Commentary Magazine


Topic: Laura Rozen

Slurs Won’t Silence Iran Deal’s Critics

The Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo reported yesterday evening that prominent foreign-policy reporter Laura Rozen had some choice words for a think tank analyst who was saying something she didn’t like about Iran. Rozen, who currently writes for Al Monitor and has earned a considerable following for solid work and good sources, apparently doesn’t like it when people cast doubt on the wisdom of the Obama administration’s current policy aimed at signing a deal with Iran that would allow the Islamist regime to retain its nuclear infrastructure and “right” to enrich uranium. So when she heard the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Mark Dubowitz speak, she tweeted the following:

I do not think Israel is being well served by people they have picked on U.S. side to promote their talking points.”

She followed up that tweet by stating: “Israel notbbeing [sic] well served by folks they picked to push their talking points.” Both tweets were quickly deleted.

Rozen subsequently deleted the tweets and refused comment about what she meant but, as Kredo noted, her support for a deal with Iran and generally critically attitude toward Israel isn’t exactly a secret. But rather than this being just a minor incident in which a reporter showed, at least for a while, a willingness to expose her opinions about the story she’s covering, there is a broader and more important issue at stake here: the extent to which those who are skeptical about the administration are being subjected to traditional slurs about dual loyalty.

No one who supports Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself or who views Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons as a threat that cannot be ignored need apologize for expressing those views. But the notion that the only reason why someone would oppose administration policy on Iran is that they were “picked” by Israel to “promote their talking points” is one that is dangerously close to the toxic Walt-Mearsheimer “Israel Lobby” thesis that also sought to delegitimize supporters of the Jewish state.

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The Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo reported yesterday evening that prominent foreign-policy reporter Laura Rozen had some choice words for a think tank analyst who was saying something she didn’t like about Iran. Rozen, who currently writes for Al Monitor and has earned a considerable following for solid work and good sources, apparently doesn’t like it when people cast doubt on the wisdom of the Obama administration’s current policy aimed at signing a deal with Iran that would allow the Islamist regime to retain its nuclear infrastructure and “right” to enrich uranium. So when she heard the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Mark Dubowitz speak, she tweeted the following:

I do not think Israel is being well served by people they have picked on U.S. side to promote their talking points.”

She followed up that tweet by stating: “Israel notbbeing [sic] well served by folks they picked to push their talking points.” Both tweets were quickly deleted.

Rozen subsequently deleted the tweets and refused comment about what she meant but, as Kredo noted, her support for a deal with Iran and generally critically attitude toward Israel isn’t exactly a secret. But rather than this being just a minor incident in which a reporter showed, at least for a while, a willingness to expose her opinions about the story she’s covering, there is a broader and more important issue at stake here: the extent to which those who are skeptical about the administration are being subjected to traditional slurs about dual loyalty.

No one who supports Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself or who views Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons as a threat that cannot be ignored need apologize for expressing those views. But the notion that the only reason why someone would oppose administration policy on Iran is that they were “picked” by Israel to “promote their talking points” is one that is dangerously close to the toxic Walt-Mearsheimer “Israel Lobby” thesis that also sought to delegitimize supporters of the Jewish state.

Let’s understand that there are reasonable arguments to be made pro and con the Obama administration’s zeal for a deal with Iran. In the wake of the new Iranian charm offensive and the warm response it generated in Washington, we have seen, as Seth noted yesterday, the revival of support for containment of a nuclear Iran, something that indicates that some of those urging diplomacy understand that sooner or later Tehran will talk or cheat its way to a bomb or nuclear capability.

But instead of trying to make the not terribly reasonable case that this is something that is not dangerous, what we seem to be hearing lately is resentment about Israeli complaints about the direction of U.S. policy rather than a coherent refutation of their concerns.

This is outrageous on two counts.

First, the idea that Israel is trying to manipulate American policy for its own purposes and against the best interests of the United States or the West flies in the face of President Obama’s own repeated statements about the dangers from a nuclear Iran. It was the president who has specifically ruled out containment of Iran and said their acquisition of a weapon was unacceptable from the point of view of U.S. security. It should also be pointed out to those who wish to defend an apparent U.S. acceptance of Iran’s “right” to enrich uranium or to hold onto its nuclear plants that the president specifically pledged the contrary during the presidential debates in 2012. At the presidential debate on foreign policy with Mitt Romney, Obama said the following:

So the work that we’ve done with respect to sanctions now offers Iran a choice. They can take the diplomatic route and end their nuclear program or they will have to face a united world and a United States president, me, who said we’re not going to take any options off the table.

That does not seem consistent with the Iran deal Secretary of State John Kerry has been promoting.

Second, treating those who speak out about the danger from Iran as Israeli hirelings spouting their “talking points” is an all-too-familiar revival of the old dual loyalty slur against American Jews. The point here is that those who support appeasement or acceptance of a nuclear Iran don’t seem to be able to make their arguments without first attempting to delegitimize opponents.

The existential threat that a nuclear Iran poses to Israel justifies that country’s concerns about diplomacy that seems to be predicated on an abandonment of the president’s promises. But this problem isn’t just about Israel. As the president has stated, it is a threat to the U.S. and the West too. If he is backing away from that stand, he should say so. Those who support this move should be just as honest and also refrain from using slurs aimed at silencing opponents. The administration would like Congress and the American people to ignore their critics, but slamming them as Israeli agents doesn’t pass the smell test.

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Look Who’s Back at the White House

Who could have imagined, back in 2008, that President Obama would ask some of the most prominent neoconservatives from the Bush administration for foreign-policy advice just a few years later?

Laura Rozen is reporting that Obama has invited Brookings Institute scholar Robert Kagan and former Bush deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams to the White House to discuss the situation in Egypt today:

Just got late word that Dunne, Kagan and others from their group including former Bush NSC Middle East hand Elliott Abrams, as well as George Washington University Middle East expert Marc Lynch, and the National Security Network’s Joel Rubin, formerly a U.S. Egypt desk officer, have been invited to the White House Monday.

Kagan and Abrams are meeting with Obama because of their involvement in the Egypt Working Group, an organization that was prophetic in predicting the current crisis in Egypt. Last November, the group was already anticipating the end of President Hosni Mubarak’s regime and called on the Obama administration to push the Egyptian leader for human-rights reforms.

The group is now advising the Obama administration to cut foreign aid to Egypt. At Robert Gibbs’s press conference last Friday, he said that Obama was open to going in that direction, and this is a good indication that the administration is seriously considering the idea.

Who could have imagined, back in 2008, that President Obama would ask some of the most prominent neoconservatives from the Bush administration for foreign-policy advice just a few years later?

Laura Rozen is reporting that Obama has invited Brookings Institute scholar Robert Kagan and former Bush deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams to the White House to discuss the situation in Egypt today:

Just got late word that Dunne, Kagan and others from their group including former Bush NSC Middle East hand Elliott Abrams, as well as George Washington University Middle East expert Marc Lynch, and the National Security Network’s Joel Rubin, formerly a U.S. Egypt desk officer, have been invited to the White House Monday.

Kagan and Abrams are meeting with Obama because of their involvement in the Egypt Working Group, an organization that was prophetic in predicting the current crisis in Egypt. Last November, the group was already anticipating the end of President Hosni Mubarak’s regime and called on the Obama administration to push the Egyptian leader for human-rights reforms.

The group is now advising the Obama administration to cut foreign aid to Egypt. At Robert Gibbs’s press conference last Friday, he said that Obama was open to going in that direction, and this is a good indication that the administration is seriously considering the idea.

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The Problem Will Not Be Solved with Adjectives

Laura Rozen reports that the Obama administration is seeking new ideas from outside experts to advance its peace process — one that, in the words of an administration consultant, is “utterly stuck.”

There are apparently two task forces: one headed by Sandy Berger and Stephen Hadley, national security advisers in the Clinton and Bush administrations who know something about failed peace processes; and another one headed by perennial peace processor Martin Indyk, whose last plan involved jumping out a window.

Rozen quotes another veteran peace processor who suggests three options (when someone offers three options, the first two are invariably non-starters and the third is the one he wants):

“There are three options that this administration can adopt,” former U.S. ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer told POLITICO Thursday. “It can elicit an Israeli initiative. It can elicit a Palestinian initiative. Or it can develop its own initiative.”

“It’s had no success with the first two, and it hasn’t tried the third,” Kurtzer said. “So if it wants to try to develop an initiative, it’s got to come up with a substantive program that says to the parties, ‘When you get to negotiations, here are your terms of reference.’”

It is unclear what happens after the Palestinians reject the term of reference requiring them to give up a “right of return” to Israel, or after the Israelis reject the term of reference requiring them to move back to indefensible borders.

Kurtzer has long been an advocate of the U.S.’s setting forth its own “vision,” with “strong terms of reference,” backed by diplomacy that is “creative, active, sustained, bold and determined.” But in his testimony proposing that last year, Kurtzer acknowledged he did not “understand why, in 2010, the Saudis do not allow normal Israeli civilian air traffic over its territory” — the one step President Obama had requested from them to advance the peace process. He also acknowledged that the Palestinians are divided both geographically and politically, with a terrorist group governing Gaza and a public discourse and public-education system still infused with anti-Semitism.

The peace process has not lacked for plans or processes: the Oslo Process, the Camp David Summit, the Clinton Parameters, the Taba negotiations, the Roadmap, the Gaza disengagement, the Annapolis Process, and two years of non-talks and Palestinian preconditions.

If the United States cannot — even with a presidential visit, a bow, and a personal request — secure from the Saudis the minimal step of permitting Jews to traverse the country once a week, for an hour, at 35,000 feet, and if the Palestinians remain a society half in the grip of terrorists and half in a faux democracy suffused with anti-Semitism, unwilling to recognize a Jewish state, the problem is not one that will be solved by an American plan, even if accompanied by “creative, active, sustained, bold, and determined” diplomacy.

Laura Rozen reports that the Obama administration is seeking new ideas from outside experts to advance its peace process — one that, in the words of an administration consultant, is “utterly stuck.”

There are apparently two task forces: one headed by Sandy Berger and Stephen Hadley, national security advisers in the Clinton and Bush administrations who know something about failed peace processes; and another one headed by perennial peace processor Martin Indyk, whose last plan involved jumping out a window.

Rozen quotes another veteran peace processor who suggests three options (when someone offers three options, the first two are invariably non-starters and the third is the one he wants):

“There are three options that this administration can adopt,” former U.S. ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer told POLITICO Thursday. “It can elicit an Israeli initiative. It can elicit a Palestinian initiative. Or it can develop its own initiative.”

“It’s had no success with the first two, and it hasn’t tried the third,” Kurtzer said. “So if it wants to try to develop an initiative, it’s got to come up with a substantive program that says to the parties, ‘When you get to negotiations, here are your terms of reference.’”

It is unclear what happens after the Palestinians reject the term of reference requiring them to give up a “right of return” to Israel, or after the Israelis reject the term of reference requiring them to move back to indefensible borders.

Kurtzer has long been an advocate of the U.S.’s setting forth its own “vision,” with “strong terms of reference,” backed by diplomacy that is “creative, active, sustained, bold and determined.” But in his testimony proposing that last year, Kurtzer acknowledged he did not “understand why, in 2010, the Saudis do not allow normal Israeli civilian air traffic over its territory” — the one step President Obama had requested from them to advance the peace process. He also acknowledged that the Palestinians are divided both geographically and politically, with a terrorist group governing Gaza and a public discourse and public-education system still infused with anti-Semitism.

The peace process has not lacked for plans or processes: the Oslo Process, the Camp David Summit, the Clinton Parameters, the Taba negotiations, the Roadmap, the Gaza disengagement, the Annapolis Process, and two years of non-talks and Palestinian preconditions.

If the United States cannot — even with a presidential visit, a bow, and a personal request — secure from the Saudis the minimal step of permitting Jews to traverse the country once a week, for an hour, at 35,000 feet, and if the Palestinians remain a society half in the grip of terrorists and half in a faux democracy suffused with anti-Semitism, unwilling to recognize a Jewish state, the problem is not one that will be solved by an American plan, even if accompanied by “creative, active, sustained, bold, and determined” diplomacy.

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A Night to Honor Richard Goldstone, Too?

Helen Thomas is being honored for a lifetime of achievement by CAIR (appropriate for that group, I’d suggest). Now Politico reports:

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee announced Tuesday it is throwing a gala in honor of Thomas, the second major event she will headline only months after being forced to leave her post for making comments that some found to be anti-Semitic.

Some? No, the column isn’t written by the J Street scribe Laura Rozen. There’s no excuse, only evidence of the peculiar double standard that anti-Semites now enjoy.

Helen Thomas is being honored for a lifetime of achievement by CAIR (appropriate for that group, I’d suggest). Now Politico reports:

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee announced Tuesday it is throwing a gala in honor of Thomas, the second major event she will headline only months after being forced to leave her post for making comments that some found to be anti-Semitic.

Some? No, the column isn’t written by the J Street scribe Laura Rozen. There’s no excuse, only evidence of the peculiar double standard that anti-Semites now enjoy.

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Journolisters Risked Their Integrity

When you read those who were part of the now infamous Journolist group — hundreds of mostly liberal journalists and academics who joined an online listserv — they present their discussions as inoffensive, unexceptional, and even high-minded. Here’s how Time‘s Joe Klein describes Journolist:

[Ezra Klein and I] became friends and he asked me to join his list-serve–which, he said, would be the kind of place to have the sort of creative discussion we’d had over breakfast. It turned out to be exactly that…and more, a place to chat about music and sports, a place to meet some spectacularly smart academics I’d not met before–and, not least, a chance to interact with the latest generation of opinion journalists, most of whom didn’t have a very high opinion of me…. These conversations were private, as most good ones are. We were taking risks, testing our ideas against others…

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When you read those who were part of the now infamous Journolist group — hundreds of mostly liberal journalists and academics who joined an online listserv — they present their discussions as inoffensive, unexceptional, and even high-minded. Here’s how Time‘s Joe Klein describes Journolist:

[Ezra Klein and I] became friends and he asked me to join his list-serve–which, he said, would be the kind of place to have the sort of creative discussion we’d had over breakfast. It turned out to be exactly that…and more, a place to chat about music and sports, a place to meet some spectacularly smart academics I’d not met before–and, not least, a chance to interact with the latest generation of opinion journalists, most of whom didn’t have a very high opinion of me…. These conversations were private, as most good ones are. We were taking risks, testing our ideas against others…

It sounds positively Platonic: great minds gathering to discuss great issues of the day. Iron sharpening iron. Who could object? And then, thanks to the groundbreaking work of the Daily Caller, we have the chance to read what Journolisters actually wrote. Creative and spectacularly smart things like this:

LAURA ROZEN: People we no longer have to listen to: would it be unwise to start a thread of people we are grateful we no longer have to listen to? If not, I’ll start off: Michael Rubin.

MICHAEL COHEN, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: Mark Penn and Bob Shrum. Anyone who uses the expression “Real America.” We should send there a** to Gitmo!

JESSE TAYLOR, PANDAGON.NET: Michael Barone?  Please?

LAURA ROZEN: Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich (afraid it’s not true), Drill Here Drill Now, And David Addington, John Yoo, we’ll see you in court?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, THE NEW YORKER: As a side note, does anyone know what prompted Michael Barone to go insane?

MATT DUSS: LEDEEN.

SPENCER ACKERMAN: Let’s just throw Ledeen against a wall. Or, pace Dr. Alterman, throw him through a plate glass window. I’ll bet a little spot of violence would shut him right the f*** up, as with most bullies.

JOE KLEIN, TIME: Pete Wehner…these sort of things always end badly.

ERIC ALTERMAN, AUTHOR, WHAT LIBERAL MEDIA: F****** Nascar retards…

Ah, but there’s more.

NPR producer Sarah Spitz wrote that that if Rush Limbaugh went into cardiac arrest, she would “laugh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out” as Limbaugh writhed in torment.

Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent urged his colleagues to deflect attention from Obama’s relationship with Jeremiah Wright by changing the subject. Pick one of Obama’s conservative critics, Ackerman wrote — “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.”

Bloomberg’s Ryan Donmoyer adds this: “You know, at the risk of violating Godwin’s law, is anyone starting to see parallels here between the teabaggers and their tactics and the rise of the Brownshirts? Esp. Now that it’s getting violent? Reminds me of the Beer Hall fracases of the 1920s.”

And, of course, there is Fox News. “I am genuinely scared” of Fox, wrote Guardian columnist Daniel Davies, because it “shows you that a genuinely shameless and unethical media organisation *cannot* be controlled by any form of peer pressure or self-regulation, and nor can it be successfully cold-shouldered or ostracised. In order to have even a semblance of control, you need a tought legal framework.”

“I agree,” said Michael Scherer of Time. “[Roger] Ailes understands that his job is to build a tribal identity, not a news organizations. You can’t hurt Fox by saying it gets it wrong, if Ailes just uses the criticism to deepen the tribal identity.”

I understand people speaking candidly in e-mail exchanges and wanting to create a group of like-minded people to exchange ideas. And I accept that Journolist was started with good intentions. But somewhere along the line, it slipped off track.

What we had were journalists creating a “community” in which we see expressions of hatred that are both comically adolescent and almost psychopathic. We have them endorsing slander of innocent people simply because they hold a different point of view, comparing the Tea Party movement to Nazism, and participating in a post thread with the subject, “The line on Palin.” And we have journalists endorsing a “tough legal framework” to control what a news organization says.

What we have, in short, is intellectual corruption of a fairly high order. From what we have seen and from what those like Tucker Carlson and his colleagues (who have read the exchanges in detail) say, Journolist was — at least in good measure — a hotbed of hatred, political hackery, banality, and juvenile thuggery. It is the kind of thing you’d expect to hear from troubled, towel-snapping junior high boys. (It’s worth pointing out that if a principal got a hold of e-mails like the ones produced by Journolist, he would punish and probably suspend the offending eighth graders.)

Journolist provides a window into the mindset of the journalistic and academic left in this country. It is not a pretty sight. The demonization and dehumanization of critics is arresting. Those who hold contrary views to the Journolist crowd aren’t individuals who have honest disagreements; they are evil, malignant, and their voices need to be eliminated from the public square. It is illiberal in the extreme.

Some Journolist defenders argue that what has been published doesn’t capture the true nature of what went on at Journolist and that the published exchanges were taken out of context. The Daily Caller’s Tucker Carlson has a reasonable response:

So why don’t we publish whatever portions of the Journolist archive we have and end the debate? Because a lot of them have no obvious news value, for one thing. Gather 400 lefty reporters and academics on one listserv and it turns out you wind up with a strikingly high concentration of bitchiness. Shocking amounts, actually. So while it might be amusing to air threads theorizing about the personal and sexual shortcomings of various NewRepublic staffers, we’ve decided to pull back…. Anyone on Journolist who claims we quoted him “out of context” can reveal the context himself.

That is a fair challenge. If Journolist turns out to differ substantially from its portrayal, Journolisters should release the full exchanges. Ezra Klein, David Corn, Jonathan Chait, and Joe Klein have all offered defenses, though their efforts range from feeble to pathetic. (It was really and merely “an argument between moderate and left-wing journalists,” Chait assures us.) Assuming that Journolisters cannot provide a stronger defense, other members of the fourth estate should be troubled by what has been uncovered. After all, it is the probity of their profession that is being stripped away.

Those who participated in Journolist undoubtedly hope this story will fade away and be forgotten. I rather doubt it will. It is another episode in the long, downward slide of modern journalism. “We were taking risks,” Joe Klein writes in his own defense. And the Journolist participants surely were — not intellectual risks but risks with their integrity — and several of them have been caught dead-to-rights. “Broken eggs cannot be mended,” Lincoln said. Neither can some broken reputations.

In many respects, the whole thing is dispiriting. On the other hand, it has had a clarifying effect. It turns out that the worst caricatures of liberal journalists were not, at least in the case of some, a caricature at all.

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Democrats Panic over Israel

Former Journolist participant, now Politico reporter Laura Rozen was deployed to send around talking points for House Democrats defending themselves against — shocker! — the accusation that they and Obama have been less-than-stalwart-friends of Israel. (Have you noticed that she gets documents, blind quotes, etc. only from the left? Nothing to do with her Journolist background, mind you. Nothing to see. Move along.)

It is clear that this clumsy attempt at damage control is a matter of domestic politics, not foreign policy. (Ben Smith might well have had a jaundiced take on it, so he’s not the ideal reporter to give the lead if you need an uncritical release of your talking points.) Rozen’s comrades on the left are in a knot over the appearance of the Emergency Committee for Israel (my comments in brackets):

“I think you will find it useful to make the case that House Democrats and the president are as good if not better than any Congress or Administration that has come before,” [Howard] Berman wrote. [Not a good case, but a case. Really, didn't the administration have to launch a charm offensive to abate the anger in the ranks of American Jewry?]

Among the points the memo highlights, Obama has “repeatedly talked about the importance of the Palestinians recognizing the quote ‘Jewish’ state of Israel,” as well as the U.S. leading the international effort to pressure Iran about its nuclear weapons program. [If all he can proffer as evidence for Obama's Israel bona fides is that the president talked about the need for Palestinians to recognize Israel, you get the idea how weak the case really is.] …

The memo comes after a new conservative pro-Israel group has formed and criticized Pennsylvania Senate Democratic candidate Joe Sestak and associated him with Obama’s Middle East policy. [The ECI folks are no doubt high-fiving each other. She doesn't mention that J Street's ad also did a bang-up job of tying Sestak to Obama.]

Well, panic is the highest form of political flattery. And getting arguably the top House Democrat on the issue to take on the ECI suggests hysteria. At any rate, it’s plain that Democrats feel vulnerable after shilling for Obama’s Israel policy. They should have thought about that before they put partisan loyalty above principle. That’s water under the bridge, but now they really do need better talking points.

Former Journolist participant, now Politico reporter Laura Rozen was deployed to send around talking points for House Democrats defending themselves against — shocker! — the accusation that they and Obama have been less-than-stalwart-friends of Israel. (Have you noticed that she gets documents, blind quotes, etc. only from the left? Nothing to do with her Journolist background, mind you. Nothing to see. Move along.)

It is clear that this clumsy attempt at damage control is a matter of domestic politics, not foreign policy. (Ben Smith might well have had a jaundiced take on it, so he’s not the ideal reporter to give the lead if you need an uncritical release of your talking points.) Rozen’s comrades on the left are in a knot over the appearance of the Emergency Committee for Israel (my comments in brackets):

“I think you will find it useful to make the case that House Democrats and the president are as good if not better than any Congress or Administration that has come before,” [Howard] Berman wrote. [Not a good case, but a case. Really, didn't the administration have to launch a charm offensive to abate the anger in the ranks of American Jewry?]

Among the points the memo highlights, Obama has “repeatedly talked about the importance of the Palestinians recognizing the quote ‘Jewish’ state of Israel,” as well as the U.S. leading the international effort to pressure Iran about its nuclear weapons program. [If all he can proffer as evidence for Obama's Israel bona fides is that the president talked about the need for Palestinians to recognize Israel, you get the idea how weak the case really is.] …

The memo comes after a new conservative pro-Israel group has formed and criticized Pennsylvania Senate Democratic candidate Joe Sestak and associated him with Obama’s Middle East policy. [The ECI folks are no doubt high-fiving each other. She doesn't mention that J Street's ad also did a bang-up job of tying Sestak to Obama.]

Well, panic is the highest form of political flattery. And getting arguably the top House Democrat on the issue to take on the ECI suggests hysteria. At any rate, it’s plain that Democrats feel vulnerable after shilling for Obama’s Israel policy. They should have thought about that before they put partisan loyalty above principle. That’s water under the bridge, but now they really do need better talking points.

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A Game of JournoList Chicken

Tucker Carlson at the Daily Caller is sitting in the catbird’s seat. He has reams of JournoList e-mails revealing how vicious the blogospheric left is. They wish their opponents dead (Rush Limbaugh). Their contempt for conservatives runneth over. And they plainly are all on the same “team” — plotting, delegating, and coordinating their cheerleading for the Obami, as well as attacks on Obama’s opponents. Moreover, we now have a great mystery, a sort of D.C. parlor game: what else does Carlson have?

“Journalists” — what do we call such people (undercover activists)? — and their editors are waiting for shoes to drop. A case in point: Ben Smith ran a story on the potential involvement of Politico reporters. I then spotted in one of the Daily Caller’s releases the name Laura Rozen, who covers foreign policy for Politico. Her use of a blind quote to relate an accusation of “dual loyalty” against Dennis Ross was widely criticized in a range of Jewish and conservative publications.

A sample via Daily Caller:

Nov. 5

ALYSSA ROSENBERG, GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE: I’ve gotta be all non-partisan on GovExec, so I hope you’ll all indulge me a minute here. On Monday night in Manassas, the band warming up the crowd before Obama arrived played “I Need You To Survive.” I think the core lyrics are pretty good statement of principles for progressives, especially going forward from a victory like this one:

It is his will, that every need be supplied.
You are important to me, I need you to survive.
You are important to me, I need you to survive.

I pray for you, You pray for me.
I love you, I need you to survive.
I won’t harm you with words from my mouth.
I love you, I need you to survive.

It is his will, that every need be supplied.
You are important to me, I need you to survive.

A lot of horribly ugly stuff got repudiated tonight. But it doesn’t end here. We need to keep making the case to the folks who disagreed with us, the folks who booed McCain during his concession speech tonight.

MATT DUSS, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: [Mccain aide] Randy Scheunemann Fired [last week]

LAURA ROZEN, MOTHER JONES (NOW POLITICO): Can you imagine if these bozos had won?

Nov. 7

LAURA ROZEN: People we no longer have to listen to: would it be unwise to start a thread of people we are grateful we no longer have to listen to? If not, I’ll start off: Michael Rubin.

MICHAEL COHEN, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: Mark Penn and Bob Shrum. Anyone who uses the expression “Real America.” We should send there ass to Gitmo!

JESSE TAYLOR, PANDAGON.NET: Michael Barone?  Please?

LAURA ROZEN: Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich (afraid it’s not true), Drill Here Drill Now, And David Addington, John Yoo, we’ll see you in court?

I e-mailed Ben and asked if Rozen didn’t “count” because these comments predated her employment by Politico. He promptly answered that he hadn’t seen this particular e-mail and would have included it and asked his editor about it if he had. He directed me to Jim VanderHei, who asked if I had seen any Rozen JournoList comments after she was hired by Politico. I answered that we were all dealing with what Daily Caller was doling out. He provided this explanation of Politico’s  approach to this issue:

We have an unmistakably clear rule that anyone hired here check their ideology at the door. That means no political contributions or activism — and no partisan comments on air, on Twitter, on Facebook, in print, anywhere. We recognize the people we hire are not dull, blank slates — and that everyone has personal opinions. What we demand is that those opinions remain personal (and private) once hired — and that they fully understand we are a nonpartisan media outlet. We have hired some people with partisan backgrounds and had great success in getting them to go through ideological detox and become straight news reporters. The Laura Rozen emails the Daily Caller reported on pre-dated her work here. I have not seen any emails she wrote as a POLITICO employee that trouble me.

This raises at least two issues. First, it seems that the JournoList participants now have a very high standard of objectivity to maintain, especially if they now want to act as real reporters. Are they really checking their ideology at the door, or are they tipping the scales? The problem with baring one’s partisan views — especially ones so personally vindictive — is that it creates a cloud of doubt about everything you write. Second, VandeHei and every other editor with a JournoList participant is now waiting to see if there are any other e-mails that “trouble” them. If more pop up, will heads roll?

I use Rozen as an example, but the problem is far wider. The Washington Post has been mute. What if anything do they do about Ezra Klein? (Maybe if they were aware of his hyper-nasty attacks on the right, the Post editors wouldn’t have taken his recommendation on Dave Weigel.) The JournoList crowd have done a bang-up job of undermining not only their own credibility but also that of their employers. (Even those who are opinion writers are revealed not to be principled purveyors of ideas but meanspirited attack dogs.) How widespread the damage is has yet to be determined.

Tucker Carlson at the Daily Caller is sitting in the catbird’s seat. He has reams of JournoList e-mails revealing how vicious the blogospheric left is. They wish their opponents dead (Rush Limbaugh). Their contempt for conservatives runneth over. And they plainly are all on the same “team” — plotting, delegating, and coordinating their cheerleading for the Obami, as well as attacks on Obama’s opponents. Moreover, we now have a great mystery, a sort of D.C. parlor game: what else does Carlson have?

“Journalists” — what do we call such people (undercover activists)? — and their editors are waiting for shoes to drop. A case in point: Ben Smith ran a story on the potential involvement of Politico reporters. I then spotted in one of the Daily Caller’s releases the name Laura Rozen, who covers foreign policy for Politico. Her use of a blind quote to relate an accusation of “dual loyalty” against Dennis Ross was widely criticized in a range of Jewish and conservative publications.

A sample via Daily Caller:

Nov. 5

ALYSSA ROSENBERG, GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE: I’ve gotta be all non-partisan on GovExec, so I hope you’ll all indulge me a minute here. On Monday night in Manassas, the band warming up the crowd before Obama arrived played “I Need You To Survive.” I think the core lyrics are pretty good statement of principles for progressives, especially going forward from a victory like this one:

It is his will, that every need be supplied.
You are important to me, I need you to survive.
You are important to me, I need you to survive.

I pray for you, You pray for me.
I love you, I need you to survive.
I won’t harm you with words from my mouth.
I love you, I need you to survive.

It is his will, that every need be supplied.
You are important to me, I need you to survive.

A lot of horribly ugly stuff got repudiated tonight. But it doesn’t end here. We need to keep making the case to the folks who disagreed with us, the folks who booed McCain during his concession speech tonight.

MATT DUSS, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: [Mccain aide] Randy Scheunemann Fired [last week]

LAURA ROZEN, MOTHER JONES (NOW POLITICO): Can you imagine if these bozos had won?

Nov. 7

LAURA ROZEN: People we no longer have to listen to: would it be unwise to start a thread of people we are grateful we no longer have to listen to? If not, I’ll start off: Michael Rubin.

MICHAEL COHEN, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: Mark Penn and Bob Shrum. Anyone who uses the expression “Real America.” We should send there ass to Gitmo!

JESSE TAYLOR, PANDAGON.NET: Michael Barone?  Please?

LAURA ROZEN: Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich (afraid it’s not true), Drill Here Drill Now, And David Addington, John Yoo, we’ll see you in court?

I e-mailed Ben and asked if Rozen didn’t “count” because these comments predated her employment by Politico. He promptly answered that he hadn’t seen this particular e-mail and would have included it and asked his editor about it if he had. He directed me to Jim VanderHei, who asked if I had seen any Rozen JournoList comments after she was hired by Politico. I answered that we were all dealing with what Daily Caller was doling out. He provided this explanation of Politico’s  approach to this issue:

We have an unmistakably clear rule that anyone hired here check their ideology at the door. That means no political contributions or activism — and no partisan comments on air, on Twitter, on Facebook, in print, anywhere. We recognize the people we hire are not dull, blank slates — and that everyone has personal opinions. What we demand is that those opinions remain personal (and private) once hired — and that they fully understand we are a nonpartisan media outlet. We have hired some people with partisan backgrounds and had great success in getting them to go through ideological detox and become straight news reporters. The Laura Rozen emails the Daily Caller reported on pre-dated her work here. I have not seen any emails she wrote as a POLITICO employee that trouble me.

This raises at least two issues. First, it seems that the JournoList participants now have a very high standard of objectivity to maintain, especially if they now want to act as real reporters. Are they really checking their ideology at the door, or are they tipping the scales? The problem with baring one’s partisan views — especially ones so personally vindictive — is that it creates a cloud of doubt about everything you write. Second, VandeHei and every other editor with a JournoList participant is now waiting to see if there are any other e-mails that “trouble” them. If more pop up, will heads roll?

I use Rozen as an example, but the problem is far wider. The Washington Post has been mute. What if anything do they do about Ezra Klein? (Maybe if they were aware of his hyper-nasty attacks on the right, the Post editors wouldn’t have taken his recommendation on Dave Weigel.) The JournoList crowd have done a bang-up job of undermining not only their own credibility but also that of their employers. (Even those who are opinion writers are revealed not to be principled purveyors of ideas but meanspirited attack dogs.) How widespread the damage is has yet to be determined.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

There is no hero in this racial food fight.

There is no sign of a Democratic comeback in Ohio: “Little has changed in the gubernatorial race in Ohio this month, with Republican John Kasich continuing to hold a small lead over incumbent Ted Strickland. The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Voter shows Kasich picking up 48% support, while the current governor earns 43% of the vote. Three percent (3%) prefer a different candidate, and another five percent (5%) are undecided.”

There is no real GOP challenge to Sen. David Vitter in Louisiana, says Stu Rothenberg. “Reporters like to write about Vitter because it gives them the opportunity each time to detail his juicy past problems, but until there is evidence that [Supreme Court Justice Chet] Traylor is making headway in his uphill bid, the Republican primary isn’t much of a story.”

There is no love loss between Alan Dershowitz and J Street. Dershowitz is very mad about J Street’s hit piece, which includes him among its foes (conservative Zionists, of course): “J Street continues to destroy its credibility by posting deceptive and divisive ads of this kind. If they are willing to mislead the public in this manner, they should not be trusted to tell the truth about anything relating to Israel. They are more interested in increasing their own power and contributions than they are in supporting Israel or promoting truthful dialogue. If they want to have any chance at restoring their credibility, they must begin to tell the truth. A good first step would be to remove this ad and admit that it was fraudulent. Otherwise, everyone will begin to understand what the J in J Street stands for: Joe McCarthy.”

There is no inaccuracy in that J Street ad, the New York Times declares! “Nothing is in dispute,” the Gray Lady says. Hmm. Maybe they should talk to Dershowitz.

There is no crime, the Democrats finally admit. Quin Hillyer: “The Bush Justice Department, hamhanded as it became once Alberto Gonzales took over from the excellent John Ashcroft, was guilty of nothing other than political idiocy in its handling of the firing of eight US attorneys. No crime was committed. I await the apologies from the breathless, moronic, biased, leftists in the establishment media who went ape over this almost-non-story in the first place.”

There is no shocker that Laura Rozen, now of Politico and J Street’s favorite scribe (always good for a blind quote on dual-loyalty slams against Jews), was on Journolist whacking conservatives (“Can you imagine if these bozos had won?”).

There is no fond feelings between Obama and House Democrats: “The White House’s appearance of institutional and personal arrogance has left congressional Democrats divided and discontent going into the midterms. It weakens Democratic efforts not only this year, but well into the future. Having once fostered the impression that it’s every Democrat for himself, the president will find it hard to undo the damage when his own name is on the ballot.”

There is no hero in this racial food fight.

There is no sign of a Democratic comeback in Ohio: “Little has changed in the gubernatorial race in Ohio this month, with Republican John Kasich continuing to hold a small lead over incumbent Ted Strickland. The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Voter shows Kasich picking up 48% support, while the current governor earns 43% of the vote. Three percent (3%) prefer a different candidate, and another five percent (5%) are undecided.”

There is no real GOP challenge to Sen. David Vitter in Louisiana, says Stu Rothenberg. “Reporters like to write about Vitter because it gives them the opportunity each time to detail his juicy past problems, but until there is evidence that [Supreme Court Justice Chet] Traylor is making headway in his uphill bid, the Republican primary isn’t much of a story.”

There is no love loss between Alan Dershowitz and J Street. Dershowitz is very mad about J Street’s hit piece, which includes him among its foes (conservative Zionists, of course): “J Street continues to destroy its credibility by posting deceptive and divisive ads of this kind. If they are willing to mislead the public in this manner, they should not be trusted to tell the truth about anything relating to Israel. They are more interested in increasing their own power and contributions than they are in supporting Israel or promoting truthful dialogue. If they want to have any chance at restoring their credibility, they must begin to tell the truth. A good first step would be to remove this ad and admit that it was fraudulent. Otherwise, everyone will begin to understand what the J in J Street stands for: Joe McCarthy.”

There is no inaccuracy in that J Street ad, the New York Times declares! “Nothing is in dispute,” the Gray Lady says. Hmm. Maybe they should talk to Dershowitz.

There is no crime, the Democrats finally admit. Quin Hillyer: “The Bush Justice Department, hamhanded as it became once Alberto Gonzales took over from the excellent John Ashcroft, was guilty of nothing other than political idiocy in its handling of the firing of eight US attorneys. No crime was committed. I await the apologies from the breathless, moronic, biased, leftists in the establishment media who went ape over this almost-non-story in the first place.”

There is no shocker that Laura Rozen, now of Politico and J Street’s favorite scribe (always good for a blind quote on dual-loyalty slams against Jews), was on Journolist whacking conservatives (“Can you imagine if these bozos had won?”).

There is no fond feelings between Obama and House Democrats: “The White House’s appearance of institutional and personal arrogance has left congressional Democrats divided and discontent going into the midterms. It weakens Democratic efforts not only this year, but well into the future. Having once fostered the impression that it’s every Democrat for himself, the president will find it hard to undo the damage when his own name is on the ballot.”

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How About Defunding Them?

In the “has everyone gone mad?” department, we’ve been following the story of the decision by the Woodrow Wilson International Center — a taxpayer-supported institution (Why exactly? Heritage and many other think tanks aren’t on the federal dole.) — to give an award to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Well, when you need to give a ridiculous explanation for an anti-Israel, anti-West, anti common-sense move and to avoid any sharp questioning, you go to Laura Rozen (who also transcribes J Street’s missives and is happy to funnel unsourced, anti-Semitic jibes against Dennis Ross), who dutifully reports the excuse:

Earlier this week, House Middle East Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) released a letter to Woodrow Wilson’s President former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.) — his former chairman and colleague on the House Foreign Affairs Committee- – expressing displeasure that the think tank would honor the Turkish diplomat after Ankara has escalated tensions with Israel in the wake of the Gaza flotilla raid and voted against UN Iran sanctions.

But a Woodrow Wilson Center spokeswoman told POLITICO Thursday that as far as she knew, neither the Center nor Hamilton had received Ackerman’s letter.

“Awardees are not chosen for their political views,” Sharon McCarter, the Woodrow Wilson Center’s vice president for outreach and communications, told POLITICO in an e-mail.

“Mr. Davutoglu has had a diverse career as a scholar, a professor, a political scientist, an author, a civil servant, an international diplomat, and currently as Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs — a position he assumed in May 2009,” McCarter continued. “He also fits the Wilsonian mold of being both a scholar and a policymaker. He was invited to accept the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service in August 2009 in recognition of his lifelong service to the Turkish public in these many professional fields, many of which are similar to Woodrow Wilson’s life.

Apparently, she didn’t think to ask whether McCarter was serious. Would an award have been given to the foreign minister of South Africa during the apartheid? To a Soviet defense minister during the Cold War? Nor does she ask McCarter how it is remotely possible that a well-publicized letter excoriating the Center could have eluded Hamilton.

Here’s an idea: the Center sounds like it isn’t interested in furthering Western values or American interests. Fine. They can knock themselves out shoveling the same internationalist tripe that a dozen Washington think tanks do every day. The taxpayers just shouldn’t have to pay for it.( In fact why is government in the think tank business at all?) Any money spent on those with no moral compass is too much. Let ‘em fend for themselves.

In the “has everyone gone mad?” department, we’ve been following the story of the decision by the Woodrow Wilson International Center — a taxpayer-supported institution (Why exactly? Heritage and many other think tanks aren’t on the federal dole.) — to give an award to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Well, when you need to give a ridiculous explanation for an anti-Israel, anti-West, anti common-sense move and to avoid any sharp questioning, you go to Laura Rozen (who also transcribes J Street’s missives and is happy to funnel unsourced, anti-Semitic jibes against Dennis Ross), who dutifully reports the excuse:

Earlier this week, House Middle East Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) released a letter to Woodrow Wilson’s President former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.) — his former chairman and colleague on the House Foreign Affairs Committee- – expressing displeasure that the think tank would honor the Turkish diplomat after Ankara has escalated tensions with Israel in the wake of the Gaza flotilla raid and voted against UN Iran sanctions.

But a Woodrow Wilson Center spokeswoman told POLITICO Thursday that as far as she knew, neither the Center nor Hamilton had received Ackerman’s letter.

“Awardees are not chosen for their political views,” Sharon McCarter, the Woodrow Wilson Center’s vice president for outreach and communications, told POLITICO in an e-mail.

“Mr. Davutoglu has had a diverse career as a scholar, a professor, a political scientist, an author, a civil servant, an international diplomat, and currently as Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs — a position he assumed in May 2009,” McCarter continued. “He also fits the Wilsonian mold of being both a scholar and a policymaker. He was invited to accept the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service in August 2009 in recognition of his lifelong service to the Turkish public in these many professional fields, many of which are similar to Woodrow Wilson’s life.

Apparently, she didn’t think to ask whether McCarter was serious. Would an award have been given to the foreign minister of South Africa during the apartheid? To a Soviet defense minister during the Cold War? Nor does she ask McCarter how it is remotely possible that a well-publicized letter excoriating the Center could have eluded Hamilton.

Here’s an idea: the Center sounds like it isn’t interested in furthering Western values or American interests. Fine. They can knock themselves out shoveling the same internationalist tripe that a dozen Washington think tanks do every day. The taxpayers just shouldn’t have to pay for it.( In fact why is government in the think tank business at all?) Any money spent on those with no moral compass is too much. Let ‘em fend for themselves.

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RE: Obama and Israel: Not Smart

To add to John’s piece, there are probably a couple more layers of political foolishness here.

One is the timing. All the pro-Israel heavies are coming to D.C. in a few days for the AIPAC policy conference, the single most important event of the year for the pro-Israel community. And now Obama has set it up so that pretty much the only thing people are going to be talking about is this crisis — and not just talking, but planning how to push back.

He has also given Democrats in Congress yet another reason to distance themselves from the administration in the immediate runup to the health-care vote. You’d think he would have wanted still waters during this, of all weeks. But no: Laura Rozen reports that congressional Democrats are in the dark and wondering what the administration is up to — what the next steps are, what the end game is, what happens if Netanyahu cannot, or will not, meet Obama’s new demands, and so on. You know it’s bad when even an old peace-processor such as Aaron David Miller says about the administration, “The tree they’re up on this one is very tall.”

To add to John’s piece, there are probably a couple more layers of political foolishness here.

One is the timing. All the pro-Israel heavies are coming to D.C. in a few days for the AIPAC policy conference, the single most important event of the year for the pro-Israel community. And now Obama has set it up so that pretty much the only thing people are going to be talking about is this crisis — and not just talking, but planning how to push back.

He has also given Democrats in Congress yet another reason to distance themselves from the administration in the immediate runup to the health-care vote. You’d think he would have wanted still waters during this, of all weeks. But no: Laura Rozen reports that congressional Democrats are in the dark and wondering what the administration is up to — what the next steps are, what the end game is, what happens if Netanyahu cannot, or will not, meet Obama’s new demands, and so on. You know it’s bad when even an old peace-processor such as Aaron David Miller says about the administration, “The tree they’re up on this one is very tall.”

Read Less

Peace in Our Time: Hope as a Method

Laura Rozen has a piece in Politico today on Russia’s heel-dragging approach to the “New START” arms-control talks. “Sources in and out of the [Obama] administration are saying Russia may not feel it needs to sign a new agreement soon,” she reports. “And perhaps not in time for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference that the Obama administration is hosting in New York in May.” Predictably, her analysis focuses on Russian domestic politics (“haggling, fighting internally”) and the Russians’ persistent objections to U.S. missile-defense proposals. Obama hasn’t succeeded in satisfying Moscow’s skepticism about the latter; shifting our concept from silo-based interceptors in Poland to road-mobile launchers in Romania has failed to change Russian minds.

But considering only these factors is like trying to account for the rain without looking up at the sky. What’s driving Russia’s lack of urgency about a new arms-control treaty is Obama’s determination to reduce our nuclear arsenal unilaterally. The Russians have no reason to sweat out a treaty agreement that’s binding on them if they’re going to get effective U.S. commitments without one.

The policy reportedly emerging from Obama’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), outlined in a New York Times article this weekend, appears full of reasons for Russia to hang back on New START. Obama’s intention to halve the existing inventory of about 5,400 nuclear warheads goes well beyond the mutual reduction goal of the Bush-Putin SORT Treaty of 2002, which envisioned 4,600 warheads for the U.S. by 2012. Obama has also cut funding to the Pentagon’s development program for a low-yield nuclear weapon to attack hardened and deeply-buried targets, and he reportedly will scrap the development altogether with implementation of his NPR. This, of course, is the kind of weapon needed to deal effectively with suspect underground facilities in Iran and North Korea.

Moreover, key Congressional Democrats are demanding NPR language that would explicitly commit the U.S. to using our nuclear arsenal solely for the deterrence of nuclear strikes – a short-sighted posture that could not be reversed in the future without precipitating political crises. The Pentagon prefers a more ambiguous formulation, and the outcome of this policy debate is uncertain. But the unprecedented political momentum of the Capitol Hill “deterrence-only” advocates will have the attention of foreign observers from Moscow to Beijing to Tehran.

Obama’s express hope is to set an example for the world with these unilateral reductions and renunciations. By making them, however, he thoroughly undermines the New START negotiations. Cuts of this magnitude would require the Russians to rethink their own policy in order to match them. But with Obama proposing to make the cuts unilaterally, Russia has no incentive to pay the cost of participating. The only bargaining chip left for leveraging Russian concessions is our missile-defense program.

George W. Bush achieved major reductions in our nuclear arsenal; it’s clearly possible to do so while also retaining a viable negotiating position with Moscow. Obama’s approach to nuclear disarmament, on the other hand, is a particularly dangerous form of unilateralism. His concrete achievements so far are conceding Russia’s objections to the silo-based missile defense in Europe and letting the original START Treaty lapse in December 2009, which leaves the U.S. and Russia with no on-site verification measures to monitor subsequent developments in our nuclear programs. The tether of START’s verification and mutual-reduction principles has been cut. In one year, Obama has relinquished the bases for nuclear stability and American security that his predecessors fought for more than 40 years to establish. What we and Obama are counting on now is hope.

Laura Rozen has a piece in Politico today on Russia’s heel-dragging approach to the “New START” arms-control talks. “Sources in and out of the [Obama] administration are saying Russia may not feel it needs to sign a new agreement soon,” she reports. “And perhaps not in time for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference that the Obama administration is hosting in New York in May.” Predictably, her analysis focuses on Russian domestic politics (“haggling, fighting internally”) and the Russians’ persistent objections to U.S. missile-defense proposals. Obama hasn’t succeeded in satisfying Moscow’s skepticism about the latter; shifting our concept from silo-based interceptors in Poland to road-mobile launchers in Romania has failed to change Russian minds.

But considering only these factors is like trying to account for the rain without looking up at the sky. What’s driving Russia’s lack of urgency about a new arms-control treaty is Obama’s determination to reduce our nuclear arsenal unilaterally. The Russians have no reason to sweat out a treaty agreement that’s binding on them if they’re going to get effective U.S. commitments without one.

The policy reportedly emerging from Obama’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), outlined in a New York Times article this weekend, appears full of reasons for Russia to hang back on New START. Obama’s intention to halve the existing inventory of about 5,400 nuclear warheads goes well beyond the mutual reduction goal of the Bush-Putin SORT Treaty of 2002, which envisioned 4,600 warheads for the U.S. by 2012. Obama has also cut funding to the Pentagon’s development program for a low-yield nuclear weapon to attack hardened and deeply-buried targets, and he reportedly will scrap the development altogether with implementation of his NPR. This, of course, is the kind of weapon needed to deal effectively with suspect underground facilities in Iran and North Korea.

Moreover, key Congressional Democrats are demanding NPR language that would explicitly commit the U.S. to using our nuclear arsenal solely for the deterrence of nuclear strikes – a short-sighted posture that could not be reversed in the future without precipitating political crises. The Pentagon prefers a more ambiguous formulation, and the outcome of this policy debate is uncertain. But the unprecedented political momentum of the Capitol Hill “deterrence-only” advocates will have the attention of foreign observers from Moscow to Beijing to Tehran.

Obama’s express hope is to set an example for the world with these unilateral reductions and renunciations. By making them, however, he thoroughly undermines the New START negotiations. Cuts of this magnitude would require the Russians to rethink their own policy in order to match them. But with Obama proposing to make the cuts unilaterally, Russia has no incentive to pay the cost of participating. The only bargaining chip left for leveraging Russian concessions is our missile-defense program.

George W. Bush achieved major reductions in our nuclear arsenal; it’s clearly possible to do so while also retaining a viable negotiating position with Moscow. Obama’s approach to nuclear disarmament, on the other hand, is a particularly dangerous form of unilateralism. His concrete achievements so far are conceding Russia’s objections to the silo-based missile defense in Europe and letting the original START Treaty lapse in December 2009, which leaves the U.S. and Russia with no on-site verification measures to monitor subsequent developments in our nuclear programs. The tether of START’s verification and mutual-reduction principles has been cut. In one year, Obama has relinquished the bases for nuclear stability and American security that his predecessors fought for more than 40 years to establish. What we and Obama are counting on now is hope.

Read Less




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