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Rubin Reports

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Dear Distinguished Reader:

You have spent years working for the interests of the United States and years thinking about international affairs. Perhaps you have served in the State Department, Defense Department, National Security Council, or intelligence. Perhaps you are a member of the Council on Foreign Relations or the Foreign Policy Association.  Or maybe you are a university professor or work in a research center.

The time has come to speak out because the U.S. national interest is in danger and you know it.

You are reluctant, though, to say anything publicly about the perilous state of U.S. foreign policy today. Perhaps you are a Democrat or see yourself as a liberal (I know you don’t see yourself as a radical or Leftist). Possibly you believe in always supporting the government publicly. No doubt many of your friends and the newspapers you read tell you that everything is going great. And then there’s the matter of your prestige and, if you are still in government, of your career.

I understand all that but surely you see how bad, how mismanaged, is American diplomacy right now.

And it isn’t as if you or your colleagues held back your criticism of President George W. Bush.

You know people from different countries who are friends of the United States. What are they saying to you in private? That they think their country is better off with the current U.S. leadership and its policies? No. That they aren’t worried? No. That they see their enemies and those of the United States advancing? Yes.

Aren’t they asking you for help?

I could talk about Asia, or Latin America, or Europe or Africa. Each region, each country, has special needs, problems, and complaints.

But let me speak to you about the Middle East since that’s the area I work on.

First, though, let’s clear the air. You know that I support Israel and you might either be neutral or hostile to that country. But that’s not the issue here. Neither is being liberal or conservative, Democratic or Republican. Many of you have served presidents of different parties and put producing an honest analysis — and the well-being of the United States — above partisanship or ideology.

American policy has been built for decades on opposition to America’s enemies (Communism, radical Arab nationalism, terrorism, revolutionary Islamism) and by building alliances with friendly states in the region (Morocco and Tunisia, Egypt and Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates, Turkey, Israel, and others).

Many of you who work on the Middle East feel that Israel has gotten in the way of those relationships; made your job harder; stirred up anti-Americanism; and created unnecessary crises.

But this is not the key issue at present. The key issue is that revolutionary Islamism — anti-American to the core whatever soothing words are spoken — is advancing. And U.S. policy in this administration is helping.

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