2 Nisan 5775 Jerusalem

Dear Friends:

Did you have a chance to read the Michael Doren article in Mosaic about Obama and Iran? No one answered the home-work assignment yet – namely; “Where is the military-industrial complex influence to be found in the Obama narrative?” So time’s up and I will offer my opinion.
The salient clues here are the Baker – Hamilton 2006 report mentioned early in the article, and the later incident of backing down from action when Assad chemical-weaponed his fellow Syrians:
The oddity began shortly after Obama sent Secretary of State John Kerry out to deliver a Churchillian exhortation on the theme of an impending American attack. While that speech was still reverberating, the president convened a meeting of his inner circle in the Oval Office, where he expressed misgivings about the policy that his Secretary of State had just announced. Curiously, the meeting did not include either Kerry or Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, the principal members of his senior national-security staff. Obama then invited Denis McDonough to break away from the others and join him for a private walk around the White House grounds. On his return, Obama stunned the waiting group with the news that he had decided to delay the strikes on Assad in order to seek congressional approval.

Who is Denis McDonough? As noted earlier in the piece, he had once worked for Hamilton, Baker’s Democratic co-author of The Iraq Report in 2006. And what, B’clal, is the Iraq Report? Who told Baker and Hamilton to make a report on Iraq? The formal request came from Congress, but the report was written under the auspices of the United States Institute for Peace. Watch out for Institutes for Peace! What an innocuous name. This place itself is a monument to unwholesome private influence on government. When I was in Washington last year I jogged past it. It is a gaudy looking building close to the Mall, down the road from the State Department and close to the Lincoln Memorial. Don’t ask me how, it is not in the Constitution or the amendments, but they managed to get this Peace Institute to be considered part of the Federal Government, and it receives about 40 million dollars of tax money every year, which is about the same as what the White House spends on salaries each year. It was started, not surprisingly, during that great heyday of Military Industrial Influence in Washington, in 1984, under President Reagan.

These interests believe that it is best to let Iran go nuclear. I don’t know exactly their reasoning, I would like to learn more about it. Through their think tanks and now places like the US Institute for Peace, they try to influence US foreign policy in the directions they believe in. Perhaps it is related to what they see as market interests. Companies like Bechtel have made a lot of money on huge construction projects in Muslim countries. They have built airports, power plants, even nuclear power plants here in America. Perhaps they see Iran as a potential big market. Or, at the same time, they see an interest in trying to balance one country against another. Their considerations are not necessarily identical with Israel’s.

At any rate, there are a good number of people who represent these schools of thought in the government service. They know that if they put their dues in while in the inside, there will be good jobs for them in the public sector when they retire from government service. When a new administration comes in, these interests politely suggest certain people to help the new President run things. We saw the example of Christopher in the Clinton time. Denis McDonough is a good example in the Obama White House. He is a graduate of the Georgetown U. Foreign Service Program, a place that traditionally has groomed students to take a Military Industrial outlook on foreign affairs. He is also a devout Catholic, which also helps when taking a hierarchical approach to policy. Forgive me for saying it, but it is true. Certain observant Jews would be similar.

McDonough was also involved in the Obama transition team, like Christopher with Clinton. Now, for Obama’s second term, where he wants to go for the gusto in Foreign affairs (as per the Mosaic article), he moved his friend Jack Lew (an observant Jew) from being his Chief of Staff to being Secretary of the Treasury. In his place he put Denis McDonough, who, I believe, as demonstrated in the Mosaic article example above, is the point man in the administration for the detente with Iran school, and that is their focus now.

Denis is supposed to address soon the J Street Organization. It is sad.

Also notice how the US Institute for Peace is having a panel this week on “forwarding” the Israeli-Palestinian talks.

I think it is important for us Jews to realize what is going on in world politics, so we can try to protect our interests intelligently.

Would be happy to hear your responses and thoughts.

All the best and a happy hodesh Nisan!

Chanoch