Elizabeth O’Bagy, a young researcher with the Institute for the Study of War, helped bring America to the brink of war in 2013. Making fraudulent claims of having obtained a PhD, she was a fervent supporter of military intervention in Syria after she allegedly met with Syrian rebel groups. Her public testimony was fawned over by Senator John McCain and Secretary of State John Kerry, who used her fake credentials to backstop their march toward another military action in the Middle East. While portraying herself as an unbiased researcher, O’Bagy was also doing paid work for a pro-Syrian rebel lobbyist group called the Syrian Emergency Task Force. When O’Bagy was exposed, the house of cards came crumbling down. O’Bagy was fired from the Institute for the Study of War, but was quickly hired as a legislative assistant by Senator McCain.

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Elizabeth O’Bagy

The O’Bagy incident is just one of many bizarre cases of pseudo-intellectuals pounding on their war drums for further military interventions around the world. Their fever dreams have dire consequences for American foreign policy, pushing us further away from our own national interests and toward nonsensical, ill-conceived wars of choice. In the Western media, a constellation of think tank fellows and public relations firms continue to do the same, advocating for U.S. military action, no-fly zones, and the arming of allegedly moderate rebels in Syria.

The new warmongers

Charles Lister is one of the more prominent voices in the media pushing for U.S.-led meddling in the protracted and complicated Syrian Civil War. Taking a dim view of the Assad regime, along with their Russian and Iranian sponsors, Lister writes that the United States has placed too heavy an emphasis on the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), arguing that we must arm and equip Arab rebel groups in order to defeat ISIS and ultimately institute regime change in Syria.

Graduating St. Andrews University with a masters degree in international affairs, Lister landed a job at Brookings Doha, where he worked alongside Salman Shaikh, who previously worked as the director of policy and research for Sheikha mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned. Al Missned is a third wife of the former Emir of Qatar. Shaikh left Brookings Doha and started the Shaikh Group, which sponsors what they call the Track II Syria Initiative, which Lister joined. The Track II initiative is a dialog that brings together the major players in the Syrian conflict, such as Russia, the United States, and Saudi Arabia, but apparently not the government of the country in which the conflict is taking place.