An Epiphany on the Road to Tehran
The internet was abuzz following a story by David Samuels on the jerk who admitted he manipulated the truth to get the president’s absurd deal with Iran accepted (accepted, that is, by the Democrats in Congress who blocked a Republican resolution to reject it). In case you missed it I’ll provide a quick summary of the salient parts, but that shouldn’t be the end of the story: the press having allowed itself to be flimflammed into being mere White House megaphones needs to redeem itself, should it care to win back even the tiniest shred of credibility. It probably won’t, but I have a suggestion where to begin untangling the web of those in the media and foundation world who were played and, in turn, played their fellow citizens.
A. The David Samuels’ Report.
In the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Samuels details how Ben Rhodes, a script writer, author of the Beloit Journal fiction piece titled “The Goldfish Smiles, You Smile Back,” and brother of CBS president David Rhodes, a man with zero foreign policy experience, shaped and promoted the president’s foreign policy narratives. Samuels observes: “His lack of conventional real-world experience of the kind that normally precedes responsibility for the fate of nations -- like military or diplomatic service, or even a master's degree in international relations, rather than creative writing -- is still startling." (In this respect, of course, he matches the president’s foreign policy background: None.) The article details how these two shaped and spun make-believe about the facts and their policies and with the aid of a supine press and a number of think tanks and social media outlets helped propagate the false narratives these two wove out of their fantasies. If it weren’t so serious, it would make a great Mel Brooks movie plot.
The two begin their campaign to get a deal with Iran by persuading their patsies that there was a moderate wing of the Iranian government and their purported deal would strengthen that (nonexistent) wing and end “decades of animosity”.
In Samuels’ words:
By obtaining broad public currency for the thought that there was a significant split in the regime, and that the administration was reaching out to moderate-minded Iranians who wanted peaceful relations with their neighbors and with America, Obama was able to evade what might have otherwise been a divisive but clarifying debate over the actual policy choices that his administration was making. By eliminating the fuss about Iran’s nuclear program, the administration hoped to eliminate a source of structural tension between the two countries, which would create the space for America to disentangle itself from its established system of alliances with countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel and Turkey. With one bold move, the administration would effectively begin the process of a large-scale disengagement from the Middle East.
A team under Rhodes worked Congress hard, pitching the argument that there was a choice between war and peace and the president’s plan avoided war.
If you thought there had ever been any rational debate even within the administration on the president’s vainglorious plan to reorient the Middle East, this article should put that notion to rest. There wasn’t.
In an effort to persuade the Israelis that the president would not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, Panetta responded to their concerns that the president was serious about that.
“And you know my view, talking with the president, was: If brought to the point where we had evidence that they’re developing an atomic weapon, I think the president is serious that he is not going to allow that to happen.”
“But would you make that same assessment now?” I ask him.
“Would I make that same assessment now?” he asks. “Probably not.”
Rhodes bragged to Samuels that he had manipulated everyone:
We created an echo chamber,’ he admitted, when I asked him to explain the onslaught of freshly minted experts cheerleading for the deal. ‘They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.’
Both Rhodes and Obama have contempt for the foreign policy establishment, which Rhodes refers to as “The Blob”.
He had also developed a healthy contempt for the American foreign-policy establishment, including editors and reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker and elsewhere, who at first applauded the Iraq war and then sought to pin all the blame on Bush and his merry band of neocons when it quickly turned sour. If anything, that anger has grown fiercer during Rhodes’s time in the White House. He referred to the American foreign-policy establishment as the Blob. According to Rhodes, the Blob includes Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates and other Iraq-war promoters from both parties who now whine incessantly about the collapse of the American security order in Europe and the Middle East.
“In other words,” notes, Lee Smith of the Weekly Standard, “the emotion driving the administration's foreign policy is contempt -- contempt for allies, colleagues, and the generations of American policymakers who built the post-WWII international order, ensuring relative global stability, and peace and prosperity at home.”)
To underscore this point, Leon Panetta, as head of the CIA and later secretary of defense, told Samuels he never saw the letters that Obama covertly sent to Khameni, underscoring the obvious -- that these two naïfs fancied themselves the smartest men in the Capitol.
Rhodes’ contempt for the foreign policy establishment extends to the political reporters themselves: “Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.” It’s hard to take issue with that, considering how successfully he managed to sell a pack of lies. Samuels observes as,” In this environment, Rhodes has become adept at ventriloquizing many people at once.”
It’s hard to fault Lee Smith’s conclusion in the Weekly Standard:
"So that's it. For the last seven years the American public has been living through a postmodern narrative crafted by an extremely gifted and unspeakably cynical political operative whose job is to wage digital information campaigns designed to dismantle a several-decade old security architecture while lying about the nature of the Iranian regime. No wonder Americans feel less safe -- they are."
As the story of this deceit which has resulted in making the world far more unstable and dangerous made its way through the internet, the president showed no diminution of his inflated deluded self-image, stating Friday the presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has a “long record that needs to be examined” and insisting that the race for the White House is “not a reality show.”
“I just want to emphasize the degree to which we are in serious times,” Obama said from the White House briefing room after delivering remarks on the economy. “This is a contest for the presidency of the United States.”
Reality has really surpassed my capacity for satire.
The inestimable Wretchard (Richard Fernandez) at PJ Media notes not everyone was taken in by this nonsense.
The fundamental mistake of the policy establishment (which Ben Rhodes derisively calls "the blob") was to take the Obama administration seriously, to think that terms like "grand bargain" and regional realignments were serious concepts and to spend hours pondering their meaning. Instead we now know they were just phrases that Obama and his inner circle made up as they went along. Thus a White House that should have been instantly destroyed by contempt was instead preserved by the wariness of those who thought they were facing a Professor Moriarity rather Bluto from Animal House.
Perhaps the only person who guessed the truth -- besides Clint Eastwood -- was Vladimir Putin. Some instinct told the Russian that inside the suit there was nothing. He's treated Obama accordingly and that's been the secret to his success ever since. Malice or incompetence? Moriatry or Bohoeffer's empty stupid? The reason the Washington policy establishment likes to believe Obama is some cunning schemer is that otherwise they'll never live it down.
B. Beating Plougshares into Atomic Weapons for Iran
One way the ridiculed press puppets might live it down is to do some serious reporting to uncover those who helped spread the lies and expose them so that they will be as thoroughly discredited as Rhodes now is. Rhodes revealed that one of the staunchest allies working with the disinformation campaign is an outfit called “Ploughshares”, which bills itself as a “global security foundation” and says, “Your tax-deductible gift makes a difference. We don't have to live in a nuclear past -- together we can create a more secure future."
Its head Joseph Cirincione brags:
“We did it! It didn't seem at times that we could. It was a longer fight than we ever thought, but we prevailed. We got an agreement that will stop Iran from building a bomb and stop a new war in the Middle East. It succeeded because of the diverse network that Ploughshares was able to put together to do what they do best -- scientists, diplomats, military experts, arms-control experts -- all working together for the same goal.”
This is an achievement worth crowing about? A toothless piece of fabricated tissue enabling the Iranian mullahs to wreak havoc on the world?
Who funds these useless idiots and where does their money go?
According to Discover the Networks:
In November 2010
NPR correspondent Peter Kenyon delivered an on-air report calling for the U.S. to negotiate with Iran and asserting that “[m]any analysts believe there’s more time for diplomacy than had previously been thought.” In February 2011, Ploughshares gave NPR an additional $150,000 to cover “Iran, U.S. nuclear weapons policy, and nonproliferation issues.”
"Of a piece with Ploughshares' Iran policy is the organization's support for the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), the Iranian regime’s principal lobbyist in the United States."
"Similarly, in 2011 Ploughshares gave the Center for American Progress (CAP) at least $150,000 “to hire two researchers for an expanded initiative on Iran aimed at countering support for military action.” In October 2011, CAP policy analyst Matthew Duss produced a report that praised the Obama Administration for pursuing a diplomatic approach to Iran’s nuclear program. Moreover, CAP's blog, Think Progress, regularly condemned what it characterized as neoconservative war mongering against Iran."
"In November 2011, Ploughshares gave $25,000 to J Street “to support congressional advocacy and education against the use of a military resolution to the impasse over Iran’s nuclear program.” Two months later, J Street released a web video and policy campaign that counseled against the use of the use of military force against Iran.
The Ploughshares Fund is supported by annual contributions from approximately 2,000 individuals and a small number of foundations. Among its benefactors are the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Compton Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Minneapolis Foundation, George Soros’s Open Society Institute, the Prospect Hill Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Scherman Foundation, the Turner Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation” and the Buffett Foundation.
Perhaps a press chastened by being made fools of will get off their desk chairs and talk to NPR’s Kenyon, NIAC, CAP Matthew Duss, J Street and let them defend against the reasonable conclusion that they were not honest brokers, but hired dupes. Perhaps they might ask the charitable foundations involved if they think they deserve tax breaks for helping two master manipulators make the world a far more dangerous place than it already was. Perhaps they can answer how they feel using tax breaks by the U.S. to the end of enriching and empowering the mullahs who already have the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of Americans on their hands and look to be even more substantially endangering U.S. lives and interests.