Nominations Towards Normalcy

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto is a policy analyst and part-time dungeon master. When not talking endlessly about matters of public policy, he is a dungeon master on the NWN World of Avlis

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58 Responses

  1. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    The Hagel stuff is basically insane. I don’t know what else there is to say about it.

    There are some pretty serious questions about whether further elevating John Brennan, for all his ability, would be good for the country (read: Republic). OTOH, at this point it’s wrong to see a tactical functionary like Brennan as much of a causal link in the breakdown of the rule-of-law’s governance of America’s use of force. Obviously, Obama is central there. But if Jeh Johnson gets nominated for AG, that’s where that action really lies.Report

  2. Avatar NewDealer says:

    I don’t have any strong feelings on Hagel and how he will handle the job.

    However, I am tired of Secretary of Defense being the position that Democratic Presidents hand over to Republicans. I think that it sends a bad message to the American public, plays into right-wing hands that Democratic politicians are weak on defense. Plus I think that the “aggressively gay” comments are not ones that should be easily forgiven.

    On whether he is pro or anti-Israel, I have no idea. But I do hear anti-Semitism in the defense’s of Hagel sort of. Not that his critics are anti-Semitic but in the extremely unnuanced view they have of anti-Semitism. Like racism and homophobia, anti-Semitism does not need to be overt and a smoking gun. Yet there are people who realize this about racism and homophobia but not about anti-Semitic views.Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to NewDealer says:

      Someone recently (was it Greenwald?) made the point that most of the Democratic establishment that COULD fill SecDef is effectively part of the “consensus” of neocons/liberal imperialists.

      As for the anti-semitism thing. It’s entirely possible to have a nuanced view of Anti-Semitism. But saying that is kind of funny given that it’s basically the slander of choice by AIPAC and the Likudniks.;Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        That WAS Greenwald but Greenwald is probably much more of a hater of Israel than Hagel. Greenwald strikes me as a self-hating Jew. Though I do agree with him on Zero Dark Thirty.

        ?As for the anti-semitism thing. It’s entirely possible to have a nuanced view of Anti-Semitism. But saying that is kind of funny given that it’s basically the slander of choice by AIPAC and the Likudniks.;”

        Wouldn’t Fox News and Talk Radio say the same thing about Black-Americans?Report

        • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to NewDealer says:

          I’m not a fan of Greenwald in general, but calling him a self-hating Jew is probably veering into that “nuanced anti-semitism” direction that you so rightly condemn.

          As for Fox News and Talk Radio’s take on racism or really any sort of bigotry in general, I care not about what they’d say, because it’s factually bullshit.Report

        • Avatar b-psycho in reply to NewDealer says:

          Greenwald strikes me as a self-hating Jew.

          …have an example in mind on that charge? I read him regularly and have seen nothing of the sort.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        I don’t necessarily want someone from that establishment. There has to be a Democratic candidate with Hagel’s positions or even further to the left.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to NewDealer says:

          I have a theory about why Obama wants Chuck Hagel for the job. Two parts.

          First, Obama needs someone who spoke truth to power back when the Neocons were all rah-rah about Iraq and it was Not Cool to say such things.

          Two, and this might seem a bit eleven-dimensional chess-ish, Obama wants the GOP to turn on one of their own. Hagel’s got skin thicker and tougher than rhinoceros hide and he will give as good as he gets. Those old pansy Neocons won’t know what hit them.Report

          • Avatar NewDealer in reply to BlaiseP says:

            “Two, and this might seem a bit eleven-dimensional chess-ish, Obama wants the GOP to turn on one of their own. Hagel’s got skin thicker and tougher than rhinoceros hide and he will give as good as he gets. Those old pansy Neocons won’t know what hit them.”

            Sure. I guess this is possible. I think Obama does play a longer-game than many people realize.Report

          • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to BlaiseP says:

            The only Democrat I think that’s similar enough in profile to Hagel is Sam Nunn, and I think Nunn’s done with politics.

            And I do hope Hagel’s nomination turns into a public spectacle.Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to BlaiseP says:

            Two, and this might seem a bit eleven-dimensional chess-ish, Obama wants the GOP to turn on one of their own.

            To what end? Just a general making the GOP look dumb and/or fragmented sort of thing? Or is this part of some grand plan, which would have to include both winning control of the House in 2014 and substantial filibuster reform, in hopes of passing major legislation in the last two years of his term?Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Michael Cain says:

              Obama is a basketball player. He’s got sharp elbows and he has spotted weakness. The GOP is divided and they’re on the run. Let’s not underestimate Obama’s anger and ruthlessness: he came up mean and he’s only gotten meaner. He will be revenged for the GOP’s attack on Susan Rice, a person who was closer to him that most people realise.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to NewDealer says:

      ND,

      Where do you hear this anti-Semitism in Hagel’s defenders? Can you give an example(s)? Is it a function of just what they say, or would you be hearing anti-Semitism in any defense of Hagel for his having done X?Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Andrew Sullivan comes close with his smears against the Greater Israel Lobby.

        There are two issues that are very hot topics on which people use very careless language that boarders into anti-Semitic prejudice. They are Israel and circumcision.

        Terms like Greater Israel lobby and others come precariously close to hold accusations of Jews being a cabal that controlled the world banks and politicians through behind-the-scenes chicanery. Couple this with the constant chime of anti-Zionist does not equal anti-Semitic and I am suspicious. Especially combined with awkward facts like where should the Jews have gone post-WWII and now and also the fact that many of these people can grasp the difference between racist/sounding racist for other minorities.

        For circumcision, if this is not anti-Semitic I don’t know what is:

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/18/anticircumcision-comic-he_n_879739.html

        This provocation destroyed the group luckily. In Europe, it seems to be going the other way. Circumcision is highly important for Jewish identity and I am proud of my Jewish body and wish it non-Aryanized.Report

        • Avatar b-psycho in reply to NewDealer says:

          I thought “Greater Israel lobby” referred to the types that wanted Israel to expand to its ancient borders?Report

          • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to b-psycho says:

            Yes. Specifically to its biblical borders. It’s what drives a lot of the evangelical support for settlement policy, as it tends to be one of the preconditions for the rapture, etc.Report

        • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to NewDealer says:

          “Terms like Greater Israel lobby and others come precariously close to hold accusations of Jews being a cabal that controlled the world banks and politicians through behind-the-scenes chicanery. “

          Lobbies are a fact of life of American politics. To state that there’s an organized lobby that attempts to influence American foreign policy in support of a portion of Israeli political is scarcely an accusation of some grand Jewish cabal controlling the world. It’s also important to note that a great proportion of the American “Greater Israel Lobby” isn’t actually Jewish, and for the most part a large proportion of it is made up of evangelicals and millenialists who want to bring about the end times…this to me strikes me as substantially more anti-semitic than anything said by Sullivan.

          As for circumcision debate, at least in Europe it’s as much an anti-Islamic cudgel as it is an anti-semitic one.Report

          • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

            “As for circumcision debate, at least in Europe it’s as much an anti-Islamic cudgel as it is an anti-semitic one.”

            I do not deny this at all. It strikes me as ironic and troubling that Germany is the biggest proponent of this it seems. But as has been said “Germany will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz.”Report

            • Avatar Ryan Noonan in reply to NewDealer says:

              Is it possible to believe that circumcision is barbaric and horrifying (as I do) without being an anti-Semite? Or am I just missing a particular nuance of the argument that crosses the line in some way?Report

              • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

                I don’t think you can ban it outright without doing a fundamental blow to Jewish identity and practice. It is the very definition of a majority forcing assimilation and abandonment of a practice central to a minority just because a majority dislikes it.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Noonan in reply to NewDealer says:

                I don’t think you’re wrong about the fact that it would fundamentally alter Jewish identity and practice, but the rest doesn’t necessarily follow. The majority “forces” assimilation on people for any number of reasons, and we have a pretty long-standing philosophical commitment to the idea that some of those reasons may be justified. Murder is obviously the big one that no one disputes, but we also don’t allow marriage to minors, animal sacrifice, and various other things that could all plausibly be important religious practices to certain groups (whether they are or not).

                The idea that opposition to circumcision is inherently anti-Semitic merely because it imposes a burden on a specific religious group strikes me as a victim in search of an aggressor.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to NewDealer says:

          Do you mean that the term “Greater Israel Lobby” does that in a way that the term “Israel lobby” does not? Or would you say the same about talking about “the Israel Lobby” at all?

          Because in Sullivan’s term “the *Greater* Israel lobby,” “Greater” doesn’t refer to the lobby (though it of course looks like it does); it refers to Israel, i.e.: ‘the Lobby for Greater Israel’ (i.e. for expanding settlement into maximally controversial territory, for security maximalism for Israel, and etc.). But of course, if just the term, “the Israel Lobby” raises the same concerns for you, then that’s neither here nor there.

          I’m not for a second going to agree that Andrew Sullivan trafficks in anti-Semtism at all (and you can differ), but I’ll certainly agree that he has a tendency to seemingly unnecessarily push buttons just for the sake of doing it at times. Of course, his use of these terms long, long, predates the Hagel nomination, so that ends up not really having much to with the issue. These are really just longstanding feuds between strong supporters of Israel and… (in many cases) other strong supporters of Israel. I was thinking of something that grew more specifically out of the Hagel nomination in particular?Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Michael Drew says:

        I think there is a lot of defensiveness.

        Many pro-Palestinians are not anti-Semitic but they do not speak up against Arab anti-Semitism or pro-Palestinian non-Arabs who really hate Jews. Plus the passion people feel on the subject is a sure-bet for unhinged IDs to fly and that usually leads to anti-Semitic language in effect if not intent.

        The same with circumcision.

        There are only 14 million Jews in the world. I think many people tend to forget we are a minority because of our relative level of socio-economic success for the most part. However, we do not necessarily feel like we are white or part of the majority. Many of us feel like people can have it both ways with us: When it is convenient for Jews to be part of the white majority, we are. When it is convenient for us to be sign as not-white, we are not-white. The only non-Jew who ever agreed with me on this was an African-American woman. I have tried in vein to explain racial anti-Semitism to many atheists/agnostics. It always is an exercise in vein.Report

        • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to NewDealer says:

          I think the way Jews are treated in an racial/social way in American politics is actually pretty damned close to how asians are treated, particularly those of east asian descent. It’s particularly true given SES considerations and the distinct racial “otherness” that persists despite being a model minority.Report

          • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

            I think there are a lot of similarities between the Jewish-American and Asian-American experience. Right down to the industries newer immigrants choose to get involved in like dry cleaning and deli-owning.Report

    • Avatar Scott Fields in reply to NewDealer says:

      However, I am tired of Secretary of Defense being the position that Democratic Presidents hand over to Republicans. I think that it sends a bad message to the American public, plays into right-wing hands that Democratic politicians are weak on defense.

      I used to think that. Then, Leon Panetta (D) claimed the somewhat modest defense cuts under sequestration would be “devasting to the military”. With Democrats like these, why not hand the position over to a Republican? In Hagel, a former enlisted man, Obama has a SecDef who just might want to stop our senseless war-mongering. His party affiliation matters not a whit.

      And, I think the bad messaging ship has sailed as well, if 2012 election polling means anything.Report

  3. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    The GOP has devolved into a gang of petty little pissypants. They’ve managed to hold up dozens of federal judge appointments and they’ve managed to derail the Susan Rice nomination. Now they think they’re going to do the same to Chuck Hagel.

    I can’t wait for Hagel’s nomination fight. How I hope Hagel will tear them a New One big enough to drive a dump truck into.Report

  4. Avatar Kolohe says:

    “Efforts to codify procedures and to find justification in short-term legal frameworks like the AUMF have defined the Obama Administration’s rationales.” (em added)

    The AUMF is almost ready for it’s bar mitzvah.

    Actual codification entails, you know, actual new laws passed by the legislature. The Obama Administration isn’t making it up as they go along like the Bush Administration was – but they are using plenty of precedents set by the previous administration. I will grant you that the current administration is using a bit less in the ‘inherent Article II powers’ schtick than the previous administration did. But it’s easier to do that when you’re taking no prisoners. Also, what codified procedures enabled Odyssey Dawn?

    Everybody’s been running for the exits in Afghanistan for a while (and frankly it can’t happen fast enough), this current crop of nominations don’t really signal anything in that regard.

    “The Obama Administration has shown that it will prefer to rely on a combination of “war in the shadows” style light footprint strikes for counter-terrorism and an off-shore balancing through ready-made alliances role in larger strategic questions over the high footprint interventions favored by the previous administration.”

    Well, Obama already has had his big boots on the ground surge, it just happened in year 1 vice year 7 of his presidency. But other than Iraq (how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?), the Bush administration actually did leverage allies and conduct low footprint operations. (we’ve been playing around in Yemen since the previous administration and in the Philippines for years. And there was the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia that the US provided some quiet support for (and most of the left-wing blog commentariat, spurred on by Enough objected to at the time)

    And with terrorists in the PI, Indonesia, Thailand, and other places in Asia (some Muslim, some not) the Asia pivot does not preclude winding down the (so called) war on terror – on the contrary, it provides an opportunity for expanding it.

    But, I agree, it will be a different sort than at the beginning of the last decade. Any expansion will likely continue to be low footprint, take no prisoners operations.Report

    • Avatar b-psycho in reply to Kolohe says:

      The AUMF needs to be repealed. In its entirety. And the Patriot Act. And the authorization to detain US citizens indefinitely without charges, and every single other piece of police state bullshit thrown up in panic.Report

  5. Avatar Ethan Gach says:

    As drone Czar, I’m curious if you have more evidence to justify your claim that putting Brennan as head of the U.S.’s secret army shadow force will be a return to some form or other of normalacy, rather than just a move to further push the “war on terror” underground, as Obama has been doing since day one–no de-escalating, but simply hiding it from public opinion and public oversight?Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Ethan Gach says:

      As warfare has evolved so has its ethics. We now face an enemy which won’t wear a uniform… or wears ours. Why should we not fight a shadow war? Why shouldn’t we bring terror to them as they do to us and to their own people?

      Mind you, there might be a valid argument against such tactics. Perhaps you could make it. The truth is, we will be fighting this war for as long as the Cold War, against an enemy even more implacable, one which murders teachers and health care workers and even clerics. They destabilise nations and foment sectarian wars. If these are not an enemy worth opposing with standoff technology, would you prefer another pointless and bloody ground war so our consciences aren’t troubled by drones?

      We will be fighting this war for many more years. As such, I feel no compunction about meting out terror to these folks. They could enter the political process as did our own revolutionary leadership. They won’t because they have no mandate as Pakistani elections showed. They are war criminals.

      But make your case if there’s one to be made…Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to BlaiseP says:

        We now face an enemy which won’t wear a uniform… or wears ours.

        Since you allude to our own revolutionary process, IIRC the Brits complained that the American revolutionaries did not wear uniforms (not sure if they ever wore redcoats to impersonate Crown soldiers at any point) and did not fight “honorably” by meeting on a designated field of battle to knock each other down, instead preferring hit and run attacks from behind fieldstone walls etc.

        Now, I am not equating the two in aims, or methods (for one, I don’t think US revolutionaries blew up pubs frequented by Loyalists, or sent disguised agents to London markets wearing powderkeg vests; instead they were engaged in what we’d call guerrilla tactics against military targets) – but had the Crown decided that any and all tactics were therefore on the table because their enemies were fighting “dishonorably”, the US/UK relationship might never have become what it is today due to lingering resentment on our part.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Glyph says:

          The American Revolution featured many atrocities, the French and Indian War, too. Plenty of civilian on civilian atrocities to boot. European conventions of war evolved over centuries.

          Thing is, all that chivalry was bunk then and bunk now. Sanitary war is an oxymoron. War is what happens when politicians stop doing their jobs and wars end when the politicians start doing their jobs again. This “War on Terror” isn’t a war. It’s crimefighting.

          The saddest, stupidest part of this “war” is that we don’t trust our own justice system. Our so-called allies in Pakistan aren’t. Our good buddy Karzai is weak and corrupt. Seems to me I read this story before when we were in Vietnam, another war where we lost sight of our principles. The Americans didn’t torture prisoners but the South Vietnamese military did. I migIht add, Iraq tortures prisoners now that we’ve left.

          Brennan and Hagel represent a return to sanity. Get the CIA out of warfighting and get the Pentagon on a diet. We will be at this borderless war for many decades. Best if we hunker down and figure out how to fight it without going broke doing it– which was, if memory serves, OBL’s goal all along. France did go broke fighting Britain (a war in which our own revolution was a mere sideshow). If Obama is ever to get the nation back on track and keep us out of more idiotic wars he will need lion tamers capable of getting CIA and DoD back in their cages.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Glyph says:

          It strikes me that any analogies to the American Revolutionary War are at least suspect. Relative sizes and power, motives, objectives; all of them were different. Certainly there is no way to cast the US in its role today as any of the parties involved in the Revolution.Report

        • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Glyph says:

          Since you allude to our own revolutionary process, IIRC the Brits complained that the American revolutionaries did not wear uniforms (not sure if they ever wore redcoats to impersonate Crown soldiers at any point) and did not fight “honorably” by meeting on a designated field of battle to knock each other down, instead preferring hit and run attacks from behind fieldstone walls etc.

          This is a lovely piece of hockum mythology that’s gotten sold to American children over the years.Report

          • Avatar Glyph in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

            Which part is “hockum” (sic)?Report

            • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Glyph says:

              Uniforms, complaints about fighting honourably, etc. That’s lovely Patriot stuff, and I imagine it was later ginned up as a way to try to mock the British for being stuffy and formulaic.

              For the most part, the main reason the Continentals didn’t fight openly was because they kept getting their asses kicked and Washington’s main priority was to keep his force from dissolving. The heavy use of irregulars and skirmishers was more of a function during the French and Indian Wars where skirmishers were more widely deployed by the Indian allies of the French.

              Skirmishing was a perfectly respectable form of warfare, with British dragoon regiments as well as fusiliers being used in the light infantry role.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

            Washington made a point of treating British prisoners humanely, though the British were not similarly inclined. After a horrible episode in the French and Indian War where he had been accused of a war crime (though it was a Mingo who murdered the French prisoner) Washington was exquisitely sensitive to the particulars.Report

    • I think it’s telling that it’s Brennan being nominated rather than another COINdinista in the mold of Petraeus. Based on his public utterances and legal justifications for the Administration’s counter-terrorism policies, Brennan’s always been a bit skeptical of CIA dividing the role of shadow force with JSOC.

      There’s also the point that the US Public seems much more averse to CIA operations compared to military special operations. Putting all of the lethal operations under JSOC provides a better cover as much as anything else.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        But even with the military establishment, when COIN was at the height of its buzzworthyness (circa 2009), the counter-insurgency efforts and the counter-terrorism efforts were two distinct things with two completely different supporting organizational structures.Report

  6. Avatar Kolohe says:

    http://www.cnas.org/blogs/abumuqawama/2013/01/once-and-future-cia.html

    Here’s a good essay that covers the many of the same themes as this post, but takes the opposite conclusions, imo. (and I agree with those conclusions)Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Kolohe says:

      I enjoyed that piece, but I’m not sure if the conclusions are opposite.

      There’s a reality that there will always be a war in the shadows program, and a need for policy solutions that aren’t overt activity.

      From what I can tell of both his post and that from Safranski is that the excess focus on bifracating the debate between intelligence gathering and covert operations is a problem that doesn’t address the fundamental issues surrounding capability.

      I don’t think I’m on an opposite side vis-a-vis that, and I’m certainly not taking the side that chief of missions should be playing station chief with the state department becoming regional consuls ala the British civil service in the 19th century.

      I do think that Obama seems to have an end game in mind of a different set of tools to end with than he started with, one that emphasizes a lot more shadow war capabilities, and one that might be trying to consolidate them into JSOC.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

        “…the end result will be a return if not to pre-9/11 foreign policy, then to a modern “peacetime” normalcy with a winding down of the war on terror. Read on for the why.”

        I’m interpreting the above as we’ll get to the point in four years time where the state of play is closer to – if not right on the pre-9/11 – (and by implication post-cold war) state of play* vice the ‘new normal’ that has really been (imo) the reality since the OEF kicked off **. The CNAS piece is saying we’re far more likely to already be in the new normal and stay there, due to the fact the guy that’s been the main counterterrorism guy since 9/11 is now a principal.

        It’s a minor point really. (other than the fact that the title of the piece is ‘nominations toward normalcy’ like we’re not already there, and the assertion that the war on terror will wind down)

        * which consisted of a brief incursion in Somalia, an air war followed by peacekeepers in the Balkans, and approximately annual TLAM & other air strikes in Iraq. (and even Desert Storm, for certain values of ‘post-cold war’)

        **which has always been a world wide effort, though Afghanistan has been of course the main focusReport

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