The Ben Rhodes-created Iran echo chamber is in high gear once again, defending President Obama’s signature foreign policy “achievement” in the face of new evidence that the Iranian regime lied about its nuclear ambitions. Rhodes, who now leads an Obama policy shop called National Security Action, and fellow Obama White House alum and “Pod Save America” host Tommy Vietor are waging a full-court press to defend the deal and target its detractors.
Rhodes maintains that there’s nothing new in the bombshell revelation by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this week, which showed that Iran intended to develop a sophisticated nuclear weapons program.
"That program, along with related activities that continued after 2003, is a major reason the nuclear deal was struck in the first place and why its verification provisions are the most intrusive of any arms control agreement." https://t.co/4zADobku1m
— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) May 2, 2018
Vietor, for his part, alleges a massive conspiracy. He claims that the U.S. and Israel are “cooking up” false intelligence. He has not provided evidence for the outlandish claims.
After years of bashing US intelligence agencies for getting Iraq WMD wrong, Trump is now cooking up intel with the Israelis to push us closer to a conflict with Iran. A scandal hiding in plain sight. https://t.co/fWGRVKMXyP
— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) May 1, 2018
Their claims have been repeated verbatim by various media outfits, fellow Obama administration national security staffers, and other influential figures.
Both men continue to influence many people with their think tank and podcast audiences. But what exactly they actually know about national security policy remains unclear to this day. Their only actual credentials result from their time in office under President Obama, who plucked them out of total obscurity for senior positions in the White House.
When Barack Obama ran for president in 2008, national security and foreign policy endeavors were the last thing on is mind. Obama wanted to “fundamentally transform” the United States. His only foreign policy pledges seemed to involve pulling U.S. troops out of various overseas engagements.
Obama’s foreign policy team represented his lack of interest in the subject matter. Without much of a background in foreign affairs himself, other than his international affairs degree from Columbia University, he found campaign loyalists and moved them into the national security portfolio.
Before becoming Obama’s deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes acquired a master’s degree in creative writing and spent some time as an assistant to a Democratic congressman. Rhodes did help write speeches on issues related to the war in Iraq. However, that hardly qualified him to later write Obama’s infamous Cairo speech, which would set in motion a new Middle East policy that embraced Islamists while seeking distance from traditional allies like Israel.
Vietor has even less experience than Rhodes. He worked as an Obama campaign van driver for quite some time, but his loyalty eventually paid off. Vietor was later dramatically elevated to National Security Council spokesman.
In 2016, Republican Senator Tom Cotton noted that the Iran deal and other disastrous Obama policies are what results “when you put van drivers and campaign flacks and failed novelists in charge of foreign policy and national security.” Both Rhodes and Vietor have made successful careers out of leveraging their past positions in the White House. Yet in the debate over the merits of the Iran deal, it’s worth noting that their resumes do not replace actual experience learning about, developing expertise, and dealing with complex geopolitical issues.