Ben Rhodes Sees America’s Evils Everywhere and His Own Mistakes Nowhere

June 24 2021

For the duration of the Obama administration, Ben Rhodes served in the newly created position of deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, in which capacity he was the president’s key confidant and speechwriter on foreign policy. In that role he, in his own words, “created an echo chamber” in the media to promote the nuclear deal with Iran. Since leaving office, he has traveled the globe and, based on those travels, written Being American in the World We’ve Made, in which he laments the current state of affairs at home and abroad. James Kirchick writes in his review:

How comforting it must be to see the world as does Ben Rhodes: everyone who disagrees with him is either a fascist, an idiot, or both.

If Rhodes encountered a single individual during these travels who disagreed with him, he leaves no record of it. The same goes for criticism from his interlocutors about the policies of the administration he served. In his chapters on Russia, for instance, Rhodes manages to avoid any mention of the “reset” policy that was prelude to President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula and ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Conspicuously absent from the “international community of underdogs” Rhodes interviews are any Syrians, whom Barack Obama abandoned to the tender mercies of Bashar al-Assad after refusing to enforce his own red line against the dictator’s use of chemical weapons against his own people. Rhodes makes up for this elision with a chapter that essentially argues the case for the Middle East’s “axis of Resistance” (comprising Iran and its proxies) and bashes America’s traditional Sunni Arab allies, who along with Israel opposed the administration’s ill-fated nuclear deal with Tehran.

In his embittered recitation of the standard left-wing litany of American crimes and transgressions, Rhodes sounds an awful lot like Bernie Sanders, with whose fundamental appraisal, Rhodes reveals, Obama essentially agreed. “The occasional hawkish language on terrorism” that appeared in the speeches Rhodes wrote for Obama, along with “the critiques of capitalism that had to be carefully worded to avoid charges of socialism,” were “compromises to political reality.”

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Read more at Commentary

More about: Barack Obama, Iran, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy, Vladimir Putin

Is the Attempt on Salman Rushdie’s Life Part of a Broader Iranian Strategy?

Aug. 18 2022

While there is not yet any definitive evidence that Hadi Matar, the man who repeatedly stabbed the novelist Salman Rushdie at a public talk last week, was acting on direct orders from Iranian authorities, he has made clear that he was inspired by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s call for Rushdie’s murder, and his social-media accounts express admiration for the Islamic Republic. The attack also follows on the heels of other Iranian attempts on the lives of Americans, including the dissident activist Masih Alinejad, the former national security advisor John Bolton, and the former secretary of state Mike Pompeo. Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was held hostage by the mullahs for over two years, sees a deliberate effort at play:

It is no coincidence this flurry of Iranian activity comes at a crucial moment for the hitherto-moribund [nuclear] negotiations. Iranian hardliners have long opposed reviving the 2015 deal, and the Iranians have made a series of unrealistic and seemingly ever-shifting demands which has led many to conclude that they are not negotiating in good faith. Among these is requiring the U.S. to delist the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in its entirety from the State Department’s list of terror organizations.

The Biden administration and its European partners’ willingness to make concessions are viewed in Tehran as signals of weakness. The lack of a firm response in the shocking attack on Salman Rushdie will similarly indicate to Tehran that there is little to be lost and much to be gained in pursuing dissidents like Alinejad or so-called blasphemers like Sir Salman on U.S. soil.

If we don’t stand up for our values when under attack we can hardly blame our adversaries for assuming that we have none. Likewise, if we don’t erect and maintain firm red lines in negotiations our adversaries will perhaps also assume that we have none.

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Read more at iNews

More about: Iran, Terrorism, U.S. Foreign policy