Last month, the New York Times described the hero’s welcome in Israel for Jonathan Pollard, who served 30 years in jail for spying for Israel, as “relatively subdued.” In view of the fact that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu led this “subdued” reception, it is time to throw some shade on Bibi and Jonathan. After all, the United States has supplied Israeli with huge amounts of military and economic aid as well as intelligence support over the years with very little return.
For the past 40 years, incoming presidents have typically made the choice of director of the Central Intelligence Agency their last selection. These choices have been mediocre for the most part, which helps to explain the current crisis of credibility and integrity that confronts the CIA. President-elect Joe Biden has made his last major selection in naming former deputy secretary of state William Burns to be CIA director. This is a sterling choice that should receive unanimous support from the U.S. Senate.
Civilian control of the military has been a central tenet of democratic governance. The trenchant warning from retiring President Dwight D. Eisenhower on the dangers to democracy from a permanent “military-industrial complex” is the most memorable presidential farewell warning in our history. The civil-military gap has widened over the years, starting with the controversy over the Vietnam War in the 1970s; the Goldwater-Nichols Act in the 1980s; and the Global War on Terror in the wake of the attacks in New York City and Washington in 2001. Our bloated defense budget, which accounts for more than one trillion dollars when all departments of government are included and two-thirds of discretionary spending, contributes to the belief that only a professional military class can manage the sophisticated technology of the Pentagon.