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Colin H. Kahl, VP Joe Biden's new national security adviser.

Colin Kahl, a former deputy secretary of defense for the Middle East in President Obama’s first administration, was recently named Vice President Joe Biden’s national security adviser and deputy assistant to the president. But, as Lee Smith reports in the Weekly Standard, Kahl is perhaps best known – or would be, if more people realized who was responsible – for deleting the reference to Jerusalem as the eternal, undivided capital of Israel in the Democratic platform during the last presidential campaign.

What should be of even greater concern is Kahl’s hostility to action against Iran’s drive towards nuclear weapons capability, as well as his eagerness to understate Arab leaders’ thirst for such power and to underestimate the existential dangers to Israel posed by such ambitions.


As Smith points out, Kahl was a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security when he co-authored a May, 2013 report which sought to assure legislators that it would be possible to contain a nuclear Iran should measures to stop it fail to achieve their goal. That report described how the U.S. could “manage and mitigate the consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran.”

Although the CNAS is generally considered a centrist think tank, it issued reports recommending non-intervention in Syria, including not arming the early opposition, as well as taking a soft, pro-diplomacy stance towards Iran.

In advance of the CNAS report’s publication, Kahl wrote an astonishing op-ed in the Washington Post which sought to convince readers that Israel made things much worse than they would have been when it bombed Iraq’s Osirik reactor, and that there would be similar or still more disastrous results should Israel dare to attack Iran’s nuclear weapons plants. Think that’s a mischaracterization? The title of the op-ed is “An Israeli attack against Iran would backfire — just like Israel’s 1981 strike on Iran.”

Kahl warned in his op-ed that if Israel were to strike it would doom the likelihood of Iran’s cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency. “An Israeli strike would also end any prospect of Iran cooperating with the IAEA, seriously undermining the international community’s ability to detect rebuilding efforts.”

It seems Kahl may be the only one still holding out hope that Iran will ever cooperate with the IAEA regardless of any action by Israel. He also claimed Saddam was nowhere near ready to create nukes, so Israel’s Osirik mission was premature and ill-advised.

Why Joe Biden – someone most Israel supporters used to consider reliably pro-Israel, would pick someone like Kahl is a mystery.

As the Weekly Standard‘s Smith was told by at least one senior official at a pro-Israel organization in Washington, D.C. about Kahl: “He tried to insert an anti-Israel plank into the Democratic party’s platform and failed to the point where the president had to personally intervene to repair the damage. Since he left government, he has galloped to the fringe of the Iran debate, floating all kinds of suggestions – including letting Iran go nuclear – that the party had to publicly shoot down. You really have to ask yourself why Joe Biden thought he was an appropriate choice.”

That it’s Joe Biden who has summoned Kahl to his side, rather than someone who stands any chance of being the Democratic’s choice to lead the party in 2016, may be the only good news in this story.



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Lori Lowenthal Marcus is a contributor to the A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email:


  1. h I see, that is how Taliaferro addressed place was received an e-mail from April today…. hahaha another a divorced single mom was employed at Lockheed Martin, went same church, had fellowship in small group together with others along, little awkward but nice lady who use to live in d.c area then…., you know I took Steve Meyer, young airman visited us some point, Charlie Beasley asked me to take him so I did, but you know even though he hung around our house, borrowed charlie’ pick up truck with other airmen and Charlie used to joked about adopted children because brought empty tanked truck like children would do to their parent etc., these airmen and steave as well in okc. they first joined air force, I didn’t really knew him, think he was disappointed when visited us in italy that Charlie couldn’t take him for site seeing etc., I took steve to grotalia the pottery place where we’ve made our own custom made tureen, 12 matching soup cups, huge pasta plate with our family name had on and duration of years lived in Italy which is few many many years ago, hey I also met Dave Lewis at board of realtors class I took, he was one of a strait headed, square headed man I remember, phuhuhuhu… just funny to see how people area chained into… and their lives are, once a tiny man last named Lewis came to our parent’ home maybe a year or two before our mom passed, mother of a tiny man Lewis brought children’ bb-gun and told that he had stolen when he was very young and played with Charlie they told, also his mother told he owned club in downtown Pensacola area, somehow Charlie seemed why this man even came to our parent’ home, just awkward visit from them and soon they left our parent’ home, Talia’ mom, Lori was also Lewis, just wonder how all these people are came around us is questions…..

  2. This is an important article. Thank you for posting. I do wish, though, that this Bernard Rosenberg guy would go away and leave us alone. He reminds me of the principal of the Hebrew school I attended as a child, for whom as well nothing was important unless it was happening to him.

  3. Maybe he didn't mention Iran because he was to busy airing our dirty laundry re: Ferguson, Missouri. I really don't understand what Ferguson, Missouri has to do with an international group. As bad as the Ferguson situation was, it doesn't come near the beheadings, women subjected to rape and stoning and hanging, etc. He makes former President Carter almost look like presidential material which or course he wasn't either.

  4. Israel is the most current example of the point of your comment. The consistent fact is that for the last two thousand years, when things get desperate, we Jews are always on our own. When Obama said he has Israel's back, my first thought was that if we were to count on that, we would most likely find only our own shadow behind us at the critical time of need. A Jew who counts on a non-Jew to have his back is……….a casualty.

    Biden and Kerry should be given some toys and a nice place to play and kept out of public view, where they can't do any real damage.

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