Posted by Michael Kennedy on January 12th, 2013 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
We now have a re-elected president Obama who no longer has to face another election. He has “more flexibility”” as he assured Russian president Medvedev. His cabinet appointments so far give us a good view of what the next four years, at least, will bring. David Ingatius gives us the leftist view of the future in a Washington Post story.
Thinking about Eisenhower’s presidency helps clarify the challenges and dilemmas of Barack Obama’s second term. Like Ike, Obama wants to pull the nation back from the overextension of global wars of the previous decade. Like Ike, he wants to trim defense spending and reduce the national debt.
I would hardly call Obama an example of Eisenhower-like determination in national defense. Ignatius seems to believe that Israel is an ally best abandoned.
Eisenhower made an open break with Israel in 1956 during the Suez crisis. He knew this was politically risky, but Thomas notes his frustration with Israeli military threats, quoting speechwriter Emmett Hughes: “The whole Middle Eastern scene obviously leaves him dismayed, baffled and fearful of great stupidity about to assert itself.”
I’d guess Obama has similar worries about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s threat to take unilateral military action against Iran and his reluctance to make peace with the Palestinians. Are these two headed for a 1956-style break? That would be bad for both sides, but the atmosphere is poisonous. A bitter nomination battle over Hagel won’t help.
John Foster Dulles is reported to have bitterly regretted the Eisenhower administration abandonment of it allies, England and France, not Israel, in the Suez crisis. Israel was NOT an ally in 1956 and had been armed with Soviet and French equipment. Mr Ignatius is supposed to be better at history than this.
Like Ike, Obama wants to pull the nation back from the overextension of global wars of the previous decade. Like Ike, he wants to trim defense spending and reduce the national debt.
This back-to-the-future theme is visible, too, in Obama’s nomination of John Brennan as the new CIA director. A 25-year CIA veteran, Brennan wants to rebalance the agency back toward its traditional intelligence-gathering function and away from the recent emphasis on paramilitary covert action. More trench coats, less body armor, in other words. If Eisenhower is a model for Hagel, perhaps the superspies of the 1950s, Allen Dulles and Richard Helms, will be similar icons for Brennan.
This is utter nonsense as Brennan’s outlook on the subject of Islamic terrorism was revealed in a speech he gave two years ago in Washington. In that talk, Brennan spoke dreamily about Hezbollah. As he put it, “Hezbollah is a very interesting organization.”
He claimed it had evolved from a “purely terrorist organization” to a militia and then into an organization with members in Lebanon’s parliament and serving in Lebanon’s cabinet.
Brennan continued, “There are certainly elements of Hezbollah that are truly a concern for us what they’re doing. And what we need to do is find ways to diminish their influence within the organization and to try to build up the more moderate elements.”
Perhaps in a bid to build up those “moderate elements,” in the same address, Brennan referred to Israel’s capital city Jerusalem as “al Quds,” the name preferred by Hezbollah and its Iranian overlords.
This is what we rely on for our defense against enemies. I like the following analysis better.
Obama, Kerry, Hagel and Brennan are the “four horsemen.”
–Their ideas and views are horrible. This is especially so on Middle Eastern issues but how good are they on anything else? True, they are all hostile to Israel but this isn’t the first time people who think that way held high office. Far worse is that they are pro-Islamist as well as being dim-witted about U.S. interests in a way no foreign policy team has been in the century since America walked onto the world stage.
Brennan is no less than the father of the pro-Islamist policy. What Obama is saying is this: My policy of backing Islamists has worked so well, including in Egypt, that we need to do even more! All those analogies to 1930s’ appeasement are an understatement. Nobody in the British leadership said, “I have a great idea. Let’s help fascist regimes take power and then they’ll be our friends and become more moderate! That’s the equivalent of what Brennan does.
–They are all stupid people. Some friends said I shouldn’t write this because it is a subjective judgment and sounds mean-spirited. But honest, it’s true. Nobody would ever say that their predecessors—Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, and David Petraeus—were not intelligent and accomplished. But these guys are simply not in that category. Smart people can make bad judgments; regular people with common sense often make bad judgments less often. But stupid, arrogant people with terrible ideas are a disaster.
Brennan’s only life accomplishment has been to propose backing radical Islamists. As a reward he isn’t just being made head of intelligence for the Middle East but for the whole world! Has Brennan any proven administrative skill? Any knowledge of other parts of the world? No. All he has is a proximity to Obama and a very bad policy concept. What’s especially ironic here is that by now the Islamist policy has clearly failed and a lot of people are having second thoughts.
I’m not sure I agree about Hillary but she may well be intelligent in terms of potential. She just hasn’t done much with her life. She has been a bit like Pamela Harriman, sleeping her way to the top, although no one would call Hillary “the worlds best courtesan.” They are more dangerous to US security than to Israel. Iran has been at war with us since 1979. We are “the Great Satan”, not Israel.
With Brennan running the CIA, though, do you think there will be critical intelligence evaluations of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizballah, or even Hamas? Is the CIA going to warn U.S. leaders about the repression against women, Christians, and moderates? Will there be warnings that Islamists are taking over Syria or reports on Islamist involvement in killing Americans in Benghazi? Can we have confidence about U.S. policy toward Iran?
To get some insight into his thinking, consider the incident in which a left-wing reporter, forgetting there were people listening, reminded Brennan that in an earlier private conversation he admitted favoring engagement not only with the Lebanese terrorist group Hizballah but also the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. Ask yourself this question: when an American intelligence chief told Congress that the Muslim Brotherhood was a moderate, secular group who approved that line of argument?
Actually, it was Clapper, another administration clown, who described the Brotherhood as “secular.” The next decacde will be at least as dangerous to the US as the 1940s were.