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Grand Deception: How Obama and Ben Rhodes Lied Us Into the Iran nuke deal

Grand Deception: How Obama and Ben Rhodes Lied Us Into the Iran nuke deal

Created false narrative and manipulated press and “experts” to fool the public

Perhaps the most famous person on the internet right now is Ben Rhodes, Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser.

Rhodes is profiled in a The New York Times Magazine cover stroy that rips to shreds both the story line sold to the American public and the notion that we have independent media in the age of Obama.

Rhodes’ job was to message and ensure that the White House’s narrative of the nuclear deal with Iran was the media’s. Rhodes, in the profile written by David Samuels, displays no shame about his job; in fact he seems quite pleased with himself.

Rhodes who doesn’t have the usual credentials for such a job, “like military or diplomatic service, or even a master’s degree in international relations,” has become President Obama’s foreign policy guru. According White House staff the two  are on the same wavelength or the “mind meld” he has with his boss. Rhodes put it not-so-humbly, “I don’t know anymore where I begin and Obama ends.”

The first anecdote of the feature story describes the day of Obama’s final State of the Union speech is telling. It has just become known Iran had seized 10 American sailors and Rhodes biggest concern is trying to prevent the media from finding out. He can’t. But his reaction isn’t one of outrage. After all in a few days the United States is to announce the implementation of the nuclear deal and Iran is still a lawless rogue state.

Standing in his front office before the State of the Union, Rhodes quickly does the political math on the breaking Iran story. “Now they’ll show scary pictures of people praying to the supreme leader,” he predicts, looking at the screen.

It isn’t outrage, but maybe people will misunderstand. Of course the problem is that when fed the news straight people understand too well; it is Rhodes’ job to obfuscate what happens so they don’t question the administration.

Rhodes, Samuels tells, started out as a speech writer for Rep. Lee Hamilton. From there it was the 9/11 Commission and then the Iraq Study Group. The “scathing” conclusion of the Iraq Study Group were informed by Rhodes’ opinions.

For Rhodes, who wrote much of the I.S.G. report, the Iraq war was proof, in black and white, not of the complexity of international affairs or the many perils attendant on political decision-making but of the fact that the decision-makers were morons.

One result of this experience was that when Rhodes joined the Obama campaign in 2007, he arguably knew more about the Iraq war than the candidate himself, or any of his advisers. He had also developed a healthy contempt for the American foreign-policy establishment, including editors and reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker and elsewhere, who at first applauded the Iraq war and then sought to pin all the blame on Bush and his merry band of neocons when it quickly turned sour. If anything, that anger has grown fiercer during Rhodes’s time in the White House. He referred to the American foreign-policy establishment as the Blob. According to Rhodes, the Blob includes Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates and other Iraq-war promoters from both parties who now whine incessantly about the collapse of the American security order in Europe and the Middle East.

(One of the charges against the Bush administration is that it was unwilling to consider alternatives to its own preconceived notions.)

If you think that Rhodes only had contempt for those he opposed politically, you’re wrong. He also has contempt for those who were helping him get White House talking points out disguised as news:

“All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus,” he said. “Now they don’t. They call us to explain to them what’s happening in Moscow and Cairo. Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

With this background Samuels goes on to describe how Rhodes shaped the narrative using social media and reporters like Laura Rozen and Jeffrey Goldberg. The story was about how a moderate named Hassan Rouhani became president of Iran and this led to an opening to make the the nuclear deal.

But as Samuels points out, this narrative was false, “the most meaningful part of the negotiations with Iran had begun in mid-2012,” well before Rouhani was even mentioned as a candidate. (There are indications that, in fact, Obama had had significant contacts with Iran over the nuclear program even earlier.)

This false premise was justified because “[by] eliminating the fuss about Iran’s nuclear program, the administration hoped to eliminate a source of structural tension between the two countries.” And with that the United States could extricate itself from the Middle East. (Leaving old alliances in the Middle East is presented by Samuels as a positive effect of the nuclear deal with Iran. Samuels reporting it also validates administration critics, such as Michael Doran, who figured out what was going on last year.)

When things finally started coming together last year, Rhodes sprung into action:

As Malley and representatives of the State Department, including Wendy Sherman and Secretary of State John Kerry, engaged in formal negotiations with the Iranians, to ratify details of a framework that had already been agreed upon, Rhodes’s war room did its work on Capitol Hill and with reporters. In the spring of last year, legions of arms-control experts began popping up at think tanks and on social media, and then became key sources for hundreds of often-clueless reporters. “We created an echo chamber,” he admitted, when I asked him to explain the onslaught of freshly minted experts cheerleading for the deal. “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”

(If you want to read a good example of how this worked, read Iran Deal Truthers by Tom Nichols from last summer over how the White House and its media and think-tank allies attempted to undermine a report that accurately showed that they would allow Iran to self-inspect its nuclear sites.)

As Samuels showed, the sequence of events showed that it wasn’t true that Rouhani’s election led to the nuclear talks. But even Rhodes admits Rouhani is no moderate. He told Samuels ” Yes, I would prefer that it turns out that Rouhani and [Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad] Zarif” … are real reformers who are going to be steering this country into the direction that I believe it can go in, because their public is educated and, in some respects, pro-American. But we are not betting on that.”

Another worthwhile recent article from The New York Times on the Obama administration’s nuclear diplomacy with Iran is For Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, Divergent Paths to Iran Nuclear Talks by Mark Landler. The article is excerpted from Landler’s book. Landler, who is White House correspondent for the Times, and a cheerleader for the administration, contrasted the different approaches Kerry, while still a senator, and Secretary of State Clinton took towards nuclear talks with Iran. I found it rather shocking that Kerry was allowed such freedom to engage in “freelance diplomacy.”

All of this reinforces an impression I’ve had for a while: the most consequential election that made the nuclear deal with Iran possible was the American presidential election in 2008, not the Iranian one in 2013.

There is more. Lee Smith wrote an excellent takedown of Rhodes and the administration in The Weekly Standard. There’s a snarkier take on the Rhodes article at the Free Beacon.

I actually researched Rouhani’s history and as you can see, he’s no moderate. I later learned that Rouhani had justified the fatwa to kill Salman Rushdie. The point is when the White House announced three years ago that a moderate had won the presidential race in Iran, no one questioned it. All any enterprising reporter would have to do is search through the archives of The New York Times and would have been able to counter this basic bit of misinformation he was being fed by the White House.

A free and independent press is essential to the proper functioning of a free society. What Samuels exposed is a corrupt media, more interested supporting the president in his reckless pursuit of a nuclear deal with a rogue state than in acting as a countervailing force to an out-of-control administration.

We’ve known for a long time that the media carry water for the Obama administration, now they’re exposed as its shills. I would hope that some media people wake up after reading about Rhodes and engage in some self-reflection. But I sure won’t count on it.

[Photo: White House / Wikicommons ]


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MattMusson | May 6, 2016 at 8:46 am

I already wanted Rhodes to choke on his own tongue after it was revealed that he wrote the Benghazi talking points. I guess he and Obama go together like two lying snakes on a plane. (AF1 in the photo)

    David Gerstman in reply to MattMusson. | May 6, 2016 at 9:33 am

    Well yes, he’s a novelist at heart. But now he gets to produce fiction to boost his boss’s power not to entertain readers.

    Rick in reply to MattMusson. | May 6, 2016 at 11:07 am

    Can’t we all simply recognize that the federal government lies to us all the time?
    obama’s administration has brought lying to an historic high, and the public seems to be OK with that. It appears that the next administration will continue the trend and find new ways to accelerate the lying.
    What to do about it?
    Elect some folks with integrity? I don’t think so.

      Paul in reply to Rick. | May 6, 2016 at 11:04 pm

      Article V Contention. Castrate the wallowing hog that is the federal govt.

      Matt_SE in reply to Rick. | May 7, 2016 at 12:15 am

      This will all continue until something horrible happens and instead of a dozen Americans dying, it ends up being 10,000.
      Then everyone will look stupidly at each other and say “how did this happen?”

    Anti-Statist in reply to MattMusson. | May 9, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    Rhodes put it not-so-humbly, “I don’t know anymore where I begin and Obama ends.”

    I have an idea it begins at Obama’s sphincter.

American Human | May 6, 2016 at 8:55 am

I’m sure that in the end, Ben Rhodes will have lived a long and prosperous life being fêted and toasted and glorified by the very people that he has been using.
He is right to have contempt for the press though. At the same time he is using them as tools, he is laughing at them for being such idiots.
I agree though, don’t lay bets or hold your breath on the Media finding they have been used and being upset about it.
They simply love being close to the seats of power and are too concerned that they have close access to the Ben Rhodes-types in the Administration and can drop their names at a cocktail party, to bother with how it affects their character.

princepsCO | May 6, 2016 at 8:56 am

Obama was a liar sheltered by the MSM in 2007/8 and nothing’s changed…except now I include everyone in his administration, all media print and broadcast outlets, the Democrat Party and much of the GOP leadership, so there is that.

assemblerhead | May 6, 2016 at 9:16 am

I hope that when Iran starts the “nuclear-lob-contest”, the first two warheads target Obama & Rhodes.

They have worked very hard for their reward. I see no reason for them being denied their due.

Grubered again.

When we look back from the future, I’m sure we will find many other instances where this administration has Grubered and railRhodesed us.

CloseTheFed | May 6, 2016 at 10:18 am

I feel badly for these twenty-something aged reporters, who in the years in the future, will have to live with the rest of us, with the results of their inexperience.

    nordic_prince in reply to CloseTheFed. | May 6, 2016 at 10:47 am

    Nah, I don’t feel sorry for them – they play stupid games, they get to win stupid prizes. Rather I feel sorry for my children, and others yet unborn, who will only hear about how great and free America once was from old geezers and textbooks ~

      2nd Ammendment Mother in reply to nordic_prince. | May 6, 2016 at 1:28 pm

      No worries….. they’ll rewrite the textbooks….. freedom was just a mythological thing that never really existed and no one liked it much anyway

    May they suffer the most.

We have a nation that is mostly either asleep, brain-dead, or corrupt (including the GOPe and the news media.)

So who was ‘fooled?’

Liberals always know they are right, so lying, cheating and stealing in order to get their way is perfectly OK. I used to be a liberal, so I should know.

Milton Friedman opened my eyes to a concept that liberals think only applies to abortion – that people should be “Free to Choose” what to do with their own lives. About the same time I came to realize that I could learn from a bunch of those ‘dead white guys,’ and I could learn even more from God. I went from liberal foolishness to conservative Christian in short order.

As long as there are no consequences or accountability this will be the new normal. A truly sad state of affairs when people lie, with a straight face, all day every day and it is just accepted as normal behavior.

buckeyeminuteman | May 6, 2016 at 1:12 pm

What do you think would happen when the governments subsidizes college degrees for nearly everybody…people who otherwise would perhaps not have had the motivation to go themselves? So they show up and take the easiest route they can–Communications and Poli Sci degrees. And of course the best place to work is the center of power over all the Districts…the Capital.

Rhodes also wrote Obozo’s nauseating 2009 Cairo speech, a masterwork of propaganda and a brazen piece of historical, theological and factual dishonesty and revisionism that whitewashed Islam’s 1,400 year-history of conquests, atrocities and fascistic aggression. The same despicable speech also absolved Muslims of bearing any responsibility for the violent behavior carried out in the name of their ideology, while casting blame for said behavior on the west. It also painted a delusional fantasy of the Cordoba Caliphate as having been some sort multi-cultural, multi-theological utopia.

So, in Rhodes, we have an apparatchik with a long history of unabashed dishonesty and propaganda in the service of his master’s agenda.

Obama and Rhodes didn’t lie us into anything. We knew from the start the deal sucked. We knew the fix was in. We never faltered in our opposition to it. We weren’t fooled, nor were we distracted. It’s like saying that Obama lied us into Obamacare. Obama’s lying is a constant: an environmental variable that isn’t variable. If Obama or his whipped lackeys are talking, they’re lying.

Even Obama’s Department of the Press doesn’t bother vetting the truth of his statements anymore. They simply opine on the plausibility of his lies, where the sin is telling a lie that even Obama supporters can identify, and praise is warranted for a particularly well-fashioned truth murder.

So no, Obama and Rhodes didn’t lie us into the Iran nuke deal. They defied us into the Iran nuke deal.

    guyjones in reply to Immolate. | May 6, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    I agree inasmuch as it was obvious from the outset to anyone possessing a modicum of objectivity that the “deal” was an absoute stinker, with no meaningful quid pro quo or concessions granted by the Iranian regime. Obozo was transparently desperate to put a feather in his foreign policy cap, to garner his alleged “Nixon in China” moment. It was an ego-driven vanity project from the outset, meaning that the end result was pre-ordained, and the “negotiations” were a total farce and charade, which the Iranians knew full well.

    All of that said, it’s still interesting to see the mendacious lengths to which the Left will stoop to shape the media and public narrative in furtherance of its agenda.

How nice. More lying to the public while selling out our interests and safety to get a deal. I’m sure there is a word for that which comes with a sever punishment.

    smalltownoklahoman in reply to showtime8. | May 7, 2016 at 9:01 am

    Be nice if that severe punishment was actually applied to these jerks as well. Sadly it will likely never happen.

People like this scumbag need to feel real repercussions at a personal level. They should be actively, verbally and physically shunned in their communities. They should be confronted each and every time they set foot into the community. Until these scum feel the blow-back in a way that they cannot ignore they will continue doing what they’re doing. Yes we should hope for the legal system to get them, but we can also ostracize them in the same way that a rapist is ostracized by his community. They have raped the nation and they should pay the price.

This is a result of a phenomenon written about by Michael Crichton years ago, the Murray Gell-Mann amnesia effect.

Murray Gell-Mann was a physicist that received a Nobel Prize in 1969 (you know, when it was actually a meaningful award and not a liberal prize for being most awesome proponent of liberal values). So Murray Gell-Mann was an authority on physics.

Anyway, Crichton wrote the following:

“Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect works as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward-reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story-and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read with renewed interest as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about far-off Palestine than it was about the story you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.”

The media has been full of shit for literally decades. I frankly cannot comprehend why anybody takes ANYTHING they say at face value anymore.

Rhodes just confirms it for us. Newspaper’s ‘foreign policy experts’ are mid 20’s idiots who have never been outside the US blindly accepting talking points from the administration.

The presidency or lies, choices, confusion, abortion, and other games… played in the twilight zone.

bhesson2000 | May 6, 2016 at 9:46 pm

Obama and this very very sick man have sold the US people down the road.

I can’t wait till Obama is gone, he has damaged the US government more than anyone in the history of the Presidency

bhesson2000 | May 6, 2016 at 9:49 pm

And the sorry part is, they seem to celebrate and react with glee because they have fooled the US people and screwed the US.

They all need to GO and GO as quickly a possible.

They are all criminals and belong behind bars along with Hillary.

These DC Pols who think they run the world are all pieces of garbage …

Where did the legions of newly minted arms control experts, who popped up in think tanks and social media to create an echo chamber, come from?

Who are they, how were they groomed? What are their credentials? Can anyone just show up at a think tank? Were they sincere? Does it pay well?

theyellowbear | May 10, 2016 at 5:32 pm

The fact of the matter is, we will all answer for our deeds one day. It matters not if you do not believe that. Not a one of us gets away with anything. Repent and ask for The LORD’S forgiveness.