Former George W. Bush defense department advisor Michael Makovsky is a prominent neoconservative and an expert on neocon icon Winston Churchill, about whom he authored a book called Churchill's Promised Land. He is the younger brother of David Makovsky, a senior WINEP fellow and former executive editor of the pro-Likud Jerusalem Post. Both brothers took up Israeli citizenship after finishing their education in the US and Makovsky has served in the Israeli military. He was part of Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith's intelligence shop, Office of Special Plans, that manufactured the defective intelligence used to sell the invasion of Iraq. In 2006 he joined the hawkish Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) and became its foreign policy director.
Makovsky has an MBA in finance and a PhD in "diplomatic history," with his dissertation based on Winston Churchill. In addition to working for the Bush administration and maintaining a lead role in the "ultra-hawkish" think tank the Bipartisan Policy Center, Makovsky also heads MSM Consulting, a "Energy and Political Risk Consulting," which he founded in the same year that he joined the BPC. Despite Makovsky's lack of professional training in the oil and energy industry, he "worked over a decade as a senior energy market analyst for various energy trading companies and exchanges, focusing on markets and hedging strategies for oil, petroleum products, natural gas and electric power, as well as regulatory and tax issues" and has written several articles (most frequently in Bill Kristol's the Weekly Standard) about US foreign policy in relation to oil and energy resources.
Role in the US War on Iraq
Makovsky served as a consultant to the controversial Pentagon office set up in the run-up to the Iraq War to find evidence of operational ties between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein as a justification for the invasion. Investigative journalist Justin Raimondo argued in 2009 that Makovsky and his associates are attempting to push the US into a war with Iran, using manufactured propaganda like they did with Iraq:
- I have long held that the invasion of Iraq, and subsequent military occupation, was engineered by a group of neoconservatives whose primary loyalty is not to the US, but to Israel. I said that at the very outset of the debate over whether to launch a military strike, and, although my view was far from popular at that time, as events progressed it became less controversial: the evidence for it was too overwhelming to be summarily dismissed. This time, as we enter the first stages of a debate over going to war with Iran, I make the same accusation against the War Party – and the background and arguments of Makovsky-Rubin make my point very well indeed.
War on Iran
Identified by some analysts as part of the neoconservative network that pushed the US into a war with Iraq, Makovsky has been advocating against pursuing diplomacy with Iran, favoring instead extreme sanctions and preparing for the possibility of war. Writes Justin Raimondo:
- If the Obama administration should be so foolish as to directly engage the Iranians without insisting that they capitulate in advance, then, Makovsky-Rubin aver, they must insist on a deadline for compliance with US demands. If that is not met, the next step is a blockade of Iran’s gasoline imports, to be followed by a blockade of its oil exports. If the Iranians are still not "convinced," the US should be prepared to launch a military strike that would "have to target not only Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, but also its conventional military infrastructure in order to suppress an Iranian response."
The Roadmap to War with Iran
In 2008 the BPC released a task force report believed to be mainly authored by Makovsky and Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute titled "Meeting the Challenge: U.S. Policy Toward Iranian Nuclear Development" which offered analysis of Iran's nuclear program and recommendations for strategic US policy response. It has been characterized by some analysts as a "Roadmap to war with Iran."
As summarized by Charles S. Robb and Charles Wald, the report offers "a triple-track strategy that involves the simultaneous pursuit of diplomacy; sanctions; and visible, credible military readiness activity." Robb and Wald suggest without solid evidence that "current trends suggest that Iran could achieve nuclear weapons capability before the end of this year." They add:
- Contrary to a growing number of voices in Washington, we do not believe a nuclear weapons-capable Iran could be contained. Instead, it would set off a proliferation cascade across the Middle East, and Iran would gain the ability to transfer nuclear materials to its terrorist allies...An even more likely scenario, however, is that Israel would first attack Iranian nuclear facilities, triggering retaliatory strikes by Iran and its terrorist proxies. This would put the United States in an extremely difficult position. If we remained neutral in such a conflict, it would only invigorate Tehran, antagonize our regional allies and lead to greater conflict...Sanctions can be effective only if coupled with open preparation for the military option as a last resort. Indeed, publicly playing down potential military options has weakened our leverage with Tehran, making a peaceful resolution less likely.
Robert Dreyfuss notes that
- it’s important to note that the report prominently cites Dennis Ross, currently “Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for the Central Region, National Security Council,” as one of the “original task force members” of the BPC’s bomb-Iran planning group. Ross, who’s been keeping a low profile, is the inside man for the neoconservatives in the Obama administration...It’s not the first time that the BPC has issued a war-mongering report on Iran. Its first was issued in September, 2008, and that report was signed by Dennis Ross. A second report, similar to the first, was released in September, 2009.
In May 2009 an article written by Makovsky and Ed Morse was published in the New Republic that "essentially says that AIPAC and other components of the lobby — such as Joe Lieberman, who published a new op-ed promoting the bill in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal — are wasting their time and should be pushing stronger measures now." Daniel Luban and Jim Lope of IPS point out that Makovsky and Morse admit that sanctions on Iran won't work so they can push for a "naval blockade" instead. The article repeats claims from "Meeting the Challenge". Write Makovsky and Morse:
- Placing aside the issue that the U.S. government has not consistently and aggressively enforced the current iteration of the Iran Sanctions Act, ramping it up to limit Iran's gasoline imports is unlikely to have a significant impact on the country...Moreover, with so many gasoline suppliers in the world--including Russia and China, over which the United States has limited leverage--it would be difficult to enforce any embargo short of a military-backed blockade...If the United States is committed to using an energy lever, the only effective one available is to deploy a naval blockade to interdict Iran's gasoline imports, and possibly its oil exports. Since this would be tantamount to an act of war, it should only be initiated by the United States and its allies after diplomacy and financial sanctions have failed, as a last measure short of a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.
Ties with Israel
In addition to reportedly obtaining Israeli citizenship, Makovsky is also believed to have lived in an illegal Israeli settlement and was a friend of Yigal Amir who assassinated Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. According to Justin Raimondo, Makovsky: "was reportedly a member, in his student days at least, of the neo-fascist "Betar" organization, which has a military structure (members wear uniforms, and engage in "drills") and calls for a "Greater Israel."
- Office of Special Plans
- Claremont Institute - Former Fellow
- Bipartisan Policy Center - Foreign Policy Director
- Jim Lobe, "Stirrings of a New Push for Military Option on Iran", IPS, 9 July 2010
- Shmuel Rosner, "Michael Makovsky", Haaretz, 28 October 2007
- WINEP, "David Makovsky", Washington Institute for Near East Policy, accessed on 26 November 2010
- Jack Herman, "a whole new ballgame overseas", St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri), 20 February 1989
- Justin Raimondo, "The Worms in the Apple", Antiwar.com, 18 September 2009
- Jim Lobe, Pentagon Office Home to Neo-Con Network, Antiwar.com, 7 August 2003
- Bipartisan Policy Center, "Michael Makovsky", Bipartisan Policy Center, accessed on 26 November 2010
- Daniel Luban and Jim Lobe, "Shortcut On The Roadmap To War", Lobe Log, 1 June 2009
- Jim Lobe, "Top Obama Adviser Signs On To Roadmap To War With Iran", IPS, 23 October 2008
- BPC, "Meeting the Challenge: U.S. Policy Toward Iranian Nuclear Development", Bipartisan Policy Center, September 2008
- Jim Lobe, "Accelerated Roadmap To War", Lobe Log, 9 September 2009
- Charles S. Robb and Charles Wald, "Sanctions alone won't work on Iran", Washington Post, 9 July 2010
- Robert Dreyfuss, Hawks, UAE Ambassador Want War with Iran , The Nation, 9 July 2010
- Ed Morse and Michael Makovsky, "Morse and Makovsky: Over a Barrel: Why Congress's sanctions against Iran won't work", Bipartisan Policy Center, 29 May 2009, accessed on 26 November 2010
- Claremont Institute, "2006 Lincoln Fellows", Claremont Institute, 28 June 2006, accessed on 26 November 2010
- Bipartisan Policy Center, "Staff", Bipartisan Policy Center, accessed on 26 November 2010