Donald Trump’s Neocon Foreign Policy Advisor
Donald Trump has appointed at least two neocons to his foreign policy group.
First, let’s consider Joseph E. Schmitz. He is a former Inspector General of the Department of Defense and a former executive with Blackwater Worldwide. He fled the Pentagon after he was accused of protecting top Bush officials accused of wrongdoing.
Blackwater, now Academi, the military contractor founded by Eric Prince, played a substantial role during the Iraq War. It is infamous for killing seventeen Iraqi citizens in 2007, the same year the corporation was accused of illegally smuggling weapons into the country. Blackwater did not like being investigated for its misdeeds. In 2007, Blackwater Manager Daniel Carroll threatened to kill Jean Richter, a State Department Investigator.
Schmitz is connected to the Center for Security Policy (CSP), a think tank formed by Frank Gaffney, a neocon so radical he was rejected by the Pentagon when he was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy in the Reagan Administration. He is associated with other neocons, including Richard Perle, who rose to prominence as aides of the late Democrat Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson.
The Center for Security Policy, described by William Arkin as the “Domino’s Pizza of the policy business,” claims there is a “stealth jihad” underway in America and Muslims plan to install sharia law. Former CIA director and staunch neocon James Woolsey coauthored a report for the center claiming sharia law is a major threat to the United States.
After CSP sent a letter to the State Department Inspector General accusing Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin of working undercover for the Muslim Brotherhood, a number of Republicans, including John McCain, John Boehner, and Marco Rubio, denounced the group.
Trump and former Republican member of the House, Michele Bachmann, often cited CSP propaganda.
Trump’s call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” was in part inspired by the results of a CSP poll. The poll said 25% of Muslims queried supported violent jihad and more than half favored sharia law. The methodology and accuracy of the poll is suspect. Philip Bump of The Washington Post said the poll’s structure encouraged Muslims to select the options endorsing violence.
On Friday The Canary reported Schmitz worked with a Saudi prince to illegally provide arms to the jihadists in Syria. “Schmitz was in direct contact with then Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander Gen. Salim Idris. Schmitz hoped his deal with Gen. Idris would be a first step toward potential future assistance from Blackwater founder Erik Prince himself,” writes Brad Hoff.
Idris, a former Syrian Army commander, was appointed to lead a Salafist dominated military command in 2012. “The unified command includes many with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and to Salafists, who follow a puritanical interpretation of Islam. It excludes the most senior officers who had defected from Assad’s military,” Reuters reported.
Its composition, estimated to be two-thirds from the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies, reflects the growing strength of Islamist fighters on the ground and resembles that of the civilian opposition leadership coalition created under Western and Arab auspices in Qatar…
“Idris and [Col. Abdul Jabbar al-Okaidi] were the very men that Joseph Schmitz stood ready to arm through a mysterious Saudi middle man before the whole private venture was reportedly shut down by a CIA official who intervened in Amman, Jordan,” writes Hoff.
Trump has a second fringe neocon in his circle of confidants—Walid Phares.
Phares is associated with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a neocon organization that teamed up with the American Enterprise Institute and the Hudson Institute to propagandize (and lie) America into invading Iraq.
In 2011, Phares became one of several neocon advisors to the Mitt Romney presidential campaign. Other advisers included Eliot Cohen, Robert Kagan, Michael Chertoff, Eric Edelman, John Lehman, Dan Senor, Vin Weber, and Paula Dobriansky.
Phares, a Christian Maronite of Lebanese origin, was associated with the Lebanese Forces in the 1980s.
In the 1970s the Lebanese Forces were part the Kataeb Party, also known as the Lebanese Phalanges Party. Its militia killed 3,500 Palestinians at the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut in 1982 during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Elie Hobeika, a prominent figure in the Phalanges, served as the Lebanese Forces intelligence chief and liaison officer with Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency.
Many of Donald Trump’s foreign policy pronouncements are contradictory. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has demonstrated her willingness to do the bidding of the neocons in Libya and Syria. She has not vacillated in her commitment to total war. More than a few neocons, most notably Max Boot, have said they will vote her.
The danger for America “is not Trump, but Hillary Clinton,” writes John Pilger. “She is no maverick. She embodies the resilience and violence of a system whose vaunted ‘exceptionalism’ is totalitarian with an occasional liberal face.”
Trump may indeed rollback the aggressive military posture of the United States, as promised, then again, considering his coterie of foreign policy advisers and his penchant for flip-flopping, he may continue to engage in foreign interventionism, albeit with his signature flair.