Sunday, May 8, 2016

Ben Rhodes Has Been Stupid And Irresponsible Regarding Iran

So today's New York Times has the story by David Samuels on Ben Rhodes, where they play bros loving Don DeLillo and Rhodes bragged about his mind melding with Obama over the last 7 years and how he set up echo chambers to fool ignorant and stupid reporters, not to mention out of it foreign policy establishment types.  Whoopee!  Of course, all kinds of people are all ticked off at him, calling him many names, although not the one I have called him, with others picking up some of what he has dropped and running with it to discredit the Iran nuclear deal.

This is the matter that I am concerned with, and the matter where Rhodes has seriously messed up.  Rhodes notoriously brags about putting forth a misleading story regarding the Iran nuclear deal in order to sell it to the US public.  The lie was that the negotiations started in 2013 rather than in 2011 as they did.  This was after "moderate" Rouhani became president, and this was what was sold to the ignorant media fools through the elaborate echo chamber Rhodes and his pals set up, of which he is clearly very proud. 

But for anybody who actually knows anything about Iran,  Rouhani was never ultimately in charge of the deal or foreign policy.  That person is the Vilayat-el-faqih, the Supreme Jurisprudent, the unelected (well, elected by a small group of senior clerics) Ali Khameini, the leader of the "hardliners.".  While Rhodes disses Hillary Clinton for  having voted for the war in Iraq in 2003, she was the one who sent someone to meet with a rep from Khameini in Oman that initiated   But she remains an annoying foreign policy establishment figure in Rhodes's view, while Kerry is barely mentioned, dismissed as someone who negotiated "details" while Rhodes and others had already negotiated the "framework.  But to get to get a deal, the US had to have the hardlining Khameini on board as he was and is in charge, the Supreme Jurisprudent.

The problem is that this revelation of this unnecessary and stupid echo chamber is that the enemies of the Iran nuclear deal are already using this to argue that the whole deal is no good because it was sold on this lie, that the negotiations were only initiated with the moderate Rouhani rather than the necessary negotiations with Khameini.  They should have sold it upfront with the reality of whom they were negotiating with, and frankly, people who play attention like me knew what was going on when it was going on. so it is true that most of the reporters are horrendously ignorant.  But that does not excuse that the revelation of this stupid lying will be used by the enemies of this very important and wise agreement to undercut it.

Ben Rhodes should be ashamed of himself.  I think he did this to sell himself for the post-Obama era, but I hope he has to go sit in a cottage somewhere and write his short stories, all by himself and reviled by the world.

Barkley Rosser


Thornton Hall said...

The big picture is this: if you read the long piece by Jeffery Goldberg in conversation with Obama, it is obvious that Obama sees thru and rejects the foreign policy consensus that has barely changed since the end of the Cold War, let alone realized how totally wrong it was about that conflict, ironically imagining that Marx was right about the threat to democratic social democracy.

That establishment treats phrases like "American credibility" and "national interest" as well defined terms of art that can be used to understand the world without the need to look behind them. Obama looks behind them. It's not hard.

Like all wrong paradigms, it looks absurdly stupid from the outside. But folks within the faith will always be able to correct the details of those without. Atheists are not well known for their encyclopedic knowledge of dogma. And having seen that the emperors have no clothes, he is prone to hubristic pronouncements.

Academic economics is the same way. How not to sound mocking and juvenile when the smartest people in the room debate recipes for orienting the broken clock of mechanical economics toward the proper time of Darwinian reality? said...

I agree in general with Obama's critique of establishment foreign policy, and I think his views are closer to Bernie's than to Hillary's more hawkish ones, even though she was involved with those initial negotiations with the Iranian hardliners, and she has strongly supported the nuclear deal with Iran publicly, while disagreeing openly about some other matters, notably Syria.

I would note that sometimes atheists know more than believers because they have spent a lot of effort thinking about what it is they do not believe. Really.

Peter T said...

I have gleaned that the article was a mix of what Rhodes said and what the reporter thought, and it's hard to tell them apart. If the gist is that Rhodes thinks the press are a bunch of juvenile muppets, and the foreign policy establishment a circle-jerk of received wisdom, then he's surely right but unwise to say so.

The hoo-ha about the Iran deal is typical Beltway self-absorption. It was a multi-lateral deal, and the other parties are not about to unwind it on US say-so. Nor, given other US interests, would it be sensible to do so. But that won't stop the noise. said...

Funny thing about the author is that in 2009 he was supporting bombing Iran. Go figure.

Thornton Hall said...

As it turns out, David Samuals, the author of the piece, was also the subject. Debating Ben Rhodes in light of that article is nonsense on both sides: