The last time that President Obama’s senior advisor and assistant Valerie Jarrett was in the news, her favored political recruit, Anthony “Van” Jones, was resigning his post as White House presidential advisor amid revelations of a radical background that included communist sympathies and his support for 9/11 Truther conspiracy. Now Jarrett, widely viewed as Obama’s radical alter ego, has reemerged – this time as a foreign policy guru.
As Obama and Russian President Medvedev signed a new nuclear arms treaty last week, Jarrett sat observing nearby. That Jarrett has once again found herself in a position of influence is not surprising. Jarrett proudly acknowledges her remarkable closeness to President Obama. “We have kind of a mind meld” is the way she put it in a New York Times magazine interview last summer. “When senior staff meetings in the Oval Office break up, Valerie Jarrett often stays behind” with the President, the Times article reported. In short, Jarrett is like a member of the Obama family, but one who has seized command of a variety of policies at the White House.
Although neither elected, nor confirmed, nor even vetted, and without previous Washington experience, Jarrett has been installed as senior adviser and assistant to the president for intergovernmental and public engagement. She also was given the recently created Office of Urban Affairs, even though we have a cabinet member who is Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Now it appears she is involved in our nation’s foreign policy.
Why else would she be in Prague for the preparations and signing of the arms treaty? As Obama has said, “She is someone I trust completely. She combines the closeness of a family member with the savvy and objectivity of a professional businesswoman and public-policy expert,” the Times magazine article stated. She is trusted “to speak for me particularly when we are dealing with delicate issues.” Such as nuclear arms matters? If so, that should be cause for concern. Jarrett’s only experience in foreign affairs is the insignificant fact that she was born in Iran, where her father was a doctor working for an American aid program. She lived in London as a child before coming to the United States.
Nonetheless, Jarrett may already be exerting her influence on the president in this arena. On March 28, she appeared on ABC’s “The Week,” where she talked up the forthcoming nuclear deal between the United States and Russia. “The fact that the President and Russia are about to sign the START Treaty is a good sign that we’re making cooperation and good progress with countries such as Russia,” Jarrett insisted. Just a few weeks later, Obama has made – perhaps with Jarrett’s influence – a sharp departure on nuclear policy. Under the new plan, the United States promises not to use nuclear weapons against nations that do not have them – even if they attack the United States first.
The President’s plan would lessen the part nuclear weapons play in our defense posture. According to the Center for Defense Studies, “our nuclear arsenal today is smaller than at any time since the Eisenhower Administration.” The CDS further notes that
“the message being sent to the rest of the world is that the United States finds nuclear deterrence distasteful and wants to get out of the nuclear weapons business….The result may be a more volatile and dangerous world.”
There is no way to measure the role that Jarrett played in the administration’s nuclear policies, judged by many to represent a radical break with past policies. But it is precisely this that may hint at Jarrett’s newfound influence on foreign policy. After all, Jarrett has in the past been linked with a number of radicals and their causes. Most notoriously, she brought Van Jones into the White House as green jobs czar. She also brought aboard Cass Sunstein as a regulatory czar, notwithstanding his view that animals should have legal rights to sue humans. And she had the President create an office of Diversity at the Federal Communications Commission, where appointee Mark Lloyd, a Jarrett friend, is said to be attempting to silence conservative talk radio. It was Jarrett who encouraged Obama to make his race speech in the wake of the highly controversial and damaging Rev. Jeremiah Wright tapes damning America. To refurbish Michelle Obama’s original public image of an angry woman, Jarrett encouraged the future first lady to focus on concern about military families.
A President has the right to select his own trusted advisors. But given Valerie Jarrett’s radical ties, and her conspicuous lack of foreign policy credentials, the fact that she now has the president’s ear on issues as vital as the country’s nuclear posture is a truly worrying development.