by Eli Clifton
Retired Admiral James Stavridis is currently being vetted as Hillary Clinton’s running mate, according to multiple media reports this week. Sources close to Clinton tell The New York Times that Stavridis may fit the bill because “the former Secretary of State was always likely to have someone with military experience on her vice-presidential shortlist.” But his critiques of the Obama administration’s diplomatic efforts to constrain Iran’s nuclear program, an effort initiated under Clinton’s State Department, and his relationship with anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney, have gone largely unnoticed in profiles of his career.
During his stint in the military, Stavridis served as the head of the Southern Command. In 2008, he described SouthCom’s role in Latin America and the Caribbean in the most expansive way possible: “[W]e want to be like a big Velcro cube that these other agencies can hook to so we can collectively do what needs to be done in this region.”
Since retiring from the Navy in 2013, Stavridis made a career for himself as an academic, the dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and a defense contractor chairing on the international advisory board of Northrup Grumman.
During this time, Stavridis made regular media appearances as a cable news terrorism and military expert. In all instances reviewed by LobeLog, Stavridis was identified by his role at Fletcher and never by his affiliation with an arms manufacturer.
Last July, Stavridis told MSNBC’s Morning Joe that:
The verification regime which is starting to roughly resemble Swiss cheese, you could drive a truck through some of these holes and I am very concerned about that….The entire zeitgeist of the agreement at this point seems to very much favor the Iranians in pursuing the bomb.
One year after the implementation of the nuclear agreement, Stavridis’ concerns appear to have been off-base. Since implementation, and while being subjected to the inspections regime, Iran removed 14,000 centrifuges, filled the core of its plutonium reactor with concrete, and shipped almost all of its uranium gas to Russia.
But critiquing the Iran deal wasn’t Stavridis’ only criticism of the administration.
In 2014, Stavridis appeared on Frank Gaffney’s radio show, Secure Freedom Radio.
Gaffney has made a name for himself casting conspiracy theories about Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the U.S. government, questioning if President Obama is a natural born citizen, and repeatedly suggesting that Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s longtime aide, is a Muslim Brotherhood operative.
Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy (CSP), which received funding from Northrup Grumman and other aerospace companies, rose to prominence last December when Donald Trump cited the group’s work to justify his plan to temporarily ban all immigration of Muslims to the United States.
In 2013, the Anti-Defamation League described CSP as “a neo-conservative think tank that has pioneered the anti-Shariah hysteria by publishing materials regarding the threat of an Islamic takeover of the U.S.”
But Stavridis praised Gaffney, telling him, “I thought very seriously about getting out of the navy and doing kind of what you’re doing in the policy world.”
He went on to criticize the Obama administration’s 2014 policy announcement banning the use and stockpiling of anti-personnel landmines outside the Korean peninsula, telling Gaffney, “The future is unpredictable and to simply sign away any kind of weapon system until you are certain you will never need it again is a mistake.”
Listen to the show (starting at 14:30):
Clinton has said she would like to see the U.S. sign the international treaty banning landmines.
Stavridis also joined Gaffney in signing on to a May 2015 letter urging President Obama to allocate $2 billion “for EMP protection of the national electric grid.”
Stavridis and his colleagues on the letter seem to overlook that the technological skillset to build an ICBM capable of delivering a power-grid-paralyzing electro-magnetic pulse nuclear detonation is far beyond the capabilities of most countries and a completely irrational and suicidal strategic choice for a hypothetical rogue nation to make. Even if an EMP rendered all the automobiles and microwaves inoperable, the U.S. would almost assuredly still launch a devastating military retaliation.
But that doesn’t stop many proponents of the EMP threat, including Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, the Center for Security Policy, James Woolsey, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and the Heritage Foundation, from using the science-fictionesque doomsday scenario as justification for expensive missile-defense systems and allocating federal money to “harden” the electrical power grid.
Arms control specialist Jeffrey Lewis described the cult of EMP as the “conservative fetish that just won’t die.”
If Stavridis becomes Hillary Clinton’s running mate, then Gaffney and his EMP-warning colleagues may have an ally at the highest levels of government.
Photo: James Stavridis