Published in Israel Hayom, May 8, 2016.
A penetrating interview reveals the “contempt” that President Obama and his key foreign policy aide feel for the notion of America as a “moral actor” on the world stage; and the Muslim roots of Obama’s jaundiced views.
The New York Times Magazine interview with Ben Rhodes published today has sparked a firestorm because Rhodes, the “most influential voice shaping American foreign policy aside from US President Obama himself,” boasts how he and Obama hoodwinked Congress and the American people into accepting the nuclear deal with Iran.
Rhodes admits to crafting and selling a false narrative about Iranian “moderates” and “hardliners,” and to manipulating lobby groups and journalists into becoming shills for the administration.
But that is not why people should pay attention to this shocking article. The sins of Obama, Rhodes and Co. described in this article go far beyond lying to the American public about the Iran deal. The central takeaway is not just rich mendacity and downright deceit.
What bolts off the pages of this interview with Rhodes – who is variously described as Obama’s “ventriloquist” or “mind meld” doppleganger – is the unabashed “contempt” and “revulsion” for America.
In fact the word “contempt” is the interview’s keyword. It appears five times. Rhodes is described as being “laced with aggressive contempt for anyone or anything that stands in the president’s way.” He and Obama are “laced with brutal contempt” for the mainstream media, which is so easily manipulated by them. They hold a “healthy contempt for the groupthink of the American foreign-policy establishment,” and for the history and principles of traditional American foreign policy. The writer of the NYTimes story, David Samuels, is perceptive enough to pick up on this “contempt” and term it the Obama/Rhodes “hallmark.”
Worst of all, Obama/Rhodes express “contempt” for the notion of America as a “moral actor.” They disdain and dismiss this concept. Just the opposite is true: They view America as a sullied actor on the world stage, and have been on a campaign to “restructure the American narrative” in light of this incriminating belief. “We saw this as our entire job from the very beginning,” Rhodes avows without blinking.
In short, America is a bad actor that has to make amends for its ugly imperialist past and allow equally rightful and perhaps more legitimate actors (such as Iran) to assume a legitimate role on the world stage. Only Obama has the deep understanding of America’s criminality in order to right the world by cutting America down to size.
Everyone else just “whines incessantly” about the collapse of the American security order in Europe and the Middle East, Rhodes prattles. All previous American leaders and defense policy decision-makers were “morons.”
This is mindset at the root of the Obama presidency.
The kicker is that Rhodes explicitly confirms what many of us have long suspected (and I have written about for eight years): That Obama’s scorn for America is sourced in his Indonesian-youth period. Rhodes suggests that “Obama’s particular revulsion (revulsion!) against a certain kind of global power politics” is a product of his having been raised in Southeast Asia.
“Indonesia was a place where your interaction at that time with power was very intimate, right?” Rhodes asks. “Tens or hundreds of thousands of people had just been killed. Power was not some abstract thing,” he muses. “When we sit in Washington and debate foreign policy, it’s like a Risk game, or it’s all about us, or the human beings disappear from the decisions.”
“But he (Obama) lived in a place where he was surrounded by people who had either perpetrated those acts — and by the way, may not have felt great about that — or else knew someone who was a victim. I don’t think there’s ever been an American president who had an experience like that at a young age of what power is.”
The article goes on to describe how Obama and his “work wife” Valerie Jarret (Obama’s White House counselor and closest friend; the other person described as having a true mind-meld with Obama) connected way back in their bachelorhood days around this deleterious understanding of America. She was born in Iran; he grew up in Indonesia. Obama and I “lived in countries that were predominantly Muslim countries at formative parts of our childhood,” Jarrett says.
They thus share a “deeply held premise about the negative effects of use of American military force on a scale much larger than drone strikes or Special Forces raids.”
Thus, the deal with Iran was something that Obama “was eager to do since the beginning of his presidency.” It was the “center of the arc” – the ultimate goal that 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 large-scale disengagement from the Middle East” – and the handover of the region to Iran.
Rhodes has no problem bragging about the “far-reaching spin campaign” he ran to turn the “president’s emotional footprint” – Obama’s disparagement of America and his consequent drive to knock back America’s global policy footprint – into policy. The so-called “grown-ups in Washington didn’t know what they were talking about,” but the whippersnapper Rhodes and his bigheaded boss did. They know better.
Washington analyst Lee Smith (The Weekly Standard) summarized the Rhodes interview this way: “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.”
To which I add: For the last seven years America has been led by an ideologue whose conceptions of global right and wrong were formed in the Muslim world, and who has been set on a course from day one to bring about a seismic shift in the global balance of power against the West and in favor of Islam.
It’s not (merely) a fear of Mideast quicksand, nor a distaste for American overreach, nor the search for some new grand geopolitical architecture that animates President Obama. It’s a devotion to the honor of Islamic civilization.
No wonder Americans feel dishonored by Obama. They are being denigrated, purposefully so.