New Director for Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (INTERVIEW)
After extensive national security and Jewish community involvement, Larry Greenfield takes the reins at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) during what he calls a “dangerous moment” for America and for the rest of the world.
Americans tend to forget major periods of conflict quickly, Greenfield explained—citing World War II, the Korean War, the war in Vietnam, and the Cold War—leading the government to downgrade military preparedness and budgets.
“We’ve done this repeatedly–we cycle down and then we have to cycle back up,” Greenfield said. “Let no one think either that the Arab Spring is going well or that jihad has slowed or that potential challengers like China result in opportunity for America to lower its guard.”
“We all know about Pakistan and the concerns related to their assets and intentions,” he added. “It’s a complex and dangerous world, and American leadership is required for security and liberty.”
JINSA announced the hiring of Greenfield, a 50-year-old Los Angeles area native, earlier this month. Greenfield, who succeeds Tom Neumann, is a Fellow in American Studies at the Claremont Institute and Senior Fellow of the American Freedom Alliance. He served as a reservist in U.S. Naval Intelligence and was the founding executive director of the non-profit Reagan Legacy Foundation. Greenfield’s Jewish activism includes roles as vice president of the Jewish Community Foundation of L.A., and as regional director for the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Israel Cancer Research Fund.
JointMedia News Service interviewed the new executive about his new position and his views on world affairs:
What attracted you to JINSA and how will you use your previous national security background in this role?
“JINSA’s mission is to secure America, strengthen Israel, and advocate and educate for the national security of our nation and our allies. This has been my passion, both private and public, since my conscious attention to public affairs and public policy.
“I was indeed attracted to JINSA’s track record of accomplishment, superb professional staff, and highly admired lay and advisory board leadership. My varied background in U.S. Naval Intelligence, academic work on missile defense and international relations, and Jewish life and non sectarian pro-Israel activism, all assist a confident and smooth transition for me to help lead JINSA to the next level of insight, advocacy, and contribution within both national security and Jewish community circles.”
What should be the Jewish community’s most important contribution to American defense policy?
“Extraordinary thoughtfulness and experience about the threats to western security and evil dangers in our world, from Iran to North Korea to elements within the Arab and the broader Islamic world.
“We must both engage in a non-military war of ideas and provide for resolute military preparedness, including continuing robust U.S. budget expenditures. We must develop advanced technologies and equipment in support of our brave troops and broader defense, intelligence, border security, and first-responder communities.”
What do you think of the seriousness of the Iranian nuclear threat, for both America and Israel?
“The Iranian regime has been at war with the United States and the west since 1979, with the establishment of the Islamic Republic. Iran is now the most important source of Middle East regional terrorism, threatening proxies wars, a nuclear arms race, and economic crisis due to the importance of the Gulf.
“A nuclear Iran would be an umbrella under which Iran would become ever more dangerous to the existence of Israel, and to Europe, and eventually, through delivery systems, the American homeland as well. I have studied with concern the scenarios of devastating terror emanating from off the U.S. coasts. Iranian ambitions may include cyber, space, and asymmetric warfare, and coordinated proxy assaults on American interests and those of our allies around the world.
“The Iranian regime’s rhetoric, threats, denial of the Holocaust, maltreatment of their own people, human rights abuses, assaults on their own minorities, bullying in the region, attacks on American troops in Iraq, and sponsoring, funding and training of terrorists are all evident. There is no debate about Iranian behavior and intentions, which now includes an agenda to infiltrate and threaten Americans in our own hemisphere.”
What are your thoughts on the current state of the U.S.-Israel relationship and strategic partnership?
“The military relationship is increasingly close and interconnected, and JINSA is very pleased with the shared agendas and collaboration of U.S. senior military and active duty with their counterparts in Israel. On issues ranging from missile defense to counterterrorism, cooperation and alliance is manifold.
“The American people widely favor a very strong strategic, intelligence, counter-terror, and politically bonded U.S. alliance with the Jewish state. I personally believe the most important religious movement in the United States in the modern era has been the intensifying pro-Israel spirit of America’s beautiful Christian community.
“On the other hand, JINSA has expressed concerns at some of the diplomatic and policy choices of the current administration, which have ranged from naive in worldview to downright hostile against Israel, and have violated longstanding, bi-partisan approaches.
The tilt toward [Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, the appointment of the Ambassador to Syria, the leading from behind on Libya, and the pressure on Israel, not Palestinian irredentists, have all been tactical blunders that have led not to peace but to intended and increased diplomatic space between America and our special ally Israel.
“We now see more confident voices, which seek to isolate, delegitimize, and boycott Israel. Unfortunately, they have now moved from marginalized to mainstream now among some academic and political elites.”
What lessons will you bring from your other Jewish community involvement to JINSA?
“I am not interested in, and very unimpressed by, the loud, negative voices that seek attention and add little to the scholarship or genuine policy debates. Count JINSA in for public leadership and classy education, and count us out for heated rhetoric, name calling, and the Jewish political wars. I hope the Jewish press will continue its evolution toward improved policy analysis and deeper meaning. I recommend they move beyond rumor and political gossip and Internet flame wars to better serve the Jewish community.”