Thursday, November 06, 2008

Neocon Bunker Hunker (Continued)

by Jeff Huber

Part I outlined the neocons' "resurgence" strategy. Part II discusses how Barack Obama may be steering us toward a neo-neoconservativism.

The Bush administration celebrated Barack Obama's victory in the presidential election by blowing away another Afghan wedding party. The airstrike, which came within hours of the election, killed 40 civilians and wounded 28 others in Kandahar Province.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai held a press conference on Wednesday to congratulate Obama on his victory, and said that his first request of the new American president would be “to end the civilian casualties.” We've been bombing weddings in Afghanistan for over six years now, and the tactic clearly isn't working.

I'm rather hoping that Obama's foreign policy platform has room for an alternative to bombing weddings and other mainstays of the neocon tactics manual, but I'm not yet convinced that it does.

Know Your Limitations

Many factors led me to vote for Barack Obama; chief among them is that I assessed him to be the most capable person to run for president in my lifetime, and I was old enough to understand what I was seeing on TV when JFK took his oath of office.

Obama's much-publicized lack of foreign policy experience didn't bother me. In fact, I consider it more of an asset than a limitation. In the main, Americans can be proud of the influence their country has had on humanity. We save the world three times in the 20th century, winning two world wars and the Cold War. But anybody who claims credit for the last 15 years or so of U.S. foreign policy is an idiot because everybody responsible for our post-Soviet era goat grope deserves to be horse whipped.

So I was amused when John McCain's keepers found a running mate for him who actually understood less about foreign affairs than he does. I was dismayed, though, when Obama chose Joe Biden, a politician whose ego sucks up all the oxygen his brain should be getting. If Biden is Obama's foreign policy "equalizer," it's time to restock the fallout shelters. People like Joe don't say lots of stupid things into microphones because they forget to think before they open their mouths. People who say stupid things all the time are just plain stupid. The best way for Obama to exploit Joe Biden's foreign policy "expertise" is to gag him, truss him up, march him down to Dick Cheney's undisclosed location, shove him in, lock the door, melt the key, and have Northern Command maintain a heavily armed patrol on around the perimeter with rules of engagement that delineate any attempt on Biden's part to express an opinion as a hostile act.

Know Your Friends

Biden isn't the president elect's only foreign policy albatross. Obama didn’t draw his brain trust from the same tree that McCain plucked his off of, but apple and orange and pachyderm and ass alike, all those foreign policy wonks move in the same orbits.

One of their social functions this past year was thrown by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), an offshoot of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The occasion of this particular gala was a meeting of something WINEP calls the Task Force on the Future of U.S.-Israel Relations. The Task Force released a report in August titled "How to Deepen U.S.-Israel Cooperation on the Iranian Nuclear Challenge." Among the more alarming assertions of the report is that Israel and the U.S. should discuss taking "preventative military action" against Iran.

It's perhaps not too surprising that two of the signatories to the report were leading neocons and John McCain advisers Vin Weber and James Woolsey. It's more than a little disconcerting, though, that two of the other signatories were Obama advisers Tony Lake and Susan Rice.

It's downright alarming, in fact, that Obama let two of his advisers endorse a policy statement drawn up by proxies of any foreign country, much less Israel. The change the Obama administration needs to make first and foremost is to stop letting Israel lead us around by the foreign policy tool. If the Israelis insist that we guarantee to keep them absolutely, positively safe from the Muslim world then let them move to Utah and pay our taxes. I'm sure they'll find a way to handle the Mormons all on their own.

With Friends Like These…

So I reckon we can guess who advised Obama to say that Iran is "a grave threat." Obama needs an adviser who will remind him that Iran's defense budget is less than one percent of ours, and that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program, and that Iran's conventional forces cannot possibly project power across the distance that separates it and Israel, and that by brokering a cease fire between Muqtada al Sadr and Nuri al Maliki, Iran is as responsible as General David Petraeus, if not more so, for the reduced levels of violence in Iraq. Obama also needs an adviser who will point out that General Petraeus's "brilliant job" in Iraq amounted to doing what Petraeus consistently accused the Iranians of doing: handing out money and weapons to Iraqi militants.

And if President Obama ever gets annoyed with something stupid Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says, he needs an adviser to remind him how many stupid things his predecessor said over the course of eight years, and to remind him to make sure Joe Biden is still bound and gagged and guarded.

Obama needs an adviser who will nudge him the next time he says that he wants to increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps because "the ability to put boots on the ground will be critical in eliminating the shadowy terrorist networks we now face," and remind him of the recent report from the Rand Corporation that concludes the best approach to combating terrorism is "a light U.S. military footprint or none at all."

When Obama says, "We must maintain the strongest, best-equipped military in the world in order to defeat and deter conventional threats," he needs an advisor to tell him that America already spends more on defense than the rest of the world combined, and that the nearest things we have to military competitors, Russia and China, spend a tenth as much on defense as we do at most, and that if Obama continues to pay heed to advisers who talk like they're reading from the neocon play book, he'll find himself arming America into abject penury to repel an invasion from a force that exists somewhere beyond the Van Allen radiation belt.

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword . Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now. Also catch Scott Horton's interview with Jeff at Antiwar Radio.


  1. redknight3811:43 PM

    Obama seems to have his first foreign policy/defense test. Russia has moved missiles to threaten the ABM systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. The language they used and the timing strongly suggests this was calculated, predicated on an Obama win. Another Cuban Missile Crisis?

    The Karzai announcement seems like another such test. I'm wondering what Obama can possibly say to that which people will accept.

  2. We'll see. He doesn't really have to say anything.

  3. Did the neo-cons pass a Proposition 8 in Afghanistan?

  4. Let's see. Inauguration Day is in January. So, already these are the new guy's problems?

    Karzai was appointed by Bush, was he not? Shouldn't he still be crying to Condi?

    Bush is gutting every domestic environmental regulation on the books.

    Russia seems to be already mad at us.

    Iraq won't sign an agreement on the Status of Forces, and give us their oil.

    Karzai wants somebody to order people to stop killing people at weddings.

    What was his job again? And, how much is he getting paid to do it?

    And, the kids don't even have their puppy yet.

    The high tech campaign just turned into a high tech pre-administration.

    There is a website to keep people informed on who is where in the transition. Who already got hired. What's going to go on with the Inauguration events.

    The man hit the ground running.

  5. Mandt,

    Yes, I understand the law requires the US to bomb gay Afghan weddings.


    Yes, he hit it running. He had to.

    Good thing he has the energy. I hope to see a lot of White House basketball games.


  6. His choice of Chief of Staff says volumes. And we thought McCain was off course with the "Bomb Iran" song.

  7. Geoffrey8:26 PM

    Dear Jeff, again I find myself drawn to rewriting some of your ideas into my own words and sending them to my three members of Congress. Yet I find myself repeatedly unable to improve upon the impact in your delivery.

    So I had another idea: Please consider granting permission to the public to copy your prose if we use parts of it to send to my elected officials who might actually be in a position to do something about it.

    Sure, I like to share my comments plenty with the fine readers of this blog, but really I have no reason to believe my own two senators and one representative have managed to discover and regularly visit your blog yet.

    Yes, really.

  8. Kerstin9:15 PM

    redknight38 writes:
    The language they used and the timing strongly suggests this was calculated, predicated on an Obama win. Another Cuban Missile Crisis?

    As far as I can see, Poland is very far away from USA, but close to Russia, and I can not understand how Russian defence actions on their own territory could be compared, in any way, to the Kuba crisis 45 years ago (even if USA threatened Kuba at that time and Sovjet tried to support Castro and Kuba, which is said not to defend old Sovjet, nor Castro, just to state a fact).

    And as far as I also know, it is USA that continues to threaten Russia by building military bases closer and closer to the heart of Russia, not the other way around. In my opinion one can not be surprised that Russia reacts as it does to this.

    As a European I am much more afraid of USA and what it could provoke from Russia, than I am for a Russia that is not threatened or provoked.

    Sorry Jeff Huber if I am impolite here, but perhaps it could be interesting also to get a view on this from somebody who is European and living rather close to Russia, (just as Sarah Palin :-).)

    And excuse me my imperfect English.

    Kerstin on Motvallsbloggen

  9. OB,

    Rahm is otherwise eminently qualified for the COS job, so I'm not ready to call in a TLAM strike on him just yet. ;-)


    Please feel free to pester your congresspersons with my blog. I'd pester my own with it, but they can't read and neither can anyone on their staffs.


    Agree, this is no Cuban Missile Crisis. It's not even a bad hair day.


  10. redknight381:28 AM

    Note Kerstin: I'm not American either ;).

    My comment on it being a "Cuban Missile Crisis" was that it was another test of a new president's foreign policy cojones-- "who will blink first."

    Time recently ran a story on this, it seems.

  11. Guess I shouldn't be surprised, but it looks like it's going to be more of the same from Barack Obama. Mr. Change is reportedly considering another former G-Sax CEO to run Treasury (I guess so the Wall Street boyz won't have to strain themselves getting the bailout boodle spent by January). And in Scott Horton's interview with Gareth Porter, they were discussing the possibility that Gates would stay on as Defense Secretary (that doesn't sound good). All Obama needs to do now is appoint Sarah Palin Secretary of Education and we're all set.

    A friend of mine just came back from Iraq for ten days, where she does scut work for KBR (for an obscene amount of money). As she is a black woman, I thought she would be thrilled at Obama's victory. Er, not exactly. Apparently, she and many of her Baghdad co-workers viewed a McCain victory as job security. "We needed that old white man!" was her main comment on the election (and I just about busted a gut laughing). I tried to reassure her that all was well, that while they may not get the 100 years McCain promised, Obama should be good for at least a few.

    I think I'm going to be doing my own bunker hunker for a while. George W. still has a few weeks left to think of a suitable going-away present, after all. Maybe some rocket's red glare for us to remember him by?

  12. Mercenaries for McCain. How droll. ;-)

  13. "arming America into abject penury "

    I'd like to think that Obama's just giving the obligatory lip service to Israel and the military. But the suspense is killing me.

  14. I'd like to think that too, Russ, but have learned the lesson of ignoring warning signs the hard way.


  15. From the dumbie, to the smarties.

    A question.

    Where else is he going to draw from, to get people with any governmental experience, except the guys, and women, who served Clinton?

    From what I hear Larry Summers is the front runner for treasury.

    Women hate him because of some stupid remarks he made about women, math and science, when he was heading up Harvard. Wall Street will equally hate him, because he's not one of them.

    With Emanuel, he's got a guy who's been there, done that.

    We, are in a world of hurt, economically. That will be Job 1.

    Here on the Gulf Coast, people still can't get any help from FEMA, to re-build, or repair. Some how, red tape, keeps getting in the way.

    What I look for from an Obama administration is "competence."

    I want the trains to run on time.

    Obama has said many times: "I know what I know, and I know what I don't know."

    Unlike Bush, I suspect he will learn what he doesn't know, by reading, and studying what he needs to read and study.

    I don't expect he will surround himself with people who will only tell him what they think he wants to hear. Or, what they want him to know.

    Two --- not one --- but two --- highly intelligent people will move into the White House in January. President Obama, and his best friend Michelle.

  16. Anonymous9:56 AM

    Jeff, shame on you?


    Speaks volumes of who, what, and so on, of you? Or, those to whom you owe?

    Love fests for WAR are just that and no pretend heroic feat can wash away the blood of cannibalism.

    But, you have made your point.

  17. Censorship? What in the wide world of sports arts and sciences are you talking about?


  18. Anonymous1:04 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  19. Okay, Biloxi, as I've told you in teh past, it's time for you to start behaving. I don't want to see any more of these crazy person posts here at P and S and no haunting all the other sites where I'm syndicated.

    Do you understand?


  20. Anonymous6:20 PM

    Obama will obey his handlers. He bowed to a foreigh government to get their endorsement and he will pay for his favor accordingly. Yes, he will surround himself with neo-cons and think-tank persons in the manner in which he is told. The game remains the same, only the 'dungeon-master' has changed.

  21. I'm not fully convinced of that either. I'll have a piece early next week about Obama's interdiction on the Iraq SOF agreement.


  22. Maybe they're bombing weddings for practice in case Prop. 8 didn't pass.

  23. Heh. After six years, you'd think they wouldn't need to practice anymore.

  24. Anonymous10:47 AM

    Jeff, you have told me to behave in the past? OMG, I didn't see your command, SIR. You can think you are as important as you think you are, but SIR, you are just one more small drop in the universe. Not one email or other warning did I receive, since I do not "blog" often and in fact, almost never. Just a few here and there to enlighten the folks, like you, who appear to think they know.

    Your days are numbered with respect to the ignorance of Obama, et al. You are truly going to have a cosmic reality enema to blow off the top of your brain dead "mind."

    Do not worry your head, though, I won't be back since your work is precisely what a gatekeeper would do - bore those who work for God.

  25. Kerstin8:25 PM

    redknight38 said...
    Note Kerstin: I'm not American either ;).

    My comment on it being a "Cuban Missile Crisis" was that it was another test of a new president's foreign policy cojones-- "who will blink first."

    OK, I get your point, but the other way around in that case.


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