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Is Obama Clinton Deja Vu?
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I am starting to get the queasy acid-reflux feeling that I used to get when Bill Clinton was president, knowing that America’s foreign policy was being controlled by the likes of Madeline “starve the Iraqis” Albright, Sandy “don’t know how those papers got down my trousers” Berger, and Dennis “we’ll have to check with Israel first” Ross. And then there is Richard “bomb the hell out of Serbia” Holbrooke. Well, it looks like we’ll be getting a number of that jolly crew back, Holbrooke possibly as secretary of state, supplemented by Rahm “volunteer for the Israeli Army” Emanuel as chief of staff and Jane “investigated by the FBI” Harman as Director of CIA. What is lacking is anyone who might be described as a foreign policy realist who is actually concerned with the American national interest, which, at this point would seem to require retrenchment and fence mending across the board, not more flexing of biceps in Iran and Afghanistan.

Several of the possible appointees might have problems in obtaining full security clearances. Emanuel served as a civilian volunteer with the Israeli Army in 1991. He was also an Israeli citizen through his father though he claims that he gave up his citizenship at age 18, which leads one to wonder why he was volunteering to help the IDF thirteen years later. The FBI will find it very hard to learn what Emanuel’s ties to Israel were then and are now. Harman was investigated by the FBI in 2006 when she reportedly offered to intercede on behalf of the two AIPAC officials whose trial is still dragging on in Alexandria and there have been some suggestions that the investigation is still open. If Emanuel and Harman run into clearance problems it will be interesting to see what happens. It might be useful to recall how neocons Feith, Perle, and Bryant infiltrated the Department of Defense in particular in spite of their own security issues relating to possible leaks of information to Israel. They circumvented the normal vetting process by being godfathered in by Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, who authorized security clearances when the FBI would not do so. Presumably, Obama could certify both Harman and Emanuel, but it would be a very bad precedent, the kind of corruption that Obama pledged to root out.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Neocons 
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  1. Serves you guys right, with your negativity. I wasn’t a McCain supporter, but what with your collective and fanatic anti-Palinism , anti-basism , I hope you get what you really really wanted, good and hard.

    (btw I was a charter subscriber to TAC, long since cancelled)

  2. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    stari_momak, huh? Most amcon readers were against mccain for his invade the world , invite the world position…Phil’s just pointing out that anyone expecting ‘change’ from Obama on foriegn policy or perhaps even more whimsically, integrity in our internal security, is in for an unpleasant surprise.

  3. Anonymous • Disclaimer says: • Website

    I thought about the security clearance issue, but then did not Emanuel need to get clearance when he worked for the Clinton White House? No doubt about it, this is politics as usual and back to the Clinton era. It was only to be expected. Expect the worst, and you will not be disappointed.

  4. malcolm, I just read what’s on line an the blogs, but it seems to me Amconmag and its legion was more focussed on Palin than on anti-war issues. Moreover, Obama isn’t anti-war, he wants to double down on Afghanistan. Given that the magazine started with a semi ‘blood and soil’ position, I don’t see how its bloggers could have given Obama such aid and comfort during the campaign. The man is the very definition of a rootless cosmopolitan.

  5. Angela says:

    I think this is administration is going to make us long for the Clinton days. Who would have thought that even possible?

  6. Jack Ross says:

    New York Times says the head of the CIA will almost certainly be Anthony Lake. Both Holbrooke and Ross have dropped from sight, I felt, perhaps optimistically, that the Obama campaign was using them to appease critical constituencies the same way Bush did with Scowcroft and Baker in 2000.

    As for Rahm, he’s a vicious mother, but the idea that he has a mandate other than to push for Obama’s domestic agenda in Congress is dubious at best. I frankly am increasingly wary of people who obsessively insist that the Israel Lobby (and anyone who knows me or about my current endeavors knows that I am the last person to defend it) is some kind of great and powerful Oz.

  7. MattSwartz says: • Website


    I don’t think anyone’s suggesting that Rahm has a mandate to turn US policy into a carbon copy of his (stupid) book, but there are national security problems inherent in giving anyone who’s served in any foreign army that level of clearance, and Emmanuel and Israel are no exception.

    In fact, I can imagine a scenario where Obama promised AIPAC to install Emmanuel as a show of good faith.

  8. Jack Ross says:

    Much as I abhor the symbiosis of Israeli and American politics, and Rahm personally, I’m inclined to take him at his word that he only served as a civilian mechanic. And if Obama made such a promise to AIPAC, he clearly meant for it to be window dressing for other appointments not to their liking. Indeed, it would have been a hoot for anyone to be a fly on the wall when they met on Wednesday, the dirt they must each have on the other that had to be aired to convince Rahm to take the job.

  9. Dennis says: • Website

    I actually think that in certain respects Obama is actually more like Reagan. People tend to see themselves in him and see in him what they want to see.

    Although I suspect Obama will be far to the left of Clinton. He actually makes me miss the man from hope, which is no small feat given what I thought of Bill Clinton.

  10. Frankly, I too am uncomfortable with Obama’s choice of
    Rahm Emanual as chief of staff. Let’s hope Obama puts Powell in his administration.

  11. Jason says: • Website

    Obama as Clinton Deja Vu? Maybe if we are relatively lucky. Obama will probably be more like Clinton on steroids.

  12. American says:

    I was going to vote for Obama right up to Nov 3rd.

    Then I got a look at his list of possible appointees his staff gave to Politico the night before…Rham, the midget Israeli , Jane Harman for CIA or National Intelligence or DHS, William Bratton of JINSA for D.H.Security also…

    And my head exploded.

    I couldn’t do it. I wrote in Ralph Nader. I started to wirte in Chuck Hagel, who I like for foreign policy reasons but decided to give a hat tip to the third party efforts.

    Move on folks, the change train will never leave the station.

    You will get CHANGE when you Burn Washington to the Ground and Start Over.

    And not until.

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