2010: Never Give Up, Never Surrender in Getting US on a Better Global Course

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clemons maddow twitter.jpg
First of all, many thanks to Rachel Maddow for the shout out above. She’s the great one. Keith too.
The link that she is referring to of mine is the one I recently posted on the US broadening its Middle East gambit into Yemen.
I have been pretty busy today — and hope everyone who spends time at TWN had a terrific New Year’s holiday. I’ve been doing my Obama-inspired workouts every morning early, even this morning at about 7:30 am. Feels good.
But I have not been able to post today and will look to my team to post stuff up tomorrow as I’ll be on a long flight to Dubai.
In the mean time, for those interested, I’d be interested in any reactions to the piece I drafted on Barack Obama’s performance for the excellent foreign policy journal, The American Interest. My contribution is called “No Breakthrough.”
Other contributors for the journal’s symposium on Obama’s policy performance over the last year were Jessica Tuchman Mathews, Francis Fukuyama, Walter Russell Mead, Niall Ferguson, Richard Perle, Ronald Steel, Joseph Nye, Robert Kagan, G. John Ikenberry, Josef Joffe, Leslie Gelb, William Galston, Michael Barone, Anne Applebaum, Will Marshall, Steve Clemons (you know him), and Stephen Krasner. All of their pieces can be accessed here.
A lot of folks ask me what they can read to tool up on foreign policy — and my response is usually pretty broad, but it would not hurt to subscribe to The American Interest, which you can do via this link.
More soon — I’ll post from Dubai, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York this next week.
A great start to 2010 to everyone — but as far as I’m concerned, this blog and my work are going to be very focused on trying to get the President and his national security team on a more constructive track — so that I can give them a better grade next year than I am able to now.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

83 comments on “2010: Never Give Up, Never Surrender in Getting US on a Better Global Course

  1. Laptops says:

    Well, the post is actually the freshest on this worthy topic. I fit in with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your incoming updates. Saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the tremendous clarity in your writing. I will at once grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates. Admirable work and much success in your business dealings!

    Reply

  2. nadine says:

    “what [Obama] chooses to advance through his skilled applications, is another matter…So far, it seems to be self-promotion and preserving the status quo…no boat rocking, please…oh, and if you’re A list, here’s you get out of jail card free card, and don’t forget to pick up your bonus..in some ways,”
    But that’s just it: Obama is picking the wrong things to advance if, as you say, he doesn’t want to rock the boat. He should have imitated Clinton post 1994, and picked center-left legislation, concentrating on the economy which was what people wanted him to work on. He could have easily, easily, written bills that would have gotten enough moderate Republican votes to be called bipartisan, and he would still be popular as the sober left/centrist that most people thought they were voting for in 2008.
    Obama’s problem is that he has tried to be as left-wing as he can get away with, but has managed the thing incompetently, with the incompetent help of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. The out-of-control spending is terrifying people, and the naked vote-buying is nauseating.

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  3. nadine says:

    Kathleen, Obama ran a skillful campaign but he’s not running a skillful Presidency. That’s not so strange if you stop to consider how much of his life Obama spent campaigning and how little he ever spent legislating or governing.
    Obama was particularly effective on the campaign trail making promises, which he did copiously and with not a care in the world as to whether he could fulfill them or not. It’s catching up to him now.
    Did you see Jack Cafferty on CNN (not exactly a right-winger) rip Obama a new one the other day over his dumping of his promises to televise the health-care debate on C-Span? And this is the same Jack Cafferty spent the whole campaign fawning over Obama like he was some kind of a demigod. Those days are over. Obama is strictly in mortal territory now. That happens to Presidents who are under 50% in the polls.
    “In my book, the “Chicago Machine’ is an outpost of the “Teddy Machine”…think Mayor Daley in 1968.”
    I’m sure all successful machines have similarities. Consider that this where Obama came up, politically speaking; this is his “normal”.

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  4. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    JohnH..thanks for recounting your experience, vis a vis the health care grassroots organization and Team Obama…you confirm emptywheel’s observation..that Team Obama operates from the top down…I can’t tell you hoe many times I have experienced the same thing with the Teddy machine, starting in 1967-8.
    I agree that cutting off the grassroots group was intentional…hence it is clear that BO did not have a deep conviction to pass meaningful health care reform.. it was simply a very popular issue that Madison Avenue told them was a good one to ride into office..his first pronouncement was to take single payer off the table completely…
    I can’t decide whether to call his actions in support of health care the “Look Ma, No Hands” strategy or “How to fail, without really trying”.
    Nadine, I actually agree with you on Obams..but I do think he is skilled…anyone who can win the nomination and election for President is skilled…what he chooses to advance through his skilled applications, is another matter…So far, it seems to be self-promotion and preserving the status quo…no boat rocking, please…oh, and if you’re A list, here’s you get out of jail card free card, and don’t forget to pick up your bonus..in some ways, GeeDub was more honest…when he was stickig it to us, he would literally give us the finger.
    In my book, the “Chicago Machine’ is an outpost of the “Teddy Machine”…think Mayor Daley in 1968…I was at the convention and saw first hand how Daley and Teddy worked hand in hand, pulling shenanigans in the convention hall against McCarthy supporters, including stacking the convention floor with fake delegates… burning down the warehouse where McCarthy’s campaign material was stored…I could go on, but you get the picture, same old, same old. This whole modus operendi is why they had to dump Howard Dean…he would have gotten it done…this is after riding Dean’s 50 state strategy into office.

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  5. nadine says:

    “The base can’t support Obama because they
    can’t figure out where he stands.” (JohnH)
    They’re not alone in having that problem. Right now all we can be sure of is that Obama wants to sign some bill, any bill, titled “Health Care Reform”.
    It would be quite a trick to wind up simultaneously hated by the socialist base as a capitalist tool sell-out, and by the capitalists as a socialist; but Obama seems well on his way to achieving it.
    I suspect the truth is more banal: Obama is Chicago machine hack whose only abiding interest is himself. He came up in a left-wing atmosphere and was mentored by prominent leftists like Valerie Jarrett. It’s congenial to him; he was clearly a red-diaper baby; but I suspect Obama could have adopted himself to a different philosophy if opportunity presented itself. He never struck me as having a mature, thought-through political philosophy of his own. He’s not a conviction politician, at any rate.

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  6. JohnH says:

    No Nadine, Obama stopped trying to organize the
    grass roots well before anybody knew anything about
    where he stood. In fact, people still don’t know
    what he stands for. That’s a big part of his
    problem. The base can’t support Obama because they
    can’t figure out where he stands. All they know is
    that everything they stand for–busting the health
    care monopolies–is not what Obama stands for. Same
    with Afghanistan, financial regulation, Guantanamo, warrantless wiretapping, etc. etc.

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  7. nadine says:

    JohnH, that’s interesting, I hadn’t heard anything about Obama sponsored community organizing for health care, and now I see why. Obama has seemed focused on buying off (or demonizing) major lobbying groups: big Pharma, Insurance, AARP, AMA, etc. Strictly top-down effort. Maybe they gave up when they realized that Obamacare was becoming less popular the more they tried to promote it?

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  8. JohnH says:

    A lot of talking heads are saying that Obama’s role
    in shaping the final health care bill will be
    pivotal. I agree. He has been curiously detached
    from it all so far. If he refuses to be proactive
    now at this critical juncture, I’ll be convinced
    more than ever that we wuz sold a bill of goods.

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  9. David says:

    JohnH,
    Be interesting to see where OFA goes now. Just got the survey from Plouffe. I think his return to Team Obama might well be a positive. The State of the Union and beyond in 2010 will, for me, tell the tale. I understand the community organizer/political realities side of Obama. But, unlike others here, I think there is much more to Obama than we have seen thus far in his presidency. I don’t like his starting point – in fact I loathe the starting point he was handed. But I doubt he is dead in the water. And since I think political figures do not change for the worse, they simply become more and more who they are, for better or for worse, the only question for me is whether or not Obama can succeed over the forces arrayed against him and with the allies with whom he either is or Rahm sees him as necessarily stuck.
    Democrats are certainly stuck with some allies we could well do without, but as with our alliance with Stalin during WWII, do we win without them? And if we win with them, where do we go from there? Certainly the Cold War was one of the very, very worst consequences of WWII, and America’s place in it was more dumb than smart.
    At this point I really do find myself wondering wtf?

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  10. JohnH says:

    Folks, the speculation about Obama’s “lack of
    conviction” or “lack of skill” is misguided. Fact
    is, Obama’s course is intentional.
    When Obama first took office, his people started a
    grass roots campaign to push for health care. At
    their request, we held a neighborhood meeting on
    health care to “solicit ideas.” It was supposed to
    be the first step in getting people organized.
    Obama cut that effort off at the knees. After a
    single meeting their were no more communications
    with the grass roots. They decided that they did
    not want people getting organized. It was to be
    shepherded by Max Baucus.
    When I wrote about this earlier, some people
    responded that Obama initially had “other
    priorities” than health care but that “the program
    was being reactivated” last summer. These two
    claims are bogus. Obama’s top priority was health
    care, and people were in place to start organizing
    around it, despite the financial crisis. As for
    the “reactivated effort,” did anyone hear about
    it? Did they make any noise? If so, nobody heard
    them.
    My conclusion is that Obama intentionally cut off
    grass roots organizing, either by his own choice
    or because somebody made him an “offer he couldn’t
    refuse.”

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  11. Mr.Murder says:

    The Iron Curtain’s fall precipitated a change in the containment model.
    Engage Iran, contain China, and the powers will balance out….

    Reply

  12. nadine says:

    “..perhaps he didn’t really have the covictions beyond just winning the elections… for people to consider you a leader, you have to lead..you can’t sit on the sidelines giving professorial dissertations on ideals…you have to make it happen by the strength of your convictions…” (Kathleen Grasso Andersen)
    It’s not just convictions, however strong they may be; it’s also skill and experience. One thing GW Bush knew from his own experience as Governor and from watching his father’s presidency was that political capital is short-lived and even if a president seem in a strong position, he can only get two or three things done, so he had better pick his causes carefully.
    Obama made the rookie mistake of thinking that he could do everything at once: Stimulus and Omnibus and Bailouts and also do Cap’n’Trade and Health Care Reform. Plus he wants Amnesty. Plus he’s following Bush’s positions more or less on Iraq and Afghanistan while mirandizing terrorists and trying them in American courts.
    Whatever you think of the policies, Obama is spread way, way too thin. I can’t see any evidence that he has the skills to bring the players into his office and bang heads together the way LBJ could. He mostly exhorts and leaves the legislating to others.

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  13. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    … thanks for the link to emptywheel’s piece on the Obama admistratiuon’s modus operendi… sounded exactly like a description of the Kennedy machine’s methods since the ’60’s….commandeer an issue after soemone else puts their political career on the line showing which way the wind is blowing, use it to propel yourself into office and consolidate your power…definetely top down. But for Teddy, Obama would still be a Senator from Illinois…and so would Rahm be still from Illinois…with Teddy’s illness and passing, at the outset of the BO term, Obama is dead in the water..he had enough popular support to accomplish his goals, but he didn’t have sufficient courage of his convictions….perhaps he didn’t really have the covictions beyond just winning the elections… for people to consider you a leader, you have to lead..you can’t sit on the sidelines giving professorial dissertations on ideals…you have to make it happen by the strength of your convictions…
    DonS thanks for the elaboration on the rule of law and its central importance…if Obama can’t uphold our laws, why would world leaders expect us to uphold international laws, like the prohibition on torture?
    The only way the US can regain its world leadership is by living up to our own ideals and standing for what we profess. Obama isn’t inclined to do that…he wants to look forward and away from any wrong doing on our part…how
    convenient.
    Carroll…i agree…he who hesitates is lost…then there that old truth, there is a tide in the affairs of men…which you can ride or miss…I think we have a washout…remember when Obama and Rahm said they had too may things to accomplish to waste time impeaching? I guess the bailout is the big accomoplishment, so far and mandatory health insurance….too bad Howard Dean has pledged not to challenge Obama to a primary…that would prod his butt.

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  14. David says:

    I watched the UF-NCSU basketball game last night. UF was losing in overtime until UF hit a 70-foot three pointer at the buzzer to win 61-60. Since all of my rational analyses led me to the same conclusion the reality of that game suggested until that incredible shot that it has led me to regarding global warming (James Hansen has an excellent article over at the Nation Online about what we can and need to do) and the nightmare for the Palestinians (and ultimately Israel under its pigheaded Likud leadership), I am going to go with the fact that Obama can hit surprise 3-pointers. Got nothing to lose, and as it stands now, unless an improbable game winner gets launched, we will steadily sink into a morass of the first world’s own making.
    Terrorism is hideous – all forms of terrorism, including the shock-and-awe attack on Iraq – but is not the greatest threat to our future, not by a long shot. The death-dance in the Greater Middle East, currently being approached from some of the most two-dimensional mindsets imaginable, is a far greater threat than any headline-making acts of terrorism.
    And should loose nukes, which Republicans fought mightily against securing when they refused to adequately fund Nunn-Lugar, and which the US idiotically helped guarantee with our behavior during and post-Cold War, get their Hiroshima moment, everything changes, of course. And it won’t matter that it is non-state. The greatest carnage, and the greatest threats to the future of humankind, are still state sponsored.
    It does not matter whether or not Iran gets nuclear weapons. It does matter that Israel already has enough to help destroy the planet, as do Pakistan, India, North Korea, and the two giants in the room. And it does matter that because the Pentagon is pushing back hard against Obama’s call for a nuke-free world, the Russian Republic and China are now compelled to maintain a “balance of power” vis-a-vis the US, especially since a Republican might again sit in the White House, and the national Republican Party is now certifiable, and the quite influential American Christian fundamentalist demographic believes humanity-destroying Armageddon caca de toro. The rest of the world has no reason to trust the American electorate and who they might next put in the White House, as North Korea learned when Bush replaced Clinton as POTUS, a lesson also not lost on Iran, which unfortunately now, to make matters much worse, is also under a government perhaps even more pigheaded than Likud in Israel.
    I will continue to watch for buzzer-beater 3-pointers, simply because giving in just isn’t an option, regardless.

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  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Yes and it worked according the usual definition of Palestinian “truces” : Hamas shot only 1 rocket per day instead of ten or more. Only Israel is expected to actually stop shooting during a truce. Hamas gets “freebies” – at least in world opinion. Then it was Hamas who decided not to renew the six month truce and opened a barrage. Don’t believe me? Go back and check the numbers”
    From the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Center. In December 2008, in a Report….
    http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/html/hamas_e017.htm
    ….. they summarised “The Six Months of the Lull Arrangement”:
    “The lull was sporadically violated by rocket and mortar shell fire, carried out by rogue terrorist organizations, in some instance in defiance of Hamas (especially by Fatah and Al-Qaeda supporters). Hamas was careful to maintain the ceasefire….Between June 19 and November 4, 20 rockets (three of which fell inside the Gaza Strip) and 18 mortar shells (five of which fell inside the Gaza Strip) were fired at Israel”
    End excerpt.
    How many times must Nadine be caught in blatant lies before Steve recognizes her as a propagandist, and becomes cognizant of the FACT that by allowing Nadine a forum he is actually participating in the distribution of Israeli government sanctioned misinformation?

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  16. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Yes and it worked according the usual definition of Palestinian “truces” : Hamas shot only 1 rocket per day instead of ten or more”
    Another shameless lie from the shameless liar.

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  17. nadine says:

    “I have also read recently articles by members of the Israeli left and peace groups saying that their numbers are small and they have little support from the mainstream.”
    There used to be a lot of them, Carroll. They used to be in the majority. They used to elect dovish governments. Then they had to face Mideast reality. After they understood that Oslo was ruse to destroy Israel, most of them wised up and stopped being leftists. That’s why Meretz is down to three seats in the Knesset.

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  18. nadine says:

    “Israel’s legitimate response to Hamas rocket
    attacks was in place for 6 months before Israel
    decided to break it. It was called a truce” (JohnH)
    Yes and it worked according the usual definition of Palestinian “truces” : Hamas shot only 1 rocket per day instead of ten or more. Only Israel is expected to actually stop shooting during a truce. Hamas gets “freebies” – at least in world opinion. Then it was Hamas who decided not to renew the six month truce and opened a barrage. Don’t believe me? Go back and check the numbers.
    It’s all part of the long-term “shoot-n-whine” Palestinian strategy. They know the world gives them “freebies” below a certain level, so that they can claim that any Israeli reaction is unprovoked. It’s like a miserable little brother who keeps kicking and pinching his older brother under the table so that he can get his mother to yell at his older brother when he is provoked into retaliating.

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  19. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Why thank you Kotz, its rare you directly recognize one of my comments. Its an honor, to be sure.
    You’re fuckin’ crazy, so its kinda gratifying knowing that something I said made it through your short circuited and intermittent explosions of confused synapses.

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  20. kotzabasis says:

    POA
    Do you consider the gist of the above post of Kervick as intelligent? As for you, in all your innumerable posts you show that you have the attributes of a mentally exhausted person: “Brutality, artificiality, and idiocy,” to quote Nietzsche.

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  21. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Its fairly telling that Kotz and his dictionary has chosen to go after Kervick, who has a reputation for contibuting some of the more carefully “thought out” and intelligent essays here. Whats amazing about Kotz’s gilded nomenclature is that he really never says anything.
    I don’t always agree with Kervick, but at least he offers something to agree, or disagree, with. But Kotz seems limited to one single message, the same one Bush/Cheney fed us when they lied us into this clusterfuck in Iraq, and the pathetic and expensive con-job known as the GWOT.
    Kotz should save some time and energy, and just periodically drop in to say….
    “BOO!!! THEY’RE GONNA GETCHA!!!”

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  22. kotzabasis says:

    It’s a test of reality that illusionary idealists will consistently and serially flunk. While the “Jihadi monsters” are visibly all over the sky, sickly idealists, like Kervick, will search and find them “under the bed.”

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  23. JohnH says:

    “The majority of [Israeli] jews want Obama to
    either attack or impose crippling sanctions on
    Iran.” Of course, isn’t that why the US exists–to
    slay Israel’s latest concoction of an improbable
    existential threat? Next year, another existential
    threat and another demand for US blood to be
    spilled.
    Of course, nothing could please Israeli and US
    defense industries more, which is what all this
    threat fabrication is really about. Gotta have a
    good supply of bogeymen to spook people, increase
    militancy, and justify the plundering the
    Treasury…

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  24. Dan Emigh says:

    In response to the reference to polls measuring support for attacks on Iran I would offer the following self-derived theory:
    Polls are more accurate for measuring the effectiveness of a pre-poll propoganda campaign than they are an accurate reflection of true public opinion.
    The collective public’s opinion is too easily swayed by the fear everything narrative of our free, delivered right to your living room info-tainment media industry.
    Bill Moyers is a solid journalist. Not many watch him. All the others have the tendency to interject some degree of subjective framing into their presentation of the ‘news.’ Fox is almost exclusively subjective framing presented as ‘Fair and balanced reporting.’ This subjectivity leads the public away from the path to the truth.
    As I interpret the concerns of the old television news executives when following the directions of their profit-driven corporate masters: When the news department is directed to become a profitable entity, the objectivity of our profession will be compromised. And so it was.

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  25. Carroll says:

    Regarding Israeli and jewish society….I was just reading an article linked to an American Jewish Committee poll of US jews showing that the majority of jews want Obama to either attack or impose crippling sanctions on Iran.
    I have also read recently articles by members of the Israeli left and peace groups saying that their numbers are small and they have little support from the mainstream.
    It would appear that the US warmongering jews are a minority here in over all population terms, but a majority in Israel.
    However…does it matter? Probably not. In Israel and as in the US, zealots and fanatics and elites ultimately rule whether they represent the minority or the majority.

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  26. Dan Kervick says:

    I knew a guy once. He was good-looking, intelligent, affable, witty and polished. Everyone found him to be a stimulating and agreeable companion. He carried all the marks of future success and brilliant prospects.
    But he had this woman, you see. She wore her makeup in garish, tasteless, smeared patches on her face. She was anti-social, sulky and difficult. She was dull-witted, quick-tempered and disturbed. She looked like a premature bag lady wearing the discarded clothing of a stripper, recovered during a night of dumpster-diving.
    The pairing was unbelievable, yet the two appeared to be utterly and sickly dependent on one another. What perverse combination of guilt, obsession, obligation and manipulation kept the man attached to the woman was anybody’s guess. Perhaps she satisfied some strong need he had to dispense paternal care and supervision; perhaps he had convinced himself that he was the cause of her insanity; perhaps she possessed the secrets of occult sexual techniques that enabled her to subjugate her mate with powerful and mind-altering orgasms. No one could say.
    Steve worries about the inability of the United States government to re-establish some sort of global leadership. But the the fatal attraction, exaggerated preoccupations and fantastic obsessions of the United States toward their own special Middle East crazy lady must be a contributing factor toward the US decline. There are several billions of people in Central and South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, South Asia, East Asia and Southeast Asia. Many of these people are now hard at work building the 21st century. And yet except for those who have direct commercial interests in those countries, the people of the United States seem barely engaged with them. Our foreign discourse is still nostalgic, wounded and backward-looking, and our thinking overwhelmed by exaggerated fears of jihadi monsters under the bed; weird fixations on the social and political arrangements of remote Middle Eastern peoples; grotesque exaggerations of the power of Middle Eastern states and groups over our lives; and unshakable compulsions to match Middle East fanaticism with fanaticisms of our own. Our dominant national political and media subcultures, and blog culture as well, indulges a crazed obsession with the Middle East nuthouse.

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  27. JamesL says:

    JohnH, nowhere did I say, nor do I believe, that all Israelis are hoodlums, thieves etc etc. Those are a subset, but with the dispensation of the state. Many Israelis are as distressed, or more distressed, than I about how the Israeli government colludes with individuals who are willing to steal, beat, and abuse a portion of the population. But there is longstanding government inaction against those who so act. Wink wink nod nod say no more.

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  28. JohnH says:

    JamesL–Whoa, restrain yourself! There are plenty of
    good people in Israel. The range of opinion printed
    in the press is far more diverse than what is
    allowed in the US. And there are plenty of Israelis
    who protest the separation wall, human rights
    abuses, and the Gaza prison. But then there are the
    “hoodlums, thieves, toughs, bullies, religious
    fundamentalists, murderers, and extreme
    nationalists,” who are over-represented in the
    government and who seem intent on driving Israel off
    a cliff, spawning more generations of victims. It’s
    shameful that US policy rewards the thugs, but what
    do you expect when thieves run both governments?
    “Thick as thieves,” as the expression goes…

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  29. JamesL says:

    There are no settlers in Israel. There are hoodlums, thieves, toughs, bullies, religious fundamentalists, murderers, and extreme nationalists who are carrying on a Israeli government approved pogrom to steal Palestinian land and starve and abuse Palestinian people. These people would, in most any American town, be behind bars in short order. Not in Israel. And there are bureaucrats intent on the bantustanization of remaining Palestinian land, so that it may more easily and surreptitiously stolen, bit by bit, while the government whines that the Palestinians should get their act together.
    Nadine, as a she, he, it, or they, is an organ of the Israeli government. By no means is she a spokesperson for all Israelis. She does not support international law, or the US Constitution, or indeed any other grouping one might imagine, other than an extreme nationalist slice of Israel. She does not support a democratic form of government because that would mean every person would have a vote. In other words Nadine’s position is anti-American, and in fact, anti-everything that is not subservient to extreme, paranoid, narcissistic Israeli nationalism.
    I would condemn Nadine if not for the possibility that she is not a rabid Israeli nationalist, but instead a Palestinian mother whose writings are made under the duress of guns being held to the heads of her children. In a world where torture is accepted as useful, and where human rights are subservient to barbaric government practices, this possibility does exist.

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  30. David says:

    The West has backed itself in a corner in relation to the Middle East, first an arrogant imperialistic corner and then a two-dimensional anti-Communist corner, a corner we seem utterly incapable of getting out of. Every mention of even-handedness in the Israeli-Palestinian debacle has cost whatever Democrat who suggested it dearly, most notably Howard Dean in the ’04 primary. And now Obama and Clinton get stomped on by Netanyahu anytime they even try to call for the least shred of justice for the Palestinians. It seems to me to be reduced to a price the Democrats have decided they cannot afford to pay, unless Obama is a true zen artist. Our policies in the Middle East are what they have always been, and Likud is the most emboldened it has ever been.
    I still think Israel is in the process of committing slow-motion unintentional suicide, but I also think they will take Palestine down with them. Haven’t read anything yet on the effects of global warming and rising sea levels on Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East in general. Can no more imagine the Likud government doing anything wise or insightful than I could imagine same for Dick Cheney. And I cannot see where the United States, given the inordinate influence of mindless pro-Israel sentiments among the majority of American Jews, our neoconfused fundamentalists, and an unbalanced pro-Israel mindset among members of congress, can be a fair-minded player. If we could, Jimmy Carter would be embraced, not villified and marginalized, not to mention forced to apologize for whatever in hell he was forced to apologize for.
    Justice apparently has nothing in particular to do with the Israel-Palestine debacle, hard as I think J-Street is trying to promote just treatment of the Palestinians as part of Israel’s path to both peace and national survival. I do not think J-Street is a scam, I do not think Wexler is anything but sincere, and I know Jimmy Carter is both sincere and justice-driven. I just think America’s history in the Middle East and the current state of affairs in American politics precludes us from doing anything worthy of our ideals in the Middle East. I think Kissinger’s too-often homicidal “realpolitik” will prevail I hate it, and I admire those who fight for justice for the Palestinians. I just think the cards are so stacked against it, just as the cards are so stacked against actually facing and ameliorating global warming.
    And I don’t think progressives have sufficiently effective platforms from which to influence popular perceptions and prevailing mindsets. The closest we came to it was the Obama presidential campaign, but campaigns don’t much extend beyond winning elections. And the right wing noise machine has effectively constricted any possibility of Obama being allowed to be an inspirational leader behind whom a nation could rally. I’ve seen this movie before, and I still don’t like it.

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  31. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “….people like Taylor Marsh….”
    In all fairness to Marsh, John, she is fairly mindful of the plight of the Palestinians, and the travesties they face each day. She is also mindful of Netanyahu’s intransigence and dishonesty as it applies to settlement activity.
    However, for whatever reason, Marsh refuses to use any integrity or even handedness in the manner she moderates her blog. Its a joke, with her tolerating a steady stream of vulgar venomous bluster from the most ignorant and uninformed of her contributers, while imposing highly biased posting criterias on posters such as myself. This last go around with the hypocritical vindictive skag was surely my last, by mutual desire. Her comment section is an embarrassment. I even had one asshole claim he was a member of a motorcycle gang, and that he would “find out where I lived”. Of course, he’s still a regular contributer over there. Can you imagine Steve’s reaction here if someone started threatening posters with bodily harm?
    But judge for yourself. Go over and check out the ignorant assholish spew that “secularhumanizer” throws at anyone that dares cross his shallow and suprisingly “Cheneyish” take on foreign policy.
    It shows too. Her comment section has definitely shrunk over the course of the last year. Her moderation is somewhat inexplicable, as she claims to want more FP discussion. But its doubtful she’ll get it. The latest diary over there on Israel’s policies got all of four posts in two days.

    Reply

  32. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Unreported in US Media: Minnesota Resident held in Israeli Jail
    By Amanda Mueller
    Minnesota resident Ryan Olander is facing deportation after being held in Israeli prisons for over two weeks. He spent his Christmas and New Year at a deportation facility in Ramle, where his request for release has been rejected by the prison judge. His lawyer submitted an appeal to the District Court in Tel Aviv on 27 December 2009 challenging the request of the Israeli Ministry of Interior for Mr. Olander’s deportation. The lawyer is anticipating the decision of the judge within the next 48 hours.
    Ryan Olander was arrested from a tent the Palestinian al-Kurd family built in their own backyard following a recent setter take-over of a section of their house. He was drinking tea and talking to the family members when six Israeli police walked into the tent and took him for questioning at the Russian Compound police station in west Jerusalem. Despite being released without charges the following day, Ryan was illegally re-arrested by immigration police only a few moments later, right outside of the same police station that told him he was free to go.
    Following his arrest, Mr. Olander made the following statement:
    “I have become a target of the police for standing in solidarity with the Palestinians of Sheikh Jarrah who struggle against the unjust and illegal evictions from the places they have called their homes for nearly 60 years. Now I face deportation from Israel.”
    During the time Ryan Olander spent in Israeli prisons, the residents of Sheikh Jarrah in Occupied East Jerusalem have been subjected to further harassment and violence from the Israeli settlers and their supporters who recently took over the houses of several Palestinian
    families:
    – 21 December 2009: An attack of about 40 settlers throwing stones at
    the Ftyaney family house left the Palestinians with two broken windows and fear of future attacks.
    – 23 December 2009: Several hours of settler harassment following a
    Christmas celebration in Sheikh Jarrah included spray-painting ‘Death to Arabs’ in Hebrew, throwing fruit at Palestinians sitting in front of occupied al-Kurd house, violently pushing Palestinian residents and international activists, spray-painting one in her face.
    – 25 December 2009: Around 30 settlers attacked the Palestinian
    Sabbagh family, breaking into their house and injuring seven family members. Two of the injured were cut with a knife and a pregnant woman, who was kicked in her stomach, had to be taken to hospital.
    Another family member was hit in the face and had a gun pointed at her. )
    – 26 December 2009: A group of settlers attacked Palestinians from the
    neighbourhood with stones. Three children and one adult were injured as result, and a French man who took pictures of the episode was violently attacked by a settler.
    – 2 January 2010: A Palestinian woman, Nadia al-Kurd (65), had to be
    hospitalised with respiratory problems after being attacked by a settler in her own garden.
    continues……..
    http://desertpeace.wordpress.com/2010/01/03/more-news-that-didnt-fit-in-the-new-york-times/
    Gee, should we hold our breath waiting for Hillary Clinton, as our SOS, to protest Israel’s treatment of peaceful American protestors?

    Reply

  33. JohnH says:

    Israel’s legitimate response to Hamas rocket
    attacks was in place for 6 months before Israel
    decided to break it. It was called a truce. An
    even more legitimate response to Hamas’ “good
    behavior” during the truce would have been a
    reward, such as stopping the blockade of Gaza.
    An even more appropriate question would have been:
    what is the proper Palestinian response to
    dispossession, economic blockades, and wanton
    murder of their people? Nadine has no solution for
    the 5 million Palestinians under Israeli control.
    She only wishes the would all leave their homes
    and stop reminding Israelis of their brutal
    occupation.
    Re the Cole–people like Taylor Marsh and Nadine
    are always quick to trumpet their grievances from
    centuries past but are quick to forget the wounds
    their side is inflicting on others every day. For
    instance, the 700 people killed by US drones in
    Afghanistan last year, including wedding parties
    and funeral processions.

    Reply

  34. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Interesting that the Cole has been brought up. On my last go around with that skag Taylor Marsh and the blustering assholes she has ruining her comment section, I tried to find a consistent accusation from our intelligece agencies as to who was responsible for the Cole attack. Depending on the time frame, and what military adventure the CIA and the FBI were trying to justify, I found four separate Al Qaeda “masterminds” that the CIA has claimed were responsible for the Cole incident. Googling the Cole incident is an excellent way to discern just how contrived this whole “Al Qaeda” line of crap is, and how our government pulls the names of various Al Qaeda boogie men out of their asses, as needed, to perpetuate this scam known as the GWOT.

    Reply

  35. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I must have asked here a dozen times what the legitimate Israeli response to Hamas rockets would have looked like”
    The more appropriate question would be what do YOU think an appropriate Palestinian response to the theft of land and the murder and starvation of its people should be. Hamas wasn’t elected in a vacuum. Hamas is a prime indicator of what kind of “responses” Israel is getting from the Palestinian people in “response” to Israel’s abuses and crimes.

    Reply

  36. MarkL says:

    Obama’s not naive. Just like Bush thought YOU were the idiot, Obama thinks you are the naive one.

    Reply

  37. Paul Norheim says:

    It was a significant act when the New York Times chose to publish Alan Kuperman`s essay advocating for
    a military attack on Iran as an op-ed on Christmas eve (sic!). And it is a significant act when they
    now choose to publish an essay by Ali H. Soufan – former F.B.I. case agent investigating the attack on
    Navy destroyer Cole in Yemen – as an op-ed today.
    Opening quote:
    “The evidence that Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen had a role in the failed Christmas Day bombing of an
    American passenger jet has led some to declare that Yemen is the new front in the war against the
    terrorist organization. But the truth is, Yemen has been a front in that war since at least Oct. 12,
    2000…”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/03/opinion/03soufan.html?hp
    ————————————————
    Yemen a third front after Afghanistan and Iraq? Relax, it was a front in the GWOT even before the GWOT
    was invented, just like Iraq was a front even in the 1990`s. With other words: it`s just natural,
    business as usual, and nothing to worry about.
    Why do you need Fox News, The Washington Post, and the Weekly Standard, when you have the New York
    Times, saying exactly the same thing in the crucial moment – from Iraqi WMDs to Persian nuclear weapons
    and beyond. When history is written, the NYT will be regarded as an indispensable force in the
    Perpetual War on Terror. They are assisting Obama like they were assisting Bush and Cheney, and this
    support transcends party divisions.

    Reply

  38. Paul Norheim says:

    “I must have asked here a dozen times what the legitimate Israeli response to Hamas
    rockets would have looked like. Not once did you respond.”
    Answer: withdrawal to the 1967 borders.
    Why should I bring my private passion against the killing of Iranian protesters to the
    kitchen, when all the main stream media from CNN to Al Jazeera, and the new media,
    from blogs to Twitter, have been boiling with passion since the election, many of them
    for nefarious reasons? The whole point of demonstrations is to get attention to a
    case, to get it on CNN. Mission accomplished from day one.
    In contrast, saying that Israel committed crimes is “controversial” in US media. And
    even for former head of Human Rights Watch, R. Bernstein. Note the TIMING of
    Bernsteins comment: that`s when the Goldstone report went under the carpet. Mission
    not accomplished. And no reasonable commenter here denies that Hamas violated the
    Geneva conventions.
    Speaking of passions: I have more passion for what`s going on in countries like Saudi
    Arabia and Eritrea, nations that the Western MSM rarely focus on, for various reasons.
    But the human rights in those countries are not topics raised by Steve on his blog.
    Also for various reasons. So that would be off topic – just like our discussion right
    now. I`ll not continue this discussion with you on this thread.

    Reply

  39. nadine says:

    “When I stepped aside in 1998, Human Rights Watch was active in 70 countries, most of them closed societies. Now the organization, with increasing frequency, casts aside its important distinction between open and closed societies.
    Nowhere is this more evident than in its work in the Middle East. The region is populated by authoritarian regimes with appalling human rights records. Yet in recent years Human Rights Watch has written far more condemnations of Israel for violations of international law than of any other country in the region.
    Israel, with a population of 7.4 million, is home to at least 80 human rights organizations, a vibrant free press, a democratically elected government, a judiciary that frequently rules against the government, a politically active academia, multiple political parties and, judging by the amount of news coverage, probably more journalists per capita than any other country in the world — many of whom are there expressly to cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    Meanwhile, the Arab and Iranian regimes rule over some 350 million people, and most remain brutal, closed and autocratic, permitting little or no internal dissent. The plight of their citizens who would most benefit from the kind of attention a large and well-financed international human rights organization can provide is being ignored as Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division prepares report after report on Israel.”
    by By ROBERT L. BERNSTEIN, former head of HRW
    Published: October 19, 2009 in the New York Times

    Reply

  40. nadine says:

    “First, I don`t like the Iranian theocrats and their treatment of the opposition. I
    regard Mubarak as an authoritarian ruler who violates human rights every hour of the
    day” (Paul Norheim)
    You don’t like Iranian theocrats. Funny, you never mentioned them before. You bring no passion to the issue. Now mention Israel and we see your real passion.
    Paul, anybody with eyes can see that Euro NGOs don’t spend even 1% as much energy and passion defending Tibet or Iran anybody else who actually suffering on a mass scale as they do condemning the relatively tiny conflict in Israel in a totally one-sided fashion. There, you see real passion all day every day, and it’s all to condemn Israel. Where are the Free Tibet activists? Why aren’t they protesting in Beijing? Where are protests against Mubarak? Where are the mass marches for Iran, besides Iranian expats? It’s nothing in comparison to Israel and it gets no press coverage.
    All the passion is for condemnation of Israel. If these pathetic “human rights activists” ever got Gaza opened, who would benefit first and foremost? Hamas. Would they rush to build new infrastructure for the Gazans? Of course not, they would rush to import Iranian long range missiles and build deeper bunkers. They would import tanks and heavy army and prepare for the next war. That’s who they are and what they do. It’s their ideology. That’s why they won’t recognize Israel. That’s why Gaza is under siege in the first place, unlike the West Bank.
    But these soi-disant human rights activists are prepared to whitewash Hamas utterly in their hatred for Israel. They would only lay the groundwork for a bigger war but they don’t care about that because to them, Hamas can do no wrong since all the moral culpability belongs to Israel by definition.
    And that’s why I will enter into a discussion of Israeli war crimes (whatever they actually may be) with someone who sees the war on BOTH sides and judges actions by ONE standard in the context of battle according to the actual Geneva conventions. The real Geneva conventions, that is. The ones that do NOT give total immunity to terrorists when they attack civilians from behind a human shield of civilians.
    The standard “human rights” method is to first air-brush Hamas out of the picture. Then they bleat, “Hamas may be bad but every possible Israeli response to Hamas is a war crime.”
    I must have asked here a dozen times what the legitimate Israeli response to Hamas rockets would have looked like. Not once did you respond.
    Meantime, it’s entirely possible that more Iranians have been killed in the last six months than in the last 20 years of the Israeli/Pal conflict.

    Reply

  41. Paul Norheim says:

    Personally, I think the Israeli leadership knows very well that no one abroad buys
    it, and that it serves primarily as an argument to hide the truth about Israel from
    its own citizens.
    But to promote it here at TWN is a waste of time – and only provokes irritation and
    contempt.

    Reply

  42. Paul Norheim says:

    Now there is a simple reason why you (Nadine) have to portray “the modern human right
    activist” and every NGO or international institution dealing with human rights issues as
    practitioners of double standards.
    This is the only way you can preserve the illusion that Israel is not violating human
    rights. During the last decade, various human rights activists and NGOs, as well as the
    UN, have complained frequently about violations of human rights from China to USA; from
    Esaias in Eritrea to Mugabe in Zimbabwe; from Meles in Ethiopia to Kabila in DRC; from
    Hamas to the Israeli leadership; from Morocco to Egypt, from North Korea to Russia.
    But you have to defend the weird, but conveniently constructed fiction that all these
    groups, individuals and institutions are solely focusing on human rights violations in
    Western countries, and especially Israel, and that they are mute with regards to Hamas,
    Egypt, Iran, SA, Sri Lanka, Nepal, North Korea, China etc.etc.
    Nobody believes in this propaganda, Nadine. Nobody. And especially not those who made it
    up.

    Reply

  43. Paul Norheim says:

    “YOU only favor these things in Western states. In Egypt or Gaza, there are few or
    none of these things and you will blame anybody in the world but the rulers of those
    places who are responsible for them.” (Nadine)
    But this is simply not true. I`ve said this before, and I can repeat it any day:
    First, I don`t like the Iranian theocrats and their treatment of the opposition. I
    regard Mubarak as an authoritarian ruler who violates human rights every hour of the
    day (not to speak of what`s happening in his jails during the nights). The same stuff
    happens in Hamas` jails on the Gaza strip. My views on the democratically elected
    Israeli leaders and IDF are well known to you. Stuff happens in their jails too. And
    once in a while, they decide to slaughter civilians, as a collective punishment for
    disobedience – just like Sri Lanka.
    Are you interested in my views on the leadership in Morocco? The political culture in
    Saudi Arabia? Pakistan?
    I somehow doubt it. Because you would like to IMAGINE that not only you, but also all
    of your opponents operate with double standards on these issues. You`re not convincing
    anyone here on this issue, Nadine.

    Reply

  44. nadine says:

    “During Obama’s visit to Cairo and his speech to the Muslim world, the attitude and tone of the son of an African-Muslim leader was widely welcomed. In fact worldwide reaction to Obama’s first months in office was extremely positive about the direction he plans to take on major foreign policy issues.” (Daoud Kuttab)
    Not sufficiently positive to lift a little finger to help him. The attitude of the entire Muslim world can be summed up as, “So, what are you gonna give us? You want us to make a gesture? No way, we’re not making any stinking gestures. We heard your speech. Now we expect followup – make Israel agree to withdrawals to 67 borders and Palestinian ‘right of return’ as a precondition for even starting talks. If you do that, we’ll think about making a gesture in return. Maybe.”
    Which would be tantamount to Israeli national suicide and no Israeli PM could agree to it unless he was totally helpless. No American President could demand it and survive either. The Arabs always demand far more than they can get. But then, they don’t want the conflict to end; it is far too useful to them. If you don’t want to sell, it makes sense to set the price much too high.

    Reply

  45. Jamesl says:

    Carroll: “We all know that “process” is the code word for maintaining the status quo of the political industry that passes for representative government.”
    Lots of good ones, but this is THE quote of the thread. Commentors’ ability to draw distinctions on Clemon’s post is appreciated.

    Reply

  46. Carroll says:

    I think we can sum up Obama’s first year and probably next three years this way…
    “He who hesitates is lost.”
    People expected action on Obama’s promises of change in Washington and they expected it right away. Over thinking is the enemy of action, process is the enemy of change.
    We all know that “process” is the code word for maintaining the status quo of the political industry that passes for representative government.

    Reply

  47. PissedOffAmerican says:

    http://palestinenote.com/cs/blogs/blogs/archive/2009/12/31/did-obama-take-his-eyes-off-the-palestine-ball.aspx
    Daoud Kuttab
    Did Obama take his eyes off the Palestine ball?
    For a few minutes on Sunday I wondered what would have happened if I was reading rather than listening to US President Barack Obama’s statement from Hawaii. The US president took time off his Christmas vacation to speak about the incident that occurred on the flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. Had I not heard his voice and seen his picture, I would have thought that the speaker was none other than former US president George W. Bush. What has happened to Obama in less than one year?
    Unlike any of his previous speeches, Obama spoke totally out of script by using the word “terrorism” three times in a statement that lasted only a few minutes. Until this incident, Obama had preferred to use the word “radical” or “extremist” rather than much more emotionally loaded terrorists and terrorism.
    What made the statement sound more like a Bush speech rather than an Obama one was the reference to the aim of the anti-American attackers. Obama had the following to say: “Those plotting against us seek not only to undermine our security, but also the open society and the values that we cherish as Americans.”
    Obama clearly capitulated to forces on the right who have repeatedly described any attack against the US because of its foreign policy as attacks against America’s “open society” and American “values”.
    What has happened to President Obama?
    Is it simply that he was shocked that people around the world would dare attack America and American soil despite his own pro-world point of view? Is it that he is so angry that he is unable to realise that his own decision to ratchet up US presence in Afghanistan would inevitably produce anti-American violence?
    During Obama’s visit to Cairo and his speech to the Muslim world, the attitude and tone of the son of an African-Muslim leader was widely welcomed. In fact worldwide reaction to Obama’s first months in office was extremely positive about the direction he plans to take on major foreign policy issues.
    Obama’s appointment of Senator George Mitchell as his personal envoy to the Middle East and his call to close Guantanamo during his first year in office were seen as positive signs of a change. Obama’s public position as well as that of his secretary of state, in total opposition to any sort of Israeli settlement activities was seen as a breath of fresh air in Washington. But those signals would quickly crumble and US foreign policy, especially vis-à-vis Palestine, would retract back to its tilt in the direction of Israel. This was clear with the way Obama and Hilary Clinton retracted the call for a total settlement freeze. It was also obvious when the US exerted political pressure on the Palestinian president in an attempt to quash the Goldstone report. One would have expected jurist and internationalist Obama to support rather than oppose actions of an impeccable South African war crimes lawyer such as Richard Goldstone.
    A search of what happened to Obama since his early hopeful days can be found in the president’s own rhetoric.
    continues……..

    Reply

  48. Carroll says:

    Posted by Dan Emigh, Jan 02 2010, 7:55PM – Link
    “If this is in fact your perspective on his efforts then I would counter by arguing against a focus on ‘process’ rather than ‘policy,’ and this is why:
    By primarily endeavoring to build and sustain what has historically proven to be a series of open-ended ‘processes’ rather than to implement clearly identifiable ‘policies,’ our government has been perpetually locked into the narrow confines of a repetitively dysfunctional system of mediation. Nothing ever really gets resolved to the satisfaction of the majority of the public. Think of Palestine, Tibet, Taiwan and others.
    The ‘process’ is more central to the endeavor than is the actual ‘policy.’ I offer the analogy of an athletic event that has no time limit to define its conclusion. A referee signals the beginning of the competition and the competitors begin in their coordinated efforts to gain an advantage. However, since there is no time limit set with which to accomplish your goal, as long as the ‘process’ continues indefinitely all competitors can legitimately claim to be ‘winning.’ In this scenario it is advantageous to all competitors that the competition never does end, lest one side have to accept defeat.
    One possible public means of circumventing this obstructionist strategy to the public good is by not allowing government officials to publically present, without counter argument from the collected media, that their engagement in the ‘process’ is by and of itself to be considered a ‘success.’ The intent for which politicians cloak themselves in any ‘process’ is nothing more than a disingenuous stalling tactic adopted to stave off a political defeat of any kind.
    While involvement in a ‘process’ may be central to the benefit of a politician at election time, ‘policies’ are central to the benefit of the public every day of the year. The ‘process’ must be streamlined to deliver ‘policies’ that aren’t constrained to the time frame of election cycles.
    In summary, if in fact I did accurately assess your intent in writing this short essay as an effort to help refocus Obama’s’ vision on the ‘process’ I would have to conclude that your aim is not just slightly off target but in fact pointed entirely at the wrong target. The world needs ‘policies’ that benefit the public, not ‘processes’ that benefit the rulers.
    PS. Obama’s administration is giving him the advice that he must base important decisions on. If he receives bad advice (self-serving Clinton, Neo-Con Gates) he can only be expected to make bad decisions. Obama’s major failing as a president, in my opinion, is that his judgment is very poor regarding those whose advice it is he values.””
    Bravo! The ability to get to the bottom line is so rare these days.

    Reply

  49. nadine says:

    I notice nobody is trying to demonstrate that Hamas does so respect human rights, freedom of religion, women’s rights, not targeting civilians, etc. Gee, think Hamas would ever ask “Is it an Arab or a Jew?” if it was a Jew, would it go to Shifa hospital and get he same treatment as an Arab child, as happens in Israel all the time? No, either they would shoot it then or there, or the child would get the treatment Gilad Shalit is getting, three years in kidnapped and not even the Red Cross can see him.
    But nooooo, that doesn’t matter. Because you won’t hold Arabs to the same standards you hold Europeans, Americans or Israelis.
    Thank you all FOR PROVING MY POINT SO WELL.

    Reply

  50. PissedOffAmerican says:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/patrick-cockburn-threats-to-yemen-prove-america-hasnt-learned-the-lesson-of-history-1853847.html
    “It is extraordinary to see the US begin to make the same mistakes in Yemen as it previously made in Afghanistan and Iraq. What it is doing is much to al-Qa’ida’s advantage. The real strength of al-Qa’ida is not that it can “train” a fanatical Nigerian student to sew explosives into his underpants, but that it can provoke an exaggerated US response to every botched attack. Al-Qa’ida leaders openly admitted at the time of 9/11 that the aim of such operations is to provoke the US into direct military intervention in Muslim countries”
    “In Yemen the US is walking into the al-Qa’ida trap. Once there it will face the same dilemma it faces in Iraq and Afghanistan. It became impossible to exit these conflicts because the loss of face would be too great. Just as Washington saved banks and insurance giants from bankruptcy in 2008 because they were “too big to fail,” so these wars become too important to lose because to do so would damage the US claim to be the sole superpower”
    “In Iraq the US is getting out more easily than seemed likely at one stage because Washington has persuaded Americans that they won a non-existent success. The ultimate US exit from Afghanistan may eventually be along very similar lines. But the danger of claiming spurious victories is that such distortions of history make it impossible for the US to learn from past mistakes and instead it repeats them by fresh interventions in countries like Yemen”
    Cockburn

    Reply

  51. ... says:

    nadine :
    israel defined “is it an arab or jew?”
    “That was when I heard a child crying, and as I walked over to him, I saw why he was crying. At his feet was another child, not more than 12 or 13 but possibly 10 or 11, lying on the ground. As I listened, I realized he too had been hit. At a minimum, I could see his knuckles were bleeding, but I knew there was more to it than that as he wasn’t getting up. He didn’t cry, didn’t shout, he just lay there waiting for help.
    That was when I heard what I couldn’t believe… honestly, you read about this kind of thing, but you never realize how serious it is until you hear it for yourself. The policeman called for an ambulance. The ambulance, over the radio, responded by asking in Hebrew “Is it an Arab or a Jew?”
    http://mondoweiss.net/2010/01/a-slice-of-life-in-sheikh-jarrah.html

    Reply

  52. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “On the contrary, I favor a single standard for human rights. I am in favor of democracy, human rights, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, women’s rights, a state that upholds law and order and a monopoly on force, not targeting civilians in war – everywhere”
    Egads, she must think we are all idiots here.
    Regardless, even an idiot knows a blatant and unabashed liar when he sees one.

    Reply

  53. nadine says:

    “If you reread my comment, you`ll se that I stated that Obama has allowed his policies to
    be sculpted by former administrations (plural). “Especially the GWOT is a continuation of
    the Bush years, both abroad and at home. And his Israel/Palestine approach is immature
    and too influenced by Clinton-people.”” (Paul Norheim)
    Beyond this, it’s influenced by reality on the ground. Having attempted a policy based on a total misapprehension of the Mideast situation, Obama blew through his credit with less than nothing to show for it. Then he had no Plan B to fall back on.
    That being the case, it’s hardly surprising that what he winds up with is influenced by the opinions of the Clinton administration retreads who are staffing his State Department – after all, they do have to hold some opinion on the Mideast and say something at intervals, and they’re not getting any more bright ideas from the White House.

    Reply

  54. nadine says:

    Paul, On the contrary, I favor a single standard for human rights. I am in favor of democracy, human rights, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, women’s rights, a state that upholds law and order and a monopoly on force, not targeting civilians in war – everywhere.
    YOU only favor these things in Western states. In Egypt or Gaza, there are few or none of these things and you will blame anybody in the world but the rulers of those places who are responsible for them. And why? Because you won’t hold Arabs to the same standards you hold Europeans, Americans or Israelis.
    This is the ULTIMATE in double standards.

    Reply

  55. PissedOffAmerican says:

    In regards to the inreraction between Obama and the Bush contingency, I think you are mistaking collusion for naivete. More and more I believe there is far more feigned partisanship than there is actual polarity between the agendas of the two parties. Behind the scenes, absent the carefully nurtured impression of oppositional political wills, the agenda is pretty much universal. Obama’s sellout in virtually ALL the important issues of the day, the rule of law, waging war, the bailouts, healthcare, all point to a President that differs very little from the so called “right” in who’s “interests” he is concerned with. The huge media marketing of Obama, the unspeakable amount of money that was spent shoe-horning him into the Oval Office, are hardly illustrative of the campaigns that anyone bucking the status quo would be able to launch. Just look what happened to Paul and Kucinich.
    Yes, there is a public display of partisan animous, but when you move beyond it, Obama’s policies are unrecognizable, in many ways, from what the right would have saddled us with. This is particularly true about his escalation of this fuckin’ con-job we are being sold about “threats” that are conjured up to legitimize increasing military engagement on a number of fronts.

    Reply

  56. Dan Emigh says:

    My initial reading of your essay “No Breakthrough” left me with the sense that your ‘disappointment,’ if I can call it that, at the conclusion of the first year of Obama’s administration is that he has been somewhat lacking only in his efforts to establish a productive ‘process’ for promoting his party’s agenda throughout the world. If this is in fact your perspective on his efforts then I would counter by arguing against a focus on ‘process’ rather than ‘policy,’ and this is why:
    By primarily endeavoring to build and sustain what has historically proven to be a series of open-ended ‘processes’ rather than to implement clearly identifiable ‘policies,’ our government has been perpetually locked into the narrow confines of a repetitively dysfunctional system of mediation. Nothing ever really gets resolved to the satisfaction of the majority of the public. Think of Palestine, Tibet, Taiwan and others.
    The ‘process’ is more central to the endeavor than is the actual ‘policy.’ I offer the analogy of an athletic event that has no time limit to define its conclusion. A referee signals the beginning of the competition and the competitors begin in their coordinated efforts to gain an advantage. However, since there is no time limit set with which to accomplish your goal, as long as the ‘process’ continues indefinitely all competitors can legitimately claim to be ‘winning.’ In this scenario it is advantageous to all competitors that the competition never does end, lest one side have to accept defeat.
    One possible public means of circumventing this obstructionist strategy to the public good is by not allowing government officials to publically present, without counter argument from the collected media, that their engagement in the ‘process’ is by and of itself to be considered a ‘success.’ The intent for which politicians cloak themselves in any ‘process’ is nothing more than a disingenuous stalling tactic adopted to stave off a political defeat of any kind.
    While involvement in a ‘process’ may be central to the benefit of a politician at election time, ‘policies’ are central to the benefit of the public every day of the year. The ‘process’ must be streamlined to deliver ‘policies’ that aren’t constrained to the time frame of election cycles.
    In summary, if in fact I did accurately assess your intent in writing this short essay as an effort to help refocus Obama’s’ vision on the ‘process’ I would have to conclude that your aim is not just slightly off target but in fact pointed entirely at the wrong target. The world needs ‘policies’ that benefit the public, not ‘processes’ that benefit the rulers.
    PS. Obama’s administration is giving him the advice that he must base important decisions on. If he receives bad advice (self-serving Clinton, Neo-Con Gates) he can only be expected to make bad decisions. Obama’s major failing as a president, in my opinion, is that his judgment is very poor regarding those whose advice it is he values. He is politically naïve to Washington politics and therefore dependant on Washington politicians to guide him. As patronizing as this sounds, Obama needs a mentor. Biden is NOT that person. Carter could be but he is shunned by the party. Likewise is Nader shunned, as well as Kucinich. Ron Paul is still a Republican. Bill Clinton and Al Gore are both buffoons. Who then?

    Reply

  57. ... says:

    the right wing neo con approach is to attack first (and always) and never ask questions later…..they are an impossible group to appease… one may as well try appeasing hitler or stalin, which is what obama has essentially done rather then showing strong leadership skill…

    Reply

  58. DonS says:

    Paul, The whole “looking forward” line, to all but the most indoctrinated Obamabots, was like a pin letting the air out of a balloon, and it rang hollow from the first time it was uttered.
    Meanwhile, the bush/Cheney/neocon crowd high fived and danced in the streets.

    Reply

  59. Paul Norheim says:

    “…the whole cast of Bush era characters that feel free to attack him, no matter
    how far backwards he bends to either seek their approval or neuter there
    criticism. The likes of Dick Cheney so emboldened as to frontally attack Obama in
    the most nakedly vicious ways.”
    Exactly what I thought earlier today. But you wrote it, Don! Obama preferred to
    “look forward” – devoting most of his time on issues like health care (which was
    not as urgent as the economy and the two wars). But the criminals from the past
    distracted and undermined him anyway. In hindsight, perhaps even Obama himself
    regrets not “seeking accountability for those who violated constitutional limits”
    BEFORE devoting his time to the health care reform – who knows? (But I somehow
    doubt it)

    Reply

  60. DonS says:

    In relation to the ‘rule of law’ issue, paramount but discounted by Obama, seeking accountability for those who violated constitutional limits would have punctuated important themes, e.g., torture, black hole detention, etc., that have wide international resonance. Obama sacrificed all the right reasons for seeking accountability on the alter of several unpalatable excuses to pass; His attempt to show strength through forbearance, patriotism through loyalty to the imperial presidency — giving him the benefit of the doubt — only makes him look weak and unprincipled.
    Domestically, appropriate prosecutions and an aggressive accountability of Bush era scoundrels, would have set an entirely different dynamic in play, quite likely, that would have fulfilled more expectations than disappointed, and would have more likely chastised than emboldened the whole cast of Bush era characters that feel free to attack him, no matter how far backwards he bends to either seek their approval or neuter there criticism. The likes of Dick Cheney so emboldened as to frontally attack Obama in the most nakedly vicious ways. I view Obama’s misguided attempts to coopt this gang as virtual hush money. And it doesn’t work as even Obama can see by now; only emboldens them more, though he shows little sign of significantly altering course.
    (Overall, the more Obama seems to tilt tot he right, the more the right smells blood)
    The US seems more isolated in the world, certainly as far as high profile military posture. This corollary to Steve’s observation that sees the US in slow decline becomes more obvious all the time.
    It seems like the optics are getting worse, and Obama sticking with the same tired script seems more artificial.
    The recent upsurge in violence in Iraq, capped off by the dismissal of charges against the Blackwater thugs, and the quick indication that Iraq is not going to let it drop, is a brewing mess in a story that Obama wants to paint as on schedule to a soft landing.
    In Afghanistan, as if Obama buying into the PR about the Iraq ‘surge’ and seeking to replicate it isn’t bad enough, we now seem to have lethal civilian bombing and killings escalating daily. And, here too, Afghanistan/Karzi seems more interested in sticking a finger in Obama’s eye (who can blame him)than in minimizing and rationalizing the disintegration of control, the direct antithesis of Obama’s strategy of protecting populations centers. Civilian deaths from NATO/coalition forces is a strong bellweather of policy gone wrong.
    More attacks by a resurgent Taliban, Pakistan spinning out of control, Yemen climbing onto the radar. None of this spells success for US policy so wedded to a bull-in-a-china shop approach to a ‘GWOT’, or whatever euphemism Obama prefers to use.
    Rerouting old ideas and old policy, or even new ideas through the failed Bush template hampers Obama at every turn. But his failure to make a clean break from the beginning of his term — which he telegraphed in the campaign and then cut the wires once in office, is not promising. In simplest terms: fudging around the edges where a paradigm shift is called for.

    Reply

  61. Paul Norheim says:

    “Does anybody else find it humorous watching self-proclaimed “human rights activists”
    protesting Egypt?”
    Now tell me, Nadine – and this is a very simple question: Where do you find the scutzpah
    to criticize “leftists” on and on and on of using double standards regarding human rights,
    while you are one of the most infamous practitioners of double standards regarding human
    rights?
    Do you believe that your criticism somehow works – despite your obvious lack of
    credibility in this respect?
    I would be glad if these guys also protested in Sri Lanka while they were at it. But are
    you – of all commenters here – the one to make such requests?
    Nope. So let`s say that I`m not amused.

    Reply

  62. Paul Norheim says:

    Nadine,
    you ask me: “Did he give the Cairo speech, and follow up by asking for peace-making
    gestures from Israel (in the form of a settlement freeze) and from five Arab countries?
    Which part of these actions were a continuation of the former Bush doctrine?”
    If you reread my comment, you`ll se that I stated that Obama has allowed his policies to
    be sculpted by former administrations (plural). “Especially the GWOT is a continuation of
    the Bush years, both abroad and at home. And his Israel/Palestine approach is immature
    and too influenced by Clinton-people.”
    I also stated that his speeches have his own signature. In other words: neither the Cairo
    speech nor his Israel/Palestine approach are influenced by Bush jr.
    BTW: When I mention the “disappointment”, I don`t refer to my personal feelings, but to
    the disappointment of those with very high expectations (especially in the Muslim
    countries, in Europe, and among many American Dem. voters). Although I don`t hate Obama
    the way people like you and WigWag hate him, let`s say that I were much less optimistic
    than Dan Kervick was a year ago, and a bit less critical than he seems to be at the
    moment. This also means that I`m slightly less critical than POA has been all the time.

    Reply

  63. nadine says:

    Does anybody else find it humorous watching self-proclaimed “human rights activists” protesting Egypt? Should one sympathize? Are they protesting for human rights in Egypt, perhaps? Rights of free speech? Liberalization of politics? And end to persecution of Coptic Christians?
    No, of course not. Today’s “human rights activists” don’t protest on behalf of actual human rights. Today’s “human rights activists” protest on behalf of terrorist groups, in this case Hamas. Now Hamas has a long history of promising to destroy Israel and sending thousands of rockets and suicide bombers into Israel to kill as many Israeli civilians as they can.
    Egypt doesn’t mind that, but the part they do object to is what Hamas lends itself as a base to Al Qaeda and Hizbullah cells to blow up Egyptian tourist areas. Egypt objects to that very much, which is why Egypt is cooperating with Israel in blockading Hamas.
    What Ayers and Doehn and the other so-called “human rights activists” are protesting for is Hamas’ right to attack both Israel and Egypt at will while being freely supplied with Iranian arms, including long range rockets to match Hizbullah’s arsenal.
    Such is the modern “human rights activist.”

    Reply

  64. nadine says:

    “I think restricting the “Nixon goes to China” metaphor to Iran is too limited.
    As I see it, Obama had, through his complex background and his complex ways of
    thinking, a golden opportunity to start a fundamental change in the relationship with
    the Muslim world as such. This makes the disappointment – so far – even bigger than in
    the specific case of Tehran. So far, Obama has to a large extent allowed the former
    administrations to sculpture the policies of his own administration” (Paul Norheim)
    Paul, Obama said he would engage with Iran. Did he reach out to them and try to engage? Obama said he would change the tone in the Mideast, and be able to conclude a Mideast peace quickly. Did he give the Cairo speech, and follow up by asking for peace-making gestures from Israel (in the form of a settlement freeze) and from five Arab countries? Which part of these actions were a continuation of the former Bush doctrine? Ans: none of them. They were all new Obama policies, set forth during his campaign.
    The problem is, they were all a colossal failure.
    Nothing worked as planned. In the case of Iran, the mullahs and Ahmedenejad spent the year sniggering at us, boasting of their nuclear prowess, and killing demonstrators. We set two or three separate deadlines for Iran, after which we promised serious sanctions, and we let them all pass without consequences.
    In the case of Mideast peace, Obama got nothing from the Arabs and partial compliance from Netanyahu, just enough to get America off his back. Plus, Obama effectively prevented negotiations from restarting by adding new preconditions which the Palestinians at once adopted as their own.
    Commentators who understand the Mideast (may I mention Barry Rubin again?) correctly predicted these sorry results. But Obama had to learn the hard way. Problem is, he had no Plan B. If he has fallen back on continuation of pre-existing Bush policies, it seems to be the course of least resistance for him. I cannot see any real conviction in his policies vis-a-vis Al Qaeda, Iraq or Afghanistan.

    Reply

  65. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    JamesL Amen and then some…I never had any expectations of Obama precisely because he refused to uphold the rule of law with regard to the many flagrant violations of the law committed by the Busholini regime…if the law is being flouted here at home, what must be happening abraod in our bame?
    OT but there was an interesting protest in New York on Gaza…
    Adalah-NY: The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East
    http://www.adalahny.org
    New Yorkers Demand that Egypt and Israel Open Gaza Border
    Protesters demand passage for international rights marchers challenging Israel’s bombing & siege of Gaza
    Media Contact: info@adalahny.org
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    December 31, New York, NY – Sixty human rights advocates protested outside Egypt’s Mission to the United Nations today to demand that Egypt open its border with the Gaza Strip. The New York protest came as Egyptian riot police in Cairo surrounded and assaulted hundreds of international activists who had been prevented by Egyptian authorities from entering the Gaza Strip. The international activists had planned to protest in Gaza against Israel’s siege as part of the Gaza Freedom March. Following the demonstration at the Egyptian Mission, the New York City protesters marched to the Israeli consulate chanting, “Free Gaza Now.”
    Holding Palestinian flags and signs calling for an end to the siege of Gaza, New Yorkers sang US civil rights song to the staff inside Egypt’s Mission to the UN, asking:
    Which side are you, which side are you on?
    Justice or oppression, which side are you on?
    To the tune of another civil rights classic, they sang:
    Ain’t gonna let Mubarak, turn me round, turn me round, turn me round,
    Ain’t gonna let Mubarak, turn me round,
    Gonna keep on walkin’, keep boycottin’, til Palestine is free.
    At the New York demonstration, a delegation of three protesters entered the Egyptian Mission and gained a meeting with Egypt’s Representative to the UN. They told him of their concerns over Egypt’s repression of the Gaza Freedom March and Egypt’s complicity in maintaining the siege on Gaza.
    On the one year anniversary of Israel’s assault on Gaza that killed around 1400 Palestinians, over 1300 activists from around the world had gathered in Cairo, planning to travel to protest in Gaza alongside thousands of Palestinians for the Gaza Freedom March.
    Israel intensified its siege of Gaza with the military attack “Operation Cast Lead,” that began on December 27, 2008. In addition to killing approximately 1400 Palestinians, Israel’s attack destroyed factories, schools, homes and land. For the past year, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been cut off from adequate food, medical supplies, and materials for reconstruction, schooling and work. The Egyptian government has been an active partner with Israel, closing the only access point to Gaza that is not directly controlled by Israel, and shutting down operations of human rights activists in Egypt.
    A new report by Amnesty International, Oxfam UK, Mercy Corps and thirteen other international humanitarian organizations explained that, “The international community has betrayed the people of Gaza by failing to back their words with effective action to secure the ending of the Israeli blockade which is preventing reconstruction and recovery.” The report also explains that, “The Israeli authorities have allowed only 41 truckloads of all construction materials into Gaza since the end of the offensive in mid-January. The task of rebuilding and repairing thousands of homes alone will require thousands of truckloads of building materials.”
    Protest photos: http://adalahny.org/index.php/photo-galleries/342-gaza-freedom-march-solidarity-demo-123109

    Reply

  66. JamesL says:

    Comment to Clemons Jan 0210
    I too laud POA’s 10:44 post. The “rule of law” that obtains its very breath through the Constitution cannot be broadly supported by a population, meaning it cannot survive, if it is intentionally and constantly flaunted by those in both economic and political power. If not constantly supported, the Constitution will be broken. Obama has made a few good moves, primarily international (don’t jump on me POA; he has made a lot of BAD international moves too, as you point out). But among Obama’s bad moves are those that have continued and even accelerated the breaking of the Constitution, and for these he will be remembered. The abominations of torture; rendition; grossly unequal protections of human rights; the Patriot Act; the GWOT and the concept that terrorism can be solved by general war; favoring of non-human entities over humans; disregard for the agreements and wisdom of international law; overt and covert support of nations and organizations that abuse human rights; the idea that peace is maintained only by being at war; the subtle militaristic substitution of “effectiveness” for “efficiency”; the current and accelerating domination of news media by those who seek to manipulate for personal or ideological gain rather than inform; secret and non-governmental armies; governmental secrecy and obfuscation; capitulation to short term expediency; continued elevation of military action and expenditures over health, education, environment, and long term planning; and Obama’s failure to use his mental and verbal skills to do what is most needed–to lead Americans into a national discernment process to determine its own future–all those things and more will yoke Obama’s historic luster if he continues his current course. The nation cannot be preserved under a figment of a Constitution.
    Paul succinctly demonstrates current Obama direction with “YemSom-IsPal-LebSyr-SaudKuW-IrIr-AfPak strategy”. New letter additions arrive every few months now. The national distinctions of the mideast are devolving and disintegrating, with US military action and Israeli social belligerance being primary causes. That these disintegrations can be controlled to US or Israeli advantage are a fantasy of the terminally arrogant.

    Reply

  67. JohnH says:

    Problem with all those ticking time bombs in
    foreign policy is that they are of the US’ own
    making. The stated foreign policy is to not permit
    any regional powers not firmly under US control.
    It was that definition that conflated Iran,
    Venezuela, etc into national security “threats.”
    There is nothing about the regional powers’
    behavior that makes them inherently threatening.
    The only thing that makes them threatening is that
    they are not firmly under US control.
    Instead of escalating the independence of these
    countries into threats, maybe it’s time to revisit
    the definition of what constitutes a threat to the
    US.
    If Obama were the inspiring leader that Josh Meah
    cites, he could start by changing the threat frame
    in foreign policy. But he does not. He is firmly
    old school with a glossy new cover.

    Reply

  68. ... says:

    thanks paul and poa for the posts…. in particular poa’s 10:44am post is excellent and says things i have said here many times before that go ignored… thanks for saying all that as it needs to be heard by more… it is interesting that the topic at hand is much less interesting then the comments on the thread… i sense steve is unhappy with the direction of the obama administration and would like to get it on a different track.. whether this is true or not, i go back to the comments in poa’s 10:44am post as hitting the nail on the head with regard to obama…. a commentator bmaz at emptywheel’s site made a very similar analysis which i will leave you all with…
    Obama’s Royal Scam and The Iron Fist Of Rahm
    http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2010/01/01/obamas-royal-scam/

    Reply

  69. pahlavan says:

    When an overall bankrupt policy becomes the fundamental root of a nation’s problems, it becomes a cancer that extends far beyond a president and his new administrations reach or ability to address and correct.
    In the case of Iran’s interest for the destruction of Israel, there is a 5 part series on YouTube called “don’t tell my mother I’m in Iran”. Below is one of the links where from about 3:50 into the clip they provide a little insight on Iran’s Jewish community which is very telling to the masses. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08ZCDvkcFAY&feature=player_embedded
    Our contradictions toward Iran (just as one example), parallels with numerous cases on how over the past 15 to 20 years our constitution’s anti trust laws here at home have been trampled on at a significant cost to our nation, only to benefit a minority groups in America.
    As long as our culture’s political correctness is given higher priority than addressing the fundamental root of the problems, the wonderful dialogue and activities on the surface, will serve as nothing more than intellectual greetings and salutations.
    When a nation (not an individual) is emerging, you can either exterminate all or put in people with enough brain power to find a creative and dynamic way to align interests.

    Reply

  70. Paul Norheim says:

    I often don`t agree with F. Fukuyama, but I assume that he opposes an Israeli attack,
    since he says that he doubts that “military action” will “influence events there” – in
    the sense of preventing Tehran from getting a bomb if they want one. In terms of
    catastrophic side effects, an Israeli raid could of course have a huge impact.
    But I think Fukuyama`s judgement of the situation is the “realist” position right now,
    regardless of how one perceives Tehran. I`m afraid a “Nixon goes to China” event may not
    be an option in the foreseeable future.

    Reply

  71. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “The guys who then became leaders of the al Qaeda chapter in Yemen that is reportedly behind the plot to blow up that flight on Christmas Day?”
    Gee Rachel, if I didn’t know YOU said it, I’d figure it came right from the mouth of Rush Limbaugh.

    Reply

  72. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “So the Obama legacy will
    rest largely on how it reacts to an evolving situation that is not fundamentally
    under American control.”
    Well, if he means we are unable to control the actions of the parasitical nation Israel, then he would be equally as correct as he is noting that we have little control over Iran’s actions.
    It is Israel that will make the decision about whether or not we end up in a military confrontation with Iran. Likely Israel will light the fuse, then stand back while our soldiers do the dying.

    Reply

  73. Paul Norheim says:

    On the other hand, it is of course true that both US ally Netanyahu and US enemies
    Achmedinejad and Chavez regard Obama/America as weak, and in different ways say
    “screw you” to the superpower. However, one day one of them – or all three – may go
    too far.

    Reply

  74. Paul Norheim says:

    To me it looks like Steve would like to see a stronger America (i.e. not bogged
    down in two wars etc) using or threatening with “harsher sanctions” against Iran as
    parts of the PREPARATIONS for some kind of “grand bargain” – the “Nixon goes to
    China” event.
    Personally I agree more with Fukuyama, who said in his AL contribution:
    “The other ticking bomb in foreign policy, Iran, will either defuse itself through
    internal change, or go off sometime next year. I’ve believed for some time that we
    don’t have many levers in influencing events there, whether through negotiations,
    sanctions, provoking regime change or military action. So the Obama legacy will
    rest largely on how it reacts to an evolving situation that is not fundamentally
    under American control.”

    Reply

  75. PissedOffAmerican says:

    From Steve’s AI essay…….
    “Against that backdrop, Obama’s performance deserves applause for doing what needed to be done to avert global depression and for not tripping into any “new” back-breaking military deployments beyond those currently under way”
    Well, we can erase that sentence, as it was penned a week or two too early to be accurate, eh?
    “Iran’s leaders have threatened Israel in terms implying total destruction….”
    If one is to believe MEMRI’s “translation”, ok. Smooth move, inserting the term “implying”. Through doing so you don’t actually advocate for the honesty of the assertion, you simply imply the implication; the intent of alleged Iranian rhetoric that is generally accepted to be a purposely disingenuous mistranslation.
    Interesting that the truly relevent “implications” are contained in both Israel’s AND the United State’s not so veiled threats against Iran, which at times have included the implied threat of nuclear weapons with statements along the lines of “no option is off the table”.

    Reply

  76. PissedOffAmerican says:

    ABC’s Inaccurate Gitmo-Abdulmutallab Story Got Major Pickup
    Justin Elliott | December 31, 2009, 1:16PM
    Just how far can one erroneous terrorism story travel?
    By our very partial count, a since-corrected ABC report on the supposed role of ex-Gitmo detainees in planning the Detroit Christmas Day attack was picked up by at least 12 media outlets, and was cited by two members of Congress and legion right-wing bloggers.
    Here’s how the Dec. 28 story, which we’ve saved in its original form here, began:
    Two al Qaeda Leaders Behind Northwest Flight 253 Terror Plot Were Released by U.S.
    Two of the four leaders allegedly behind the al Qaeda plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines passenger jet over Detroit were released by the U.S. from the Guantanamo prison in November, 2007, according to American officials and Department of Defense documents.
    American officials agreed to send the two terrorists to Saudi Arabia where they entered into an “art therapy rehabilitation program” and were set free, according to U.S. and Saudi officials.
    The only problem? As documented by Gawker, one of those two leaders — IDed in the story as “Guantanamo prisoner #333, Muhamad Attik al-Harbi” — had reportedly surrendered himself in February and ended up in the hands of Saudi authorities. This fact — reported at the time by the AP — means that, as ABC’s correction noted last night, he “therefore could not have played a direct role in organizing the attempt to bring down Northwest flight 253.”
    Particularly coming on the night before a holiday, though, this correction will be seen by just a small fraction of the people who were misinformed by the original report.
    By our count via Nexis, the following outlets picked up ABC’s startling story: Politico (in a feature story), United Press International, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show…..
    Continues….
    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/12/abc_issues_correction_on_widely_cited_abdulmutalla.php#more
    Did Maddow offer a retraction? Doubtful. And I have talked to a number of people that believe, and are spreading, the original assertions of the FALSE story.

    Reply

  77. PissedOffAmerican says:

    And now, after having concocted three different “stories” about the “second man” detained from Flight 253. Customs and the FBI has come up with a FOURTH version, admitting that the “detained” individual WAS a passenger on Flight 253.
    http://detnews.com/article/20100101/NATION/1010354
    http://detnews.com/article/20100101/NATION/1010405/Customs-official-confirms-report-of-2nd-man-held-from-Flight-253
    Why so many conflicting stories? And after being fed a line of shit three separate times, this latest version is to be considered “the truth”? Interesting that these agencies felt the need, not only to lie, but to create involved and convoluted fictions to replace the actuality of the events.
    So now; what? We pick and choose which aspects of this ENTIRE charade have been presented to us honestly and accurately??? Eenie meenie, miney moe, here’s what we are going to choose to believe?
    Note the mundane and unthreatening nature of this latest “story” we are being fed. Why was it necessary to create elaborate fictions to hide such an alleged non-event?

    Reply

  78. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gads, Josh’s glowing essay might have flown six or eight months ago, but today it bears no resemblence to what evidence tells us is a sane asppraisal of Barack Obama’s performance.
    “Hope” doesn’t constitute change. In just about every political arena, Obama has betrayed the platforms he ran on. For me, the most dissappointing is his flagrant disrespect for the rule of law, and his carry over policy of keeping the AG bound by Presidential whim instead of Constitutional Law. The perpetrators of extremely egregious crimes, interwoven throughout the Bush Administration, have been allowed to walk free, in direct contravention of the very foundation of what this country’s Justice System was supposed to be, which is ALL MEN EQUAL BEFORE THE LAW. Known perjuries are ignored. The institution of torture policies is ignored. Evidence is concealed by this Administration. Investigations are blocked, or given lip service while never being pursued.
    And now, under yet one more war mongering political opportunist, we are engaged in using our military to openly conduct assassinations, using tenuous and unproven “links” and “connections” to criminals as the rationale and justification. Now, the United States, failing to have sufficient evidence to charge someone with a crime, simply uses a cruise missile to dispense “justice” and to counter questionable “threat”, unmindful of the peripheral deaths and destruction of inocent lives and property? How is that different than slamming jetliners into high rises, or dumping white phosphorous on women and children???
    Most telling about Obama is this latest “terrorist attack”. Such an obvious charade, committed by such an obvious patsy, tells us all we need to know about Barack Obama. He’s just as much a lying scumball as George Bush and Dick Cheney were. And just as dangerous to our national security. There is little difference between the two Administrations. Bush ran us headlong towards the abyss. It appears Obama is determined to lead us over the edge.
    And it constantly amazes me seeing Maddow lauded while she completely ignoires what her riole SHOULD BE as a responsible menmber of the Fourth Estate. Steve may be willing to ignore Maddow’s irresponsible selectivity and the manner she nurtures partisan animous and division, but I find her to be no different than Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh. Just another mouthpiece paying homage to partisan spin in lieu of the truth. As I’ve said before, there can be no more despicable of a calling than professionally sowing division amongst the people while pretending to “inform”. The only “informing” Rachel does is that that advances her political ideologies. And in her proffession, ommission is just as despicable as lies are.

    Reply

  79. Paul Norheim says:

    We`ve seen how Obama increased the efforts in Afghanistan mainly because he can`t fight
    the real problems head on in Pakistan. Speaking of elephants, there is another one
    residing in Somalia. Yemen in YemSom is the equivalent of Afghanistan in AfPak:
    definitely not the epicenter.
    And in both places, America`s actions will have lot`s of predictable and unpredictable
    side effects due to the inherent problems of the regions.
    If Israel attacks Iran, Obama may have to ask General Petraeus to come up with a YemSom-
    IsPal-LebSyr-SaudKuW-IrIr-AfPak strategy.

    Reply

  80. Paul Norheim says:

    Steve,
    as a reader of TWN, I`m familiar with your views of Obama`s policies and approaches to
    various challenges – and I think you summed it up well in your article.
    In an interview last summer, Kissinger said to Der Spiegel:
    “Obama is like a chess player who is playing simultaneous chess and has opened his
    game with an unusual opening. Now he’s got to play his hand as he plays his various
    counterparts. We haven’t gotten beyond the opening game move yet. I have no quarrel
    with the opening move.”
    The “unusual opening” he referred to was Obama`s Cairo speech. Viewed in the “Nixon
    goes to China” context, this speech was not only an unusual, but also a promising
    opening.
    Steve, I think restricting the “Nixon goes to China” metaphor to Iran is too limited.
    As I see it, Obama had, through his complex background and his complex ways of
    thinking, a golden opportunity to start a fundamental change in the relationship with
    the Muslim world as such. This makes the disappointment – so far – even bigger than in
    the specific case of Tehran. So far, Obama has to a large extent allowed the former
    administrations to sculpture the policies of his own administration. Especially the
    GWOT is a continuation of the Bush years, both abroad and at home. And his
    Israel/Palestine approach is immature and too influenced by Clinton-people.
    Despite using speechwriters, his words have his own unmistakable signature. Not so
    with his actions. Not yet.
    Obama was playing chess not only abroad, but also at home. At the end of 2009, many of
    these games came to a conclusion – in chess terms often a draw; and in other words:
    half empty/half full glasses. This applies especially to the economy and the health
    care reform. (He definitely lost his first game with Netanyahu.) But this also means
    that a lot of pressing and time consuming issues (in addition to economy and health,
    there was also the reevaluation of the AfPak strategy) are more or less off his
    shoulders. Whatever one`s views on Obama, one may be curious as to which challenges he
    may dedicate his time to in 2010.
    On Iran: I think Obama`s options are extremely limited as long as the inner turmoil
    continues in the country, regardless of the outcome of the power struggle.

    Reply

  81. Josh Meah says:

    Steve, in the American Interest piece, you write
    that,
    “In the meantime, America keeps demonstrating,
    much to ill effect, that it cannot achieve the
    global goals it sets for itself and thus is, in
    the eyes of the world, on a track of slow
    decline.”
    A similar sentiment rippled your comments made in
    the related New America event.
    I used to think demonstrating the limitations of
    American power was a legitimate threat to how
    American power was understood globally — but I’m
    not so sure anymore that this is how power works.
    Feelings of America’s dominance can shift
    overnight — consider Obama’s election.
    Chinese, Persian, and Indian civilizations are
    thousands of years old, and I think self-awareness
    of their history may after all color how the power
    of other countries is perceived. Whatever the U.S.
    may have done over the past two centuries,
    thousands of years of historical dominance by the
    “Middle Kingdom” may be more important. The
    historical memory of a great Persian civilization
    still colors the political speeches by Iranian
    leaders. True, the leaders may not be believing
    what they are saying all of the time, but rhetoric
    as such manages to galvanize a population for a
    reason.
    And power these days reaches beyond the political.
    It is wielded in smaller, disaggregated amounts by
    citizens now capable of impacting a global civil
    society. Yet the impact by these citizens is
    always greater than the sum of its parts.
    To that end, if Obama’s major breakthrough was the
    inspirational “Obama bubble” — as you’ve
    mentioned before regarding why Obama deserved the
    Nobel Peace Prize — then I’m not sure your
    article marshals the correct data to measure his
    actual “breakthrough.”
    I may be alluding to Obama’s “soft power”
    breakthrough. Maybe I’m a bit naive, but I still
    believe it, mostly because I feel it and I see it
    felt within my own generation. Beyond my personal
    perspective though, the quantitative evidence
    behind an article in Foreign Policy (“2 Trillion
    Dollar Man”) supports the general thesis that
    Obama has had a transformative impact globally.
    Here’s a link:
    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/12/17/t
    he_two_trillion_dollar_man
    And…we’ll never really know the full impact of
    his inspirational quality. Who’s to say that
    people would have spoken as loudly in response to
    the Iranian election without Obama’s original
    galvanizing speeches about speaking truth to power
    by uniting under a banner of hope? Who’s to say
    that so many countries would have been in
    attendance at Copenhagan without his support for
    multilateralism? Who’s to say the 100,000
    protesters demonstrating in reaction to the
    conference would have been there otherwise?
    To me — if Obama still feels inspirational,
    that’s because he is inspirational. His
    breakthrough is to put hope and the feeling of
    populism back into politics on the civic level.
    Maybe it’s because I grew into politics during the
    Bush II administration, but to me that is a
    massive and enduring breakthrough.
    An entire generation of young leaders globally are
    inspired by this man — this idea. Todays problems
    are too big to be solved by politics solely
    (perhaps excluding U.S.-Russia relations).
    We’ll never really know if any event globally and
    the civic stir that moves around it has anything
    to do with Obama in particular, but what he’s done
    is help set in motion a reason to care about the
    world again.
    Bush II’s policy exuded a sentiment that he had to
    lead and only his administration could tackle what
    it meant to secure the United States, ensure
    justice in the Middle East, and pursue prosperity
    globally.
    But the world is bigger than politics. Yes, after
    8 years of watching our country and our spirit
    tank, I am thankful that the domestic jobless
    rates are decreasing, the global opinion of
    America is lifting, and America “feels” like a
    better place — and that’s important.
    In your comments at the related New America event,
    you mentioned how Obama repositioned the “optics
    of power.” That’s his one year breakthrough, and
    it’s huge. He’s got 3 more years to show what he’s
    made of, and I wouldn’t forget who this man is on
    the inside just yet.
    He’s the kind of man that would appear — at least
    on face — to have zero shot making it in the
    American political system; yet, he defied all odds
    and won with a positive message. I don’t think
    America is done “changing.” If we are to ever
    become a civilization with a history as rich and
    long as the Chinese, Persians, or Indians, then we
    need to be willing to accept that our immediate
    moment in history will pass, and we need patience.
    Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is still a travesty.
    Watching my closest loved ones experience the
    hardest parts of the recession still kills me.
    Health insurance is still way too expensive, and
    the riots in Delhi in response to the lack of
    electricity (due to the lack of monsoons in the
    summer) are still a fresh reminder to me that
    climate-change is oh so very real.
    But after one year of his presidency, I and many
    others once apathetic toward global issues feel
    invigorated. That’s a breakthrough–and it’s a
    global one and far more wonderful achievement than
    anything accomplished in American politics over
    the past decade.

    Reply

  82. nadine says:

    Well, Steve, you gave it the good college try, but it’s hard to put lipstick on a pig of this magnitude.
    “First, the Obama team needed to rob the Iranian government of bragging rights as self-proclaimed defender of the Islamic faith. Ridiculing Saudi and Gulf State gestures toward Israel in King Abdullah’s Arab Peace Initiative, Iran’s leaders have threatened Israel in terms implying total destruction.”
    Remind me again, Steve, which Saudi and Gulf State gestures are you referring to? As I recall, Obama got diddly & squat from the Arabs, unless you count a tirade from King Abdullah of KSA.
    “Things did not work out so well. Obama’s initial moves to get five Arab states to ante up with gestures favoring Israel in exchange for a settlements freeze fell completely apart. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed Obama’s demands back—thus becoming for the Obama Administration what Nikita Khrushchev was at the beginning of the John F. Kennedy Administration: a leader who defined the limits and weakness of the new U.S. President.”
    Ah, I see. Bibi Netanyahu thwarted Obama by giving him partial compliance (to a rather preremptory order to make a unilateral Israeli concession), but the five Arab states did not thwart Obama by giving him no compliance whatsoever? Arab cooperation or lack thereof cannot define the limits of American power, apparently. Care to explain why not?
    “Despite Iran’s own internal drama after its election and its reduced stature in the Middle East after the crackdown on election protesters, Iran sees weakness in America—not resolve…Thus in what Obama most needed to achieve early in his tenure, a new course with Iran, he has failed.”
    I cannot argue with a word of this, and I’m rather surprised to hear you say it.
    It’s still January 1st, but I nominate “No Breakthrough” for the understatement of the year.

    Reply

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