Posted tagged ‘Obama’s motivations’

Former Obama Officials, Loyalists Waged Secret Campaign to Oust Flynn

February 15, 2017

Former Obama Officials, Loyalists Waged Secret Campaign to Oust Flynn, Washington Free Beacon, February 14, 2017

File photo : Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, U.S. national security advisor, arrives to a swearing in ceremony of White House senior staff in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. Trump today mocked protesters who gathered for large demonstrations across the U.S. and the world on Saturday to signal discontent with his leadership, but later offered a more conciliatory tone, saying he recognized such marches as a "hallmark of our democracy." Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg(Sipa via AP Images)

File photo : Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, U.S. national security advisor, arrives to a swearing in ceremony of White House senior staff in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg(Sipa via AP Images)

“The Obama administration knew that Flynn was going to release the secret documents around the Iran deal, which would blow up their myth that it was a good deal that rolled back Iran,” the source said. “So in December the Obama NSC started going to work with their favorite reporters, selectively leaking damaging and incomplete information about Flynn.”

“After Trump was inaugurated some of those people stayed in and some began working from the outside, and they cooperated to keep undermining Trump,” the source said, detailing a series of leaks from within the White House in the past weeks targeting Flynn. “Last night’s resignation was their first major win, but unless the Trump people get serious about cleaning house, it won’t be the last.”

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The abrupt resignation Monday evening of White House national security adviser Michael Flynn is the culmination of a secret, months-long campaign by former Obama administration confidantes to handicap President Donald Trump’s national security apparatus and preserve the nuclear deal with Iran, according to multiple sources in and out of the White House who described to the Washington Free Beacon a behind-the-scenes effort by these officials to plant a series of damaging stories about Flynn in the national media.

The effort, said to include former Obama administration adviser Ben Rhodes—the architect of a separate White House effort to create what he described as a pro-Iran echo chamber—included a small task force of Obama loyalists who deluged media outlets with stories aimed at eroding Flynn’s credibility, multiple sources revealed.

The operation primarily focused on discrediting Flynn, an opponent of the Iran nuclear deal, in order to handicap the Trump administration’s efforts to disclose secret details of the nuclear deal with Iran that had been long hidden by the Obama administration.

Insiders familiar with the anti-Flynn campaign told the Free Beacon that these Obama loyalists plotted in the months before Trump’s inauguration to establish a set of roadblocks before Trump’s national security team, which includes several prominent opponents of diplomacy with Iran. The Free Beaconfirst reported on this effort in January.

Sources who spoke to the Free Beacon requested anonymity in order to speak freely about the situation and avoid interfering with the White House’s official narrative about Flynn, which centers on his failure to adequately inform the president about a series of phone calls with Russian officials.

Flynn took credit for his missteps regarding these phone calls in a brief statement released late Monday evening. Trump administration officials subsequently stated that Flynn’s efforts to mislead the president and vice president about his contacts with Russia could not be tolerated.

However, multiple sources closely involved in the situation pointed to a larger, more secretive campaign aimed at discrediting Flynn and undermining the Trump White House.

“It’s undeniable that the campaign to discredit Flynn was well underway before Inauguration Day, with a very troublesome and politicized series of leaks designed to undermine him,” said one veteran national security adviser with close ties to the White House team. “This pattern reminds me of the lead up to the Iran deal, and probably features the same cast of characters.”

The Free Beacon first reported in January that, until its final days in office, the Obama administration hosted several pro-Iran voices who were critical in helping to mislead the American public about the terms of the nuclear agreement. This included a former Iranian government official and the head of the National Iranian American Council, or NIAC, which has been accused of serving as Iran’s mouthpiece in Washington, D.C.

Since then, top members of the Obama administration’s national security team have launched a communications infrastructure after they left the White House, and have told reporters they are using that infrastructure to undermine Trump’s foreign policy.

“It’s actually Ben Rhodes, NIAC, and the Iranian mullahs who are celebrating today,” said one veteran foreign policy insider who is close to Flynn and the White House. “They know that the number one target is Iran … [and] they all knew their little sacred agreement with Iran was going to go off the books. So they got rid of Flynn before any of the [secret] agreements even surfaced.”

Flynn had been preparing to publicize many of the details about the nuclear deal that had been intentionally hidden by the Obama administration as part of its effort to garner support for the deal, these sources said.

Flynn is now “gone before anybody can see what happened” with these secret agreements, said the second insider close to Flynn and the White House.

Sources in and out of the White House are concerned that the campaign against Flynn will be extended to other prominent figures in the Trump administration.

One senior White House official told the Free Beacon that leaks targeting the former official were “not the result of a series of random events.”

“The drumbeat of leaks of sensitive material related to General Flynn has been building since he was named to his position,” said the official, who is a member of the White House’s National Security Council. “Last night was not the result of a series of random events. The president has lost a valuable adviser and we need to make sure this sort of thing does not happen again.”

Other sources expressed concern that public trust in the intelligence community would be eroded by the actions of employees with anti-Trump agendas.

“The larger issue that should trouble the American people is the far-reaching power of unknown, unelected apparatchiks in the Intelligence Community deciding for themselves both who serves in government and what is an acceptable policy they will allow the elected representatives of the people to pursue,” said the national security adviser quoted above.

“Put aside the issue of Flynn himself; that nameless, faceless bureaucrats were able to take out a president’s national security adviser based on a campaign of innuendo without evidence should worry every American,” the source explained.

Eli Lake, a Bloomberg View columnist and veteran national security reporter well sourced in the White House, told the Free Beacon that Flynn earned a reputation in the Obama administration as one of its top detractors.

“Michael Flynn was one of the Obama administration’s fiercest critics after he was forced out of the Defense Intelligence Agency,” said Lake, who described “the political assassination of Michael Flynn” in his column published early Tuesday.

“[Flynn] was a withering critic of Obama’s biggest foreign policy initiative, the Iran deal,” Lake said. “He also publicly accused the administration of keeping classified documents found in the Osama bin Laden raid that showed Iran’s close relationship with al Qaeda. He was a thorn in their side.”

Lake noted in his column that he does not buy fully the White House’s official spin on Flynn’s resignation.

“For a White House that has such a casual and opportunistic relationship with the truth, it’s strange that Flynn’s ‘lie’ to Pence would get him fired,” Lake wrote. “It doesn’t add up.”

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stated in his daily briefing that “the evolving and eroding level of trust as a result of this situation and a series of other questionable incidents is what led the president to ask General Flynn for his resignation.”

A third source who serves as a congressional adviser and was involved in the 2015 fight over the Iran deal told the Free Beacon that the Obama administration feared that Flynn would expose the secret agreements with Iran.

“The Obama administration knew that Flynn was going to release the secret documents around the Iran deal, which would blow up their myth that it was a good deal that rolled back Iran,” the source said. “So in December the Obama NSC started going to work with their favorite reporters, selectively leaking damaging and incomplete information about Flynn.”

“After Trump was inaugurated some of those people stayed in and some began working from the outside, and they cooperated to keep undermining Trump,” the source said, detailing a series of leaks from within the White House in the past weeks targeting Flynn. “Last night’s resignation was their first major win, but unless the Trump people get serious about cleaning house, it won’t be the last.”

Obama’s Syria Policy Explained

September 26, 2016

Obama’s Syria Policy Explained, Power Line, Paul Mirengoff, September 26, 2016

It seems likely that Obama welcomed Russia’s direct intervention since (1) it served Iran’s interests and (2) made it much easier for Obama to defend not taking military action. Indeed, Obama sees Russia as a partner in Syria.

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In writing about the pathetic efforts of John Kerry to arrange a cease fire in Syria, I’ve referred to the Secretary of State as the village idiot. But what about President Obama?

Though his intellect may be overrated, he’s anything but an idiot. Obama is, instead, a clever operator who often thinks several moves ahead of his domestic, though not his foreign, adversaries.

Why, then, has U.S. policy paved the way for Assad’s revival, Iranian and Russian success in Syria, and the massacre of up to half a million Syrians?

I’ve come to believe that the answer lies in the Iran nuclear deal. I base this view in part on the great reporting of Jay Solomon for the Wall Street Journal.

For example, Solomon revealed that in 2013, Iran told Obama that if he were to strike the regime of Bashar Assad following the latter’s chemical-weapons attack, the Iranians would end the talks over their nuclear program. Obama duly canceled the strike and later reassured Iran that the United States would not touch Assad.

In my view, Obama’s priority from Day One has been to negotiate a nuclear deal with the mullahs and use the deal as a springboard to a kind of alliance with the their regime under which Iran would “stabilize” the region and the U.S. would basically exit. This desire best explains why Obama’s Syria policy serves Iran’s interests.

My view finds powerful support in a piece in Tablet by Tony Badran of the Federation for Defense of Democracies. Having read Badrad’s piece, it seems to me that the pro-Iran tilt manifested in Obama’s Syria policy is even more pronounced than I had suspected.

Badran states his thesis this way:

America’s settled policy of standing by while half a million Syrians have been killed, millions have become refugees, and large swaths of their country have been reduced to rubble is not a simple “mistake,” as critics like Nicholas D. Kristof and Roger Cohen have lately claimed. Nor is it the product of any deeper-seated American impotence or of Vladimir Putin’s more recent aggressions.

Rather, it is a byproduct of America’s overriding desire to clinch a nuclear deal with Iran, which was meant to allow America to permanently remove itself from a war footing with that country and to shed its old allies and entanglements in the Middle East, which might also draw us into war. By allowing Iran and its allies to kill Syrians with impunity, America could demonstrate the corresponding firmness of its resolve to let Iran protect what President Barack Obama called its “equities” in Syria, which are every bit as important to Iran as pallets of cash.

Obama’s intentions should have been evident from the beginning. After all, as Badran points out, “if Obama purposefully took the Iranian regime’s side during the 2009 protests so as not to upset the prospect of rapprochement, he similarly wasn’t about to commit the United States against Iran’s longest-standing strategic ally, Assad.”

But Obama did a great job of masking his pro-Assad tilt and confusing none-too-bright media. Badran writes:

[B]y 2012, criticism of the administration’s policy had grown more vocal, and calls rose to give military support to the Syrian opposition, a proposition the president was always opposed to. As this was a fixed position for Obama, the task before the White House was, therefore, one of public relations—to quiet the calls for supporting the opposition, outside and also within the administration, without doing anything that would actually upset Assad and his patrons in Iran.

Messaging, as always, was of paramount importance to the White House. As the Wall Street Journal reported in early 2013, “White House national security meetings on Syria [in 2012] focused on what participants called ‘strategic messaging,’ how administration policy should be presented to the public.” To that end, the administration started putting out targeted talking points. The administration laid down its now-infamous mantra: There is no military solution in Syria.

Unfortunately, Assad, Iran, and Russia did not share this view — as Obama knew. Thanks to U.S. policy, Assad, Iran, and Russia appear to be right.

Not content with the “no military solution” mantra, Obama added argument that he wanted to avoid “further militarization” of the situation in Syria. Thus Jay Carney stated:

We do not believe that militarization, further militarization of the situation in Syria at this point is the right course of action. We believe that it would lead to greater chaos, greater carnage.

In light of subsequent developments, this statement is obscene, but it was always ridiculous. A no-fly zone would have prevented much of the carnage — and presumably virtually all of carnage rained down from the air — that has occurred since Carney spoke this rubbish several years ago.

But a no-fly zone would have thwarted Iran’s ambitions. Thus, argues Bedran, it was always a non-starter for Obama.

Russia’s presence in the air over Syria provided Obama with an excuse for rejecting a no-fly zone. But, as Bedran says, the administration had firmly rejected such action for years before the Russians were anywhere near Syria.

It seems likely that Obama welcomed Russia’s direct intervention since (1) it served Iran’s interests and (2) made it much easier for Obama to defend not taking military action. Indeed, Obama sees Russia as a partner in Syria. According to Bedran, “partnership with Russia is what the White House has sought after since late 2015 and throughout 2016 —with [Robert] Malley as the point man, negotiating directly with the Kremlin’s special envoy. Malley, by the way, is virulently anti-Israel.

The cynicism of Obama’s pronouncements on Syria — his “strip tease” as Bedran calls it — is encapsulated by what he and his team have said about Russian intervention in Syria. Initially, the administration’s line was that Russia had made a tragic mistake by becoming involved in a quagmire (never mind that, as we pointed out at the time, its military involvement was limited almost entirely to air strikes). Now, Team Obama argues that Russia holds all the cards in Syria and that our only option is to work with the Kremlim.

Russia and Iran hold all the cards because Obama allowed them to. Bedran makes a strong case that Obama allowed them to because because he wants Iran to prevail.

One might admire the elegance of Obama’s “strip tease,” if not for the demise of hundreds of thousands of Syrians and the triumph of our arch-enemy in Tehran.

Obama’s Foreign Policy Guru Boasts of How the Administration Lied to Sell the Iran Deal

May 5, 2016

Obama’s Foreign Policy Guru Boasts of How the Administration Lied to Sell the Iran Deal, Weekly Standard, Lee Smith, May 5, 2016

It’s hardly any wonder that Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes has a “mind meld” with his boss, the president. According to a David Samuels New York Times Magazine article to be published Sunday and already posted to the website, Rhodes, like Barack Obama, is contemptuous of “the American foreign-policy establishment.” What Obama calls the “Washington playbook” dictating the sorts of responses available to American policymakers, Rhodes calls the “Blob.”

The Blob includes “editors and reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker,” etc. It also encompasses, according to Rhodes, Obama’s former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, and the administration’s first defense secretary Robert Gates. Presumably Leon Panetta, former Pentagon chief and CIA director, who goes on the record to criticize Rhodes and the president, is also part of the Blob, alongside “other Iraq-war promoters from both parties who now whine incessantly about the collapse of the American security order in Europe and the Middle East.” In other words, the emotion driving the administration’s foreign policy is contempt—contempt for allies, colleagues, and the generations of American policymakers who built the post-WWII international order, ensuring relative global stability, and peace and prosperity at home.

Samuels’s profile is an amazing piece of writing about the Holden Caulfield of American foreign policy. He’s a sentimental adolescent with literary talent (Rhodes published one short story before his mother’s connections won him a job in the world of foreign policy), and high self regard, who thinks that everyone else is a phony. Those readers who found Jeffrey Goldberg’s picture of Obama in his March Atlantic profile refreshing for the president’s willingness to insult American allies publicly will be similarly cheered here by Rhodes’s boast of deceiving American citizens, lawmakers, and allies over the Iran deal. Conversely, those who believe Obama risked American interests to take a cheap shot at allies from the pedestal of the Oval Office will be appalled to see Rhodes dancing in the end zone to celebrate the well-packaged misdirections and even lies—what Rhodes and others call a “narrative”—that won Obama his signature foreign policy initiative.

Rhodes is a storyteller who uses a writer’s tools to advance an agenda that is packaged as politics but is often quite personal. He is adept at constructing overarching plotlines with heroes and villains, their conflicts and motivations supported by flurries of carefully chosen adjectives, quotations and leaks from named and unnamed senior officials. He is the master shaper and retailer of Obama’s foreign-policy narratives, at a time when the killer wave of social media has washed away the sand castles of the traditional press.

As Rhodes admits, it’s not that hard to shape the narrative. “All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus,” Rhodes said. “Now they don’t. They call us to explain to them what’s happening in Moscow and Cairo. Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

In Rhodes’s “narrative” about the Iran deal, negotiations started when the ostensibly moderate Hassan Rouhani was elected president, providing an opening for the administration to reach out in friendship. In reality, as Samuels gets administration officials to admit, negotiations began when “hardliner” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was still president. It was Rhodes who framed the Iran deal as a choice between peace and war, and it was Rhodes who set up a messaging unit to sell the deal that created an “echo chamber” in the press. “[Al Monitor reporter] Laura Rozen was my RSS feed,” says Tanya Somanader, the 31-year-old who managed @TheIranDeal twitter feed. “She would just find everything and retweet it.”

“In the spring of last year,” Samuels writes:

legions of arms-control experts began popping up at think tanks and on social media, and then became key sources for hundreds of often-clueless reporters. “We created an echo chamber,” [Rhodes] admitted, when I asked him to explain the onslaught of freshly minted experts cheerleading for the deal. “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”

When I suggested that all this dark metafictional play seemed a bit removed from rational debate over America’s future role in the world, Rhodes nodded. “In the absence of rational discourse, we are going to discourse the [expletive] out of this,” he said. “We had test drives to know who was going to be able to carry our message effectively, and how to use outside groups like Ploughshares, the Iran Project and whomever else. So we knew the tactics that worked.” He is proud of the way he sold the Iran deal. “We drove them crazy,” he said of the deal’s opponents.

It’s not clear whether or not Panetta supported the deal, but he admits he was wrong about Obama’s willingness to take all measures to stop Iran from getting a bomb.

As secretary of defense, he tells me, one of his most important jobs was keeping Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and his defense minister, Ehud Barak, from launching a pre-emptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. “They were both interested in the answer to the question, ‘Is the president serious?’ ” Panetta recalls. “And you know my view, talking with the president, was: If brought to the point where we had evidence that they’re developing an atomic weapon, I think the president is serious that he is not going to allow that to happen.”

Panetta stops.

“But would you make that same assessment now?” I ask him.

“Would I make that same assessment now?” he asks. “Probably not.”

Rhodes tells Samuels that Don DeLillo is his favorite novelist. “That’s the only person I can think of who has confronted these questions of, you know, the individual who finds himself negotiating both vast currents of history and a very specific kind of power dynamics,” he tells Samuels. “And that’s what it’s like to work in the U.S. foreign-policy apparatus in 2016.”

So that’s it. For the last seven years the American public has been living through a postmodern narrative crafted by an extremely gifted and unspeakably cynical political operative whose job is to wage digital information campaigns designed to dismantle a several-decade old security architecture while lying about the nature of the Iranian regime. No wonder Americans feel less safe—they are.

Attkisson: Obama won’t read intelligence on groups he doesn’t consider terrorists

November 19, 2015

Attkisson: Obama won’t read intelligence on groups he doesn’t consider terrorists, BreitbartPam Key, November 18, 2015

Wednesday on Newsmax TV’s “The Steve Malzberg Show,” veteran journalist Sharyl Attkisson said her sources have told her that President Barack Obama does not want and will not read intelligence reports on groups “he does not consider terrorists,” despite being on a U.S. list of designated terrorists.

Attkisson said, “I have talked to people who have worked in the Obama administration who firmly believe he has made up his mind. I would say closed his mind, they say, to their intelligence that they’ve tried to bring him about various groups that he does not consider terrorists, even if they are on the U.S. list of designated terrorists. He has his own ideas, and there are those who’ve known him a long time who say this dates back to law school. He does not necessarily—you may think it’s a good trait you may think it’s a bad trait—he does not necessarily listen to the people with whom he disagrees. He seems to dig in. I would suppose because he thinks he’s right. He is facing formidable opposition on this particular point.”

Attkisson continued, “I don’t know the reason for it. I’ve only been told by those who have allegedly attempted to present him, or have been in the circle that has attempted to present him, with certain intelligence that they said he doesn’t want it. He said he doesn’t want it or he won’t read it, in some instances.”

Obama Has a Strategy in the Middle East, and It’s Working

November 12, 2015

Obama Has a Strategy in the Middle East, and It’s Working, Washington Free Beacon, November 12, 2015

Obama CairoPresident Obama in Cairo, 2009 / AP

Consider that if the primary goal of the president is not a certain outcome on the ground, but rather the reset of the American posture in the region from that of a dominant power to that of one nation among many partners collaborating where possible, and, when conflict can’t be avoided, erring on the side of minimalist interventions—well, from the perspective of the Oval Office, it would be possible to conclude that no change of course is required.

As with Obamacare, the “achievement” in all this is to be found less in any one specific policy outcome than in a broad leftward shifting of the conversation, and in the creation of a new normal for January 20, 2017, in which the re-establishment of more sensible policy in the Middle East will be extremely difficult.

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The Obama administration is “operating on a crisis basis” in the Middle East, says Leon Panetta, and doesn’t “have any kind of larger strategy” for the region. The president’s recent actions there, including the deployment of 50 special operations troops to Syria, are too incremental and “will not work,” says Fareed Zakaria. Indeed, the situation in that country has “spiraled out of control,” according to Vox’s Max Fisher in a post headlined “Unfixable: How Obama Lost Syria.”

And that’s what liberal critics are saying! The tone on the right is even more harsh—and why shouldn’t it be? Headlines this week from the region inform us that new footage shows about 200 children being shot to death by members of the Islamic State while lying in a row, faces in the dirt; that a Russian airliner that crashed in Egypt was quite likely downed with the use of military grade explosives; and that Russian airstrikes in Syria in support of the Assad regime have increased in intensity. It is Wednesday.

Zooming out, we see Assad in power, the Islamic State not going anywhere, Yemen still the focus of a regional proxy war, and a nuclear deal with Iran that has only empowered hardliners there.

The natural question thus seems to be: Why doesn’t Obama change course? Other presidents have shifted their approaches when confronted with failure—Carter’s late foreign policy and Bush’s Iraq surge both spring to mind. Why not Obama?

One answer to this question we ought to take seriously is that the president thinks things are, on the whole, going just fine.

Consider that if the primary goal of the president is not a certain outcome on the ground, but rather the reset of the American posture in the region from that of a dominant power to that of one nation among many partners collaborating where possible, and, when conflict can’t be avoided, erring on the side of minimalist interventions—well, from the perspective of the Oval Office, it would be possible to conclude that no change of course is required.

This possibility is why I’m not persuaded of Panetta’s charge that the administration lacks a “larger strategy.” It seems entirely possible to explain what might seem to be incompetence as simply the consequence of having as the primary focus of our regional strategy the reduction of the American role.

Evidence for this possibility can be detected through a Kremlinological look at the administration’s own public statements, including the repeated insistence that “local partners” will do the fighting on the ground against the Islamic State, which, in turn, will only “ultimately” be destroyed, as well as the unconventional assertion by Ben Rhodes earlier this year that the avoidance of military casualties is itself a goal of American national strategy. Much of the evidence rounded up by Michael Doran in his excellent essay on the strategy behind the Iran deal points in the general direction I propose. And others have made plausible arguments that the administration has engineered a transition from a Middle Eastern “Pax Americana” system to one where “offshore balancing” prevails—even though such an assessment understates the extent to which responsible outcomes on the ground don’t matter nearly as much to the White House as the nature of the American posture itself.

The most persuasive proof is a form of reductio ad absurdum—denying this assessment seems to require the conclusion that the president and his advisors are profoundly foolish. It seems more likely that they are simply ruthless ideologues.

From their point of view, it is surely lamentable that the region hasn’t responded better to the withdrawal of American power. But there was always going to be a period of transition, and that the shift is somewhat traumatic is not necessarily a surprise. Calls for America to reinsert its military are shortsighted: after all, the presence of the American military in support of corrupt Sunni regimes like Saudi Arabia’s contributed mightily to the targeting of the United States by extremists, and the removal of Saddam led ultimately to the existence of the Islamic State. Our enmity with Iran’s revolutionary government goes back to our backing of the Shah and the ouster of Mossadegh, and anyway, the fact that we are allied with toxic Sunni regimes (not to mention apartheid Israel) but hostile to a religious Shia regime is irrational, at best. Violence may currently be surging, but the death tolls conveyed in lurid headlines must be seen in the context of truly grave global threats, like climate change. Those threats require our best attention, as does the rebuilding of the American economy, and we are better served by working to construct a more equitable and just society at home before taking unilateral, aggressive, and risky actions abroad.

This analysis may be wrong in part or in whole, but it is internally coherent, and if accepted it points to the strategy more or less exactly like the one being pursued. If America is usually part of the regional problem, and if its efforts are better employed elsewhere, then the strategic goal should be to reduce the amount of America in the region. In the administration’s first term, centrist voices in the cabinet would have resisted such an approach—but they are gone now.

The shift in our regional posture has, of course, provoked opposition from hardliners (American hardliners, that is) including conservative politicians and elements of the Pentagon’s leadership, whose actions over the years have empowered Middle Eastern hardliners like the Iranian mullahs. Thus this domestic opposition is also, in a sense, the enemy, and resisting this wing of American politics at home will give moderates in countries like Iran the space to gain influence over time.

This worldview is why Obama isn’t going to change course any time soon, absent a major loss of American life in a terrorist attack and the domestic political pressures that will create. Even then, the response is likely to be conducted with an eye to keeping military engagements highly limited, as with token actions taken in recent weeks in the campaign against the Islamic State. Indeed, seen in this light, incremental deployments of a few dozen troops to Syria need no longer be seen as foolish gestures that are destined to fail, but rather as more or less successful delaying actions meant to placate domestic political opposition.

As with Obamacare, the “achievement” in all this is to be found less in any one specific policy outcome than in a broad leftward shifting of the conversation, and in the creation of a new normal for January 20, 2017, in which the re-establishment of more sensible policy in the Middle East will be extremely difficult.

The Moscow-Washington-Tehran Axis of Evil

October 3, 2015

The Moscow-Washington-Tehran Axis of Evil, Canada Free PressCliff Kincaid, October 3, 2015

(I am not posting this because I currently accept its conclusions or some of their bases. However, it’s frightening, interesting and has at least some food for thought. — DM)

KINCAID100315

The conventional wisdom is that Vladimir Putin has blindsided Barack Obama in the Middle East, catching the U.S. off-guard. It’s another Obama “failure,” we’re told. “Obama administration scrambles as Russia attempts to seize initiative in Syria,” is how a Washington Post headline described it. A popular cartoon shows Putin kicking sand in the faces of Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry on a beach.

The conventional wisdom is driven by the notion that Obama has the best of intentions but that he’s been outmaneuvered. What if his intention all along has been to remake the Middle East to the advantage of Moscow and its client state Iran? What if he knows exactly what he’s doing? Too many commentators refuse to consider that Obama is deliberately working against U.S. interests and in favor of the enemies of the U.S. and Israel.

In his U.N. address, Obama said, “As President of the United States, I am mindful of the dangers that we face; they cross my desk every morning. I lead the strongest military that the world has ever known, and I will never hesitate to protect my country or our allies, unilaterally and by force where necessary.”

This is laughable. We still have a strong military, but the inevitable conclusion from what’s recently transpired is that he doesn’t want to protect the interests of the U.S. or its allies in the Middle East. This is not a “failure,” but a deliberate policy.

The trouble with conventional wisdom is the assumption that Obama sees things the way most Americans do. In order to understand Obama’s Middle East policy, it is necessary to consult alternative sources of news and information and analysis. That includes communist news sources.

A fascinating analysis appears in the newspaper of the Socialist Workers Party, The Militant, one of the oldest and most influential publications among the left. You may remember the old photos which surfaced of Lee Harvey Oswald selling copies of The Militant before he killed the American president.

The headline over The Militant story by Maggie Trowe caught my eye: “‘Reset’ with US allows Moscow to send arms, troops to Syria.” It was not about Hillary Clinton’s reset with Moscow years ago, but a more recent one.

Here’s how her story began: “Moscow’s rapid military buildup in Syria is a result of the ‘reset’ in relations forged with the Russian and Iranian governments by the Barack Obama administration. The deal—reshaping alliances and conditions from Syria, Iran and the rest of the Middle East to Ukraine and surrounding region—is the cornerstone of U.S. imperialism’s efforts to establish a new order in the Mideast, but from a much weaker position than when the now-disintegrating order was imposed after World Wars I and II.”

Of course, the idea that “U.S. imperialism” is served by giving the advantage to Russia and Iran is ludicrous. Nevertheless, it does appear that a “reset” of the kind described in this article has in fact taken place. The author writes about Washington’s “strategic shift to Iran and Russia” and the “downgrading” of relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia. She notes that Moscow “seeks more influence and control of the country [Syria] and its Mediterranean ports and a stronger political hand in Mideast politics.” Iran “has sent Revolutionary Guard Quds forces to help prop up Assad, and collaborates with Moscow on operations in Syria,” she notes.

It is sometimes necessary to reject the conventional wisdom and instead analyze developments from the point of view of the Marxists, who understand Obama’s way of thinking. They pretend that Obama is a pawn of the “imperialists” but their analysis also makes sense from a traditional pro-American perspective. Those who accept the evidence that Obama has a Marxist perspective on the world have to consider that his policy is designed to help Moscow and Tehran achieve hegemony in the region.

At the same time, the paper reported, “Since Secretary of State John Kerry’s congenial visit with Putin in May, it has become clear that Washington would accept Moscow’s influence over its ‘near abroad’ in Ukraine and the Baltics, in exchange for help to nail down the nuclear deal with Tehran.” Hence, Obama has put his stamp of approval on Russian aggression in Europe and the Middle East. This analysis, though coming from a Marxist newspaper, fits the facts on the ground. It means that more Russian aggression can be expected in Europe.

The wildcard is Israel and it looks like the Israeli government is being increasingly isolated, not only by Obama but by Putin. The story notes that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Putin in Moscow on September 21, saying his concern was to “prevent misunderstandings” between Israeli and Russian troops, since Israel has carried out airstrikes in Syrian territory targeting weapons being transported to the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon.

Some reports indicated that Israel had set up a joint mechanism with the Russian military to coordinate their operations in Syria.

However, the Russian leader reportedly told Obama during their U.N. meeting that he opposes Israeli attacks in Syria. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz ran a story that Russia intends to “Clip Israel’s Wings Over [the] Syrian Skies.” The paper added that Putin’s remarks to Obama showed that despite Netanyahu’s meeting with Putin in Moscow, “Russia intends to create new facts on the ground in Syria that will include restricting Israel’s freedom of movement in Syrian skies.”

It hardly seems to be the case that Obama has been outsmarted in the Middle East, or that Putin and Obama don’t like each other. Instead, it appears that Obama is working hand-in-glove with Putin to isolate Israel and that Obama is perfectly content to let the former KGB colonel take the lead.

Israel has always been seen by most U.N. members as the real problem in the region. Obama is the first U.S. President to see Israel in that same manner and to act accordingly. This is why Putin has not caught Obama off-guard in the least. They clearly see eye-to-eye on Israel and Iran.

Don’t forget that Obama actually telephoned Putin to thank him for his part in the nuclear deal with Iran. The White House issued a statement saying, “The President thanked President Putin for Russia’s important role in achieving this milestone, the culmination of nearly 20 months of intense negotiations.”

Building off the Iran nuclear deal, it looks like the plan is for Russia and the United States to force Israel to embrace a U.N. plan for a nuclear-free Middle East. That would mean Israel giving up control of its defensive nuclear weapons to the world body. Iran will be able to claim it has already made a deal to prohibit its own nuclear weapons development.

Such a scheme was outlined back in 2005 in an article by Mohamed Elbaradei, the director-general at the time of the U.N.‘s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). That’s the same body that is now supposed to guarantee Iranian compliance with the terms of the nuclear deal signed by Russia and the U.S.

Elbaradei argued there would have to be “a dialogue on regional security as part of the peace process,” to be followed by an agreement “to make the Middle East a nuclear-weapons-free zone.”

The “dialogue” appears to be taking place now, mostly under the authority and auspices of the Russian government, with President Obama playing a secondary role.

The obvious danger is that Israel would be forced to comply with the plan for a “nuclear-weapons-free-zone,” while Iran would cheat and develop nuclear weapons anyway.

Netanyahu told the U.N. that “Israel deeply appreciates President Obama’s willingness to bolster our security, help Israel maintain its qualitative military edge and help Israel confront the enormous challenges we face.”

This must be his hope. But he must know that Israel’s security is slipping and that the survival of his country is in grave danger in the face of this Moscow-Washington-Tehran axis.

Before Putin further consolidates his military position in the Middle East and Iran makes more progress in nuclear weapons development, Netanyahu will have to launch a preemptive strike on the Islamic state. “Israel will not allow Iran to break in, to sneak in or to walk in to the nuclear weapons club,” the Israeli Prime Minister said.

In launching such a strike before the end of Obama’s second presidential term, Israel would bring down the wrath of the world, led by Russia and the U.S., on the Jewish state.

Use Our Senatorial Nuclear Option to Stop Iran’s Radioactive Nuclear Option

August 28, 2015

Use Our Senatorial Nuclear Option to Stop Iran’s Radioactive Nuclear Option, National Review – Morning Jolt, Jim Geraghty, August 28, 2015 (via e-mail).

A simple proposal: To stop Iran’s nukes, use our own nuclear option. Scrap the filibuster, pass a resolution declaring the Iran deal a treaty that requires Senate authorization, introduce the text of the Iran deal, and vote it down.

Remember, Democrats got rid of the filibuster for nominations in 2013, arguing that GOP obstructionism was interfering with the president’s constitutional authority to make judicial appointments. The Constitution requires Senatorial consent to treaties. The administration claims the Iran deal isn’t a treaty because they think it has “become physically impossible“ to pass a treaty in the Senate.

Do you think Iran will honor its side of the agreement? Probably not, right?

Even if they do, do you think Iran will attempt to build a nuke quickly when the deal expires? Certainly, right?

Do you think that if Iran gets a nuke, they will use it? Pretty darn likely, right?

So, congressional Republicans . . . what are you willing to do to prevent a mushroom cloud either in the Middle East or closer to home?