" />

Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Bret Stephens Disappoints

Print Friendly

While perusing Right Web internet data last week, we noticed a considerable bump in traffic for our profile of Bret Stephens, a deputy editorial page editor and weekly columnist for the Wall Street Journal, whose editorial page is an important bastion of neoconservative opinion. Stephens appears to help set the tone for much of the Journal’s editorial content on matters of foreign policy.

 

We pay careful attention to our profile traffic, since bumps for certain profiles often point to trending topics and voices. So it was somewhat disappointing to discover the apparent source of such interest in Stephens. Our own increased traffic coincided with a well-circulated recent column he wrote on President Obama entitled “Is Obama Smart?” In it, Stephens breaks with frustrated political progressives and paranoid conservatives alike in offering his own assessment of the president’s intellect:

 

“How many times have we heard it said that Mr. Obama is the smartest president ever? Even when he's criticized, his failures are usually chalked up to his supposed brilliance. Liberals say he's too cerebral for the Beltway rough-and-tumble; conservatives often seem to think his blunders, foreign and domestic, are all part of a cunning scheme to turn the U.S. into a combination of Finland, Cuba and Saudi Arabia.

 

“I don't buy it. I just think the president isn't very bright.”

 

Stephens’ piece is light on the details; much of the “support” for his argument entails his frustration at the president’s supposed failure to tack to the center on issues like health care in the face of difficult political winds, though most progressives will tell you that this is hardly a viable assessment. More generally, Stephens cringes at Obama’s apparent confidence in his own abilities, even invoking Socrates’ admonition, in Stephens’ words, that “wisdom begins in the recognition of how little we know”—perhaps as a head nod to the self-styled Platonists who comprise the Straussian school of neoconservatism.

 

There are a number of schools of thought on the president’s skills as a tactician; many on the right perceive a surreptitious plot to guide the country leftward under the fig leaf of moderation, while many on the left see the president as weak-kneed or ineffective. Still others, most notably Glenn Greenwald, attribute the president’s shortcomings on domestic and foreign policy to his actual views, arguing especially that Obama is simply disinclined to break completely with the neoconservatives, hardcore nationalists, and other assorted right-wingers who guided the foreign and domestic policy of his predecessor’s administration.

 

Stephens’ criticisms of Obama are nothing new. In other op-eds, Stephens—who was previously the youngest-ever editor-in-chief of the rightwing Jerusalem Post—has lambasted Obama’s Israel policy, especially as it concerns the relevance of 1967 borders, the issue of Palestinian refugees, and the future role of Hamas. While Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has remarked that he “can hardly remember a better period of [U.S.] support” for Israel than exists currently, the Likudnik Stephens has nonetheless deemed Obama “anti-Israel.”

 

–Peter Certo.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Established in Baltimore in 1897, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is the oldest Zionist organization in the United States—and also among the most aggressively anti-Arab ones.


U.S. Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis is a retired U.S Marine Corps general and combat veteran who served as commander of U.S. Central Command during 2010-2013 before being removed by the Obama administration reportedly because of differences over Iran policy.


Mike Pompeo (R-KS) is a conservative Republican congressman who was voted into office as part of the “tea party” surge in 2011 and chosen by Donald Trump to be director of the CIA.


Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas and an evangelical pastor, is a 2016 Republican presidential candidate.


David Albright is the founder of the Institute for Science and International Security, a non-proliferation think tank whose influential analyses of nuclear proliferation issues in the Middle East have been the source of intense disagreement and debate.


The former GOP presidential candidate and Speaker of the House has been a vociferous proponent of the idea that the America faces an existential threat from “Islamofascists.”


Billionaire investor Paul Singer is the founder and CEO of the Elliott Management Corporation and an important funder of neoconservative causes.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly

President Trump and his Iranophobe supporters are itching for a war with Iran, without any consideration of the disastrous consequences that will ensue.


Print Friendly

The war of words and nuclear threats between the United States and North Korea make a peaceful resolution to the escalating crisis more difficult than ever to achieve.


Print Friendly

The new White House chief of staff, retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, is anything but non-partisan or apolitical. For the deeply conservative Kelly, the United States is endangered not only by foreign enemies but by domestic forces that either purposely, or unwittingly, support them.


Print Friendly

The prospects of Benjamin Netanyahu continuing as Israel’s prime minister are growing dim. But for those of us outside of Israel who support the rights of Palestinians as well as Israelis and wish for all of those in the troubled region to enjoy equal rights, the fall of Netanyahu comes too late to make much difference.


Print Friendly

Rich Higgins, the recently fired director for strategic planning at the National Security Council, once said in an interview on Sean Hannity’s radio program, that “more Muslim Americans have been killed fighting for ISIS than have been killed fighting for the United States since 9/11.”


Print Friendly

This is how the Trump administration could try to use the IAEA to spur Iran to back out of the JCPOA.


Print Friendly

President Trump seems determined to go forward with a very hostile program toward Iran, and, although a baseless US pullout from the JCPOA seems unlikely, even the so-called “adults” are pushing for a pretext for a pullout. Such an act does not seem likely to attract European support. Instead, it will leave the United States isolated, break the nuclear arrangement and provide a very reasonable basis for Iran to restart the pursuit of a nuclear deterrent in earnest.


RightWeb
share