Here’s my usual disclaimer: I would love to be able to stop criticizing the Obama Administration but it keeps saying and doing things that shock and surprise me or—if you want to put it this way—live up to my worst expectations.So begins Professor Barry Rubin's blogpost for today.
John Brennan is the president’s advisor on counter-terrorism and may be the dumbest of all Obama’s foreign policy appointments. Brennan is apparently ex-CIA and he has yet to persuade me that he has any understanding whatsoever about terrorism. He’s the guy who said that Hizballah wasn’t a terrorist group because it ran candidates for parliament and had lawyers among its members.It's all here.
Now in a television interview, he stated that the Guantanamo prison should be closed because al-Qaida has used its existence in order to make propaganda.
A few hours later, President Barack Obama repeated this talking point in the course of discussing reinforced controls on airplane passengers:
"We will close Guantanamo prison, which has damaged our national security interests and become a tremendous recruiting tool for al-Qaida," Obama said. "In fact, that was an explicit rationale for the formation of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula."
What? Is his understanding really so minimal that he thinks the formation of a revolutionary movement to seize power in Iraq and overthrow the Saudi government took place because the United States maintained a prison in Cuba? Is this man who proclaims himself the great understander of other cultures so ethnocentric that he thinks, so to speak, that “everything is about us?”
Does Obama have any sense at all of what al-Qaida uses as recruiting tools, of their ideology and goals? And would closing Guantanamo deprive al-Qaida of a recruiting tool, would it hurt that group? Isn’t it obvious that, if anything, al-Qaida would proclaim this as a victory: Out of fear of us, the camp was closed! We have prevented the oppression of Muslims! We can make the great Satan tremble and give in! Now, that’s a recruiting tool! . . .
The basic problem is that Scheuer, and Brennan and Obama, too, basically think that the Islamist assault is something that can be made to go away by some clever stratagem: flatter Muslims; move away from Israel, abandon Israel, show more sensitivity; try captured terrorists in a U.S. court; or something else. Yet the beginning of wisdom is to understand that this is a challenge parallel to that from Communism and fascism. . . .
Have all the most basic lessons from centuries of statecraft been so thoroughly forgotten by those who govern in the West?