John Judis

John B. Judis is an editor at large at Talking Points Memo and the author of The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics.

Recent Articles

Below the Beltway

In February 2002, The New York Times revealed that the Pentagon was launching a new Office of Strategic Influence to "provide news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign media organizations." The story caused an outcry, and the Pentagon announced it was abandoning the new office. But Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, who would have been in charge of the new office, indicated that the Pentagon would not rule out some kind of disinformation project. In a press conference Nov. 18, Rumsfeld, when asked about the office, said, "You can have the name, but I'm gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to be done -- and I have." During this year's buildup to the war with Iraq, and during the war itself, several stories appeared that had the earmarks of government disinformation. They were attributed to "U.S. intelligence officials," "intelligence sources," "defense officials" or "officials familiar with intelligence reports," which...

The Road to Aqaba

Before the Iraq War, administration neoconservatives were fond of saying, "The road to Jerusalem runs through Baghdad." In the wake of the war and of George W. Bush's June 4 summit meeting in Aqaba, Jordan, many people in Washington think they were right. Liberal columnist E. J. Dionne Jr. wrote in The Washington Post on June 6, "One core claim of the war's supporters was vindicated on Wednesday when Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, and Mahmoud Abbas, his Palestinian counterpart, committed themselves to the president's pathway to peace. Defenders of the war always said that overthrowing Saddam Hussein would change the political dynamics of the Middle East. In the short term, at least, they have been proved right." But are they right? Neoconservatives argued that the administration's success in Iraq -- measured not only by a quick victory but by the installation of a pro-Israel regime -- would lead to the resolution of the conflict in Israel. That has not happened at all...

Kant and Mill in Baghdad

In justifying their war against Iraq, the Bush administration and its supporters based their case primarily on the threat to the United States posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and ties with al-Qaeda. But to date, American and British troops have found no signs of a chemical-, biological- or, more importantly, a nuclear-weapons program and have uncovered only low-level ties to al-Qaeda. And even if they subsequently find a few canisters of mustard gas, or railway tickets from Kandahar to Baghdad, it would hardly confirm America's claims that Saddam Hussein's regime posed a threat to the United States. On the contrary, the absence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), in particular nuclear weapons, combined with the ease with which the United States rolled over the Iraqi army, strengthens the claims of administration critics that Hussein's regime could have been contained without going to war. It also looks increasingly implausible that the Bush administration simply made an...

Minister Without Portfolio

During the Iran-Contra scandal, it became clear that private citizens had been playing a critical role in the Reagan administration's foreign policy. Some of them, such as Richard Secord, had previously been government officials; others, such as Michael Ledeen, had briefly been advisers or consultants. They were not known to the public or to Congress, were not directly accountable to the government itself and did not have to adhere to the usual government rules on lobbying. Today, the Bush administration is relying on a similar army of unaccountable irregulars to devise, carry out and promote its policies in the Middle East. The case of Richard Perle is well known: While serving as the chairman of the purely advisory Defense Policy Board, he was hired by Global Crossing to help win government approval of its sale to a Chinese-owned company. He also wielded enormous influence over the administration's Iraq policy -- helping, for instance, to formulate the administration's strategy last...

A Case for Hell

Much of the furious debate at the United Nations has been over whether inspectors are capable of disarming Iraq, but what really divides the United States from its chief critics on the Security Council are two diametrically opposed scenarios of a post-war Iraq. The American scenario, dubbed "new dawn," sees a transformed Iraq leading a democratic revolution in the Middle East that would sweep away monarchs and dictators, end the isolation of Ariel Sharon's Israel, boost oil production and bring in high-tech industry. The French and Russian scenario, dubbed the "gates of hell," foresees a rise in Islamic radicalism and terrorism and in global economic and military instability. No one can really know what this war would bring -- the repercussions from the Gulf War are still being felt -- but here are some reasons why, even if the United States quickly ousts Saddam Hussein, the Mideast might more closely resemble the gates of hell than the new dawn. Democracy and modernization The Bush...

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