Lots of strange and disturbing things are coming from the White House now that the health-care issue is over:
1) Islamic terrorism is dropped into the memory hole.
President Barack Obama’s advisers will remove religious terms such as “Islamic extremism” from the central document outlining the U.S. national security strategy and will use the rewritten document to emphasize that the United States does not view Muslim nations through the lens of terror, counterterrorism officials said.
The change is a significant shift in the National Security Strategy, a document that previously outlined the Bush Doctrine of preventative war and currently states: The struggle against militant Islamic radicalism is the great ideological conflict of the early years of the 21st century… — AP (Ha’aretz)
Well, I can understand him wanting to say “we are not fighting against Islam.” But we are fighting something and somebody. Someone killed 3000 Americans on 9/11 and someone is shooting at our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Similarly motivated someones are lobbing rockets at Israel from Gaza and preparing a massive bombardment from Lebanon. And someone in Iran is developing nuclear weapons for some reason. How can we fight an ideology that we are not allowed to name?
The AP piece continues:
The revisions are part of a larger effort about which the White House talks openly, one that seeks to change not just how the United States talks to Muslim nations, but also what it talks to them about, from health care and science to business startups and education.
That shift away from terrorism has been building for a year, since Obama went to Cairo, Egypt, and promised a new beginning in the relationship between the United States and the Muslim world.
“You take a country where the overwhelming majority are not going to become terrorists, and you go in and say, ‘We’re building you a hospital so you don’t become terrorists.'” That doesn’t make much sense, said National Security Council staffer Pradeep Ramamurthy.
My brain actually hurts from thinking about this. Certainly the US should try to have good relations with Muslim countries. But should we ignore the fact that there is a vicious strain of Islamic extremism that expresses itself by trying to kill us? And worse, that there are many — in some Muslim countries a majority — who, while they don’t physically engage in terrorism themselves, support the extremists in principle or materially?
2) Contradictory nuclear guidelines appear.
I’m not going to try to analyze the administration’s new nuclear guidelines in detail; specialists in this sort of thing say that practically speaking there will be little change. But what is the advantage of proposing something that is intended to appear as a limitation, even if in practice it isn’t? Isn’t the whole idea of a deterrent to give the impression that if attacked we will respond in a devastating way? The assertion that we wouldn’t retaliate with nuclear weapons against a biological attack (but we reserve the right to do so) is self-contradictory and confusing.
Why is Obama playing with something that has been kept substantially unchanged by the last eleven US presidents?
Can I be excused for being suspicious, even paranoid? Do I suspect that this means that the administration is laying the groundwork for dealing with a nuclear Iran, which it considers inevitable? Do I also expect more pressure on Israel to join the non-proliferation treaty and give up its own nuclear deterrent? Yes on all.
Given the way this article in the NY Times is written, we can take it as having been dictated to the friendly newspaper by the administration. Replete with references to Netanyahu’s “right-wing party” and a suggestion that talks have been held up by Israeli intransigence on settlements — an outright lie — the piece appears to be a White House trial balloon. The plan implies an imposed settlement, possibly including US or NATO troops along the Jordan!
The most frightening part is that three out of the four presidential advisors mentioned in connection with the idea — Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft and Robert Malley — are among the most anti-Israel elements in White House circles. Indeed, Obama was forced to disavow Brzezinski during the campaign when Jewish voters complained. Dennis Ross, the most experienced and knowledgeable Mideast expert associated with the administration was not quoted or mentioned in the article.
Can’t we get Obama interested in something else? He’s really out of his depth in foreign affairs.