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Les Gelb is dead, long live the blob

Opinion
on 5 Comments

Leslie Gelb, a leading liberal interventionist at the Pentagon, the State Department, the Council on Foreign Relations and the New York Times, died last Saturday. Gelb’s most famous statement was his explanation in 2009 of why he had supported the Iraq War, a quote that even the Times used in his obituary.

My initial support for the war was symptomatic of unfortunate tendencies within the foreign policy community, namely the disposition and incentives to support wars to retain political and professional credibility.

Good to know. Those “unfortunate tendencies within the foreign policy community” continued unabated throughout the Obama administration. Ben Rhodes’s memoir:

Rhodes says pressure to attack Iran came from experts who had been “wrong on Iraq,” but were still influential.

“You have to bomb something,” one unnamed expert tells him.

“What?” Rhodes ask.

“It doesn’t matter. You have to use military force somewhere to show that you will bomb something.”

Obama bombed five Arab countries

Those “unfortunate tendencies” continue to this day. From the Times this week:

And yet Trump’s last-minute decision to abort the attack [on Iran] in June led to a concern among Iran hawks in both Israel and the United States: that the president ultimately might not have the resolve to confront the threat with military force.

As Pete Seeger used to sing, When will they ever learn?

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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5 Responses

  1. Elizabeth Block on September 6, 2019, 8:59 am

    When will WE ever learn.

    Only good thing about Trump: he hasn’t started a war. Yet. There’s still time! But he doesn’t like to listen to generals, or anyone else who actually knows anything, so maybe he won’t.
    Only good thing about spending all that money building his wall (which will eventually come down): it’s money that won’t be spent on other military stuff.

    And: What’s the Blob?

    • Rusty Pipes on September 6, 2019, 12:17 pm

      “The Blob” is what Obama called the elements of the Washington Establishment (think tanks, media, legislators, lobbyists, foreign policy staff in government) who pushed for intervention — usually dovetailing with Israel’s interests.

    • philweiss on September 6, 2019, 2:43 pm

      wow. thanks for the correction!

  2. Misterioso on September 6, 2019, 10:48 am

    An interesting and relevant article:

    https://ahtribune.com/interview/3441-seyed-mohammad-marandi.html

    American Herald Tribune, Sept. 2/19, Seyed Mohammad Marandi interview.

    “Professor Seyed Mohammad Marandi: ‘It Is Highly Unlikely That the Regime in Washington Will Attack Iran'”

    EXCERPT:
    “Introduction: First, several friends recently suggested that that I should interview Professor Seyed Mohammad Marandi**; then I read this most interesting text on Moon of Alabama and I decided to ask Professor Marandi to share his views of the current situation in Iran, the Persian Gulf the rest of the Middle-East who very kindly agreed to reply to my question in spite of his most hectic and busy schedule. I am most grateful to Prof. Marandi for his time and replies. Crucially, Prof. Marandi debunks the silly notion that Russia and Israel are allies or working together. He also debunks that other canard about Russia and Iran having some major differences over Syria. Prof. Marandi, who is currently in Iran, is superbly connected and informed, and I hope that with this interview some of the more outlandish rumors which were recently circulated will finally be seen for what they are: utter, total, nonsense. Enjoy the interview!”

    **Seyyed Mohammad Marandi is a Professor of English Literature and Orientalism at the University of Tehran. He is a political analyst and expert on American studies and postcolonial literature.

  3. JWalters on September 6, 2019, 8:00 pm

    “My initial support for the war was symptomatic of unfortunate tendencies within the foreign policy community, namely the disposition and incentives to support wars to retain political and professional credibility.”

    We now know that the “incentives” maintaining this “unfortunate tendency” include bribery and blackmail. Next step?

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