Secretaries of State, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton have advocated engagement - rather than confrontation - with rogue regimes. They were members of a tiny group that believed - until the recent atrocities in Syria - that Bashar Assad was a generous, constructive leader, a reformer and a man of his word. Kerry was a frequent flyer to Damascus, dining with Assad and his wife, considering Hafez and Bashar Assad partners for peace. Kerry and Clinton have implemented much of the Atlantic Council's policy recommendations, demonstrating fealty to the UN, participating in several of the Council's seminars and receiving special awards from the Council. Upon the eruption of the recent violence on the Arab Street, they were staunch Arab-Springers, who believed that the mobs in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Bahrain were Facebook demonstrators, the reincarnation of Mahatma Gandhi and MLK, transitioning from tyranny to democracy.
Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, was until recently the Chairman of the Atlantic Council, advocating negotiation with - rather than sanctions against - Iran. Just like the Council, Hagel considers the UN - the home court of anti-US regimes - the playmaker of international relations.
UN Ambassador and Cabinet Member, Susan Rice - who served as foreign policy advisor for Obama and Kerry during their 2008 and 2004 Presidential campaigns - was a board member of the Atlantic Council, always displaying her UN-leaning worldview.
Obama's former National Security Advisor, General Jim Jones, was Chairman of the Atlantic Council, currently serving as the Chairman of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council.
A March, 2013 Atlantic Council IssueBrief highlights the Council's containment state of mind: "It is clear that the unpredictable consequences of using military force would be more dangerous than a nuclear-armed Iran.... It is clear that Iran is using North Korean tactics, successfully playing for time to develop nuclear weapons. Therefore, the United States must prepare now for the likelihood that its efforts [to prevent Iran's nuclearization] will not succeed.... An Iran that is broadly unpopular in the region, and without major Arab allies, might be easier to deal with on nuclear issues."
The document identified "unanticipated opportunities, such as the development of Arab democracies.... It suggests that Yemen, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Iraq are transitioning from authoritarian rule towards democracy, calling for "dignity, accountability, social justice and respect for individual rights.... The only way is forward toward a positive future."
Obama's key advisor in selecting his national security team was Brent Scowcroft, the current Interim Chairman of the Atlantic Council, professing multilateral - and not a unilateral, independent US - political/military action. Just like the aforementioned personalities, Scowcroft is a Palestine-Firsterwho subscribes to the myth that the Palestinian issue is the core cause of Middle East turbulence, the crown jewel of Arab policy-making and the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
However, irrespective of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Palestinian issue or Israel's existence - and contrary to the worldview of the Palestine Firsters - the Arab Street has recently grown less predictable, more unstable, increasingly intolerant , explosively violent, significantly more Islamist and much more threatening to vital US and Free World interests. For example, Iran is galloping towards nuclear capabilities, deepening its domination of Iraq and intimidating the pro-US oil-producing Persian Gulf states. Iraq has become a central arena for intra-Moslem, intra-Arab terrorist warfare. The Libyan civil war is boiling and Libyan military systems are exported to Muslim terrorists. The Egyptian Street is seething under the rule of the trans-national, imperialistic, subversive Muslim Brotherhood, which is collaborating with Iran. The Sinai Peninsula has become a hub for al-Qaeda and other Moslem terrorists. The Syrian lava is fueled by unprecedented bloodshed, while threatening to consume the increasingly unstable pro-US Hashemite regime in Jordan, and possibly Lebanon and other pro-US Arab regimes. Kuwait and Bahrain are afflicted by Iran-supported disturbances. Yemen is further destabilized by tribal and ideological warfare with al-Qaeda involvement, threatening homeland security in Saudi Arabia. Salafi Jihadists confront Tunisia's security forces; political and ideological mass murders have returned to Algeria; and hostilities have intensified between Moslem Sudan and non-Moslem sovereign South Sudan. For the last 1,400 years, the Arab Street has embraced terrorism, rejecting peace and stability.
In May, 2013 - contrasting the Atlantic Council state of mind - the President of the Czech Republic, Milos Zeman, said that the challenge of Arab tyranny and terrorism is a long-term phenomenon, requiring endurance in battle. Will the Obama Administration embrace Zeman's realism or the Atlantic Council's worldview, which has shattered against the rocks of Middle Eastern reality?!
Shabbat Shalom and have a pleasant Memorial Day weekend,
Yoram Ettinger, JerUSAlem, Israel, "Second Thought: US-Israel Initiative"