Wednesday, August 20, 2008

McCain's Ties to Neocon Hard Lines

By Jason Leopold
August 21, 2008

Randy Scheunemann, one of John McCain’s top foreign policy advisers, represents a key link in neoconservative strategy that seeks simultaneously to remove hostile regimes in the Middle East and to box in Russia through an expanded NATO that incorporates former Soviet bloc countries.

Scheunemann has come under scrutiny in recent weeks for his past lobbying work on behalf of the government of Georgia, even while he was advising McCain who vowed to bar lobbyists from his campaign.

Scheunemann’s company, Orion Strategies, has received about $750,000 from Georgia, with payments as recently as May.

After the Aug. 7 outbreak of fighting between Georgia and Russia over Georgia’s breakaway province of South Ossetia, McCain – advised by Scheunemann – led a crescendo of tough rhetoric warning of a possible new Cold War and demanding harsh penalties against Moscow.

But Scheunemann's advice on the Russia-Georgia conflict only captures part of his role in shaping McCain ’s neoconservative foreign policy.

Scheunemann merges two key prongs of a neocon global strategy for permanent U.S. military dominance: the simultaneous projection of U.S. power into the Middle East and the elimination of Russia’s dream of reestablishing itself as a major international player.

Operating mostly behind the scenes, Scheunemann has long worked to unify former East Bloc states into an anti-Moscow alliance and to apply regime-change tactics against U.S. adversaries in the Middle East, such as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and the mullahs in neighboring Iran.

In that regard, Scheunemann was one of the neocon operatives who helped promote bogus intelligence about Iraq in the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion. He also has said the U.S. government has not been tough enough in dealing with other “rogue” nations, such as Iran.



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