I am starting to get the queasy acid-reflux feeling that I used to get when Bill Clinton was president, knowing that America’s foreign policy was being controlled by the likes of Madeline “starve the Iraqis” Albright, Sandy “don’t know how those papers got down my trousers” Berger, and Dennis “we’ll have to check with Israel first” Ross. And then there is Richard “bomb the hell out of Serbia” Holbrooke. Well, it looks like we’ll be getting a number of that jolly crew back, Holbrooke possibly as secretary of state, supplemented by Rahm “volunteer for the Israeli Army” Emanuel as chief of staff and Jane “investigated by the FBI” Harman as Director of CIA. What is lacking is anyone who might be described as a foreign policy realist who is actually concerned with the American national interest, which, at this point would seem to require retrenchment and fence mending across the board, not more flexing of biceps in Iran and Afghanistan.
Several of the possible appointees might have problems in obtaining full security clearances. Emanuel served as a civilian volunteer with the Israeli Army in 1991. He was also an Israeli citizen through his father though he claims that he gave up his citizenship at age 18, which leads one to wonder why he was volunteering to help the IDF thirteen years later. The FBI will find it very hard to learn what Emanuel’s ties to Israel were then and are now. Harman was investigated by the FBI in 2006 when she reportedly offered to intercede on behalf of the two AIPAC officials whose trial is still dragging on in Alexandria and there have been some suggestions that the investigation is still open. If Emanuel and Harman run into clearance problems it will be interesting to see what happens. It might be useful to recall how neocons Feith, Perle, and Bryant infiltrated the Department of Defense in particular in spite of their own security issues relating to possible leaks of information to Israel. They circumvented the normal vetting process by being godfathered in by Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, who authorized security clearances when the FBI would not do so. Presumably, Obama could certify both Harman and Emanuel, but it would be a very bad precedent, the kind of corruption that Obama pledged to root out.