni neighbors.


June, 13 2014

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has reportedly disclosed a plan to international negotiators to prevent Iran from obtaining “breakout” nuclear weapons capability while still retaining its right to enrich uranium.


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