Elliott Abrams, who is steering Trump’s Venezuela policy, has a long track record of war crimes. Yet a number of liberal commentators are rushing to his defense.
by Paul Heideman
Part 4 - After the fall
By the time Abrams was pardoned, the world had changed considerably from the one in which he had been a leading cold warrior. The Soviet Union was no more, and Bill Clinton’s election had ended 12 years of Republican rule. Abrams needed a home in this new wilderness, and found one, ironically, in Ernest Lefever’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, which provided him with a comfortable sinecure. If Lefever’s views on racial fitness ever troubled Abrams, he didn’t comment on it.
As the locus of American geopolitics shifted from Central America to the Middle East, Abrams reoriented his concerns accordingly. He was a signatory (along with assorted neocons from Paul Wolfowitz to Francis Fukuyama) to the Project for the New American Century’s infamous 1998 letter to Bill Clinton urging regime change in Iraq. The letter helped inspire the Iraq Liberation Act, which Clinton signed that same year and helped initiate the bipartisan consensus for the eventual war on Iraq.
When George W. Bush was elevated to the presidency, Abrams found himself back on the inside. He was appointed to the National Security Council, and helped shape the administration’s Middle East strategy. He reportedly “lost” an Iranian peace proposal in 2003, and in 2006, helped shape the Fatah putsch against the democratically elected Hamas government in Palestine that helped lead to the current division between Gaza and the West Bank.
During Trump’s rise, in 2015 and 2016, Abrams was a reliable “never-Trumper,” backing Marco Rubio’s doomed candidacy. In early 2017, Abrams was under consideration to be number two in the State Department under Rex Tillerson. However, the Trump team, under Steve Bannon, reportedly got Elliott Abrams confused with Eliot Cohen, a different hardcore neoconservative, and blocked his appointment.
Now, thanks to Mike Pompeo’s appointment of Abrams as point person for the U.S. intervention in Venezuela, he’s back.