Barack Obama pawn in intra-elite paleo-neocon wars?

We’ve noted that Zbigniew Brzezinski is one of the primary exponents of the policy-elite backlash against the neocons, and his emergence as an adviser for Barack Obama says much about the coalition that is coming together behind the Obamarama. The original ideological whiz-kid of the (yes, really) Trilateral Commission and Jimmy Carter‘s National Security Advisor, Zbiggy represents the “pragmatist” wing of the ruling elites. Rival Hillary Clinton has also got “pragmatists” in her camp, and Obama is also attempting to woo the neocons. But the basic division seems pretty clear. From “Behind Clinton and Obama” by Stephen Zunes in Foreign Policy in Focus, Feb. 4 (emphasis added):

Senator Clinton’s foreign policy advisors tend to be veterans of President Bill Clinton’s administration, most notably former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger. Her most influential advisor – and her likely choice for Secretary of State – is Richard Holbrooke. Holbrooke served in a number of key roles in her husband’s administration, including U.S. ambassador to the UN and member of the cabinet, special emissary to the Balkans, assistant secretary of state for European and Canadian affairs, and U.S. ambassador to Germany. He also served as President Jimmy Carter’s assistant secretary of state for East Asia in propping up Marcos in the Philippines, supporting Suharto’s repression in East Timor, and backing the generals behind the Kwangju massacre in South Korea.

Senator Barack Obama’s foreign policy advisers, who on average tend to be younger than those of the former first lady, include mainstream strategic analysts who have worked with previous Democratic administrations, such as former national security advisors Zbigniew Brzezinski and Anthony Lake, former assistant secretary of state Susan Rice, and former navy secretary Richard Danzig. They have also included some of the more enlightened and creative members of the Democratic Party establishment, such as Joseph Cirincione and Lawrence Korb of the Center for American Progress, and former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke. His team also includes the noted human rights scholar and international law advocate Samantha Power – author of a recent New Yorker article on U.S. manipulation of the UN in post-invasion Iraq – and other liberal academics. Some of his advisors, however, have particularly poor records on human rights and international law, such as retired General Merrill McPeak, a backer of Indonesia’s occupation of East Timor, and Dennis Ross, a supporter of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

The American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) will of course have the loyalty of either candidate. But which one is scrambling to reassure them of his support (implying that it is in doubt) is telling. Akiva Eldar writes for the Israeli daily Haaretz Feb. 14:

The Republican Party’s neoconservative clique is trawling archives for “anti-Israeli” essays by advisers who had been seen in Obama’s staff. Robert Malley, who was President Bill Clinton’s special assistant during the Camp David talks, joined Obama. The neoconservatives reached Malley’s father, a Jew of Egyptian descent, who, alas, kept childhood ties with Yasser Arafat. Malley junior is accused of publishing a joint article with an Oslo-supporting Palestinian, in which they dared to argue that Ehud Barak played a major role in the Camp David summit’s failure in July 2000.

Obama is working hard to allay the fears of “Israel’s friends,” a description reserved mainly for activists of the pro-Israeli lobby AIPAC and for Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents [of Major Jewish Organizations]. As far as they’re concerned, whoever doesn’t support the Israeli government’s policy 100 percent is unfit for leadership.

In the Jerusalem Post Feb. 13, Hoenlein appeared (intentionally, no doubt) to be talking out of both sides of his mouth:

“The Obama campaign is a brilliant campaign,” said Hoenlein. “All the candidates are positive about Israel, and pro-Israel people in Chicago who know him well speak highly of Obama.”

At a press conference in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Hoenlein said that “all the talk about change, but without defining what that change should be, is an opening for all kinds of mischief.”

In other words, Obama is on notice that his “pro-Israel” creds are suspect. Unlike most of the neocons, Hoenlein has expressed his concerns that the “Jewish lobby” could provoke a backlash if it does not assume a lower profile—and thereby forfeit its cherished war drive against Iran. Well, the backlash is on—and Barack Obama may be its public face.

Brzezinski was the voice of Cold War realpolitik in the Carter administration—who got the ball rolling towards the Reagan-era policies of nuclear first-strike capability and aid to the Afghan mujahedeen. He was on the far right of the Carter coalition. But he is on the left of the “pragmatist” camp—which is generally made up of Republican “paleocons.”

The factor that could put Obama over the edge is an eruption of neo-Mugwumpery. History buffs will recall that in the election of 1884, many old-line Lincoln Republicans abandoned GOP candidate James G. Blaine, deeming him too aggressively imperialist and beholden to industrial interests. These “Mugwumps” defected to the reformist and “pragmatic” Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland—who won. Mark Twain proudly proclaimed himself a Mugwump.

Conservatives who view a “100-year occupation” of Iraq as a losing proposition and seek to mend fences with the Arab world (getting the oil that way) may now similarly bolt the McCain ticket—even for a Black man whose middle name is Hussein.

But it isn’t 1884 anymore, and there is no longer an even vaguely progressive wing of the Republican party—just divisions over the correct strategy for maintaining US global hegemony. For those of us who are no more comforted by the “pragmatic” paleocons than the hubristic neocons, this new alliance behind Obama may be seen as an ominous accommodation with the old-guard sector of the right establishment. His irritating talk about bipartisan “unity” is another manifestation of this strange convergence. But hell—better him than Ron Paul!

  1. Obama Campaign’s Pritzker/Superior Bank S&L Scandal Link
    The Obama Campaign’s national finance chair, Penny Pritzker, was also involved as a bank board member in the 2001 Superior Bank S&L Scandal (which cost U.S. taxpayers $440 million after Superior Bank collapsed due to its financially reckless subprime mortage lending and predatory lending activities). See an article that appeared in the Nov. 8, 2002 issue of In These Times, titled “Breaking The Bank,” for more information about the role of the Obama campaign’s national finance chair in the Superior Bank S&L Scandal at the following link:

    http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/671/

  2. “responsible” imperial management
    I don’t see many Republicans defecting from McCain to Obama.
    Certainly Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy is likely to be “after eight years of mad cowboy disease, corporate imperialism needs responsible management.”
    Obama may be more unpredictable, but I suspect that given his lack of an openly different agenda and his relative inexperience, he’s not going to challenge the conventional wisdom.
    The best we could probably hope for with Obama is that he would be another JFK–who started out as a Cold Warrior, but got pushed by events and the pressure of a movement.

  3. Better to vote Ron Paul than CFR
    Better Ron Paul than any of these CFR-anointed candidates!!
    -Never voted to increase taxes
    -Never voted for a Congressional pay raise
    -understands the meaning of “blowback”
    -wants free trade with everyone, without entangling military alliances, just as the Founding Fathers of this country intended.
    -has presented real,workable solutions to save our dying currency from the FED that is killing it.
    -understands that spending money we don’t have means we are either borrowing it from China, or printing it out of thin air. Either way, future generations will have to deal with the problems.
    -wants to stop America’s slide toward world-government, which is the CFR’s stated aim.

    None are so blind as those who refuse to see.

      1. In all honesty, I am going
        In all honesty, I am going to give you a piece of advice, Bill. I have been a writer for various websites and BBSs since 2400 baud modems were the new power toy.

        You are in need of some serious help in your writing style. In articles, you do an okay job for someone who does little original research and spends a great deal of time rehashing old news (such as in the RPRWNJ article you just referenced, which, in turn, references information that was reported and dismissed by Paul’s friends and foes alike starting with his early 1990s election bid and then again a month ago).

        Your responses to reader feedback, however, leave everything to be desired. You come off as an easily offended, sad little man with no grasp of the concept of level-headed discourse.

        Quite frankly, you are a discredit to the idea of blog-delivered news and editorials and a shining example of why, despite the seemingly eternal downward spiral of the mainstream media, blogging and internet commentary will never reach the peak of credibility that it so desperately craves. You are a liability to this site, to your political affiliations, and an affront to journalism in general.

        Journalism is an honorable profession, as its main purpose is to report in such a manner as to keep the government and other massive entities honest. The problems creep in when one lets one’s fervor for a particular philosophy take over the idea of truth. You are so anti-Paul and anti-Obama and anti-anything else that makes sense that you latch onto any conspiracy theory that you can find, declare it as unequivocal truth, and start shouting it from the rooftops. As Dan Rather can attest, such a practice is hardly befitting anyone with any modicum of desire to maintain journalistic integrity.

        Reactionary “journalism” is the cornerstone of what you appear to be trying to rail against. With every article I read from you, I become more convinced that you were a writer for Fox News or something. Sure, your views are different, but, if I remove the socialist/liberal slant and insert a Neo-Con slant and close my eyes, a picture of Bill O’Reilly comes floating into my head.

        “…And Next on the Whine Factor…”

        Maybe you could take over the top spot for cable news from Billy Boy?

        1. Paultard hall of echos
          What is it with the Fox News refs you Paul-bots? You guys rant, rave, don’t respond to any arguments and call names. You’re boring. Your candidate went nowhere. Your slander of this site reveals that you’ve never read it.

          >You are so anti-Paul and anti-Obama and anti-anything else that makes sense that you latch onto any conspiracy theory that you can find, declare it as unequivocal truth, and start shouting it from the rooftops.

          Maybe you should read the site. Paul doesn’t respond to very serious problems with his magazine, and he hasn’t responded for ten years. Can you read?

          1. Rupert Murdoch is the
            Rupert Murdoch is the prototypical Neo-Con and demands a Neo-Con agenda.

            I present coherent arguments over and over, and no one directly responds. You and your ilk refuse to respond in any coherent manner. I have responded to several points made by the blog “author” (and I use the term loosely), and he is, as you are, avoiding the issues and points that I raise. Instead, he (and you) spend entirely too much real estate on this site whining about “Ron Paul supporters are [insert derogatory description here].” How about you actually read what you are trying to nitpick for lack of actual content to your posts.

            Frankly, I see no merit in the content by Mr. Weinberg. It smacks of the very conspiracy theories and other tripe that Paul’s supporters are accused of subscribing to.

            Yes, Ron Paul has taken responsibility for the magazines and apologized for them to the extent that anyone can or should who was not present at the time of the offense. When he says that he takes “moral responsibility”, that is to say that he, since he did not physically touch or contribute to the newsletters himself, cannot take physical responsibility. That is tantamount to me getting your permission to write a story under your name that you approve of, then continuing the use of your name, no longer without permission. Paul has publicly apologized for having associated with such filth as wrote those passages that you and Weinberg are so apt to continually point out.

            The bottom line is that Weinberg is smart in one aspect and only one aspect, from what I have seen: If you have a second-rate blog and are in a second-rate career, then find the groups that are currently publicly passionate about something, mention it in a Google-indexed headline, and you are guaranteed hits to said second-rate site, thus boosting views for your advertisers and increasing revenues.

            If you think I am your run-of-the-mill “Paul-Bot”, “Paul-Tard” or whatever childish moniker you wish to give Representative Paul’s supporters, think again. This Paul-Bot has an education, a mind of his own, and the will to follow through. I was a Ron Paul fan back in 1988 and have been ever since.

            Come back when you grow into the pants you are trying to fill out, Junior.

          2. This is getting tiresome
            If you think saying “I didn’t write it” and “I’m not a racist” is at all convincing, I’ve got a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn, real cheap.

            Take it to the right item, dude.

          3. “Right Item”
            I originally responded to you, bro. Practice what you preach.

            No matter how many times you say the same thing over and over, it still does not make it any more viable…or current…than it was when you originally posted it more than a month after the MSM did.

      1. They seem to be gaining ground…
        From Diversity Inc., Feb. 6:

        Republicans for Obama? Call Them Obamicans
        Sen. Barack Obama may be the first possible presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan to really have crossover appeal–to the other party. “Obama would appeal much more to Republican voters,” Susan Eisenhower, a life-long Republican and granddaughter of the former president, told the New York Times [Feb. 7]. “Not all Republican voters, but certainly those who might be somewhat in play.” Eisenhower’s sentiments represent a growing popularity among some GOP voters that the more polarizing Sen. Hillary Clinton can not claim. According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, Obama has the highest approval rating of any major candidate among independents at 62 percent.

        “Obamicans” is cute, but we prefer neo-Mugwumps.

  4. Paul never got off the ground
    We’re done here.

    Paul didn’t go anywhere. Isn’t going anywhere but back to Texas with the money he raised to run for President. Maybe he’ll do the right thing and open his campaign books. It’s over, people. John Mc VS whoever. Lots of noise and cross posting on the internet isn’t a movement.

    This is the same sad run around that Nader gave us. Elect a Governor before you run for President.

    Paul was entertaining. He beat Rudy by a point or two somewhere for which he has my thanks. Most of his ideas are cartoon libertarianism. How many Libertarian governors are there? Just asking.

    It’s over. Move on. There’s an animated Star Wars movie coming out, the truth hasn’t been told about 9/11 and the Zionists / UN / Federal Reserve are taking over the world. That should cover Ron Paul supporters.

  5. Will Obama ignite Rahowa?
    Cognoscenti have been wondering if the impending election may spark the oft-threatened RAHOWA, an acronym used by white supremacists that stands for “racial holy war.” However, according to a March 12 article in The New Republic, the Rahowa-mongers aren’t getting overly worked up about Obama:

    It turns out that, although the white right certainly has no love for Obama, its hatred of him is muted–and directed less at Obama himself than at other nefarious forces behind him.

    Yes, why get worked up over a black presidential candidate, when you can find a way to aim your wrath at you-know-who?

    There’s an even bigger culprit in this world than white liberals, however. Naturally, we speak here of the Jews. It turns out that what truly animates the white supremacist contingent these days is not racism but anti-Semitism. The black man is of trifling concern next to the “Zionist Occupation Government,” or ZOG, a term that describes puppet regimes of the global Zionist conspiracy. As one commenter on the popular white-power Web forum Stormfront explains it: “The blacks would be a non-factor if it weren’t for the ZOG’s legislations and skullduggery (civil rights act, hate crime laws, affirmative action, welfare, forced integration, etc etc …), allied with a compliant media that promotes black worship.” Thus, when the Jewish Telegraphic Agency published an anodyne article on Obama’s support among American Jews, white-power sites like National Alliance News (“your single source for worldwide pro-White news”) quickly pounced. “Barack Obama: The Jewish Connection” came the breathless headline. (Never mind that Obama has had a rockier relationship with the American Jewish community than has Clinton.) “[U]ltimately he’s just another Jew puppet,” concludes another Stormfront commenter. “I look at his foreign advisers,” adds David Duke. “[They’re] Israeli supremacists. He’s even got Dennis Ross!”