Maybe U.S. policy will just muddle through the next four years and beyond without any disasters. Perhaps the world will be spared big crises. Possibly the fact that there isn't some single big superpower enemy seeking world domination will keep things contained.
Perhaps that is true. Yet within hours after its publication I concluded that I hadn't been too pessimistic. The cause of that reaction is the breaking story that not only will Senator John Kerry be the new secretary of state; that not only will the equally reprehensible former Senator Chuck Hagel be secretary of defense, but that John Brennan, the president’s counterterrorism advisor, will become CIA chief.
Let me stress that this is not really about Israel. At the end of Obama's second term, U.S.-Israel relations will probably be roughly where they are now. Palestinian strategy--both by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas--has left the United States no diplomatic or "peace process" option on that front. The problem is one of U.S. interests, especially the American position in the Middle East but also in other parts of the world.
Brennan is no less than the father of the pro-Islamist policy. What Obama is saying is this: My policy of backing Islamists has worked so well, including in Egypt, that we need to do even more! All those analogies to 1930s’ appeasement are an understatement. Nobody in the British leadership said, “I have a great idea. Let’s help fascist regimes take power and then they’ll be our friends and become more moderate! That’s the equivalent of what Brennan does.
Brennan’s only life accomplishment has been to propose backing radical Islamists. As a reward he isn't just being made head of intelligence for the Middle East but for the whole world! Has Brennan any proven administrative skill? Any knowledge of other parts of the world? No. All he has is a proximity to Obama and a very bad policy concept. What's especially ironic here is that by now the Islamist policy has clearly failed and a lot of people are having second thoughts.
With Brennan running the CIA, though, do you think there will be critical intelligence evaluations of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizballah, or even Hamas? Is the CIA going to warn U.S. leaders about the repression against women, Christians, and moderates? Will there be warnings that Islamists are taking over Syria or reports on Islamist involvement in killing Americans in Benghazi? Can we have confidence about U.S. policy toward Iran?
As for Hagel, suffice it to say that the embarrassing quotes and actions from him in the past--including his opposition to sanctions against Iran--fueled a response to his proposed nomination so strong that the administration had to back down for a while.
To get a sense of his thinking, check out Brennan’s article, “The Conundrum of Iran: Strengthening Moderates without Acquiescing to Belligerence,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 618, Terrorism: What the Next President Will Face (Jul., 2008), pp. 168-179. Here’s the conclusion:
In Brennan’s terms, that means the problem would be solved. Instead, the correct response is parallel to Winston Churchill's point in his 1946 Fulton, Missouri, speech: "I do not believe that Soviet Russia desires war. What they desire is the fruits of war and the indefinite expansion of their power and doctrines."