Monday, April 16, 2012

What a joke: The Truman National Security Project and Foreign Policy "Progressives"

Today, the Truman National Security Project, which deems itself a "progressive" foreign policy think tank, released a series of talking point guidebooks, and they give a clear picture of the outdated and bankrupt thinking of Washington's supposedly leftist elite.

Concerning the briefing book on Iran, the Truman Project shows its true colors right from the start, by falsely claiming that Tehran has nuclear weapons, writing "Tough diplomacy can force the regime to give up nuclear weapons, and stop its program at nuclear energy that we can monitor."  Unless the desk jockeys and interns at Truman know something that the 16 government intelligence agencies don't, the above statement is a woeful misrepresentations of the facts.  Both the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran (which is unclassified), as well as a 2011 update to that NIE (still classified), state that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program, and has not since halting the program in 2003.  By trying to hide this fact, the Truman project is approaching Iraq WMD territory, and only a similar stance by the rest of the Washington D.C. establishment allows them to maintain credibility while contradicting the official government position, which was distilled from the opinions of the massive U.S. intelligence community.

The briefing book also strongly warns against diplomatic negotiations with Iran, stating that "the Iranian regime has not shown itself to be a trustworthy negotiator," and instead advocates a policy of strict sanctions.  Perhaps this is why a round a negotiations just took place in Istanbul between the world powers and Iran, and a second round in Baghdad is soon to come.  And in no way does this view reflect U.S. popular opinion, as an ABC News/Washington Post poll from March 12th showed that 81% of respondents favored "direct U.S.-Iran talks."

Moreover, the "background and context" section of the report gives one sentence to describe U.S.-Iranian relations during the 37 years that Shah Reza Pahlavi ruled the country with an iron fist, omitting the 1953 CIA coup that overthrew Prime Minister Mossadegh (a nationalist who had challenged the Shah), as well as the brutal policies of the Shah's SAVAK secret police, who engaged in indiscriminate torture and abuse.  These facts are not lost on the Iranian people and their leaders, and by ignoring America's past indiscretions, the Truman Project presents a false reality that will get policy makers nowhere when trying to make headway on the Iran front.  Even President Obama knew that admitting U.S. mistakes was necessary in dealing with Iran, when he stated in 2009 that "the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government."  You would think that a "progressive" establishment like Truman would at least have the courage to cite the President in this instance, but they did not.

Of course, none of this is truly surprising.  What amounts to official foreign policy leftists in DC, judging by the Truman Projects leadership, are former Secretaries of Defense (William Perry) and State (Madeline Albright), as well as cruise missile liberals like Anne Marie Slaughter.  They have absolutely no connection to the generation of American's who became politically active during the Bush years, a generation extremely wary of American imperialist urges.  This is similar to the growing divide on Israel between the American jewish establishment and young American jews, as described recently by Peter Beinart in his book The Crisis of Zionism (for an earlier version on Beinart's thinking, read his 2010 piece in the NYRB "The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment."  Unless think-tanks like the Truman Project are able to break-free of beltway thinking, they will be stuck issuing briefing books like the one discussed above, which have little connection to reality.  And as such they will slowly drift into oblivion, as more and more of the American populous will view them with skepticism, as yet another attempt to machinate global hegemony.

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