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.