As we get closer to election day, I try and maintain my hope that Obama the man will trump the industry lobby money he's accepted. I know this is naive. I know from his FISA vote that he can be swayed to vote for industry interests over what is best for America. He voted for immunity for an industry that broke the law invading our privacy at the behest of the criminal BushCo administration. His stance on adding troops to Afghanistan clearly tells me that he is way more into war than I want him to be. I don't like his Iraq withdrawal plan either (in that it is not immediate), since he has succumbed to neocon goading to make sure he always uses adjectives like "responsible" when he discusses withdrawal of our troops. Like it's even close to responsible to leave them in there for one day longer.
I keep praying that Iraqi resistance will continue to balk at signing the security forces agreement, even as BushCo yanks at Iraq's balls by threatening to cease "vital services" if they don't sign it. I hope they call BushCo's bluff. I've never, ever believed that if we exit Iraq, the whole place will go up in flames. Instead, I believe our presence there is what creates and foments violence and our game of playing one faction against another has achieved the results the neocons desire: to create enough insurgency and instability so that it appears that US troops must stay in order to control the insurgency and stabilize the instability. Al Queda never existed in Iraq until we got there, but now we say we can't leave because Al Queda is in Iraq. Total bullshit.
Last night I read an article "A Bright Shining Lie: Dennis Ross And The Run-Up to An Attack On Iran" and realized I had never heard of Dennis Ross, a member of Obama's Middle East team. Here's some evidence of his troubling influence:
It was during the question and answer period that I brought up a prominent report in the Israeli press which said former member of parliament and former cabinet minister Ephraim Sneh, speaking for his government, sent identical memos to both Senators Obama and John McCain. The memos declared that Israel would attack Iran in 2010 unless the “Iranian nuclear threat” is negated by a US attack or a regime change in Tehran.1
Subsequent to having received the memo, Barack Obama was asked at a campaign stop in Iowa if Israel felt it had the “green light” from the US to attack Iran. Obama chose not to answer the question directly, claiming any answer would be speculation. Instead the candidate responded, “my job as President would be to try to make sure that we are tightening the screws on Iran… before Israel feels its back is to the wall.”2
Last week Ross wrote that the Bush administration is failing in regard to Iran, opining that we cannot afford “four more years of US policies that are tough rhetorically but soft practically.”3 In a recent Wall Street Journal article4 co-authored with Richard Holbrooke and James Woolsey, with whom he has founded the group called United Against Nuclear Iran, Ross and his colleagues beat the drums for war with the usual exaggerated warnings of imminent danger and a dubious list of past and future Iranian transgressions.
In an article in the Financial Times5, Daniel Dombey and James Blitz wrote that Ross, working with the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think-tank, has produced a report calling for the Americans and Europeans to bypass the United Nations and impose tougher sanctions on Iran. In addition to the sanction campaign, the report, which is titled “Meeting the Challenge: US Policy Toward Iranian Nuclear Development,”6 recommends taking military steps such as “pre-positioning additional US and allied forces, deploying additional aircraft carrier battle groups and minesweepers [and] emplacing other war materiel in the [Gulf] region.” The report further urges that these military actions should be taken by the new President on his first day in office!
I didn't like what I read in the article, but needed to get more information before I got really worried. So, I went to my own Middle East advisor, Juan Cole, and well, now I'm really worried. I entered Dennis Ross as a search term on Cole's website and got this results page.
Here are some troubling quotes:
August 28, 2004:
WINEP has largely followed AIPAC into pro-Likud positions, even though its director, Dennis Ross, is more moderate. He is a figurehead, however, serving to disguise the far right character of most of the position papers produced by long-term WINEP staff and by extremist visitors and "associates" (Daniel Pipes and Martin Kramer are among the latter).
WINEP, being a wing of AIPAC, is enormously influential in Washington. State Department and military personnel are actually detailed there to "learn" about "the Middle East"! They would get a far more balanced "education" about the region in any Israeli university, since most Israeli academics are professionals, whereas WINEP is a "think tank" that hires by ideology.
It was these WINEP and AIPAC-linked US Likud backers in the Defense Department who had the Iraqi army dissolved as soon as Saddam was overthrown. This step threw Iraq into chaos and led to the deaths of nearly a thousand US servicemen so far, since an Iraq without an army would inevitably depend on the US military.
December 13, 2007:
Farideh Farhi has more on the lack of an Iranian nuclear program. She shows that remarks of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to American scholars and politicians have been distorted by propagandists such as Dennis Ross. But it does turn out that Rafsanjani frankly told the Americans in 2005 that Iran had no weapons program, and did not need one, but that it did want to close the fuel cycle.
Perhaps since Ross is just a member of Obama's Middle East team, and not its leader, and perhaps if there are other advisers on the team to counter Ross's influence, we may have some hope. Although, he helped Obama prepare for his Middle East trip and traveled with him, and Obama's quotes above, in regards to Iran, reflect Ross's viewpoint.
As I researched this post, I came across an American Thinker article, railing against Obama's radical leftist anti-Israel advisors. The most heinous evil doer on the team, according to AT, is Robert Malley, lawyer, political scientist and specialist in conflict resolution (God forbid we should need somebody who knows how to do that) and Program Director for Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group in Washington, D.C. This seemed to be a good sign. Of course, the American Thinker article was still stating as a fact that Obama is a Muslim and attended a Muslim Madrassa school.
Here's an article on the Council on Foreign Relations website, with backgrounds on some of Obama's advisers. Ross is not listed. Here's an interesting perspective from the Socialist Worker.