Return to the Statistics (home) page Learn more about us. If Americans Knew: what every American needs to know about Israel/Palestine
Statistics History Current Situation US Interests Media Analysis About Us
Green Top Border

printer symbolPrint Article
letter symbolEmail this Page

     

Neoconservatives

Profile: Elliott Abrams

  • Deputy National Security Adviser
  • Project for the New American Century: Founding Member
  • Ethics and Public Policy Center: Former President

International Relations Center
April 18, 2007

Shortly after the United States agreed in early 2007 to a deal with North Korea aimed at shutting down Kim Jong Il's nuclear weapons program, part of which included taking Pyongyang off Washington's list of state sponsors of terrorism, Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams sent a series of e-mails to administration officials deriding the agreement. According to the Washington Post, Abrams expressed "bewilderment over the agreement and [demanded] to know why North Korea would not have to first prove it had stopped sponsoring terrorism before being rewarded with removal from the list, according to officials who reviewed the messages" (Washington Post, February 15, 2007).

For observers of Abrams, a well-known figure from the Reagan era who was convicted (and later pardoned) on charges related to the Iran-Contra scandal, the e-mails were part of a typical strategy, an effort to impact policy using behind-the-scenes tactics that don't reveal his role. It is a tactic that Abrams, described by the Washington Post as "a legendary bureaucratic infighter and outspoken neoconservative," has often used since his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair. During that affair, Abrams fought a rearguard effort within the Reagan administration aimed at blocking peace initiatives in Nicaragua that were supported by some Reagan officials. "He's very careful about not leaving fingerprints," said an unnamed State Department official in an interview with the Inter Press Service (April 9, 2007).

Although his portfolio in President George W. Bush's National Security Council (NSC) involves democracy promotion abroad, Abrams is widely regarded as being one of the key champions of the neoconservative line on foreign affairs, shunning negotiations in favor of confrontational, militaristic U.S. policies. One of his major targets has been Middle East policy, serving as a point person for policies related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and pushing a hardline stance on Iran, Syria, and Iraq. And just as he did during the Contra wars, Abrams seemed to use his perch in the NSC to fight efforts by some administration officials and members of Congress aimed at pushing diplomatic approaches to Middle East issues. As the Inter Press Service reported in early April 2007: "Just as [Abrams] worked with Reagan hardliners to undermine the Arias Plan [for Central America] 20 years ago, so he appears to be doing what he can to undermine recent efforts by Saudi King Abdullah to initiate an Arab-Israeli peace process and, for that matter, by Republican realists, and even Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, to push it forward" (see Jim Lobe, " Elliott Abrams' Repeat Performance," Right Web, April 17, 2007).

When he was appointed to the NSC during President George W. Bush's first term, first as chief human rights officer and then as senior director of Near East and North African Affairs, the White House told the media that Abrams was unavailable for interviews. Yet his gusto for the post was clear: "Iran and Iraq were part of his portfolio—'I have two-thirds of the axis of evil!' he enthused to one well-wisher" (New Yorker, December 15, 2003).

Hours before Bush's second inauguration in January 2005, the White House announced that Abrams would serve as Bush's deputy assistant and as the deputy national security adviser for global democracy strategy under NSC Adviser Stephen Hadley, who had been Condoleezza Rice's deputy at the NSC when she was adviser. In his announcement of Abrams's new position, Hadley called Abrams one of the administration's strongest and most consistent advocates of American strength and the expansion of freedom worldwide.

Abrams is a key proponent of the "freedom and democracy" policy that Bush highlighted during his 2005 State of the Union Address, and has been an important figure in dealings with Israel. Prior to Rice's first trip to Israel as secretary of state, Abrams met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's top adviser, Dov Weisglass, to establish the parameters of the Rice-Sharon meetings.

In November 2004, Abrams participated in a meeting in the Oval Office with Bush and Natan Sharansky, Israel's minister for Jerusalem and diaspora affairs. The meeting was arranged by the president after he read galleys of Sharansky's book, The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny & Terror, in which Sharansky argues that "a neighbor who tramples the rights of its own people will eventually threaten the security of my people" (cited in Tom Barry, "The Foreign Policy Diaspora"). Sharansky subsequently met with Rice. According to some, Bush and Rice have used language that overlaps with Sharansky's in their pronouncements on the U.S. government's new commitment to spreading democracy (JTA, November 30, 2004). The Israeli minister's connection to Abrams and other neoconservatives dates back to the mid-1970s, when Sharansky worked closely with Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson (D-WA), who employed Abrams, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and other nascent neoconservatives. After Jackson's failure to win the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, Abrams joined the staff of Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) and later became his chief of staff. Abrams later switched to the Republican Party and went to work for the Reagan administration.

In November 2005, Abrams led conference calls with the leaders of the major Jewish-American organizations in advance of formal meetings with Rice. According to reports from one meeting that included representatives from such organizations as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Rice assured the Jewish-American leaders that more assertive U.S. diplomacy regarding Israeli-Palestinian conflict during the second Bush administration should by no means be interpreted as a sign that the U.S. government would back away from its previous commitments to Israeli security.

Outside Washington, it often seems that the U.S. government is unified around its support for Israel's military campaigns in Gaza and Lebanon. But traditional fissures between the militarists and the neoconservatives on one side and the diplomats and the realists on the other belie the apparent unity in U.S. support for Israel.

This divide cut directly through the administration's three-person team that managed the U.S. response to the summer 2006 Israel-Hezbollah crisis. A New York Times article, "Rice's Hurdles on Middle East Begin at Home," noted that the secretary of state was accompanied on her mediating trips in the Middle East "by two men with very different outlooks on the conflict"—namely Abrams and the State Department's C. David Welch. According to the Times, "Abrams, a neoconservative with strong ties to [Vice President Dick] Cheney , has pushed the administration to throw its support behind Israel. During Ms. Rice's travels, he kept in direct contact with Mr. Cheney's office" (August 10, 2006).

While Bush's supporters are generally pleased with the administration's strong backing of Israel, many criticize the State Department and Rice. Leading the attack has been Perle, who along with Feith, a former Pentagon undersecretary for policy, has worked with Abrams since the mid-1970s, when both worked for Jackson. In a Washington Post op-ed that coalesced conservative forces against Rice, Perle wrote that, having moved from the NSC to State, Rice is "now in the midst of—and increasingly represents—a diplomatic establishment that is driven to accommodate its allies even when (or, it seems, especially when) such allies counsel the appeasement of our adversaries" (June 25, 2006).

A month later an editorial titled "Dump Condi" appeared in the right-wing Insight Magazine, opining: "Conservative national security allies of President Bush are in revolt against Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, saying she is incompetent and has reversed the administration's national security and foreign policy agenda" (July 25, 2006). Rice's main critics, including Newt Gingrich and William Kristol, charge that Iran is taking advantage of Rice's inexperience, as well as the State Department's purported tradition of "appeasement."

Abrams' close association with Rice—when he worked under her at the NSC during Bush's first term and more recently as one of her top Mideast advisers—has raised questions among conservatives about his ideological integrity. When Israeli Prime Minister Sharon advocated unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip in late 2003, many neoconservatives, Christian Zionists, and national security hardliners were critical, but Abrams voiced support for Sharon's initiatives.

Abrams' involvement in the Israel-Hezbollah conflict is unclear. According to an unnamed U.S. government consultant "with close ties to Israel" interviewed by Seymour Hersh, Israel had put together bombing plans long before Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers, which set off the conflict. As they developed their plans early this summer, according to the consultant, Israeli officials went to Washington "to get a green light for the bombing operation and to find out how much the United States would bear ... Israel began with Cheney. It wanted to be sure that it had his support and the support of his office and the Middle East desk [where Abrams is ensconced] of the National Security Council" (New Yorker, August 21, 2006).

Although an NSC spokesman who talked with Hersh denied that Abrams had any role in supporting Israel's plan, a second unnamed U.S. official, a former intelligence officer, claimed, "We told Israel, 'Look, if you guys have to go, we're behind you all the way. But we think it should be sooner rather than later—the longer you wait, the less time we have to evaluate and plan for Iran before Bush gets out of office.'"

Working inside government during the Reagan and Bush II administrations, Abrams has proved adept at advancing his own radical policy agendas through key departments of the executive branch. With his own neoconservative, pro-Israel credentials well established, Abrams has focused on the pragmatic implementation of policy agendas rather than holding fast to ideological positions. It is this knack—being able to flaunt exceptional neoconservative credentials while pushing for policies that might not be doctrinaire—that has served Rice and the administration. According to the New York Times: "State Department officials say that Mr. Abrams serves as a buffer for Ms. Rice with some neoconservatives who are critical of her policies. 'The genius of Elliott Abrams is that he's Elliott Abrams,' one senior administration official said. 'How can he be accused of not sufficiently supporting Israel?'" (August 10, 2006).

When Rice was Bush's national security adviser, she relied on Abrams for his unambiguous view. A friend of Rice told the New Yorker that she saw Abrams "not just as a good manager but a good strategist. As an NSC administrator, you want someone who can think several moves ahead, who has a peripheral vision and an instinct to get where you want to go—someone who can really play the high-stakes game" (December 15, 2003).

Richard John Neuhaus, a longtime Abrams acquaintance and fellow neoconservative, told the New Yorker: "What runs through Elliott's thinking is a deep, almost quasi-religious devotion to democracy. He thinks real democratic change can happen in the Middle East. It's breathtaking, in a way" (December 15, 2003).

Abrams has moved back and forth between government and the right-wing web of think tanks and policy institutes, holding positions as a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), advisory council member of the American Jewish Committee, and charter member of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). Abrams has maintained close ties with the Social Democrats/USA, the network of right-wing social democrats and former Trotskyists who became the most vocal of the self-described "democratic globalists" within the neoconservative camp in the 1990s.

Abrams' family ties have helped propel him into the center of neoconservatism's inner circles over the past few decades. In 1980, he joined one of the two families at the core of neoconservatism through his marriage to Rachel Decter, one of Midge Decter's two daughters from her first marriage. Abrams became a frequent contributor to the American Jewish Committee's Commentary magazine, edited by Decter's husband Norman Podhoretz. As a member of the Podhoretz-Decter clan (the other key family is the Kristol clan), Abrams was Podhoretz's choice to direct the magazine's symposiums on foreign policy (Alternet.com, March 27, 2003). As one of the leading neocons in the Reagan administration, Abrams also served as a liaison between government and the right-wing network, as exemplified by his appearances at the forums organized by Decter's Committee for the Free World in the 1980s.

Emblematic of Abrams' visceral right-wing politics was his statement following the murder of John Lennon in December 1980. Setting the tone for the cultural and political backlash that would soon dominate U.S. politics, Abrams complained publicly about all the media attention given the famous singer: "I'm sorry, but John Lennon was not that important a figure in our times. Why is his death getting more attention than Elvis Presley's? Because Lennon is perceived as a left-wing figure politically, anti-establishment, a man of social conscience with concern for the poor. And, therefore, he is being made into a great figure. Too much has been made of his life. It does not deserve a full day's television and radio coverage. I'm sick of it" (Sidney Blumenthal, The Rise of the Counter-Establishment: From Conservative Ideology to Political Power, pp. 161-162).

As an aide to Senator Jackson in the 1970s, Abrams began his political career mixing the soft and hard sides of the neoconservative agenda as both a proponent of Jackson's strategically driven human rights policies and as an advocate of his proposals to boost the military-industrial complex. Through Jackson, Abrams became involved with a group of Cold Warriors called the Coalition for a Democratic Majority, which was associated with the Democratic Party but led by the neoconservatives.

Among former members of Jackson's staff that later received posts in the Reagan administration's foreign policy team were such neoconservative operatives as Feith, Perle, Frank Gaffney, Charles Horner, and Ben Wattenberg. Another up-and-coming neoconservative who was close to Jackson and later joined the Reagan administration was Paul Wolfowitz, who together with his mentor, Albert Wohlstetter, advised the senator on arms issues. Other Jackson Democrats who secured appointments in the Reagan administration included Jeane Kirkpatrick, as UN ambassador, and neoconservatives on her staff, such as Joshua Muravchik, Steven Munson, Carl Gershman, and Kenneth Adelman.

Abrams joined the neocon exodus from the Democratic Party in the late 1970s, which was led by members of the Committee on the Present Danger and the Coalition for a Democratic Majority. His first position in the Reagan administration was as director of the State Department's Office for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, though he was appointed only after Reagan's first choice came under fire in the Senate. During the Reagan years, the neocon human rights program was a velvet glove tailored for the iron fist of U.S. foreign and military policy. Reagan's first nominee was Ernest Lefever, a founding member of the second Committee on the Present Danger who was known as a fierce critic of Jimmy Carter's human rights policy. But Lefever's credentials as a human rights advocate came into question in part due to his article, "The Trivialization of Human Rights," published in 1978 by the neoconservative EPPC. (Abrams was also closely associated with the EPPC at the time, and much later, in 1996, served as its president.)

The Senate instead confirmed Abrams, Reagan's second nominee for the human rights position, who espoused the same instrumentalist position on human rights as Lefever. During the Reagan administration, Abrams was at once a human rights advocate, a manager of clandestine operations, and a bagman for the Nicaraguan Contras, calling himself "a gladiator" in the cause of freedom.

Although Abrams entered the Reagan administration scandal-free, he left as a convicted criminal. He was indicted by the Iran-Contra special prosecutor for intentionally deceiving Congress about the administration's role in supporting the Contras, including his own central role in the Iran-Contra arms deal. The U.S.-backed and -organized Contras were spearheading a counterrevolution against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Congress had prohibited U.S. government military support for the Contras because of their pattern of human rights abuses.

Abrams pleaded guilty to two lesser offenses (including withholding information from Congress) to avoid a trial and a possible jail term. Abrams and five other Iran-Contra figures were pardoned by President George H.W. Bush on Christmas Eve 1992, shortly before he left office. By pardoning Abrams, John Poindexter, and other former Reagan officials, Bush was in effect protecting himself. At that time media and congressional investigations of the Iran-Contra scandal were threatening to expose the role of Bush, who was Reagan's vice president during the executive branch's illegal support to the Contras.

Throughout the proceedings, Abrams continually denied his knowledge of the NSC and CIA programs to support the Contras. He even had the temerity to blame Congress for the deaths of two U.S. military members who were shot down by the Sandinistas in an illegal and clandestine arms supply operation over Nicaragua. He described the legal proceedings against him as "Kafkaesque" and called his prosecutors "filthy bastards" and "vipers" (The Nation, July 2, 2001).

In his book Reagan, Bush, and Right-Wing Politics, Philip Burch underscores Abrams' unapologetic attitude regarding the excesses of the war in Nicaragua: "A few years after he stepped down as assistant secretary of state for Inter-American Affairs, Abrams, once the State Department's top human rights official, wrote an article on El Salvador in the National Review titled 'An American Victory;' at the end of this piece he proudly proclaimed that 'El Salvador's decade of guerilla war cost thousands of Salvadoran lives, and those of eight Americans. The violence is ending now in part because of the collapse of Communism throughout the world, but more because Communist efforts to take power by force were resisted and defeated. In this small corner of the Cold War, American policy was right, and it was successful.' Perhaps Mr. Abrams should read Mark Danner's The Massacre at El Mozote (which contains an appendix giving name, age, and gender for almost every one of the 784 people killed in this grizzly episode [perpetrated by the Salvadoran Army's Atacatl Battalion, a U.S.-trained counterinsurgency force])."

During the Reagan administration, Abrams also served as the government's nexus between the militarists in the NSC and the public diplomacy operatives in the State Department, White House, and National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The NED supported the creation of a series of neoconservative-controlled front groups that sought bipartisan and U.S. public support for an interventionist policy in Central America, which was part of the larger rollback policy advocated by groups such as the Committee on the Present Danger and the Coalition for Peace through Strength. One of the most prominent of these NED-financed front groups was the Project for Democracy in Central America (PRODEMCA), which merged the hard (military) and soft (political aid and public diplomacy) sides of the neoconservative agenda in Central America. On the one hand, PRODEMCA received clandestine support from the NSC's unofficial "Project Democracy," operated by Oliver North and supervised by Abrams. On the other, it received USAID and U.S. Information Agency funding through NED for public diplomacy efforts.

After Reagan left office in 1989, Abrams, like a number of other prominent neoconservatives, was not invited to serve in the George H.W. Bush administration. Instead, he worked for a number of think tanks and in 1996 became president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. With EPCC as his new base, Abrams wrote widely on foreign policy issues, especially Mideast policy, and on cultural issues, including on what he saw as the threats posed by U.S. secular society to Jewish identity.

Created in 1976, EPPC was the first neoconservative institute to break ground in the frontal attack on secular humanists. EPPC has functioned as the cutting edge of the neoconservative-driven culture war against progressive theology and secularism, and the associated effort to ensure right-wing control of the Republican Party. It explicitly sought to unify the Christian right with the neoconservative religious right, which was mostly made up of agnostics back then. A central part of its political project was to "clarify and reinforce the bond between the Judeo-Christian moral tradition and the public debate over domestic and foreign policy." Directed by Abrams from 1996 to 2001, EPPC counts among its board members well-connected figures in the neocon matrix including Richard Neuhaus, Bill Kristol, and Mary Ann Glendon.

Throughout the 1990s, Abrams remained an integral part of the tight-knit neoconservative foreign policy community in Washington that revolved around Perle, one of his early mentors, and Kirkpatrick, of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). In the early 1990s, Abrams and several AEI associates formed the Committee on the U.S. Interests in the Middle East, which denounced land concessions as part of any deal with the Palestinians and opposed efforts to engage Israel in the Madrid peace conference (New Yorker, December 15, 2003). Abrams was also a charter member of PNAC, which issued its statement of principles about the need for a "neo-Reaganite" foreign policy in 1997.

While serving as EPCC president, Abrams advocated using human rights as a U.S. "policy tool." Working closely with Newt Gingrich and the Republican Congress, EPCC together with the Christian Coalition and Family Research Council lobbied for the creation of a new permanent commission that focused on religious persecution. The main countries of concern listed in the congressional deliberations were China, Sudan, North Korea, Cuba, Laos, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia, as well as general condemnation of Muslim nations. Abrams became a founding member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in 1998 and was appointed chairman, in which capacity he served until mid-2001, when he joined the George W. Bush administration. Like the right-wing social conservative networks that argued for its creation, the commission has served to shift the primary consideration of U.S. human rights policy from a respect for political rights to the treatment of religious minorities, especially in countries that have long captured the attention of social conservatives such as China and Sudan.

Abrams' efforts to push for pro-Israel policies in the 1990s dovetailed with his appointment to the NSC. When Abrams was appointed the Reagan administration point man on Latin America, he came to the State Department with no expertise in the region and did not speak Spanish. Similarly, Abrams became the NSC's Middle East specialist without any real expertise in the region—other than his family ties to Israel, his polemical writings for neoconservative publications, his right-wing Zionism, and his experience overseeing the Iran-Contra arms trade, in which Israel functioned as the major broker.

In 1992 Abrams helped form the Committee for U.S. Interests in the Middle East, which was actually a committee to ensure that U.S. policy was aligned with the Likud Party in Israel. Other members included Perle, Feith, Gaffney, and John Lehman, among dozens of other neoconservatives and pro-Israel hawks. The committee spoke out against what it perceived as a dangerous distancing between the Bush Senior administration and Israel seen in the administration's pressure for Israel to pull out of some occupied territories and halt its campaign to expand settlements in these zones.

Abrams has long voiced his strong support for Likud positions on the Oslo peace process and "land for peace" negotiations. After the launch of the Al Aqsa Intifada in late September 2000, Abrams lambasted mainstream Jewish groups for their continued support for peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and for their call to Israel to halt its attacks (see Jim Lobe, "Neoconservatives Consolidate Control Over Middle East Policy," Foreign Policy In Focus, December 6, 2002). Abrams has also established strong Likudnik positions in articles for Commentary and in various books. Abrams authored the chapter on the Middle East in the 2000 blueprint for U.S. foreign policy by the Project for the New American Century. Edited by PNAC founders William Kristol and Robert Kagan, Present Dangers: Crisis and Opportunity in American Foreign and Defense Policy is a playbook on how to deal with America's adversaries.

In his chapter, Abrams laid out the "peace through strength" credo that has become the operating principle of the Bush Junior administration. "Our military strength and willingness to use it will remain a key factor in our ability to promote peace," wrote Abrams. "Strengthening Israel, our major ally in the region, should be the central core of U.S. Middle East policy, and we should not permit the establishment of a Palestinian state that does not explicitly uphold U.S. policy in the region." Presaging the Mideast policy of the Bush administration, Abrams wrote: U.S. interests "do not lie in strengthening Palestinians at the expense of Israelis, abandoning our overall policy of supporting the expansion of democracy and human rights, or subordinating all other political and security goals to the 'success' of the Arab-Israel 'peace process'." Like other right-wing Zionists, Abrams refers to the conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis not for what it is—a conflict over occupied Palestinian land—but rather as an "Arab-Israel" conflict, implying that U.S. support of Israel necessitates a foreign policy that confronts all the Arab countries.

Abrams' December 2002 appointment to be Bush's NSC director of Near East and Northern African Affairs succeeded Zalmay Khalilzad, another charter PNAC signatory, who became the president's special envoy to Afghanistan (Foreign Policy In Focus, December 6, 2002).

Working closely with Feith, Abrams quickly became the leading behind-the-scenes actor in managing the administration's policy toward Israel and the Palestinians. In the process, he sidelined the Mideast experts in the NSC, CIA, and State Department regarded by the neoconservatives as "Arabists." Robert Leverett, an Arabic speaking Mideast specialist on loan to the NSC, was forced out after expressing his opinion that the administration should stick by its proposed "road map" for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations rather than yielding to the hardline positions of Prime Minister Sharon, AIPAC, and Abrams.

In one of the many oddities of the Christian Right-neoconservative alliance that bolsters the Republican Party and forms a backbone of the George W. Bush administration, many neoconservative government officials are radical separatists, indeed segregationists. As Abrams, who has argued against Jews dating or attending elementary schools with non-Jews, put it in his book Faith or Fear: How Jews Can Survive in a Christian America: "Outside the land of Israel, there can be no doubt that Jews, faithful to the covenant between God and Abraham, are to stand apart from the nation in which they live. It is the very nature of being Jewish to be apart—except in Israel—from the rest of the population" (Free Press, 1997). Judaism, according to Abrams, demands "apartness"—not in the sense of confining oneself to a physical ghetto, but all necessary measures should be taken to prevent "prolonged and intimate exposure to non-Jewish culture." Abrams takes care to insist that his positions imply no "disloyalty" to the United States, but at the same times insists that Jews must be loyal to Israel because they "are in a permanent covenant with God and with the land of Israel and its people. Their commitment will not weaken if the Israeli government pursues unpopular policies."

Abrams' other books include Undue Process and Security and Sacrifice. He has also contributed articles to Commentary, Weekly Standard, National Interest, Public Interest, and National Review.

Affiliations
  • Council on Foreign Relations: Former Member
  • Beliefnet: Former Columnist
  • American Committee for Peace in Chechnya: Former Member
  • Ethics and Public Policy Center: President, 1996-2002
  • Middle East Forum: Signatory of 2000 report urging military action against Syria
  • Project for the New American Century: Founding Member
  • American Jewish Committee: Former Member, National Advisory Council
  • Hudson Institute: Senior Fellow, 1990-1996
  • Center for Security Policy: Former Member, National Security Advisory Council
  • Committee for U.S. Interests in the Middle East: Former Member
  • Committee for Peace and Security in the Gulf: Former Member (1998)
  • Francisco Marroquin Foundation: Former Chairman
  • Nicaraguan Resistance Foundation: Former Chairman
  • Social Democrats, USA: Former Member
  • Committee for the Free World: Member of 1985 Conference on Reagan-Gorbachev Summit in Geneva
  • Heritage Foundation: Alumnus of Heritage Foundation Resource Bank
  • National Review: Former Contributing Editor
Government Service
  • National Security Council: Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Near East and North African Affairs, 2002-present ; Senior Director for Democracy, Human Rights, and International Operations, 2001-2002
  • U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom: Chairman, 2000-2001; Commissioner, 1999-2001
  • State Department: Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, 1985-1989; Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, 1981-1985; Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, 1981
  • U.S. Senate: Chief of Staff for Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan, Special Counsel, 1977-1979; Office of Sen. Henry M. Jackson, Staffer/Special Counsel, 1975-1976
  • Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations: Assistant Counsel, 1975
Private Sector
  • Verner, Lipfert, Bernhard, & McPherson: Associate, 1979-1981
  • Breed, Abbott, & Morgan: Attorney, 1973-1975
Education
  • Harvard University: B.A., 1969
  • London School of Economics: M.Sc., 1970
  • Harvard Law School: J.D., 1973

Sources

Glenn Kessler, "Conservatives Assail North Korea Accord," Washington Post, February 15, 2007.

Jim Lobe, " Elliott Abrams' Repeat Performance," Right Web, April 17, 2007.

White House Office of the Press Secretary, Personnel Announcement, "The Appointment of Elliott Abrams as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser for Global Democracy Strategy," February 2, 2005, www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/02/20050202-10.html.

Tom Barry, " The Foreign Policy Diaspora—From Jerusalem to Washington," Right Web Analysis, February 8, 2005.

Connie Bruck, "Back Roads: How Serious Is the Bush Administration about Creating a Palestinian State?" New Yorker, December 15, 2003.

Ron Kampeas, "Bush Reaches Out to Europe," JTA, November 30, 2004.

Richard Perle, "Why Did Bush Blink on Iran? (Ask Condi)," Washington Post, June 25, 2006, p. B1.

"Dump Condi: Foreign Policy Conservatives Charge State Dept. Has Hijacked Bush Agenda," Insight Magazine, July 25, 2006.

Seymour Hersh, "Watching Lebanon," New Yorker, August 21, 2006.

"Bush and Condi Clash over Israel; President Overrules Her for the First Time," Insight Magazine, August 8, 2006.

Jim Lobe, "All in the Neocon Family," Alternet.com, March 27, 2003.

Sidney Blumenthal, The Rise of the Counter-Establishment: From Conservative Ideology to Political Power (New York: Times Books, 1986), pp. 161-162.

Jerry Sanders, Peddlers of Crisis (Boston: South End Press, 1983).

David Corn, "Elliott Abrams: It's Back!" The Nation, July 2, 2001.

Philip Burch, Reagan, Bush, and Right-Wing Politics: Elites, Think Tanks, Power, and Policy, Part A, "The American Right Wing Takes Command: Key Executive Appointments" (Greenwich, CT: Jai Press, 1997), p. 219.

Jim Lobe, "Neoconservatives Consolidate Control Over Middle East Policy," Foreign Policy In Focus, December 6, 2002.

Back to topBack to Top

printer symbolPrint Article

letter symbolEmail This Page

Multimedia

Video – Interview with Karen Kwiatkowski

Related Articles

Neocons Shaken, But Not Deterred

Profile: Elliott Abrams

The new Pentagon papers

The Cult That’s Running the Country

Serving Two Flags: Neo-Cons, Israel and the Bush Administration

How Neo-cons Influence the Pentagon

A Costly Friendship

The Weird Men Behind George W. Bush’s War

More Articles on Neoconservatives

Additional Resources

Book – Perceptions of Palestine: Their Influence on U.S. Middle East Policy

Book – A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies

more resources


If Americans Knew distributes and posts to our website copyrighted material, sometimes without the permission of the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of the Israel/Palestine conflict. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law since it is being distributed without profit for purely educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

This website is printer-friendly. Please Print this article and share it with your friends and family.