The State Department has long been a stronghold of “Arabists,” (which in practice bascally means folks with no use for Israel) and so to some extent has the CIA (think of Michael Scheuer). But in the Obama administration, Arabists in the sense described above dominate at the highest levels of the national security apparatus.
Consider Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence. He selected Chas Freeman to be chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Freeman had a long and deep association with Saudi Arabia, including service as president of that regime’s mouthpiece, the Middle East Policy Council (MEPC). MEPC published an abridged version of the notorious essay by Mearsheimer and Walt, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.” This tract argues that American Jews have a stranglehold on the U.S. Congress, and use it to advance Israeli interests at the expense of those of the U.S. Freeman expressly endorsed this thesis.
Freeman also argued that the September 11 attacks should have been an occasion for self-examination to determine “what might have caused the attack.” Given his record and his fealty to the Saudis, it’s quite likely that Freeman meant that September 11 should have been an occasion for re-examining U.S. support for Israel.
Next, consider John Brennan, the administration’s counter-terrorism adviser. His cloying speech on Saturday at an event sponsored by the NYU Islamic Center suggests that he too is an “Arabist.” As Scott points out, Brennan even touted his visit to “Palestine.” That land does not exist, but State Department Arabists, including some I know, frequently refer to the West Bank that way.
Brennan did say that President Obama has no plans to back away from support for Israel. Fox News quotes him as saying, “it’s tough, but we’re not going to separate ourselves from Israel.” Exactly why it’s such a burden to support Israel — our staunch ally since its birth — Brennan didn’t say.
It’s no mystery why Obama has filled key national security positions with folks who have no use for Israel — Obama himself has very little use for Israel.
That’s why he had no difficulty listening to Rev. Wright’s anti-Israel vitriol over a period of 20 years. It’s why he was also tight with, and lavished praise on, Rashid Khalidi, former mouthpiece for Yasser Arafat.
It’s why, but for a little too much preening during her book tour, the anti-Israeli Samantha Power would almost certainly hold an official position as a top Obama foreign policy adviser, and why she was his go-to adviser while he was in the Senate. And it’s why Obama’s first significant foreign policy initiative as president was an attempt to bully Israel.
What must Israel be thinking as it observes the Obama presidency? Most likely, it has concluded that it cannot count on this administration meaningfully to support its interest in countering the threat of a nuclear Iran. Israel will either have to tolerate that threat or do something itself to negate it.
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