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A Tale of Two Victories and Two Falls

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

My co-blogger Charles Cameron is fond of his “DoubleQuotes” postings that feature frequently uncomfortable juxtapositions designed to prod thinking. Here’s a wordier one from me:

….Planning for a second term has been under way for months, with Lew and Pete Rouse, the counselor to the president and Obama’s internal management guru, preparing lists of possible promotions and nominations. The staff process has been gossiped about by the staff, but details have been kept secret, even from insiders.

“They haven’t even made calls. People haven’t been asked,” said a Democrat familiar with the situation. “They’re more targets than they are potential nominees.”

Now, officials will start to cement their departure dates, and aides will sound out colleagues about possible new roles. Among the top current officials expected to go: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Lisa Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Attorney General Eric Holder and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood might not be far behind — or may even beat them out the door.

There’s also a growing list of people the administration is looking to find spots for: Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick most of all, as well as former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and outgoing North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad.

Obama has overseen one of the most stable cabinets in history — the only departures have been Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Gary Locke and John Bryson from Commerce. But what’s about to happen amounts to an almost full-scale second transition: 

 

….At eleven o’clock in the morning, Nixon met with his staff in the Roosevelt Room. To many in the room he seemed oddly cool and quietly angry as he thanked them all for their loyalty and said something few of them understood. He said that he had been reading Robert Blake’s Disraeli and was struck by his description a century ago of William Gladstone’s ministers as “exhausted volcanoes” – and then mumbled something about embers that once shot sparks into the sky.

“I believe men exhaust themselves in government without realizing it” the president said “You are my first team, but today we start fresh for the next four years. We need new blood, fresh ideas. Change is important…..Bob, you take over.”

Nixon left then, turning the meeting over to Haldeman. The men and women of the White House stood to applaud his exit, then sat down. The chief explained what Nixon’s words meant: a reorganization of the administration. He told them that they were expected to deliver letters of resignation before the end of the day, then passed out photocopied forms requiring them to list all official documents in their possession. “These must be in by November 10,” he said. “This should accompany your pro forma letter of resignation to be effective at the pleasure of the President”. They were stunned. Speechless. Were they being fired? Haldeman said they would know within a month whether or not they could remain. At noon, the same drama was played out with the entire Cabinet, with Haldeman again passing out the forms.

Ironically, one of the many Cabinet secretaries Nixon ignominiously fired in his bid to centralize power in his White House staff was his former 1968 primary rival, HUD Secretary George Romney, father of 2012 Republican nominee, Governor Mitt Romney.  A blow from which George Romney’s political career never recovered. Nixon’s relationship with Romney had been an acrimonious one, formally polite on the surface with public shows of confidence by Nixon and machiavellian intrigues behind the scenes to undermine Romney and reverse the policies he had been advancing in Nixon’s name.

This latest Cabinet reshuffle to build a “Team without Rivals”, comes in the context of an explosive story, the abrupt resignation Friday of CIA Director General David Petraeus, citing an extramarital affair and accepting responsibility for “extremely poor judgment” and “unacceptable conduct”. The affair, allegedly conducted with his official biographer, came to light during a still not fully explained FBI investigation into unauthorized accessing of Petraeus’ private email account. The resignation of the highly regarded General Petraeus comes just before he was expected to testify before Congress regarding discrepancies and questions in the administrations handling of the terrorist attack in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and other Americans. It also coincides with the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, declining to testify.

It is difficult to say if General Petraeus public career will survive this scandal that he has brought upon himself, an action which stands in jarring contrast to his sterling, some might say superhuman, record of service to America, or if he will, like George Romney, fade away. Certainly, the CIA badly needed to stop the revolving door on the Director’s office and have a strong, visionary, hands-on leader who could reform and invigorate the Agency not merely in terms of covert action but in terms of rebuilding of capacity in deep cover clandestinity and the acquisition of strategic intel. I do not often find myself in agreement with Senator Feinstein but she is correct, this resignation hurts because it is also a significant institutional opportunity cost for the IC. I too wish it had not been accepted  – at one time it wouldn’t have been – but that is the President’s prerogative.

What however are the real issues? What should we be looking for?

Two things: As with Richard Nixon’s second term machinations, with such sweeping changes personnel changes in the offing for the Obama administration, ask yourself as events unfold: “Where is power flowing? And Why?”

If you do you will be in a better position to game out the direction of the next four years, especially in foreign policy and national security.

The White House has attempted to sell a story that the FBI doing a low-level harassment investigation  stumbled upon a security breach and – on their own authority, mind you – tapped the email account of the Director of the CIA and kept him under surveillance and investigated his mistress and, oh, yeah, the President was only informed of this business after the election on Thursday. Wait! And the DNI ( a three star general whose career was primarily intel administration) on his own initiative called the CIA Director ( a four star general and former theater and combatant commander) in on the carpet and fired him told him to resign. Right.

No, what most likely happened was that the minute the special agents realized who was involved in their investigation and the magnitude of the implications, they stopped and informed their superiors and the matter went up the chain to the FBI Director’s desk. The FBI Director, a former prosecutor with a political antennae circumspect enough to be appointed by George W. Bush and have his term be extended by Barack Obama, would have duly informed the Attorney-General of the United States before proceeding further and – I expect – the National Security Adviser, White House Chief of Staff and the DNI. Worst case scenario thinking in terms of national security would have been one driver. Another would be the fear of an all too juicy story leaking and the media catching an unbriefed POTUS unaware on the campaign trail with a blockbuster scandal before the election. How would that have gone over?

I would further expect that we will in the next few days and weeks hear the most salacious contents of the emails between Petraeus and his biographer, leaked by anonymous officials, timed to coincide with difficult days of testimony regarding Benghazi or new appointments to the administration that could, on a slow media day, prove controversial.

Instead of being distracted by prurient nonsense unrelated to the stewardship of the Republic, time would be better spent scrutinizing the host of nominations to come, not as individuals but as “teams” for particular areas of national security and foreign affairs cutting across bureaucracies – ex. arms control, Russian relations, Mideast etc. What commonalities or congruencies emerge?

I suggest this because back when the Obama administration decided on their “pivot” to Asia, the people they selected for second to third tier workday management related to the Asia-Pacific region were all accomplished, decent, honorable public servants, but their greatest common characteristic was a lack of any professional expertise with China. We saw the same personnel gambit with the Bush administration in the run-up to the war with Iraq where the greatest disqualifier for a job with the CPA was familiarity with the Arab world, Islam or Iraq. When you want careful stratagems, you solicit the advice of experts; when you want grand and revolutionary gestures, the wheels of policy are better greased with bold ignorance. There’s a reason Nixon appointed William Rogers Secretary of State – he knew the State Department bureaucracy would largely oppose his foreign policy initiatives and he wanted someone ill-suited and uninformed in charge there who he could more easily manipulate and keep in the dark.

The sixties radicals used to assert “the personal is the political”; in the eighties, Ronald Reagan in staffing his first administration understood that “the personnel are the political” and picked people culled from Heritage and Cato. My intuition is that in the second decade of the 21st century, the inside circle of the Obama administration have discovered that ” the political are the patterns”.

The story unfolding is no longer the “smoking gun” or the compromising jigsaw piece but the entirety of the puzzle.

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The Person / Position Paradox: once more, with avatars

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

[ by Charles Cameron — a follow up to my previous post — and it’s not religion that’s the alternate reality this time, but games ]
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I just posted a long and potentially contentious post about what I called a person / position paradox: that of the member of the US House Committee on Science, Space and Technology and chairman of the US House Science Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, Rep. Paul Broun MD (R-GA), who said recently:

that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell…

And he meant it.

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Well, while I was writing that post, this little gem (above) crossed my bows (ht Paxsims) — so perhaps you’ll permit me to poke a little fun at a member of the other US political party.

It seems that Colleen Lachowicz, Democratic candidate for the Maine State Semnate, is also Santiaga, Orc Assassination Rogue in the game-world, World of Warcraft.

Questions arising:

Does that make her more representative or less?
what about the fact that she plays at level 68?
is that a representative level to play at?
and an Orc Assassination Rogue? really?
or is she just a candidate who happens to be a gamer?

The image above comes from the Maine GOP, btw.

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To look at this minor contretemps from another angle: how far are we from religion, here in the land of Orcs?

The great literary critic Northrop Frye in his Anatomy of Criticism writes of:

great art using popular forms, as Shakespeare does in his last period, or as the Bible does when it ends with a fairy tale about a damsel in distress, a hero killing dragons, a wicked witch, and a wonderful city glittering with jewels.

Frye is not knocking Revelation here, though one might at first think he is: he’s assigning it to a literary genre, as one might assign the Psalms to poetry, Kings and Chronicles to history, or the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles to biography. The Epistles, after all, are already classified as epistolary works. And — give the man a break — he’s also placing it in the same realm of great art as Shakespeare.

How far, then, do you suppose CS LewisNarnia – or Tolkien‘s Middle Earth, with its Elven folk Firstborn of the Children of Ilúvatar — might be from the World where Colleen is an Orc?

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How much room can we concede to imagination in our “real world”?

And Dante‘s voyage took him through the three realms of Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso, didn’t it, and according to the Apostles Creed, Christ’s Harrowing of Hell took place between his death and resurrection.

So my next question would be:

When will we build and play the games of Paradise?

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Yiddish humor, US Presidential Election

Friday, August 24th, 2012

[ by Charles Cameron — Jewish Democrats suggest humorous barbs for Jewish Republicans to digest ]
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As those who follow my strand of posts her on Zenpundit know by now, I’m not a great one for taking sides: I imagine very few bridge builders are, and my real interest is in building bridges.

I am also, in general, interested in the ephemeral signals that go on between and within opposing camps — because they’ll often portray a different side of things from what’s in the official pronouncements.

What I’m offering here, then, is a fleeting glimpse into some Jewish humor from the Democratic side of things:


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— two “curses” from the from the Yiddish Curses for Republican Jews website.

As wry humor, I’m okay with these. As embittered humor, not so much.

And I don’t know the people who posted these “curses” — though I’m reasonably sure they didn’t intend them as actual, may G*d do this to you and I mean it, curses.

Frankly, I’m interested in the religious content.

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I’m interested in the jokes.

I’m interested in the leaflets, the comments in the comment sections of websites — and in the winks, the nudges and the nods.

I’m interested in the differences between “in-house” and “external” explanations of things, what the differences may actually mean, and what they may get interpreted to mean. I’m interested in the asides, the sneers and smears, the jokes, the ambiguous threats, the real hatreds, the moments of reflection, the metanoias, changes of heart, repentances.

At times, the materials I run across are threatening, at times witty or droll, at times insightful, and at times completely unhinged from reality, but they usually have something to teach us about undercurrents — about the variousness of human thoughts and feelings.

We humans are a strange lot, each one of us so singular that we have a hard time getting our heads around the differences between us — differences that can make all the difference between peace and war, life and death.

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I’m not going to explain the jokes, but I am going to take just a quick look at their religious content.

One of the qualities that is, IMO, most likeable about Jewish culture is that it delights in self-mockery. The New York Times journalist Michelle Goldberg tweeted a Jewish joke yesterday, to which I responded with a quote from Martin Luther:

Now I don’t know about Michelle, but I didn’t intend my quote from Luther — “sin boldly” — as representing either my personal advice to the world at large, or Luther’s, except perhaps in a very limited sense such as the one Dietrich Bonhoeffer offered as his explanation of Luther’s meaning.

Bonhoeffer’s question is the obvious one:

Is this the proclamation of cheap grace, naked and unashamed, the carte blanche for sin, the end of all discipleship? Is this a blasphemous encouragement to sin boldly and rely on grace? Is there a more diabolical abuse of grace than to sin and rely on the grace which God has given?

And his response?

Take courage and confess your sin, says Luther, do no try to run away from it, but believe more boldly still. You are a sinner, so be a sinner, and don’t try to become what you are not. Yes, and become a sinner again and again every day, and be bold about it. But to whom can such words be addressed, except to those who from the bottom of their hearts make a daily renunciation of sin and of every barrier which hinders them from following Christ, but who nevertheless are troubled by their daily faithlessness of sin? Who can hear these words without endangering his faith but he who hears their consolation as a renewed summons to follow Christ? Interpreted in this way, these words of Luther become a testimony to the costliness of grace, the only genuine kind of grace there is.

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So no, I don’t think all religiously-themed tweeting and web-based cursing is to be taken literally.

But I do find it interesting that Michelle jokes about kosher, and I joke about sinning boldly — and that the Yiddish humor displayed on the “curses” website includes references to the LDS practice of proxy baptism for the dead and an indication that it might be uncomfortable for those with strong anti-Muslim feelings to meet the generous hospitality that so often characterizes Muslim cultures.

So let’s dig into those two themes in a little more depth.

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Official Latter-day Saints doctrine teaches:

Jesus Christ taught that baptism is essential to the salvation of all who have lived on earth (see John 3:5). Many people, however, have died without being baptized. Others were baptized without proper authority. Because God is merciful, He has prepared a way for all people to receive the blessings of baptism. By performing proxy baptisms in behalf of those who have died, Church members offer these blessings to deceased ancestors. Individuals can then choose to accept or reject what has been done in their behalf.

And while the practice of baptizing the dead by proxy may seem strange to most Christians, the Latter-day Saints can point to I Corinthians 15.29:

Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

and I Peter 4.6 for precedent:

For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

Maybe so — but Saints Peter and Paul, though Jewish by birth, are now generally reckoned Christians, having accepted the belief that Jesus was the awaited Jewish Messiah, the Christ — so their epistles are not canonical texts for mainstream Judaism.

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Feelings in the Jewish community can run pretty strongly on the issue of Mormon believers’ baptisms of Jewish believing dead:

The wrongful baptism of Jewish dead, which disparages the memory of a deceased person is a brazen act which will obscure the historical record for future generations. It has been bitterly opposed by many Jews for a number of years. Others say they will never stop being Jews, simply because there is a paper saying they had been baptized, that the act of posthumous baptism is unimportant and should be ignored. We think this to be a narrow, parochial, and shallow view. We will continue opposing this wrongful act which assimilates our dead to the point where it will not be possible to know who was Jewish in their lifetimes.

[ … ]

A protest drive initiated by Jewish genealogists escalated it to a nationally publicized issue that was followed by public outcry. American Jewish leaders considered it an insult and a major setback for interfaith relations. They initiated discussions with the Mormon Church that culminated in a voluntary 1995 agreement by the Church to remove the inappropriate names. Activists continue to monitor Mormon baptismal lists, seeking removal of inappropriate entries.

Indeed, in February of this year it was discovered that the Holocaust victim Anne Frank had been baptized by proxy — for what one researcher said was the ninth time.

The Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel responded with passionate anger, and the Mormon Church with an apolpogy and a firm statement that the practice was prohibited.

LDS spokesman Michael Purdy made it clear that the Church “is absolutely firm in its commitment to not accept the names of Holocaust victims for proxy baptism.”

There are serious issues here: as humans, we can listen to one another with respect, and work them out.

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Palestinian Muslim hospitality towards Jews?

Miftah is an Ethiopian who visited some Palestinian shepherds in company with people sympathetic to the Palestinian cause:T

he group I went with was a mostly Israeli – international activists’ group that accompanies shepherds in the village as they graze their herds. Since these shepherds face attacks from settlers and soldiers frequently, the purpose of the trip was to document and confront the settlers or soldiers if they try to harass the shepherds.

These were people the Palestinians had reason to respect, Israelis and foreign activists sympathetic to their cause — but the degree of hospitality they were shown nicely illustrates the innate courtesy of so many pastoral peoples…

As we were heading back from the hills to where our mini-van was, these shepherds we had met offered to take us home for some tea and coffee. Mind you, it’s the Ramadan fasting season and all of them were fasting. They would offer us water, coffee and bread even though the last meal they had was at dawn that morning and would not have any food or water until dusk that evening. In Ramadan, even people who don’t fast don’t eat in public or in front of people who fast. But out of true hospitality, they extended their “‘Mitzvah’ – their act of kindness” to us, as one of the Israeli activists put it

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The story is an old one: the person of few possessions who will kill one of their handful of sheep to feed the passing stranger…

In this second “curse” we glimpse the long tradition of hospitality to strangers without which the great trade routes of the ancient would would not have permitted China to supply Europe with silks, nor Roman jewelry to have found its way into Japanese tombs

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A House of Horrors for Autistic Children but Cash for Democratic Pols

Monday, June 4th, 2012

This may rank among the most bizarre and appalling education stories I have ever heard in twenty years as a professional educator. And I have heard quite a bit.

You may have caught a blip about the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights calling in to question practices at some institution in America and read no further. I didn’t. Unfortunately, it turns out, the UN is right. There’s a taxpayer supported independent school in Massachusetts run by a radical B.F. Skinnerian cult called the Judge Rotenberg Center that makes a practice of giving frequent and intense electric shocks to severely autistic children in order to moderate their disruptive or self-isolating behaviors.

To be clear even under “enhanced interrogation” methods approved by the Bush administration, this could not be done to al Qaida captives.  We would never do it to the most hardened convicts in the Federal prison system. Yet taxpayers are footing the bill to do it to disabled students. Sometimes for hours on end.

Having worked with such students in my classroom, words fail me.

Steve Hynd, the progressive blogger at The Agonist and Newshoggers.com did some digging and discovered The Judge Rotenberg Center has deep and exclusive financial ties to a powerful coterie of Massachusetts Democrats:

Electro-Shock Torture School Donates Exclusively To Mass. Dems 

….I noted at the time that there must be some heavy political juice behind the Judge Rotenberg Center, which declared earnings of over $52 million in 2010, 99% of which came from “Fees and contracts from government agencies”. Now, The Agonist has seen information which shows a pattern of donations by directors and officials to Massachusett state Democrats – and exclusively to Democrats.

To date, the Center has spent over $16 million on legal services according to Senator Brian A. Joyce (D-MA), spending which has been very successful in keeping the school open and operating. Earlier this year the man at the head of the Center, psychologist Matthew Israel, “agreed to step down rather than face trial for his alleged role in destroying tapes showing a night in 2007 when two teenagers wrongfully received electrical shocks based on a prank phone call.” Meanwhile, Mass. Governor Deval Patrick’s administration passed new legislation that stopped the Center practising its voodoo psychology on new admissions – but didn’t stop “aversive therapy” treatments for as many as two thirds of the existing students.

The cash-rich Center certainly hires the best when it comes to protecting its ability to torture autistic children. It’s PR firm is Boston heavyweight Regan Communications Group, where it’s file is handled by Crisis Communications head and former spox for the Boston P.D. Mariellen Burns. Regan Communications was started by George K. Regan, former spokesman to Democratic Boston mayor Kevin White. Their legal firm is Bracewell & Giuliani (yes, that Giuliani) of New York. Their lobbyists are the firm of Malkin & Ross, a company headed by Donald K. Ross, the chair of the board of Directors of Greenpeace USA. In 2010, they were Malkin & Ross’ fifth largest client, paying $112,200 to, among other things, lobby the U.S. Congress to stop a bill that would have outlawed their treatment methods.

It also donates to the local Democratic Party. The Agonist has seen an email alleged to be from the Center to it’s legal and lobbyist firms, dumped on pastebin by the Anonymous collective in March of this year. The email seems to comprise information sent to those firms as part of an exercize in damage control. If it’s the real deal, then the Center’s directors have made personal donations totalling $13,305 to Massacusetts Dem heavy-hitters since 2008. The recipient list is a who’s-who of powerful local Democratic players, and there is not a single Republican on the list.

The alleged list of recipients:

Deval Patrick, currentGovernor of Massachusetts, who served as an Assistant United States Attorney General under President Bill Clinton.

Timothy Murray, Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts.

Salvatore F. “Sal” DiMasi, former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives indicted and found guilty 2011 on 7 of 9 Federal charges, including conspiracy to defraud the federal government, extortion, mail fraud and wire fraud.

Patricia A. Haddad, current Speaker pro Tempore of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

Robert A. DeLeo, Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

James Vallee, Majority Leader of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

Harriette L. Chandler, current Majority Whip of the Senate and the Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health.

Joan M. Menard, Senate Majority Whip 2003-2011, now vice president for work force development, lifelong learning, grant development and external affairs at Bristol Community College.

Steven Tolman, Dem member of Mass. State Senate to 2011, now president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO.

Michael Morrissey, Dem member of the Massachusetts State Senate until 2011, now Chair of Massachusetts AFL.

Steven Panagiotakos, State Senator 1997 to 2011, was chair of Ways and Means Committee. Now Vice Chair, Massachusetts AFL.

Barry Finegold, Massachusetts Senate.

Garrett Bradley, Massachusetts House of Representatives.

Kathi-Anne Reinstein, Massachusetts House of Representative

Would this “school” stay open without this kind of impressive political clout behind them? How do these guys sleep at night? What is happening at The Judge Rotenberg Center seeminglyviolates Federal Law and international law. Where is the FBI?

Steve, who has always put his principles above partisanship, has a FOXnews video about the Judge Rotenberg Center’s “aversive therapy” via electro-shock [warning graphic].  The Center attempted to keep this material under seal but failed.

Massachusetts has the reputation of being the most liberal of liberal Democratic states but her pols are protecting a school whose philosophy makes Benito Mussolini look like a libertarian.

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The Anti-Strategy Board Cometh

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

President Barack Obama has established by an executive order an Atrocity Prevention Board.  After the 120 day study and planning period (which will determine the writ of the APB), the board will be chaired by Samantha Power, a senior White House foreign policy adviser, NSC staffer and an aggressive advocate of R2P .

This is not likely to end well.

Presidential boards, commissions, study groups and other executive branch bodies are political agendas that power has made into bureaucratic flesh. Some, like the Warren Commission or the Iraq Study Group were transient for an instrumental purpose; others, like the Defense Policy Board put down roots and become real institutions. Some are killed for partisan reasons by new administrations (as Rumsfeld did to DACOWITS by letting it’s charter expire and then remolding it) or from congressional pique (this terminated the Public Diplomacy Commission) while some linger on for decades in zombie status, politically irrelevant but still animate, due to the inertia of bureaucracy.

What is interesting about these various bodies is that without the statutory powers granted to agencies created by legislation, they are merely empty shells unless filled with influential figures with clout or blessed by the patronage of high officials. If this is the case, even very obscure bodies can be platforms for impressive political action. Creepy and cloying old Joe Kennedy parlayed a minor post on a maritime commission and his vast fortune to become successively FDR’s SEC Chairman and the Ambassador to the Court of St. James, where he dispensed bad geopolitical advice and pushed the future careers of his sons, netting a president and two senators. The role of the Defense Policy Board in the run-up to the Iraq War is well known and I am told that one can even launch a constellation of careers and a powerhouse think tank from something as mundane and thankless as writing a COIN manual ;)

It is safe to say that the new Atrocity Prevention Board is not going to be window decoration.

Many people who are seeing what I am seeing in this move are now uneasily prefacing their critical comments with “Well, who can be against stopping atrocities, right?”. Let me say with complete candor: I can. The Atrocity Prevention Board is a great sounding  bad idea that represents an impossible task in terms of Ways, unaffordable in terms of Means and unacheivable in relation to Ends. Worse, by holding the national security community hostage to the serendipity of governmental cruelty on a global scale, the intelligent pursuit of national interests are effectively foreclosed  and the initiative ceded to random, unconnected,  events. This worst kind of institutionalized crisis management time horizon also comes weighted with implicit theoretical assumptions about the end of national sovereignty that would, I expect, surprise most Americans and which we will soon regret embracing.

Given the ambitions and missionary zeal of some R2P advocates and their ADHD approach to military intervention, it is unsurprising that this new entity was not titled “The Genocide Prevention Board”. Genocide, which the United States has definitive treaty obligations to recognize and seek to curtail, is too narrowly defined and too rare an event for such a purpose. “Atrocities” can be almost any scale of lethal violence and could possibly include “non-lethal” violence as well. This is a bureaucratic brief for global micromanagement by the United States that makes the Bush Doctrine appear isolationist and parsimonious in comparison.

A while back, while commenting on R2P, I wrote:

…As Containment required an NSC-68 to put policy flesh on the bones of doctrine, R2P will require the imposition of policy mechanisms that will change the political community of the United States, moving it away from democratic accountability to the electorate toward “legal”, administrative, accountability under international law; a process of harmonizing US policies to an amorphous, transnational, elite consensus, manifested in supranational and international bodies. Or decided privately and quietly, ratifying decisions later as a mere formality in a rubber-stamping process that is opaque to everyone outside of the ruling group.

The president is entitled to arrange the deck chairs as he sees fit, and in truth, this anti-strategic agenda can be executed just as easily through the NSC or offices in the West Wing, but the creation of a formal board is the first step to institutionalizing and “operationalizing a R2P foreign policy” under the cover of emotionalist stagecraft and networking machinations. A doctrine of which the American electorate is generally unaware and the Congress would not support legislatively (if there was a hope in Hell of passage, the administration would have submitted a wish-list bill).

This will not be a matter of just going abroad looking for monsters to slay but of a policy machine that can spew out straw monsters at need even when they don’t exist.

ADDENDUM:

What others are saying about the APB:

Foreign Policy (Walt) -Is the ‘Atrocity Prevention Board‘ a good idea?

Duck of Minerva (Western) -Institutionalizing Atrocity Prevention 

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