Ron Radosh

A Democratic Think Tank Moves Left, Betraying Its Namesake Harry Truman

In the post-Cold War era, Democrats have generally been less concerned with America’s national security compared to Republicans. For example, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush brought down the “evil empire” that was the Soviet Union, ignoring the pleas of many liberal Democrats that the U.S. should pursue a policy of working with the USSR, believing that the Soviets were in the process of evolving into a Western-style democracy.

The above stance made many centrist Democrats concerned for the future of their party. So a group of center-right Democrats — foreign policy hawks who did not want to leave national security to the Republicans — formed a new think tank to develop programs that Democratic candidates could turn to for guidance: the Truman National Security Project.

Jason Cain, one of the leaders of its “Veterans Leadership Academy,” described the project as follows:

The Truman National Security Project is serving on the front lines of the battle to retake National Security as a positive platform issue for progressives. … the Truman National Security Project has given progressives the tools and voice we need to lead the country towards a future of both military and diplomatic strength.

The project modeled itself on the spirit of President Harry S. Truman, who — at the dawn of the Cold War — rejected the advice of the far-left wing of the Democrat Party (led by Secretary of Commerce Henry A. Wallace) and implemented a “get-tough” policy towards the Soviets and Joe Stalin’s expansionist aims. (That story of Truman’s new policy is best told in a book by historian Father Wilson Miscamble, From Roosevelt to Truman: Potsdam, Hiroshima and the Cold War.) But today, thanks to the work of Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo, we have evidence that this once-relevant think tank has completely changed its mission.

They have decided to cede national security concerns to the Republicans, and are re-positioning themselves as mouthpieces for the Obama administration and its policies of “reaching out” to Iran. Kredo writes:

[A] leading Democratic think-tank has been quietly waging a media war on behalf of the Obama administration’s Iran diplomacy since at least the early summer, according to previously undisclosed documents that accuse congressional skeptics of being un-American warmongers.

Instead of standing up against the contemporary appeasers of Iran, the think tank’s leaders have decided to work like a lobby to promote a bad nuclear deal with the Iranians. Indeed, as Kredo writes, they have moved so far in that direction that they now are accusing those in opposition to Obama’s current policy as “unpatriotic.”

It is so bold a shift that the group’s founder, Rachel Kleinfeld, who is no longer associated with the think tank, tweeted this after linking to Kredo’s report:

Embarrassing – & not the organization I used to run. We should do a deal with Iran if its good -not for partisanship.

As Kredo reported in his first post, its communications director, Adam F. West, had told the group in an e-mail:

Our community absolutely must step up and not cede the public narrative to neocon hawks that would send our country to war just to screw the president. … Once again, Truman is gearing up for an all-hands-on-deck effort to support the administration’s goal of securing a nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1. The core message is the same: a deal is the only way to prevent an Iranian bomb and keep the U.S. out of another war.

Today, Reuters reports that Iran has refused — five times — to let an American bomb expert working for the UN atomic agency into the country to investigate its nuclear activity. Reuters explains:

[This] may reinforce an impression in the West of a continuing reluctance by Tehran to fully answer allegations that it has worked on designing a nuclear-armed missile.

This is perhaps the understatement of the week.

The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens correctly argues:

It won’t be long before a nuclear deal with Iran will join the list of Mr. Obama’s hollow Mideast achievements.

London’s Sunday Times quoted Olli Heinonen, who spent 27 years at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA):

[Iran] could have up to 5,000 IR-2m centrifuges rather than the 1,008 it has claimed. The IR-2m devices are up to five times more effective in enriching uranium than older IR-1 types.

The IAEA’s own recent report concluded, as explained in The Israel Project’s Daily Tip, that:

[Iran is not] provid[ing] any explanations that enable the Agency to clarify the outstanding practical measures, stoking concerns that Iranian officials may be counting on Western negotiators to drop the demand that Tehran come clean about the possible military dimensions (PMDs) of its nuclear program.

For all the above reasons, the Obama administration has enlisted its sycophants for defense. And they unfortunately seem to have taken over an institute that was once devoted to bi-partisan measures promoting national security.

This development is more evidence of the collapse of the vital centrist liberalism that once understood the need to fight totalitarianism. Poor Harry Truman is turning over in his grave.