In his latest editorial, Leslie Gelb seems both frightened and clueless about Obama.
Gelb is a liberal whose foreign policy credentials are impressive if you like this sort of thing. At the age of 77, his resume includes “former correspondent for The New York Times and …currently President Emeritus and Board Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations,” assistant to Jacob Javits, Carter’s Assistant Secretary of State, and plenty more that would warm the cockles of most Democrats’ hearts.
But Gelb writes as though he were Rip Van Winkle just waking up from a long and very deep sleep, one that lasted from January of 2009 till now and encompassed Obama’s entire presidency thusfar.
How else can you explain this sort of thing?
The failure of Obama or Biden to show up in Paris made clear that most of the president’s team can’t be trusted to conduct U.S national security policy and must be replaced—at once.
Republicans have been thinking that for a long long time—welcome to our world, Gelb. But we’re not delusional enough to think it could ever happen. The people Obama has placed there are exactly the people he wants. They do his bidding, and he has no sense that he’s failed.
More from Gelb:
[Obama’s failure to attend the Paris march] demonstrated beyond argument that the Obama team lacks the basic instincts and judgment necessary to conduct U.S. national security policy in the next two years. It’s simply too dangerous to let Mr. Obama continue as is—with his current team and his way of making decisions. America, its allies, and friends could be heading into one of the most dangerous periods since the height of the Cold War.
I’m a bit puzzled as to why this particular inaction of Obama’s has riled Gelb so much; after all, I could list hundreds more things Obama has done that seem a great deal worse to me. Perhaps Gelb is incensed at this because he’s old enough to remember when all presidents, Democrat or Republican, knew what was necessary diplomatically on the world stage, even though they might have disagreed with each other on some of the details. And Gelb remembers a world when, for the most part, people actually recognized when things weren’t going well, admitted that they needed a change of personnel, and wanted aides under them who knew their stuff.
On the contrary, Obama wants people who don’t know their stuff in terms of world events, yes-men and yes-women who will not challenge him.
And Gelb cannot possibly be serious here, if he knows anything about Obama at all:
Mr. Obama will have to excuse most of his inner core, especially in the White House. He will have to replace them with strong and strategic people of proven foreign policy experience. He’ll also need to seed the Defense and State Departments with new top people serving directly as senior advisers to the secretaries. And he also will need to set up regular consultations—not the usual phony ones—with the two key Senate leaders in this field, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker and Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, two people who can really improve his decisions and bolster his credibility. Many will be tempted to dismiss these crash solutions as several bridges too far, as simply unrealistic. But hear me out. It can be made much more plausible than it seems at first blush. What’s more, if Mr. Obama doesn’t do something along the lines of what’s proposed here, he and we are in for unmanageable trouble.
Before I continue, I have to tell you that I’ve never made such extreme and far-reaching proposals in all my years in this business. I’ve never proposed such a drastic overhaul. But if you think hard about how Mr. Obama and his team handled this weekend in Paris, I think you’ll see I’m not enjoying a foreign policy neurological breakdown.
Gelb goes on to blame Obama’s staff for Obama’s non-attendance at the march (“oh, if only Stalin knew!”). Then he suggests the following:
First, Mr. Obama will have to thank his senior National Security Council team and replace them. The must-gos include National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, chief speech writer/adviser Ben Rhodes, and foreign policy guru without portfolio Valerie Jarrett. They can all be replaced right away, and their successors won’t require senatorial confirmation.
Obama fire Jarrett? Delusional, risible. Obama would be more likely to cut off his own right arm.
[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]DONATE
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