What the Syria Showdown Taught Ben Rhodes

    Daniel R. DePetris

    Security, Americas

    eputy U.S. National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes participates in the Washington Ideas Forum in Washington, September 30, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

    Intervention into the Syrian morass was a bad idea in 2013. It was a bad idea in 2016. And it remains a bad idea today.

    Ben Rhodes, the foreign policy advisor and speechwriter who was President Barack Obama’s aide for all eight years of his administration, is something of a villain in conservative national-security circles. Republicans in Congress and senior fellows in hawkish think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation don’t generally have pleasant things to say about him.

    When Rhodes is mentioned on the right, he is usually described as an object of derision; not as a sober-minded foreign-policy thinker, but an extreme partisan and Obama loyalist who worked his public-relations magic to create an “echo chamber” and deceive the United States into a weak nuclear deal with Iran. On conservative talk radio, Rhodes is the spinmeister and “political operative” with an ends-justify-the-means compose who will lie, cheat, spin, or cover up the facts if it helped the Obama administration’s political advantage—even if the situation involves terrorists murdering four Americans in Benghazi.

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