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

Gaza’s Quiet Dissenters

Last year, the Dubai-based television channel Al-Arabiya, the Times of Israel, and several other media organizations worked together to conduct numerous interviews with residents of the Gaza Strip, taking great pains to protect their identities. The result is a video series titled Whispers in Gaza, which presents a picture of life under Hamas’s tyranny unlike anything that can be found in the press. Jeff Jacoby writes:

Through official intimidation or social pressure, Gazans may face intense pressure to show support for Hamas and its murderous policies. So when Hamas organizes gaudy street revels to celebrate a terrorist attack—like the fireworks and sweets it arranged after a gunman murdered seven Israelis outside a Jerusalem synagogue Friday night—it can be a challenge to remember that there are many Palestinians who don’t rejoice at the murder of innocent Jews.

In one [interview], “Fatima” describes the persecution endured by her brother, a humble vegetable seller, after he refused to pay protection money to Hamas. The police arrested him on a trumped-up drug charge and locked him in prison. “They beat him repeatedly to make him confess to things he had nothing to do with,” she says. Then they threatened to kill him. Eventually he fled the country, leaving behind a family devastated by his absence.

For those of us who detest Hamas no less than for those who defend it, it is powerful to hear the voices of Palestinians like “Layla,” who is sickened by the constant exaltation of war and “resistance” in the Palestinian media. “If you’re a Gazan citizen who opposes war and says, ‘I don’t want war,’ you’re branded a traitor,” she tells her interviewer. “It’s forbidden to say you don’t want war.” So people keep quiet, she explains, for fear of being tarred as disloyal.

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Read more at Boston Globe

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Palestinian dissidents, Palestinian public opinion