Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hillary, Rahm and Other Wild Turkeys

by Jeff Huber

This year I'm thankful Dick Cheney and the Bush administration haven't destroyed the whole world. Yet. I suspect young Mr. Bush has lost his enthusiasm for the project, but I'm concerned that the Dark Lord's little helpers will keep the fuse burning right up to the closing bell. We dodged an October surprise, but plenty can still happen between now and January 20. NORAD and the FAA better keep close tabs on Santa's sleigh come Christmas Eve, that's all I can say. We don't need no stinking 12/24.

I'm thankful John McCain didn't win the presidential election. You hear some of the TV satire guys crying about what great material they'll miss out on without Gramps and Bering Strait Barbie in the White House, but I'm not complaining on that score. Joe Biden as vice president? Come on, he'll be better than having Chico Marx running around the West Wing (Getta you tootsie frootsie money quotes).

And Hillary as Secretary of State?


A Day at the Circus

I hear the Clintons will divide responsibility at State Department. Hillary will have administrative matters and Bill will have foreign affairs.

Did you know Hillary's appointment was a money saving move on Obama's part? Yeah, instead of having the Air Force haul her to summits all over the globe, she'll fly overseas on her private broom.

Obama plans to conduct stick and carrot diplomacy. Hillary's the stick. If foreign leaders won't do what Obama wants them to, he'll send Hillary to talk to them and she won't leave until they play ball.

Obama might have trouble getting Hillary to play ball with him. She certainly won't roll over for whomever winds up being Secretary of Defense like Condi did. Which is a good thing, come to think of it. And if she gets out of hand, Obama can sick his chief of staff on her. Now that will be a cat and dog in the bathroom situation, that will, Hillary and Rahm Emanuel. Grrroof! Mrowwwl! Tee-hee!

But that will be a good thing too, come to think of it: sort of like checks and balances. Remember those? Too bad Obama had to pick a lipstick Likudnik for a chief of staff, though. Rahm's an abrasive jerk too, but, come to think of it again, that's something you want in a chief of staff: a guy who's not afraid of losing any friends because he doesn't have any to begin with. Plus, Rahm's organized and he gets things done and he's a Democrat, so when you get down to it, he was Obama's only real choice for the chief of staff job. And who knows, Obama might be thinking that Rahm is the only Democrat who can tell AIPAC to go shtup itself. That might turn out to be Rahm's most valuable asset.

I'll tell you what would be funny: if Rahm told the new National Security Adviser, retired Marine General James L. Jones, to go shtup himself. Rahm might find himself wearing his tokhes for a hat.

Jones was a four-star in the Rumsfeld regime, which is cause for concern. His last job was head of U.S. European Command, a billet in which he dual-hatted as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. The Euros are our oldest and most familiar foreign relatives, though, so Jones's experience with them is a plus. And though he was a Bush leaguer, he wasn't a Petraeus class Bush leaguer. He said no the Central Command job, and to the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairmanship, and he reportedly twice spurned an offer from Condi Rice to become her deputy at State. So he's got that going for him.

But Jones is also said to have been against a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq, which at this point is code for "we should stay there forever." He's also big on beefing up the effort in the Bananastans, and has said, "If we don't succeed in Afghanistan, you're sending a very clear message to the terrorist organizations that the U.S., the U.N. and the 37 countries with troops on the ground can be defeated."

It sounds like Jones buys into the mythos-based ethos that his buddy John McCain subscribes to, the one that says we know we can't win the war we're in militarily, but we can't afford to lose or the bad guys will make fun of us, which is the second worst fate possible.* We can't lose as long as we keep fighting, so we have to keep fighting even though we know we can't win. When people ask what we're trying to achieve by all this endless fighting, we tell them "success," and when they press us for what we mean by that, we talk out our hats until they leave us alone.

In that vein, it sounds like Dr. Rice has emerged as the leading candidate for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. The good news: it's not Condi. The bad news: it's Susan. Susan Rice was a member of the other Clinton's National Security Council and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. As a senior foreign policy adviser to the Obama campaign, Rice, along with fellow Obama wonk Tony Lake, put their names on a policy document produced by an AIPAC subsidiary that stated the U.S. and Israel should discuss "preventative military action" against Iran.

Put another way, Obama's presumptive nominee to the U.N. ambassadorship signed him up to continue the Bush Doctrine.

Audacity of Skepticism

I'm suspicious of anything that involves worship, and one of the few things I devoutly believe is that there's no greater sacrilege than deifying politicians. Every time I saw a flock of wool producing Democrats chanting "Yes we can" I wondered if they'd booked their flights to Guyana yet. I predict that those who expect Obama to be the first black Kennedy or the second coming of Lincoln will end up even more bitter, angry, disillusioned and high on dope than they already are.

As I said recently, the neocons have lost Congress and the White House, but they still own the narrative. Iran, though it has no nuclear weapons program and its defense budget is less than one percent the size of ours, the incoming regime appears poised to continue regarding it as a grave threat. That will be a grave error.

Iran is the reddest of the many herrings the neocons shoved up our noses. The challenge it poses is not a military one, but one of energy and economy. It's Iran's open pursuit of a nuclear energy industry, not it's non-existent pursuit of a nuclear arsenal, that threatens U.S. dominance in the Middle East and the rest of the world. If Iran, along with its Axis of Energy allies Russia, China, Venezuela and Libya, manage to wrest control of the global energy market away from Dick and Dubya's buds at Exxon Mobil and Shell, then the grand neocon misadventure in Arabia will have been for naught.

The best strategy for ensuring America lands in a soft place in the brave new world order is to woo Iran. Unfortunately, Obama's prospective foreign policy team seems determined to continue pushing Iran into the arms of our competitors.

I voted for Obama because I'm convinced he's the most capable American politician to emerge on the national scene in my lifetime. So I'd like to think that he's aware of the issues I'm describing and is courting Iran with a tough love stratagem.

I'm hopeful that such is the case. If it isn't, though, I won't be disappointed (tee-hee).

*The worst fate possible is that everybody figures out we can't accomplish anything militarily anymore and slashes our budget to a stump.

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. Anonymous10:32 AM

    Watch out for the Turkey trots!

  2. Anonymous5:04 AM


    Speaking of Bush's dreams of destroying the whole world, you may be interested to know that Eric Margolis attributes Somalia's pirate plague to Bush's idiotically ideological foreign policy.

  3. We may face no greater challenge from a non-state entity that the Pirates of Aden?

    Thanks for the link.


  4. Anonymous12:37 PM

    Jeff, just a drive-by to wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. Same, K. Thanks for stopping by.


  6. I'm thankful for bloggers like you Commander. You do the heavy lifting and give us the benefit of all the work you have done.

    Have a great Thanksgiving weekend.

  7. Anonymous12:41 PM

    This is a great post and reflects my thoughts of late.
    Although I worked assiduously for Mr. Obama to get into the white house, I'm extremely disappointed in these selections.
    As the French say: plus ca change, plus c'est la meme choses...

  8. The bright side for me is that I don't think I'll need to look for a new occupation.



    I'm sure Maureen Dowd shares those sentiments.

  10. Anonymous4:07 PM

    Hope you and yours have a good Turkey Day.
    Read about the latest Pentagon outrage and follow the link:
    Just can't understand where the brass has their heads.

  11. Looks like William J. Carr just became one of my favorite DOD guys to watch.

    Thanks for the tip and link.


  12. Anonymous9:12 PM


    A bit off topic but I wanted to recommend this extraordinary essay by Michael Lewis:

    The End of Wall Street's Boom

    The essay is a bit long but well worth the read. The architects of the current financial crisis may prove to be far more damaging to our national security than any pathetic little terrorist's wet dream. And the pity of it all is that none of these people - not a single person - will ever be held accountable.

    Tom Friedman has the money quote:

    "So many people were in on it: People who had no business buying a home, with nothing down and nothing to pay for two years; people who had no business pushing such mortgages, but made fortunes doing so; people who had no business bundling those loans into securities and selling them to third parties, as if they were AAA bonds, but made fortunes doing so; people who had no business rating those loans as AAA, but made a fortunes doing so; and people who had no business buying those bonds and putting them on their balance sheets so they could earn a little better yield, but made fortunes doing so."

    (Src: All Fall Down )