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

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.”

Read more at Commentary

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

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

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