War rhetoric exposed: The truth about the links between MPs and warmongering organisations

21 maart 2024 | Camille Scholtz

The original article was published in Dutch on the website Reactionair. Read it here.


DISINFORMATION! Ruben Brekelmans MP recently claimed in a tweet that he and fellow MP Derk Boswijk had become victims of a smear campaign.

According to the allegdly false rumours, the two were part of the warmongering Atlantic Council, an entity widely perceived to be as an extension of the American military-industrial complex which would benefit financially from any escalation in the war in Ukraine

The truth, Brekelmans said, is that he and Boswijk are actually are linked to the Dutch Atlantic Commission, an organisation whichhe claims, is completely separate from the Atlantic Council. 

Time to separate the wheat from the chaff. What exactly is the Atlantic Council? And the Atlantic Commission? And are these organisations connected?


The word that unites the two is of course 'Atlantis', the legendary island described by Plato from which the Atlantic Ocean takes its name. From this in turn stems the word 'Atlanticism', which refers to the political and ideological bond between the United States and the countries of Europe, based on democracy, freedom, rule of law and market economy. With the advent of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in 1949, Atlanticism fused with the American-led military alliance, giving it a military dimension as well. Atlanticism employs liberalism as a geopolitical strategy, to which US political scientist John Mearsheimer devoted a book. In this book, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, he contrasts liberalism with realism. Since this article is about Atlanticism, we will focus only on the former.

According to Mearsheimer, the liberal strategy is based on three principles. First, states are the main actors in international politics. Second, the internal characteristics of states differ and these differences have a great impact on the behaviour of states. Some of these characteristics are inherently better than others, which is why there are good and bad states. Good states cooperate in peace, bad states cause war and use violence to get their way. Third, good states are not out to expand power, while bad states are. This leads us to the main principle of liberalism as a geopolitical strategy; the world must consist of good states. These states are also liberal, democratic, have a functioning rule of law and have a market economy. A world made up of liberal democracies is a peaceful and stable world.

According to Mearsheimer, there are three currents within liberalism, each focusing on a different mechanism that brings about liberalism. First, economic interdependence ensures that countries do not fight each other. Second is democratic peace theory, which argues that democracies do not declare wars on other democracies. Third, international institutions increase cooperation between states and reduce the likelihood of war.

Although there is much to criticise liberalism as a geopolitical strategy, it guides the foreign policy of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands, Poland and a number of other Western countries.

One of the criticisms made by Mearsheimer is that it denies anarchy in international politics, namely that there is no central power in the theory of liberalism. In practice, of course, there is, the United States, and other liberal democracies hang on the US military drip for their survival. Also, the many coups orchestrated by US intelligence show that liberal democracies also push their interests through violence, as was the case with Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Laos in 1960, the Dominican Republic in 1961, Operation Mongoose and Northwoods in 1961-1962 against Cuba, the 1963 Iraqi Ramadan Revolution, the 1964 Tonkin Incident, the 1964 coup in Brazil, the Congo Crisis, Operation Condor in the 1970s in Latin America, QRHELPFUL in Poland in 1982, Nicaragua in 1985, Panama in 1989, Haiti in 1994, Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2003 and Syria and Libya in 2011.

In addition, the US government-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) plays a major role in organising, directing and financing "democratic" opposition in Serbia, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Belarus and Taiwan. For instance, in 2013, NED chairman Carl Gershman declared that Ukraine was "the biggest prize" to remove Putin from power. The same Gershman was mocked in 2020 by Russian comedians Vovan and Lexus, who convinced him that he was talking to the Belarusian oppositionist, Svetlana Tichanovskaya. Gershman explained that the NED supports a lot of groups and has a very active programme in Russia. His colleague Barbara Haig added that the NED is even in "grassroots" organisations around Moscow at the local level. About the NED, co-founder Allan Weinstein said in 1991 that many of their activities 25 years ago had previously been carried out by the CIA. The NED is also behind several opposition parties, such as Otpor! in the former Yugoslavia, which fought against President Slobodan Milošević.

Another criticism can be made of the argument that the internal characteristics of liberal democracies prevent wars with each other. The same argument can be applied to the former Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, within which countries with communism as their political ideology were linked together. So there is nothing special, in this regard, about liberalism.

The ties

On its official website, the Netherlands Atlantic Association presents itself as a platform dedicated to disseminating knowledge and conducting research related to transatlantic relations. 

This refers to relations between the United States and European Union countries, NATO, and similar entities. Despite claims by Brekelmans to the contrary, the website explicitly confirms a connection with the Atlantic Council, naming it as a partner organisation. 

This is further supported by John Jacobs, director of Atlantic Forum, who identifies the Atlantic Commission as a sister organisation of the Atlantic Council. The Atlantic Commission bases its articles and events in part on articles emanating from the Atlantic Council. The director of the Atlantic Council's programme on international security came to speak in The Hague at the Atlantic Commission's invitation in 2007.

In reality, the Atlantic Commission appears to be the Dutch branch of the Atlantic Council. Brekelmans’ claim that they have nothing to do with each other is like claiming that the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and that of the United States had nothing to do with each other, when both were in fact part of the Comintern. Even the 2022 annual report of the Atlantic Commission still mentions the Atlantic Council as an organisation with which it cooperates. Brekelmans' claim that these organisations have nothing to do with each other is misleading, to say the least.

Project for a New American Century and neoconservatism

Among other organisations mentioned on the Atlantic Commission website are the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). The PNAC in particular is noteworthy. Founded in the 1990s, this neoconservative stronghold is one of the key players in the Israel lobby and one of the driving forces behind the 2003 Iraq war. Co-founder and director Robert Kagan (husband of Victoria Nuland) played a notable role by spreading unsubstantiated claims of Iraqi intelligence involvement in the September 11 attacks, which then served as a pretext for the invasion of Iraq. As early as 1998, he advocated US military intervention to remove Saddam Hussein from power. According to Mearsheimer and Walt's analysis in their book on the Israel lobby, the PNAC viewed US hegemony as both beneficial to the United States and the world. In line with this view, the PNAC published a petition in 1998 calling on the US government to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein, a position strongly echoed by its director Kagan himself.

Leading members of the PNAC played a crucial role within the George W. Bush administration, being staunch supporters of the invasion of Iraq. These influential figures included Bill Kristol, son of former Trotskyist and pioneer of neoconservatism Irving Kristol, alongside Max Boot, Elliott Abrams, Douglas Feith, Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz. Douglas Feith and Richard Perle wrote the controversial Clean Break memo in 2000 for Benjamin Netanyahu, already by then Prime Minister of Israel. This report advocated an aggressive form of Israeli foreign policy, including removing Saddam Hussein in Iraq and containing Syria by waging war by proxy and emphasising the possession of weapons of mass destruction. Feith and Wolfowitz created and headed the Pentagon unit Office of Special Plans (OSP) from September 2002 to June 2003: this unit is known to be the source of unsubstantiated claims of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and played a central role in the Lawrence Franklin espionage scandal. This scandal, part of a wider FBI investigation, revolves around the unauthorised transfer of confidential information regarding US policy towards Iran to Israel, through the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Feith's involvement in these issues is also the subject of the investigation. Quoting the Guardian:

“The OSP was an open and largely unfiltered channel to the White House, not only for the Iraqi opposition. It also maintained close links with a parallel, ad hoc intelligence operation within Ariel Sharon's office in Israel, specifically to bypass Mossad and provide the Bush administration with more alarmist reports on Saddam Hussein's Iraq than Mossad was willing to allow. ‘None of the Israelis who came were let into the Pentagon through normal channels,’ said a source familiar with the visits. Instead, they were waved in on Mr Feith's authority without having to fill in the usual forms.”

Elliott Abrams played a key role in rejecting an Iranian peace proposal after the US invasion and was previously convicted in connection with the Iran-Contra scandal, which involved illegal arms sales to Iran for the purpose of funding rebels in Nicaragua. Bill Kristol continued to defend the invasion of Iraq until 2015, viewing the US intervention as a liberation effort aimed at bringing democracy to Iraq, despite misleading information about the presence of weapons of mass destruction. In an open letter to President Bush, dated 20 September 2001, he argued that, “Even if the evidence does not directly link Iraq to the 9/11 attack, any strategy aimed at eradicating terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Failure to undertake such an effort will mean an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war against international terrorism.”

We see a pattern of warmongers making false accusations and falsely linking regimes to terrorist acts in order to trigger and prolong wars. Nota bene: it is this organisation, the PNAC, with which the Atlantic Commission voluntarily associates itself.

Military-industrial complex

The five major military companies which play a major role in the military-industrial complex are Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon. In 1999, Boeing had 22.8% of the market share of military sales to foreign countries. United Technologies is also mentioned, this company merged with Raytheon. If we look at the links between Atlantic Council and the military-industrial complex, we find individuals who play a role in both.

Mark Esper: Secretary of Defence under Donald Trump between 2019 and 2020. Esper was also lobbyist and vice president for government relations at Raytheon as well as chairman of several committees at the Atlantic Council.

Deborah Lee James: Secretary of Air Force under Barack Obama from 2013 to 2014. James worked for SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation) and was vice president for international operations at United Technologies. Like Esper, she chaired several committees at the Atlantic Council.

Robert O. Work: Deputy Secretary of Defence under Obama from 2014 to 2017. Work was also a board member at Raytheon during this time. Work also works at the Center for a New American Century, another Atlantic Commission partner organisation.

James L. Jones: National security adviser from 2009 to 2010. Jones was a board member of the Atlantic Council as well as a board member at both Boeing and General Dynamics.

Barbara Barrett: Minister of Air Force from 2019 to 2021. Atlantic Council board member and board member at Raytheon.

This is just a sampling of key Atlantic Council figures working in the military-industrial complex. At the Atlantic Commission's sister organisation, political scientists, historians and former members of US administrations are prominent among the employees.

A quick word about Brekelmans and Boswijk, to show how original their thoughts are. Mitch McConnell said in November 2023 that Reagan would turn in his grave if he saw that the Americans were not helping Ukraine. On 28 February 2024, Derk Boswijk imitated McConnell word for word by stating that "Ronald Reagan... would turn over in his grave." 

Brekelmans shared a letter in March 2024 which spoke of Russia as the "axis of evil". Gee, where have we heard that before? Well, from President Bush Jr. of course! In 2002, after the 9/11 attacks, he named Iraq, Iran and North Korea "the axis of evil" who would use weapons of mass destruction or supply terrorists. Brekelmans’ letter uses exactly the same terms the Bush administration used for its 2003 invasion of Iraq. We all know how this ended.

The same rhetoric, the same labels, the same arguments and the same organisations going all out to escalate the war, all for "freedom" and "democracy". Meanwhile, Brekelmans is already working on the next war; arguing for supplying Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets to Israel, a country that Boswijk says shares important values with us.


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