James Bamford writes: When it comes to foreign policy, it’s tempting to grade Carson on a curve. A retired neurosurgeon with no political experience, Carson has promised that, as president, he would be as ready “as anybody else when foreign-policy questions come up” by surrounding himself with experts who would help him craft and, eventually implement, foreign policy.
But Carson’s foreign-policy experts are likely part of his problem. The candidate’s most outrageous statements on national security — including his shocking declaration in September that he believes Muslims are unfit to serve as president — aren’t merely a collection of ill-informed gaffes. They are a reflection of the troubling worldview of the people he has turned to for advice. Chief among them is Robert F. Dees, a retired Army officer who has indulged in anti-Muslim bigotry and advocated for a national security strategy centered on Christian evangelism.
Carson is said to have first met Dees at church last February. A four-hour dinner, and regular “study sessions,” followed that initial encounter. Carson has since called Dees “one of my most regular people” when it comes to foreign-policy briefings, and his campaign manager, Barry Bennett, has said that Carson’s national security team is headed by Dees. Dees, for his part, describes his current job title on LinkedIn as defense and national security advisor for Carson America.
It’s impossible to know the precise content of Dees’s advice to Carson. But Dees’s professional background doesn’t provide much reassurance. In 2013, he told a gathering at Wildfire Weekend, an all-male religious retreat, “My greatest pleasure has been being a private in the Lord’s army.” He also recounted being introduced to Jesus Christ by a math instructor at West Point not long after he enrolled there as a student in 1968. “Then I went off in the military,” he said, “as an ambassador for the Lord Jesus Christ.” Dees spent most of his career in the infantry and in staff positions in the United States, Germany, and Korea, eventually becoming deputy commander of the V Corps in Europe. His resume does not appear to list any combat assignments.
Dees has cited the 9/11 attacks as a personal and professional turning point. Speaking at Wildfire Weekend, Dees described visiting an intelligence center in Virginia sometime after the attacks. “I looked up on the wall … and there were cell-phone calls coming from certain places, and you could see where they would go into other places, and all of a sudden I saw Kandahar, Afghanistan, to Nashville, Tennessee; Dearborn, Michigan; Greensboro, South Carolina,” Dees told the gathering, describing the links between people in Afghanistan, where America was about to go to war, and residents of the United States.
Dees claimed to have an epiphany: When it comes to terrorism, all Muslims — some 23.4 percent of the world’s population — are equally worthy of suspicion. “It’s not about these guys who came from way out, knocked down some buildings, and then have left,” Dees explained at Wildfire Weekend. “We have a serious internal issue. We’ve been infiltrated.” [Continue reading…]