Written by Barry Rubin
I did a lot of soul-searching before writing my latest article, "After the Fall: What Do You Do When You Conclude America is (Temporarily or Permanently) Kaput?" Of course, I believed every word of it and have done so for a while. But would it depress readers too much? Would it just be too grim? (Graphics Credit: Tundra Tabloids)
Maybe U.S. policy will just muddle through the next four years and beyond without any disasters. Perhaps the world will be spared big crises. Possibly the fact that there isn't some single big superpower enemy seeking world domination will keep things contained.
Perhaps that is true. Yet within hours after its publication I concluded that I hadn't been too pessimistic. The cause of that reaction is the breaking story that not only will Senator John Kerry be the new secretary of state; that not only will the equally reprehensible former Senator Chuck Hagel be secretary of defense, but that John Brennan, the president's counterterrorism advisor, will become CIA chief.
About two years ago I joked that if Kerry would become secretary of state it was time to think about heading for that fallout shelter in New Zealand. This trio in power—which along with Obama himself could be called the four horseman of the Apocalypse for U.S. foreign policy—might require an inter-stellar journey.
Let me stress that this is not really about Israel. At the end of Obama's second term, U.S.-Israel relations will probably be roughly where they are now. Palestinian strategy--both by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas--has left the United States no diplomatic or "peace process" option on that front. The problem is one of U.S. interests, especially the American position in the Middle East but also in other parts of the world.
You can read elsewhere details about these three guys.
Here I will merely summarize the two basic problems:
This is especially so on Middle Eastern issues but how good are they on anything else? True, they are all hostile to Israel but this isn't the first time people who think that way held high office. Far worse is that they are pro-Islamist as well as being dim-witted about U.S. interests in a way no foreign policy team has been in the century since America walked onto the world stage.
Brennan is no less than the father of the pro-Islamist policy. What Obama is saying is this: My policy of backing Islamists has worked so well, including in Egypt, that we need to do even more! All those analogies to 1930s' appeasement are an understatement. Nobody in the British leadership said, "I have a great idea. Let's help fascist regimes take power and then they'll be our friends and become more moderate! That's the equivalent of what Brennan does.
Some friends said I shouldn't write this because it is a subjective judgment and sounds mean-spirited. But honest, it's true. Nobody would ever say that their predecessors—Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, and David Petraeus—were not intelligent and accomplished. But these guys are simply not in that category. Smart people can make bad judgments; regular people with common sense often make bad judgments less often. But stupid, arrogant people with terrible ideas are a disaster.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and a featured columnist for PajamasMedia. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan)