Obama and the Search for Audacity

Like too many of our presidents, Obama entered the White House with little experience in national security and limited knowledge of the decision

makers in previous administrations.  Obama correctly perceived the Iraq War as the “wrong war,” but he misperceived the Afghan War as the “good war.”  He soon realized that both wars were hurting U.S. interests and that his national security team—Obama’s team—would not stand up to the Pentagon’s powerful military commanders.  He should have followed his vice president, Joe Biden, who warned that Secretary of Defense Gates and his senior military commanders would do their best to “box in” a new president in 2009 in order to put more forces in Afghanistan.

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Breaking the Addiction to Secrets and Secrecy

There is no question that the government must protect its sources and methods in the collection of intelligence. Regarding substance, however, I believe that, with the exception of details on weapons systems as well as on sensitive negotiations, there are few legitimate secrets and almost none that must remain classified for more than ten years at most. The secrecy that surrounded the Iran-Contra affair probably saved the Reagan presidency over the short term, but greater transparency would have prevented Iran-Contra from ever getting off the ground in the first place.

Harvard’s Kennedy School: Key Part Of The Military-Industrial Complex

Harvard’s Kennedy School’s denial of a fellowship to Kenneth Roth, the former head of Human Rights Watch, because of his criticism of Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza is only the latest example of the corporate role played by Harvard’s most prestigious think tank on public policy.  Roth, who has spent the last three decades at HRW defending human rights around the world, was offered a senior fellowship at the School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.  It was quickly withdrawn.