In his State of the Union, President Obama vowed to continue the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan, much as he did in Iraq. But his reliance on lethal drone attacks to kill suspected terrorists has raised many other concerns, as Bill Moyers and Michael Winship note.
Sen. Rand Paul, a Tea Party favorite who will give one of two Republican responses to President Obama’s State of the Union, is deviating slightly from the GOP’s neocon orthodoxy and drawing criticism from the likes of neocon Robert Kagan. But any rethinking of tough-guy-ism is welcome, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
Exclusive: The State of the Union offers President Obama a high-profile opportunity to finally close the deal with Iran over its nuclear program by accepting the need for U.S. concessions on sanctions, but there are doubts he will seize this Nixon-to-China moment, as ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern notes in this appeal.
President Obama has indicated that he wants a diplomatic breakthrough with Iran, especially limiting its nuclear program, but he has hesitated taking the kind of positive steps that President Nixon did in his opening to China more than four decades ago, Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett observe.
A key residual power of Washington’s neocons is their access to think-tank journals and influential op-ed pages to “controversialize” American analysts and writers who deviate from foreign policy orthodoxy. At such moments, history and honesty are cast aside for ideology and expediency, Nima Shirazi notes.
President Obama’s defenders note he ended the Iraq War, is drawing down forces in Afghanistan and has resisted a new war in Syria. In other words, they say drone attacks on al-Qaeda suspects have ratcheted down the levels of violence left behind by President Bush. But critics say the drone attacks are still war crimes.
President Obama’s lethal drone program raises many troubling questions, such as the quality of evidence used to justify the killings and the lack of judicial review. But another concern is simply its effectiveness, whether it creates more terrorists than it eliminates, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar writes.
Ten years ago, President George W. Bush and his allies were putting the finishing touches on their unprovoked invasion of Iraq, a conflict that ultimately killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and left behind a devastated nation torn by sectarian violence and a possible civil war, as Adil E. Shamoo writes.
Exclusive: Though false intelligence was at the center of the disastrous Iraq War, CIA Director-to-be John Brennan played fast and loose on Iran’s nuclear program in his Senate testimony, a troubling sign he might undermine the principle of honest analysis just like his mentor, George Tenet, warns ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.
America’s “tough-guy-ism” plays well at home, with politicians competing to see whose bluster is the most belligerent, but works less well with the targeted countries whose leaders have their own imperatives of politics and pride. President Obama is risking failure in Iran nuclear talks if he ignores this reality, say Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett.