Spoke today with former Iraqi Parliamentarian Mithal al Alusi. Alusi, who has championed counterterrorism cooperation and normalized relations between Iraq and Israel and lost his two sons as a result, is dismayed by what he sees as President Obama’s abandonment of the “liberals of the mideast.”
In particular, Alusi thinks Obama is signaling weakness in support of genuine liberals and moderates, and appeasement of extremists such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Furthermore, he views the President’s nomination of Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) as a sign of weakness that he thinks is confusing moderates and emboldening the Islamic extremists throughout the mideast.
“What we hear from your country makes us so confused,” Alusi said. “What [potential] American defense minister will say he will never go to war? Such a statement from a high level politician will … push Iran to understand there is no serious position in America.”
Regarding Iran, Hagel said publicly in 2006, ”“I do not expect any kind of military solution on the Iran issue … a military strike against Iran, a military option, is not a viable, feasible, responsible option.”
Alusi commented today, “This is not a minister of defense, it’s a minister of chaos. [Choosing Hagel] makes it seem Mr. Obama is just a joke, American power is just a joke.”
Alusi added, “If a soldier says, ‘I will never go in a war. I am afraid of war, he is not a soldier.’”
Alusi clarified that a military option should be undertaken “only if there is no alternative” but to state outright one’s refusal to consider the possibility will be interpreted in the mideast as a sign of weakness, and exploited.
“This is not the best way,” said Alusi. “A minister of defense should be a man who understands that if there is a need, he will move. To have a minister of defense who will never go to war–that is how it’s translated to us–even if there is no alternative … this is dangerous.”
More to come.