Ben Rhodes, Barack Obama’s former foreign-policy guru, recently announced that he—along with other former Obama-administration officials and former Hillary Clinton staffers—is starting an organization to campaign against candidates for office whose national-security platforms they disagree with. No doubt, writes Noah Rothman, it will attack the Trump administration for its conduct toward Moscow. But Rhodes and his colleagues have a credibility problem:
The challenges the West now faces from Moscow are directly attributable to the last administration’s Iran policy. [It] entered office determined to shift the balance of power in the Middle East toward Tehran to achieve a variety of utilitarian ends. Such a shift would allow the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq secure in the belief that Baghdad’s security, if not autonomy, would be preserved within a Shiite-dominated sphere of influence. A nuclear accord would also stave off the prospect of conflict with Iran over its burgeoning atomic-weapons program for the time President Obama was in the White House. Those objectives informed policy toward Moscow—one of Iran’s most influential allies.
Absent Russian diplomatic and material cooperation, there would have been no Iran deal. Thus, no concession for Moscow was too much. The desire to preserve the prospects of an Iran deal led the administration to pursue a cloying “reset” with Russia just months after its invasion and dismemberment of neighboring Georgia. It compelled Barack Obama to withdraw his self-set “red line” for action against Syria, another Russian ally. . . .
The administration’s dreams of détente with Iran compelled John Kerry’s State Department to elevate Moscow to the role of chief power broker in the region, facilitating Russia’s diplomatic offensives elsewhere in the Middle East. . . . The crisis in Syria, where Americans and Russians are [now] coming into dangerous proximity, was inflamed by Iran as Democrats did their best to look the other way. . . . In concert with their Russian allies, Iran and its proxy Hizballah have been implicated in grotesque crimes against humanity. The whole time, Russia and Iran coordinated their actions in Syria openly. The Kremlin has, for example, played host to General Qassem Soleimani, a sanctioned Iranian figure believed to be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. military personnel in Iraq. . . .
[T]he claim [Rhodes’s] organization will peddle—that the United States has done nothing to correct for the Obama administration’s craven leniency toward Iran and Russia—is contemptible. That absurd claim is likely a byproduct of the Democratic foreign-policy establishment’s justified insecurity over its dubious record.