<em>Guest Post by Sameer Lalwani</em>: Diplomacy That’s More Than a Punch Line

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Sameer Lalwani is a policy analyst in the New America Foundation’s American Strategy Program
The upside of this latest tiff between Senators Clinton and Obama is that it is starting to force candidates, and hopefully the broader public, to start thinking about what a new foreign policy should look like, and further, if we support diplomacy, what the sound byte of “vigorous diplomacy” should contain.
Lest we forget, the Bush administration in their heyday of unilateralism characterized their Iraq efforts as diplomacy when in it was clear from a number of vantage points, that they had already made up their mind to invade.
Even former Ambassador John Bolton suggested the US was pursuing maximum diplomatic efforts with regards to Iran at exactly the same time the administration chose to reject the now-famous offer made by Iran in May 2003. The transcript of the Radio Sawa interview reads:

So we are hoping that the example of Iraq divested of its weapons of mass destruction would be persuasive to a number of other states in the Middle East, and we certainly intend to exert a maximum diplomatic effort to persuade other states like Syria, Libya and Iran among others to give up their pursuit of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and long range ballistic missile delivery systems. [emphasis added]

Bolton also expressed commitments to diplomacy in the announcement of his nomination, his testimony, and interviews throughout, but they rang hollow when faced with his actions which were roundly criticized for their very undiplomatic nature.
The fact is, for years the administration ran roughshod over the meaning of diplomacy and turned it into a political sound byte rather than a serious effort to secure our own interests. So committing to diplomacy is not enough, defining its contents and fleshing out its meaning are what counts.
To that end, Senator Obama tries to counter the Bush administration’s brand of thin-diplomacy (sometimes unilateralism cloaked in the garb of diplomacy) by evincing a willingness to meet leaders of all stripes, even the ones we don’t like, in order achieve strategic ends.
(Since several TWN comments have challenged Steve on his read of this, if we’re going to have a close textual reading of the debate transcript, its important to note the question asked about a “willingness” to meet with leaders that somehow metamorphosed into a “promise” to meet with them–the reframing in absolutist terms allows the respondent to describe what they wouldn’t do and evade articulation of a positive foreign policy vision).
Ironically, while Sen. Clinton didn’t want to be used as propaganda for dictators, she finds herself–much to her chagrin–to be the heroine of neo-con extraordinaire Charles Krauthammer’s column this morning. With the Krauthammers of the country praising Sen. Clinton for her tough-sounding rhetoric, it probably doesn’t do much for her defense against the Bush/Cheney-lite charge.
One canard Krauthammer offers in defense of Senator Clinton’s statement is that meeting and talking somehow rewards leaders and dictators we don’t like. I’d like to know what reward Russian President Vladimir Putin received when President Bush met with him a month ago in Maine. Were we congratulating him for his opposition to our intended missile defense deployment or his threats to withdraw from the CFE or INF treaties? I certainly didn’t see Krauthammer opposing that meeting. The reason is because at some point we have to face-up to the realities around us and some of those are odious leaderships we don’t particularly like.
According to Freedom House’s rankings of countries in the world (which I don’t fully subscribe to but is generally referenced and praised by the Krauthammer types) nearly all the countries mentioned in the debate’s diplomacy question fall into the same category as Russia, while Venezuela actually ranks slightly higher. All five countries mentioned rank higher than Russia on the Economist Intelligence Unit’s newly established Global Peace Index. Base on these metrics, Russia appears as bad or worse than the countries we refuse to talk to. So if we’re willing to stomach our disdain and meet with Russian leadership for strategic objectives, why not the other leaders?
Russia is no geopolitical wallflower, yet President Bush met with Putin because Russia has been disruptive to our interests and we’d rather they play a more responsible stewardship role in their part of the world. We have little use for meetings with effusive, well-intentioned leaders of countries that can’t deliver anything and pose little consequence to global stability.
A willingness to meet thuggish leaders is a matter of cold, calculating self-interest whether to express displeasure and redlines, clarify miscommunications, or attempt some deal making. This isn’t a promise to meet on a dictator’s whim. It means maintaining the option, the strategic flexibility to talk and cut deals that further our own objectives–like flipping Syria to disrupt Iranian power projection across the Middle East, or luring Cuba into our economic orbit to deflate Venezuela’s control of Latin America.
But meeting with leaders is only one element of a diplomatic strategy that needs to be rounded out with more innovative ideas. Steve Clemons has decried the proposals by both Sen. Clinton and Obama to beef up our armed forces as a play to look tough without actually increasing what he terms “security deliverables.” In fact, his charge of an “over-militarized engagement with the world” has been substantiated by a December 2006 report commissioned by then Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Lugar. It details the overinvestment in and overdependence on our military to achieve security when in fact an critical but neglected civilian capacity carries out essential day-to-day operations to win the hearts and minds of the world primarily through the State Department and USAID. The report goes on to suggest a rapid expansion of these capacities to fulfill their mandates and prevent a military scope-creep that could undermine our efforts to win over local populations.
Rather than trading political punches and punch lines, both Senators could stand to read the report’s recommendations and adopt more robust visions for the role of our civilian and diplomatic capacities in US national security policy.
–Sameer Lalwani

Comments

61 comments on “<em>Guest Post by Sameer Lalwani</em>: Diplomacy That’s More Than a Punch Line

  1. Jim Wells says:

    The author of this site has done extensive research on Obama and has the links to back it all up.
    http://www.freedomsenemies.com/_more/obama.htm

    Reply

  2. MP says:

    POA…I’m not sure I understand the point of your latest post, but I’ll try to respond anyway.
    If you think that Nita Lowey comes to the I-P conflict with, say, an open mind waiting to be “educated” by AIPAC or CAIR or others, you are wrong. She’s made up her mind, and she agrees with the AIPAC position in large part.
    It’s not as if she’s open to all points of view on these various issues, then reads some “mis-information” on the AIPAC site and changes her mind or her vote. No; she’s ALREADY in agreement, and anything AIPAC says is just grist for the mill.
    And frankly, Nita Lowey, and all members of Congress, have LOTS of sources of information about all of these issues–many more sources than you and I have. So, it’s not as if AIPAC can horn-swagggle them with a vanishing, one-day post on their site.
    So the idea that AIPAC is changing her vote from what it otherwise would or might be based on “information” or “education” is silly.
    And given HER openness about where she stands on these issues (based on her STANDING copy on her official web site)…and given that she wins by 60-70% of the vote in her district…and has since the late eighties…and even felt strong enough to consider running against Hillary for the Senate…I’d say that her constituents back her.
    So, my point remains: Putting up copy for a day or so, and then taking it down, doesn’t strike me as an effective way to SWAY public opinion. If you can explain to me where I’m wrong, I’m happy to listen, as always.

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  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Lowey: AIPAC “Vital as a Source of Information”
    Speaking to AIPAC leadership, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) thanked the organization for its efforts to educate members of Congress and said it was “an honor” for her to fight for the U.S.-Israel relationship. “AIPAC is absolutely vital as a source of information,” said Lowey, Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Foreign Operations Subcommittee. Lowey also stated that she was proud to have written the 2008 foreign aid bill, which included $2.4 billion in U.S. aid to Israel. Following Lowey’s remarks, a bipartisan group of nearly 20 freshmen members of Congress — almost half of the new class — spoke to AIPAC leaders from throughout the country. Each of them expressed their support for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship and took time to thank AIPAC for the reliable information and analysis the organization provides to lawmakers.

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  4. MP says:

    Okay, they’re not shy about telling lies.
    But if their lies “don’t last long at the site,” they don’t have much time to do much damage.
    Look, Cheney had to repeat over and over the lie about Saddam-Al Qaeda connection.
    It’s not like he said it once and then stopped saying it. He had to drive the point home.
    So, if this is their tactic, then it doesn’t strike me as a very effective way to get their point across. You seem to think that it IS an effective way of swaying public opinion, and I’d be interested to hear how you think that actually WORKS.
    Unfortunately, lying on the Web, or anywhere else, is not a crime and is done all the time by a lot of people. So I don’t see what can be done about it–except to challenge them where possible. Who knows–lying may even be protected by the First Amendment.
    In general, I’d be surprised if the average person read the AIPAC Web site. Its readers are highly interested in Jewish and ME affairs and, largely, already agree with them and/or have many other sources of information with which to corroborate or debunk whatever they read there. Anyone reading the site knows that what they’re reading is the AIPAC line and isn’t objective news. I myself don’t believe ANYTHING I read on the Web unless I’ve corroborated it.
    Any Congressperson who simply believes what he reads on the site has no excuses, in my book.

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  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “But overall, AIPAC strirkes me as NOT shy about its fear mongering around Iran. It doesn’t try to hide its views or why it acts the way it does.”
    They’re not shy about “fear mongering”, you’re right. But the out and out lies, purposely advanced, don’t last long at the site. “Lies” aren’t “views”, MP. But you knew that. Trying to portray their deceptions as just “viewpoints” is pure horseshit.

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  6. MP says:

    POA writes: “Yet those that caught the lies, and choose to comment on the deception, have no proof of the actual propaganda. When I brought up the Natanz deception at that Tabor asshole’s blog, The Conservative Voice, I was simply called a liar, for I had no proof that the deception had occured. You cant assured there are many people that saw the lies about Natanz, believed them, and are still repeating them.”
    Then all you, or anyone else, has to do, is take a screenshot…or simply copy out the material. I can believe that a lot of AIPACers saw the article, but that’s a tiny fraction of the population, even of Jews. Plus, when THEY assert XYZ about Natanz, we can ask THEM to prove it. It goes both ways. This may be a tactic, but it strikes me as highly ineffective. Anyone in advertising and PR will tell you that it takes a LOT of exposure to get a message across. You will say that the site is just the tip of the iceberg of what AIPAC puts out–true. But then there is a huge paper trail leading back to them.
    But overall, AIPAC strirkes me as NOT shy about its fear mongering around Iran. It doesn’t try to hide its views or why it acts the way it does.
    I’ll take your advice and go to the site much more than I do…

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  7. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “kay, I see what you’re saying. However, if they’re posting “something slanted” that they want a lot of people to see and absorb, how does removing and not archiving that material serve that goal? It would seem to LIMIT rather than expand the number of people they reach. And folks who monitor AIPAC to rebut their slant can take screen grabs.”
    Oh bullshit. You know as well as I do why they hide the propaganda after it has been posted. For instance, they ran that Natanz bullshit on a weekend, when it would undoubtedly get the most exposure. So, they seeded us with lies. Then, when viewership falls off, in the businessweek, they remove the material, and purposely don’t archive it. So, they now have people spreading the propaganda during the work week. Yet those that caught the lies, and choose to comment on the deception, have no proof of the actual propaganda. When I brought up the Natanz deception at that Tabor asshole’s blog, The Conservative Voice, I was simply called a liar, for I had no proof that the deception had occured. You cant assured there are many people that saw the lies about Natanz, believed them, and are still repeating them.
    And if you aren’t convinced, go to the site on a daily basis, and just take note of the semantics, which are highly misleading. For instance Iran’s nuclear program is repeatedly refered to as “illicit”, despite the fact that the IAEA has found NO evidence of “illicit” activity.

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  8. MP says:

    Posted by Sandy at August 1, 2007 02:49 PM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    No. I don’t think so. I’m responding to what … said, which was: “the way i measure it is different then how others might measure it… when a country is beholden to another such as america is to israel, one can see how all sorts of actions come about.. the fixation on iran is a good example.. would the fixation exist if israel didn’t have it?”
    And I’m saying, yes, the fixation WOULD exist and I said why. Does AIPAC intensify that fixation? No doubt–but it’s pretty strong to begin with, so removing AIPAC from the equation hardly solves the problem, IMO.
    (Moreover, as I’ve argued elsewhere, Israel actually has a REASON to be concerned about Iran–even though that reason is not sufficient to take up bombs by any stretch. And it is certainly a more worrying reason than Britain proffered when the US decided to bump off M on behalf of Britain.)
    Your apparent assertion that Israel had this large influence on US foreign policy BEFORE “the Lobby,” or at least AIPAC, came into existence–and that now they have more influence because they are more organized–would require some proof IMO. But maybe I misunderstand you here.
    I think it would be hard to argue, for example, that Israel pushed or inclined us to assassinate Mossadegh. It was the British.
    As to your quote, I think it’s worth pointing out that, though the Dems are pro-Israel, the neos came to power with GWB. Clinton may have had a nominal policy of regime change in Iraq, but it took GWB and his crowd to do the invasion. It would be hard to argue–though who’s to say for sure–that a President Gore would have invaded Iraq. I don’t think he would have.
    Comparing Pelosi to Abramoff is just silly–and shows how crazed the country has become. I won’t do it.
    EasyE says that Republicans and Dems are like Coke and Pepsi. But does anyone really want to argue that Carter would have been no different than Reagan…that Mondale would have been no different than Reagan…that Dukakis would have been no different than HWB…that Dole would have been no different than Clinton…or that Gore would have been no different than GWB?
    The road not taken can never be known–but in looking at those pairs, I would not want to have to argue the Coke/Pepsi case.

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  9. MP says:

    Posted by Sandy at August 1, 2007 02:49 PM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    No. I don’t think so. I’m responding to what … said, which was: “the way i measure it is different then how others might measure it… when a country is beholden to another such as america is to israel, one can see how all sorts of actions come about.. the fixation on iran is a good example.. would the fixation exist if israel didn’t have it?”
    And I’m saying, yes, the fixation WOULD exist and said why. Does AIPAC intensify that fixation? No doubt–but it’s pretty strong to begin with, so removing AIPAC from the equation hardly solves the problem, IMO.
    (Moreover, as I’ve argued elsewhere, Israel actually has a REASON to be concerned about Iran–even though that reason is not sufficient to take up bombs by any stretch. And it is certainly a more worrying reason than Britain proffered when the US decided to bump off M on behalf of Britain.)
    Your apparent assertion that Israel had this large influence on US foreign policy BEFORE “the Lobby,” or at least AIPAC, came into existence–and that now they have more influence because they are more organized–would require some proof IMO. But maybe I misunderstand you here.
    I think it would be hard to argue, for example, that Israel pushed or inclined us to assassinate Mossadegh. It was the British.
    As to your quote, I think it’s worth pointing out that, though the Dems are pro-Israel, the neos came to power with GWB. Clinton may have had a nominal policy of regime change in Iraq, but it took GWB and his crowd to do the invasion. It would be hard to argue–though who’s to say for sure–that a President Gore would have invaded Iraq. I don’t think he would have.
    Comparing Pelosi to Abramoff is just silly–and shows how crazed the country has become. I won’t do it.
    EasyE says that Republicans and Dems are like Coke and Pepsi. But does anyone really want to argue that Carter would have been no different than Reagan…that Mondale would have been no different than Reagan…that Dukakis would have been no different than HWB…that Dole would have been no different than Clinton…or that Gore would have been no different than GWB?
    The road not taken can never be known–but in looking at those pairs, I would not want to have to argue the Coke/Pepsi case.

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  10. Sandy says:

    Sorry, MP, but that sounds like a non sequitur to me!
    That is, that whatever occurred BEFORE the AIPAC existed says anything at all about Israel’s influence on American foreign policy! Maybe they just got more organized….and MORE influential? Ya think?
    I don’t think anyone here has said that OIL hasn’t been a huge factor in our foreign policy and motivations. But that doesn’t mean Israel hasn’t been as well. It isn’t any EITHER/OR …..
    Consider this:
    http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/04/13/494/
    ”…Sadly, the new Democratic Congress has cemented its status as yet another iteration of a system which long ago sold its soul to special interests. Democrats can cackle about Republican scandals, including the Jack Abramoff affair, which brought down Rep. Tom DeLay among others. But history will show that the Pelosi-led sellout to Israeli special interests endangered the viability and security of America as a sovereign state governed by the rule of law more than Jack Abramoff ever could.
    In this time of constitutional crisis, the American people need to wake up and demand that the basic tenets of the Constitution be adhered to. Congress is solely empowered by the Constitution to declare war. Demanding that the president of the United States adhere to this prerequisite is a logical and patriotic stance. Allowing any non-American interest, even one possessing such highly charged political and emotional sensitivities as Israel, to dictate otherwise represents nothing more than a capitulation of sovereignty. We the people need to rally around this defense of sovereignty. We must demand not only that Congress reassert its constitutional responsibilities and authority by demanding the president obey the letter of the law when it comes to war, whether against Iran or any other nation, but also to place in check the anti-American activities of one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, D.C., the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee….” snip

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  11. MP says:

    Here’s the Wikipedia entry on Mossadegh. Apparently Time voted him Man of the Year in 1952–but the US and British governments didn’t like him.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammed_Mossadegh

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  12. MP says:

    … writes: “the fixation on iran is a good example.. would the fixation exist if israel didn’t have it?”
    I would have to say yes. Here’s why: in the early 1950s, we assassinated Mossadegh, the democratically elected leader of Iran. We imposed and propped up a tyrannical dictator.
    I believe the underlying the issue was M’s pledge to nationalize the oil fields.
    This was all before AIPAC existed, and just a few years after the birth of Israel.
    This, of course, led to the Khomeini and hostages affair–all during the presidency of Carter.

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  13. MP says:

    Posted by … at August 1, 2007 02:18 PM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>
    Okay, I understand your point.
    But then, how is it that AARP is more powerful than AIPAC, as you state? Not sure how that works given what you’ve said.

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  14. Sandy says:

    And, how many millions (or, is it billions) does the AIPAC vs the AARP pour into campaign financing — to influence elections?

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  15. ... says:

    >>how are you measuring “power”?<< the way i measure it is different then how others might measure it… when a country is beholden to another such as america is to israel, one can see how all sorts of actions come about.. the fixation on iran is a good example.. would the fixation exist if israel didn’t have it? it was the same with iraq as well… america needs to move beyond special interest groups that are focused on other countries welfare and focus on its own..aipac has israel as its priority, not america.. more americans and especially those who run for political office need to remain aware and strongly vigilant against serving for another country – specifically israel…
    the middle east is what it is today thanks to an imbalance of power.. america has aipac to thank for much of it.. i think it is dawning on many more folks, which is a good thing too…

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  16. MP says:

    …wrties: “posts something slanted for a day or 2, then they remove it, so as to not have the bullshit in it challenged. most powerful lobby group -American Association of Retired Persons”
    Okay, I see what you’re saying. However, if they’re posting “something slanted” that they want a lot of people to see and absorb, how does removing and not archiving that material serve that goal? It would seem to LIMIT rather than expand the number of people they reach. And folks who monitor AIPAC to rebut their slant can take screen grabs. So, as a tactic, it would seem to be rather ineffective.
    Then again maybe you can tell me what I’m missing here.
    As to AARP…how are you measuring “power”? Number of bills passed and squashed and emended?

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  17. ... says:

    posts something slanted for a day or 2, then they remove it, so as to not have the bullshit in it challenged.
    most powerful lobby group -American Association of Retired Persons
    http://www.wrmea.com/backissues/0198/9801065.htm

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  18. MP says:

    …wrties: “2nd most powerful lobby group in the usa, and yet folks wonder why all the politicians mouth incessant support for israel”
    What is the first most powerful lobby, in your view?

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  19. MP says:

    …wrties: “it removes stuff off its website too.”
    Never understood the issue around removing stuff from web sites is. Maybe you can explain it to me.

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  20. ... says:

    then we have the usa selling a whack of weapons to saudi arabia… now that is brilliant.. where were the hijackers on those 9-11 planes from? i will give you a clue, the countrys name doesn’t start with an ‘i’.. that is aipac for you, telling those same bought congressmen that iran needs to be contained… screw aipac. people aren’t stupid.

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  21. ... says:

    it removes stuff off its website too. the reason those congressmen aren’t afriad to say they are pro israel as they are ‘bought’ congressmen.. pathetic.. none of them have the courage to say ‘we need the money’ and aipac is corrupt is using money to alter anything that democracy was supposed to mean.. 2nd most powerful lobby group in the usa, and yet folks wonder why all the politicians mouth incessant support for israel… one would have to be brain dead to not know what a leech looks like.

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  22. MP says:

    same is true of the israel lobby in the usa mp.. not very many are willing to talk about it.
    I would have to say the “Israel Lobby” is pretty out in the open. AIPAC’s annual meeting is well-publicized. AIPAC says what it thinks on its Web site. The ADL doesn’t hide under a bushel, either. The Congressmen who are pro-Israel one way or another aren’t shy about saying so.

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  23. TonyForesta says:

    “The issue of accountability eclipses all other issues, including this horrendous mess in Iraq.”
    Indeed. The woeful lack of accountability allows the Bush government to sustain and to deviously shapeshift the Rendon Group’s disinformation warfare campaign, – I mean the message in to increasinig inventive visionary hopes, pipedreams and other phantasmagoria.
    The Bush government masks catastrophically failing policies in new and improved PR and information domination, perception management campaigns, and of course Iraq is the perfect example wherein the Bush government warpimps morphed in tone and language from WMD, to deceptively conflating Al Quaida and 9/11 with Iraq, to democratizing the ME, to rebuilding Iraq, to stabilizing Iraq, to electing a functional government, to preventing a civil war, to preventing a further destabilizing the ME, to combating a WWIIlike existential threat in Iraq which is supposedly the epicenter of the socalled neverendingwaronterror. (while anyone who can read knows that al Quaida leadership is safely entrenched in deep redoubts in Pakistan planning, training for, financiing, and commanding the sequel to 9/11) to securing Iraq to the warpimping de jour today and tomorrow.
    All of these policies have failed miserably, or been outright deceptions, wherein the highests officers in our government are pathological liars, pathologically lyiing to the American people and “repeatedly and insistently” breaking the law.
    The entire Iraq debacle would would have ended year ago, if there was ever any accountability involving the Bush governments’ twisting, conjuring, and manipulating of the intelligence product to conform to pre-existing FASCIST policies, machinations, and profiteering. The entire Bush government intentionally LIED to the America people “repeated and insistantly in a maniplative and deceptive mass marketing (disinformation warface) campaign bent of SELLING the Iraq horrorshow and hurling our daughters and sons and hundreds of unaccounted for billions of the peoples dollars into an unecessary, unjust, illegal, immoral and bloody, costly noendinsight war against the wrong muslims.
    There is only one possible crime more pernicious or evil than intentionally decieving the America people with regard to the justifications for the noendinsight horrorshow in Iraq, and that would be actual involvement and complicity in 9/11.
    If the people ever have real accountability, many of the pathological liars, fascists, warmongers and profiteers in the Bush government will be impeached, or tossed in jail.
    “Deliver us from evil!”

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  24. ... says:

    same is true of the israel lobby in the usa mp.. not very many are willing to talk about it.

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  25. MP says:

    JohnH writes: “Don’t you think hidden economic and commercial motivations behind US foreign policy and wars should be open for public discussion?”
    Yes; to be sure. I assume you’re talking about motivations such as oil, yes? But the fact that they are “hidden” means that their adherents WANT them hidden and aren’t likely to come clean. They don’t want a debate. How you force them to open up, I’m not sure.
    I would say this has been true always, not just in the “current climate.” Cheney and friends have repeatedly referred to the importance of “energy resources”–that’s about the best you’re going to get, I think.

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  26. JohnH says:

    MP–You miss the point. Agreed that not everyone will agree on what constitutes the national interest. The point is that different people’s views of the national interest should be part of the public record, so that they can be openly debated. In the current environment, the players’ real motivations are well hidden. Public discussion is diverted to phony issues (WMD, Al Qaeda in Iraq) or to emotive ones (women’s rights, democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan) that no one seriously thinks will be resolved no matter who is in charge.
    Don’t you think hidden economic and commercial motivations behind US foreign policy and wars should be open for public discussion? Or should Americans just keep dying for lies so that others can secretly keep making money?

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  27. MP says:

    Carroll writes: “Does anyone ask to what end and what benefit to Americans we going to “flip” Syria or “lure” Cuba? What’s the end game? More total control of the universe? For US objectives..those unnamed objectives?”
    But isn’t this what all countries do with each other–offer incentives and sticks to gain economic advantages and, where the need is felt, security ones? The US is just the biggest dog in the park with the ability to do the most good and damage–but they are all playing each other.
    To David N: Yes, our national interests are whatever the speaker says they are. That is, folks disagree about what they are. I’m not sure there is a box somewhere that contains the US’s true, objective interests about which everyone should or could agree. I mean, isn’t it true that large numbers of people thought it was NOT in our national interests to enter WWII–some were opposed even AFTER Pearl Harbor.

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  28. MP says:

    Carroll writes: “I always wanted the country’s security and intelligence handled by private corporations and foreign firms, didn’t you?
    Hillary and Obama should be asked what they think of this as it concerns national security and those always mysteriously unnamed “vital US interest.”
    There was an interesting program on this on Diane Rehm. Apparently, the outsourcing of a lot of important functions, including defense and intelligence, has been going on since the Eisenhower days, if not before (see The Hessians). It’s a whole approach to running government that, essentially, is based on keeping taxes as low, and government as small, as possible–though how outsourcing reduces the budget, I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s just an accounting gimmick.
    The WaPo recently had an article on a Booz Allen contract that had spiralled to about four times the originally projected cost. One fact stood out: The average yearly billabe rate/cost for a BA employee on this contract was $250,000–about four times what it would have cost to have had a civil servant perform the same function.

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  29. Erica says:

    The Democrats cannot agree on a stable and consistent response to the foreign policy question. The Republicans, although sure on their response to invade Iraq, did not amount to a good solution either because that cause in iraq did nothing for the United States. Ideally, both parties should agree that fighting Global Poverty should be the forefronting issue in their foreign policy. We should abstain from funding the already 340 billion dollar war and contributd 19 billion to the ending of starvation globally [ Borgen Project ]. We can do this!

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  30. MP says:

    Carroll writes: “I have had many arguements with pro Israel supporters in particular over our ME foreign policy that claim support for Israeli actions is widespread among Americans. Whereas, living in Southern evangelical land I can’t find the support in the christian or evangelical community they claim is so prevelant.”
    I would say support for Israel is widespread, but NOT necessarily all her actions. The article you quote supports this.

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  31. ... says:

    thanks for the comments on impeachment everyone… it is beyond partisan politics and steve seems to be sleeping and not reading his comments page.
    from another poster >>>>If the President has a cabinet official who is clearly breaking the law and the President does not remove him, the President should be impeached. That is exactly what the founders intended. We need to get this idea into the national discourse.<<
    sounds like gonzalas to me.

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  32. Carroll says:

    Another word about those fringes in foreign policy.
    Whether or not they actually move policy is beside the point where israelis and evangelicals are concerned…Because they have their own fringe members in congress. Check out the two dem congressmen, besides Lieberman, who are part of Hagees Bomb Iran crowd in congress.
    Read this post and be sure to click on the video and watch. It is UNBELIEVABLE.
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/7/28/175645/345

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  33. Carroll says:

    This post by Lalwani isn’t bad but look closely at the thinking and language that has invaded discussion of diplomacy…
    ..like “flipping” Syria to disrupt Iranian power” or “luring” Cuba into our economic orbit to deflate Venezuela’s control” of Latin America.
    Does anyone ask to what end and what benefit to Americans we going to “flip” Syria or “lure” Cuba?
    What’s the end game? More total control of the universe? For US objectives..those unnamed objectives?
    What is the point of even diplomacy if any and everyone who doesn’t cowtow to our “objectives” and “vital interest” is an enemy? The world is going to roll over and come to heel if we use the right diplomacy? Huummm.
    As others above have said…we need to have a talk about those US “interest” and exactly whose interest they are before we do anything else.
    As far as I can see no one is paying attention to the disappeared backbone of the US manufacturing and industrial base…exactly how long do we maintain our economic supremacy as a nation when we didn’t even have the industry necessary to manufacture enough bullets or equipment for Iraq?
    What is deal? Will the real meat of our economic strength be abroad? While Americans serve as lesser educated, lesser skilled, lesser employed taxpayers financing our(someone’s) “vital” foreign “interest”? What the hell is America going to be now..not America any more but just a “vessal” to serve “those interest”?
    I am begining to think it is pointless to talk about diplomacy..like putting the cart before the horse. Even what seems like realistic diplomatic talk still “follows those interest”, it’s like some kind of child’s follow the leader march….”those interest” lead every discussion.
    I think most of us have caught on to the fact that “those interest” aren’t really in the interest of Americans as they perceive what their country is suppose to be or offer them as citizens of a democracy.

    Reply

  34. Sandy says:

      http://www.counterpunch.org/stclair05222004.html
    May 22 / 23, 2004
    When War is Swell
    Bush’s Crusades and the Carlyle Group
    By JEFFREY ST. CLAIR
    Across all fronts, Bush’s war deteriorates with stunning rapidity. The death count of American soldiers killed in Iraq will soon top ….
    …Still not all of the president’s men are in a despairing mood. Amid the wreckage, there remain opportunities for profit and plunder. Halliburton and Bechtel’s triumphs in Iraq have been chewed over for months. Less well chronicled is the profiteering of the Carlyle Group, a company with ties that extend directly into the Oval Office itself.
    Even Pappy Bush stands in line to profit handsomely from his son’s war making. The former president is on retainer with the Carlyle Group, the largest privately held defense contractor in the nation. Carlyle is run by Frank Carlucci, who served as the National Security advisor and Secretary of Defense under Ronald Reagan. Carlucci has his own embeds in the current Bush administration. At Princeton, his college roommate was Donald Rumsfeld. They’ve remained close friends and business associates ever since. When you have friends like this, you don’t need to hire lobbyists..
    Bush Sr. serves as a kind of global emissary for Carlyle. The ex-president doesn’t negotiate arms deals; he simply opens the door for them, a kind of high level meet-and-greet. His special area of influence is the Middle East, primarily Saudi Arabia, where the Bush family has extensive business and political ties. According to an account in the Washington Post, Bush Sr. earns around $500,000 for each speech he makes on Carlyle’s behalf.
    One of the Saudi investors lured to Carlyle by Bush was the BinLaden Group, the construction conglomerate owned by the family of Osama bin Laden. According to an investigation by the Wall Street Journal, Bush convinced Shafiq Bin Laden, Osama’s half brother, to sink $2 million of BinLaden Group money into Carlyle’s accounts. In a pr move, the Carlyle group cut its ties to the BinLaden Group in October 2001.
    One of Bush Sr.’s top sidekicks, James Baker, is also a key player at Carlyle. Baker joined the weapons firm in 1993, fresh from his stint as Bush’s secretary of state and chief of staff. Packing a briefcase of global contacts, Baker parlayed his connections with heads of state, generals and international tycoons into a bonanza for Carlyle. After Baker joined the company, Carlyle’s revenues more than tripled.
    Like Bush Sr., Baker’s main function was to manage Carlyle’s lucrative relationship with Saudi potentates, who had invested tens of millions of dollars in the company. Baker helped secure one of Carlyle’s most lucrative deals: the contract to run the Saudi offset program, a multi-billion dollar scheme wherein international companies winning Saudi contracts are required under terms of the contracts to invest a percentage of the profits in Saudi companies.
    Baker not only greases the way for investment deals and arms sales, but he also plays the role of seasoned troubleshooter, protecting the interests of key clients and regimes. A case in point: when the Justice Department launched an investigation into the financial dealings of Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, the Saudi prince sought out Baker’s help. Baker is currently defending the prince in a trillion dollar lawsuit brought by the families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks. The suit alleges that the prince used Islamic charities as pass-throughs for shipping millions of dollars to groups linked to al-Qaeda.
    Baker and Carlyle enjoy another ace in the hole when it comes to looking out for their Saudi friends. Baker prevailed on Bush Jr. to appoint his former law partner, Bob Jordan, as the administration’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
    Carlyle and its network of investors are well positioned to cash in on Bush Jr.’s expansion of the defense and Homeland Security department budgets. Two Carlyle companies, Federal Data Systems and US Investigations Services, hold multi-billion dollar contracts to provide background checks for commercial airlines, the Pentagon, the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security. USIS was once a federal agency called the Office Federal Investigations, but it was privatized in 1996 at the urging of Baker and others and was soon gobbled up by Carlyle. The company is now housed in “high-security, state-of-the-art, underground complex” in Annandale, Pennsylvania. USIS now does 2.4 million background checks a year, largely for the federal government.
    Another Carlyle subsidiary, Vought Aircraft, holds more than a billion dollars in federal contracts to provide components for the C-117 transport plane, the B-2 bomber and the Apache attack helicopter. Prior to 2001, Vought had fallen on hard times. Just before the 9/11 attacks, Vought announced that it was laying off more than 1,200 employees, more than 20 percent of its workforce. But business picked up briskly following the airstrikes on Afghanistan and the war on Iraq.
    In 2002, Carlyle sold off its biggest holding, United Defense. The sale may have been prompted by insider information leaked to Carlucci by his pal Rumsfeld. In early 2001, Carlyle was furiously lobbying the Pentagon to approve contracts for the production of United Defense’s Crusader artillery system, an unwieldy and outrageously expensive super-cannon. Rumsfeld disliked the Crusader and had it high on his hit list of weapon systems to be killed off in order to save money for other big ticket schemes, particularly the Strategic Defense Initiative.
    But, as detailed in William Hartung’s excellent new book, How Much Are You Making in the War, Daddy?, Rumsfeld didn’t terminate the Crusader immediately. Instead, he held off on a public announcement of his decision for more than a year. By that time, Carlucci and Baker devised a plan to take United Defense public. The sale to unsuspecting investors netted Carlyle more than $237 million. Six months later, Rumsfeld closed the book on the Crusader. By then the gang at Carlyle had slipped out the back door, their pockets stuffed with cash. United Defense was able to petition the Pentagon to compensate them to the tune of several million for cancellation of the contract. Even when you lose, you win.
    So the men behind the Carlyle Group drift through Washington like familiar ghosts, profiteering off the carnage of Bush’s disastrous crusades, untroubled by any thought of congressional investigation or criminal prosecution, firm in the knowledge that the worse things get for the people of the world, the less secure and more gripped by fear the citizens their own country become, the more millions they will reap for themselves. Perpetual war means perpetual profits.
    Let’s leave the last word to Dan Broidy, author of The Iron Triangle, an illuminating history of the Carlyle Group: “It’s not an exaggeration to say that September 11 is going to make the Carlyle investors very, very rich men.”

    Reply

  35. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “No accountability means no change in the underlying corruption that brought us to this sorry point.”
    Carroll, it ain’t even “underlying” anymore. It is blatant, in our faces, arrogant and unapologetic. Which makes this business as usual golly lets elect the next batch of crooks insider CRAP all the more despicable. Debating whether Obama or Hillary will be the better foreign policy player is nothing but fucking idiocy. They will simply do as they damned well please in order to serve their benefactors. And why not? Obviously no one will hold them accountable for doing so. This isn’t a race to serve the people, its a God damned race for the treasure chest, and anything goes in their quest for the goodies. And that seems to hold true for the insiders as well. Without accountability at the highest levels, the topics discussed here are nothing more than mental masturbation, an exercise in irrelevent nattering.

    Reply

  36. Carroll says:

    Posted by PissedOffAmerican at July 29, 2007 10:22 PM
    >>>>>>>
    Ditto.
    No accountability means no change in the underlying corruption that brought us to this sorry point.

    Reply

  37. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Yes Tony, and the rest of this fuckin’ horseshit is just a diversion. The issue of accountability eclipses all other issues, including this horrendous mess in Iraq. We may fail in Iraq, and survive as a nation. But if we fail to hold our leaders accountable, than our nation’s demise is a certainty.

    Reply

  38. TonyForesta says:

    Word Sue, and POA. Thes debate is indeed critical to the future of our nation, and one that will define and is the very essence of real democracy, wherein the governments authority is derived by the consent of the governed.
    Impeachment is the only solution. If we do not impeache these shaitans, warmongers, pathological liars, and profiteers – then why did the founding fathers imbed into the fabric of the Constitution the radical option of impeachment. It is, and should be, a very difficult and time consuming process requiring public hearings and the full force of the legal and political structures involement. Impeachment is not, and should not be a frivolous undertaking. Impeachment is an act of a kind of desperation to remedy a grievous wrong. There has never in the history of our nation been a more apt moment to employ and excercise our Constitutional right to “petition the government for redress of grievances” and initiate impeachment proceeding against a leadership run amock.
    Allowing the fascist in the Bush government to slither away an win multimillion dollar consulting contracts with various defense, private military, private intelligence, or private equity entities will further subvert, undemine, and dismantle the structuure of America’s unique experience in democracy.
    I am astounded, dismayed, and saddened as to why to people of this nation do not storm the WH and “thow the bums out”.
    Impeachment was wwoven into the fabric of the Constitution for a reason. And there was and hopefully never will be again a more deserviing and necessary moment to apply that very difficult and arduous process.
    Our democracy and the future of America hangs in the balance.
    “Deliver us from evil!”

    Reply

  39. Sue says:

    The questions, to me, to ask the presidential candidates are not more details in terms of diplomacy but big pictures, visions of this country and the world, such as, what kind of country we want to be, what kind of the world we want to live, do we want to dominante the world which is almost impossible to do? What kind of threat terrists really pose? Is the military the right tool to fight terrists? How we see the world and ourselves decide our policies. This is the debate we should have in this country.

    Reply

  40. Sue says:

    The questions, to me, to ask the presidential candidates are not more details in terms of diplomacy but big pictures, visions of this country and the world, such as, what kind of country we want to be, what kind of the world we want to live, do we want to dominante the world which is almost impossible to do? What kind of threat terrists really pose? Is the military the right tool to fight terrists? How we see the world and ourselves decide our policies. This is the debate we should have in this country.

    Reply

  41. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, the public might know it, but it is obvious that Steve Clemons and his coffee klatch insiders don’t. With each passing day, as more and more executive abuses become apparent, the act of just peddling the same old Washington SHIT just becomes more and more despicable.
    http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/325316_impeach29.html?source=rss
    It’s time to impeach Bush, Cheney and the public knows it
    Seattlepi.com ^ | July 27, 2 | JOHN NICHOLS
    Recently the Bill Moyers Journal on PBS devoted a full hour to the subject of impeaching George W. Bush and Dick Cheney — the first such attention by a national network.
    The remarkable thing about the response was not its size or intensity. After visiting more than a dozen states to address the issue, I have come to understand the depth of the public’s desire for accountability.
    But it was only after Moyers invited conservative legal scholar Bruce Fein and me to lay out not merely the specific grounds for impeachment but the historical rationale for applying the “heroic medicine” — the Founders’ preferred cure for a constitutional crisis — that I fully understood the extent to which Americans recognize that this is about a lot more than the high crimes and misdemeanors of a regal president and his monarchical vice president.
    The stakes are enormous: If Bush and Cheney are not held accountable, this administration will hand off to its successors a toolbox of powers greater than any executive has ever held — more authority, concentrated in fewer hands, than the Founders could have conceived or would have allowed.
    Among the thousands of responses after the program aired in mid-July, there was a steady theme: This is no longer a partisan issue. Inside the Beltway, the calculus these days rarely gets beyond the next election; but outside it there are tens of millions of Americans worried about the next generation — indeed, about the fate of the republic. To be sure, there are Bush haters among their number, fierce partisans who — in an echo of the Republicans who a decade ago went after Bill Clinton — have adopted a “by any means necessary” approach to the goal of cutting short the Bush/Cheney tenure.
    But the national conversation in which we engaged after the Moyers program aired suggested that they are a minority of the 54 percent of Americans who tell pollsters it’s time to open impeachment hearings on Cheney’s misdeeds, and the only slightly smaller number who favor the process for Bush.
    The Washington elites still try to dismiss the impeachment movement as an ill-considered reflexive reaction to a president Americans don’t like and a vice president they fear — or, worse yet, as some sort of partisan payback. But the plain truth is that most of those who responded to the Moyers discussion recognize that the point of impeachment is not the transitory crimes of small men but the long-term definition of great offices.
    Fein, an official in the Reagan Justice Department, and I come from different points on the ideological spectrum, but we agree that the Founders intended impeachment less as a punishment for officeholders than as a protection against the dangerous expansion of executive authority. If abuse of the system of checks and balances, lies about war, approval of illegal spying and torture, signing statements that improperly arrogate legislative powers to the executive branch, schemes to punish political foes and refusals to cooperate with congressional inquiries are not judged as high crimes, the next president, no matter from which party, will assume the authority to exercise some or all of these illegitimate powers.
    The burgeoning movement for impeachment is a rational response to a moment when polls tell us that roughly three-quarters of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction. This administration has not just let Americans down; it has frightened them. A great many understand, intuitively or explicitly, that we are experiencing a constitutional crisis and that impeachment proceedings are the proper tonic. Unfortunately, key Democrats continue to mistake the medicine for the disease.
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi still keeps impeachment “off the table”; she and her advisers fear that if they allow Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers to open impeachment hearings, it will rally the Republican base in defense of Bush and Cheney. History suggests she’s wrong: Opposition parties that have pursued impeachment in a high-minded manner have, in every instance, maintained or improved their position in Congress and have usually won the presidency in the next election.
    Pelosi should step out of the way and let her colleagues restore the rule of law. More than a dozen have shown their desire to do so by co-sponsoring Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s articles of impeachment against Cheney.
    Clearly, impeachment is not just around the corner; even Sen. Russ Feingold’s “relatively modest response” to the crisis — censure resolutions against Bush and Cheney –faces an uphill struggle. At this late stage, it will be difficult to turn the need for accountability into action on Capitol Hill. But even an impeachment effort that falls short lays down a historical marker; it tells Bush and Cheney and all those who succeed them that an executive branch that imagines itself superior to Congress and the rule of law will arouse popular fury.
    Bush, it is said, has begun to worry about his legacy. The rest of us should, too. No matter how unsuccessful we may think his tenure has been, it will leave a mark on the republic. If that mark is of a presidency without limit or accountability, Bush and Cheney will have changed the country far more fundamentally than any of their predecessors.
    John Nichols is chief Washington correspondent for The Nation. Reprinted with permission from the Aug. 13-20 issue of The Nation (www.TheNation.com)

    Reply

  42. JohnH says:

    Carroll is right about pandering. But it’s not voters that candidates are pandering to. Voters are simply something to be managed and manipulated.
    Pandering is done to satisfy monied, economic interests. How many millions of US aid to Israel would need to be recycled to Mr. Hagee to make him interpret the Bible in a more Likudite light? How much money from the Baccardi and Fanjul families does it take to pervert US policy towards Cuba? http://www.cuba-solidarity.org.uk/cubasi_article.asp?ArticleID=10
    How much favorable press from Murdoch does it take to convince Hillary to pander to neocons? Answer: apparently not a whole lot.
    The problem with foreign policy blogs like this one is they limit their analysis largely to the public theater staged to frame issues in ways that foster management and manipulation of the electorate. They never bother to get to core economic issues driving national interest or make any attempt to follow the money and influence from those interests to candidates who act on their behalf. They are afraid to go beyond superficial analysis because the underwriters of their think tanks might disapprove.

    Reply

  43. Carroll says:

    I always wanted the country’s security and intelligence handled by private corporations and foreign firms, didn’t you?
    Hillary and Obama should be asked what they think of this as it concerns national security and those always mysteriously unnamed “vital US interest.”
    Outsourcing Intelligence:
    Author R.J. Hillhouse on How Key National Security Projects Are Contracted to Private Firms
    According to Hillhouse more than 50 percent of the National Clandestine Service has been outsourced to private firms such as Abraxas, Booz Allen Hamilton, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. Hillhouse’s article in the Washington Post created a firestorm of controversy within the intelligence community. A week later the Office of the Director of National Intelligence responded defending the use of private contractors.
    R.J. HILLHOUSE: Well, what I found is, as you said, private corporations have completely penetrated the intelligence apparatus of the United States. It’s impossible — even in the response to me by the Director of National Intelligence that was published in the Washington Post, they admitted that without private corporations they would be unable to function. So what we’re seeing is basic responsibilities of government have been handed over to the private sector, which I really don’t have a problem with, but how it has occurred is very problematic. There are layers of responsibility that have been handed to private sector, so the government has actually very little control in some of what’s going on in terms of espionage. There’s management layers, and private corporations actually run other corporations that are doing espionage work, the entire gamut of everything from the NSA, what is being done in pattern analysis with phone calls. Internet traffic is handled by some private corporations. Actual gathering of intelligence on the ground, running of covert operations on behalf of the CIA, it’s all in private hands. It seems that James Bond bills by the hour.
    In the case of the CIA, the Directorate of Intelligence, my acquaintances tell me that over half is run by private corporations or staffed — the work force is staffed by private corporations with really analytical supervisors signing off on it. So they all gather the intelligence in the field, which much of that is gathered by private corporations in these sixteen different intelligence agencies, is put into analytical products that talk about what the major topics or issues are in the different regions. It’s funneled up to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which sifts through this and determines which are the most important pressing issues, and those are taken and put into the President’s Daily Brief, which the Director of National Intelligence briefs the President on each day.
    Israeli Co Is New Pentagon
    Computer Security Supplier
    7-27-7
    The Israeli company for computer security Check Points has been appointed as the official supplier to the American Ministry of Defense. In particular, the company will supply American Federal agencies with a protection system for data stored on laptop computers.
    On Thursday the House Appropriations Committee voted to give Israel an additional $70 million in defense aid beyond the $80 million requested by the administration.
    Should the budget pass both the House and Senate votes, Israel stands to receive no less than $150 million. These funds are not part of the ‘regular’ US defense aid budget for Israel, which stands at $2.4 billion. ”

    Reply

  44. TonyForesta says:

    You are right Carol, that politicians of every sordid ilk “want to have it both ways”. Theleft have failed thus far in articating policies and solutions that resonate with the majority of Americans. American’s have rightfully, and thankfully finally, soured on the fascist machinations of the shaitans in the Bush government, and all thier fascist, failing, bloody, costly, noendinsight policies, – yet American have not been exposed to a unified or cohesive message from the Democratic leadership.
    This is part of the process, and one critical issue that separates dems from pubs. Democrats, and theleft in general are not monolithic, or blindly partisan. Theleft main claim certain general policies, but there are many sundry policy offerings that are still being debated, honed, and vetted. Theright, and the repubs on the otherhand are intensely partisan and bow to and glorify the fascists warmongers and profiteers in the Bush government in lockstep unison. There is no debate on theright. The Bush government is godz messenger and avenger sanctioned by the heavan to operate with impunity above and beyond the law, accountable to no one, and no thing. The Constitution is just a “goddamn piece of paper” and the fascists in the Bush government are free to redefined and reengineer the Constitution, the rule of law, and America’s core principles because godwillsit, and we are in dire peril from socalled evildoers.
    Since there is no debate on theright, and only blind somnabulent worshipping and glorifying of the monarchy, or the fascist totalitarian dictatorship that is the Bush government, – there are no questions, no analysis, no demands for accounting, or accountability, and the grievous abuses, failures, deceptions, perversions, and wanton profiteering of the fascist in the Bush government continues unabated, and with the mindless uncritical partisan support of theright and redneckAmerica.
    The Saudi deal is an excellent example. Why would anyone intentionally arm the Saudi’s. Saudi Arabia abundantly feeds and nourishes the heart and engine of wahabism, and jihadist islam, – the very mass murderers or supposedly present this existential threat to America. The pathological liars in the Bush government deceptively paint lipstick of this pig, by framing the deal as good for interests and the stability of the ME. But any real questioning, debating, or vetting of the longterm consequences of such a deal, would certainly raise numerous redflags. The only American people who will profit or gain any benefit from this deal are the cronies, coteries, cabals, and profiteers in the defense, Private Military, and Private Intelligence industries and oligachs. The rest of America must confront the same betrayals and use of our own equipment, against our own people that proved so costly with Saddam, who Cheney and Rumsfeld, and Bush Sr. lavishly armed.
    “The truth will set you free.”
    The Bush government is peopled with pathological liars and not one syllable they pimp deserves one nano partical of credibility, legitimacy, respect, or trust from the America people.
    Americans should demand investigations, analysis, and a vetting of facts, the longterm costs, benefits, worsecase scenarios, and whom or what profits from arming Saudi Arabia.
    Monarchs, and totalitarian dictators don’t allow debate or analysis though, – say goodbye to your tax dollars, and hello to jihadist armed with bits and pieces of America’s hypersuperior hardware.
    “Deliver us from evil!”

    Reply

  45. Carroll says:

    More foreign policy by pandering favortism:
    House Members Say They Will Try to Block Arms Sales to Saudis
    By Robin Wright
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Sunday, July 29, 2007; A06
    The Bush administration’s plan to sell $20 billion in advanced weaponry to Saudi Arabia and five other Persian Gulf countries is running into congressional opposition and criticism from human rights and arms control groups.
    But Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who was briefed on the deal Tuesday, said he had several reservations. “This is not a sale at Macy’s that you go in and buy a bunch of stuff. There are a complex set of relationships behind it, and while it’s very desirable to have the Saudis and others recognize that Iran is an existential threat, there is also a degree of responsibility that they have to show on broader U.S. foreign policy interests,” he said in an interview.
    In the context of the arms deals, Lantos said the oil-rich countries should use windfall profits from high oil prices to cover the expenses of Iraqi refugees who have flooded Jordan. Saudi Arabia should not try to re-broker reconciliation between Palestinian moderates and militants, he added, and Qatar should look at the television network al-Jazeera’s role in the region.
    Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) and Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) said yesterday that they will introduce a joint resolution of disapproval to block the deals when Congress is formally notified. They have seven Democratic co-sponsors.
    In an interview, Weiner said any arms proposal would find broad bipartisan opposition on the Hill. “The reputation of the Saudis has taken quite a beating since 9/11, and despite the fact that the administration has done everything to portray them as part of the moderate Arab world, members of Congress of both parties are increasingly skeptical.”
    Under the Arms Export Control Act of 1976, Congress must approve major arms sales. In 1986, the threat of a joint resolution of disapproval played a role in persuading the Reagan administration to cut back an arms package to Saudi Arabia.
    Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), a senior member of the House Foreign Relations committee who was also briefed last week, said a pivotal issue will be whether Israel maintains the “qualitative military edge” in the region.
    U.S. officials acknowledged that congressional reaction has been mixed but cautioned that details of a broader arms package — including $30 billion in military aid to Israel and $13 billion to Egypt over the next 10 years — have yet to be released. “As we move forward, we will work very closely with Congress, as well as our friends and allies in the region,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.
    >>>>>>>>>
    Doesn’t this make perfect sense? Load everyone up with arms? But then not sell to Saudi who pays their own way while we give 30 billions + of taxpayer money to Israel and others so they can buy more arms?
    Burn Washington to the Ground and Start Over.
    They are all crazy.

    Reply

  46. Carroll says:

    Posted by Arun at July 27, 2007 06:44 PM
    >>>>>>>>>
    What pre-conditions would you set for talking with Iran or Cuba?
    Russia has defied the US on three major things recently, missiles, Hamas and Iran, but Bush met with Putin….were there pre-conditions to that meeting….I don’t know, I didn’t follow it that closely but would like to know if there were and what they were.

    Reply

  47. Carroll says:

    Dems dumber than s*** doing the pander game and like JohnH said not defining our “national interest”…how can they define our national interest when foreign policy for them is about winning an election not about US interest?
    I have said a thousand times and had that many arguements over the “pandering factor” in the foreign policy debate in the presidential campaigns.
    The dems, Hillary more so than the others, are playing the Bush game in pandering to the “fringes” in foreign policy….the war hardliners, the AIPAC’ers, the old Fla. cuban exile community that in the past has given big bucks to the repubs, the evangelicals and so on.
    I have had many arguements with pro Israel supporters in particular over our ME foreign policy that claim support for Israeli actions is widespread among Americans. Whereas, living in Southern evangelical land I can’t find the support in the christian or evangelical community they claim is so prevelant.
    In fact I would guess too that the old Cuban exile groups are also dwindling and the younger Cuban less attached to the idea of re-taking and re-claiming Cuba by invasion or overthrow of Castro.
    My contention has always been that the majority of Americans are more common sense than they get credit for “once” they have the facts on issues.
    Using myself as an example, I don’t like the what I am hearing from any of them, particularly Hillary who seems stuck on pandering to the fringes that worked for George. Most of them are still speaking in “code” thinking by doing that they are satisfying both the majority and the fringe. The only thing giving the dems any edge at all is that the repub candidates are still pandering too.
    The fringes just aren’t as big as they think they are and this is a good example and backs up my own local observation:
    http://tinyurl.com/2xnhhb
    NYT’s
    Coalition of Evangelicals Voices Support for Palestinian State
    By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
    Published: July 29, 2007
    In recent years, conservative evangelicals who claim a Biblical mandate to protect Israel have built a bulwark of support for the Jewish nation — sending donations, denouncing its critics and urging it not to evacuate settlements or forfeit territory.
    Now more than 30 evangelical leaders are stepping forward to say these efforts have given the wrong impression about the stance of many, if not most, American evangelicals.
    On Friday, these leaders sent a letter to President Bush saying that both Israelis and Palestinians have “legitimate rights stretching back for millennia to the lands of Israel/Palestine,” and that they support the creation of a Palestinian state “that includes the vast majority of the West Bank.”
    They say that being a friend to Jews and to Israel “does not mean withholding criticism when it is warranted.” The letter adds, “Both Israelis and Palestinians have committed violence and injustice against each other.”
    The letter is signed by 34 evangelical leaders, many of whom lead denominations, Christian charities, ministry organizations, seminaries and universities.
    They include Gary M. Benedict, president of The Christian and Missionary Alliance, a denomination of 2,000 churches; Richard J. Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary; Gordon MacDonald, chairman of World Relief; Richard E. Stearns, president of World Vision; David Neff, editor of Christianity Today; and Berten A. Waggoner, national director and president of The Vineyard USA, an association of 630 churches in the United States.
    They are clearly aiming their message not just at President Bush, but at the Muslim world and policy makers in the State Department.
    Mr. Sider said he and three other evangelical leaders got the idea for the letter in February at the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar, where they met Muslim and American diplomats who were shocked to discover the existence of American evangelicals who favored a Palestinian state. Mr. Sider says they will translate the letter into Arabic and distribute it in the Middle East and Europe.
    “We think it’s crucial that the Muslim world realize that there are evangelical Christians in the U.S. in large numbers that want a fair solution,” Mr. Sider said.
    The Rev. Joel C. Hunter, senior pastor of Northland Church in Longwood, Fla., said, “There is a part of the evangelical family which is what I call Christian Zionists, who are just so staunchly pro-Israel that Israel and their side can do no wrong, and it’s almost anti-Biblical to criticize Israel for anything. But there are many more evangelicals who are really open and seek justice for both parties.”
    The loudest and best-organized voices in the evangelical movement have been sending a very different message: that the Palestinians have no legitimate claim to the land.
    The Rev. John Hagee, who founded Christians United for Israel, was informed of the letter and read most of it. He responded: “Bible-believing evangelicals will scoff at that message.
    “Christians United for Israel is opposed to America pressuring Israel to give up more land to anyone for any reason. What has the policy of appeasement ever produced for Israel that was beneficial?” Mr. Hagee said.
    “God gave to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob a covenant in the Book of Genesis for the land of Israel that is eternal and unbreakable, and that covenant is still intact,” he said. “The Palestinian people have never owned the land of Israel, never existed as an autonomous society. There is no Palestinian language. There is no Palestinian currency. And to say that Palestinians have a right to that land historically is an historical fraud.”
    There is a crucial theological difference between Mr. Hagee’s views on Israel and those expressed by the letter writers, said Timothy P. Weber.
    Mr. Weber said, “The dispensationalists have parlayed what is a distinctly minority position theologically within evangelicalism into a major political voice.
    >>>>>>>>
    In short, the fringes might be pleased with this coded speak but the pubic hears a off key and confusing note because the candidates are trying to have it both ways in everything they say.

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  48. bellgong says:

    The question posed to Hillary wasn’t if we would have diplomatic relations of some small kind, she was being asked about direct talks – talks where she might not be able to get what she wants. So, she dodges a potential shrill talking point on Fox, and divulges her preference for the long, slow UN intervention process.
    Revamping the military is an attempt to get even more of the military vote, it is plain vanilla politics. It is not promises of diplomacy and certainly not talk of being over-miltarized that takes back the executive for the Dems, those kinds of words spin badly, straight into the fear zeitgeist when shrieked on the news.

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  49. TonyForesta says:

    We can hope and pray that as the next leadership “start(s) thinking about what a new foreign policy should look like, and further, if we support diplomacy, what the sound byte of “vigorous diplomacy” should contain” would focus primarily on truth. Unlike the pathological liars in the Bush government, who have not been truthful about any costs in blood and money, timeframes, ultimate objectives, the processes and legalities of the processes, accountability for failures, actual accounting, and MOST PARTICULARLY, WHO PROFITS WANTONLY FROM WHAT – the next leadership is now forced to expend enormous resourses, re-establishing and repairing the woeful lack of credibility that has tarnished America and all Americans because of the Bush governments deceptions, abuses, failures, incompetence, belligerence, and wanton profiteering.
    The next leadership must start thinking about ways to restore the worlds confidence in, respect for, and I dare say the hope and prayer – that America of all nations abides by the rule of law, our Constitution, and the core principles that define America’s unique experiment in democracy.
    The fascist warmongers, profiteers, and pathological liars in the Bush government will bequeath America’s next leader, and all our children an America tarnished and loathed through-out the world. America fiercely divided now, into those who have, and those have not, and those who bow to and worship the pathological liars, reprobates, war profiteers, criminals, perverts, and fascists in the Bush government.
    “A house divided will, not stand.”
    Restoring America’s credibility with friends and foes alike is, or should be the primary focus of our next leadership.

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  50. David N says:

    As usual, I see a lot more content in the comments than in the main article.
    Lalwani talks about the fact that the Bush administration does not know what diplomacy means, but — as is usual among the power elite — he offers no alternative definition or description of diplomacy.
    The first day of any international relations class, every professor in the country makes certain that the class understands one thing — the “national interest” means whatever the speaker wants it to mean — most often, nothing at all.
    Same with diplomacy. I served in the diplomatic corps of the United States for twenty-seven years, and am convinced that the politically appointed senior leadership of the State Department never has the slightest idea what diplomacy means. The rest of us career mindless gnomes are just expected to keep our heads down and do as we’re told.
    So the very idea of diplomacy, and diplomatic goals, is broken. We don’t know what we want, other than to maximize the profit margins of the corporate sponsors of the political class. And we don’t know how to get what we want, because the means we use are so counterproductive.
    For Bush, meanings are simple:
    Bipartisanship is Democrats doing what Bush tells them to.
    Democracy is citizens of the U.S. doing what Bush tells them to.
    Diplomacy is other countries doing what Bush tells them to.
    Allies are other countries who do what Bush tells them to.
    Free enterprise is companies doing what Bush tells them to.
    Freedom is everybody doing what Bush tells them to.
    Do we agree with that? Of course not. But then we have to say, what are we talking about?
    Sammir, you first, as you are the one who started this. What is diplomacy, for you? What is the process, what is the goal, what is the point?
    Give us that, and we have something to talk about other than the usual screeds against the Bush criminal regime and its thoughtlessness and lawlessness.
    Then we can tell you why you’re wrong . . .(smiley face)

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  51. Sandy says:

    July 28, 2007
    Armageddon – Bring It On
    by Gordon Prather
    Last week the Christians United For Israel organization held its annual show-of-force in our Nation’s Capital and Max Blumenthal recorded for posterity – if, God Willing, there is to be one – this most “politically extreme, outrageous” spectacle.
    “Founded by San Antonio-based megachurch pastor John Hagee, CUFI has added the grassroots muscle of the Christian right to the already potent Israel lobby. Hagee and his minions have forged close ties with the Bush White House and members of Congress from Sen. Joseph Lieberman to Sen. John McCain.
    “In its call for a unilateral military attack on Iran and the expansion of Israeli territory, CUFI has found unwavering encouragement from traditional pro-Israel groups like AIPAC [America-Israel Public Affairs Committee] and elements of the Israeli government.
    “But CUFI has an ulterior agenda: its support for Israel derives from the belief of Hagee and his flock that Jesus will return to Jerusalem after the battle of Armageddon and cleanse the earth of evil. In the end, all the non-believers – Jews, Muslims, Hindus, mainline Christians, etc. – must convert or suffer the torture of eternal damnation.”
    According to the Jewish Blumenthal, the typical CUFI member apparently believes “God” wants Bush to do what Lieberman and the Likudniks are urging him to do – nuke Tehran – to trigger an all-out nuke war to bring on Armageddon – the final climatic battle, waged here on the planet Earth, between God and Satan….
    …Of course, we don’t have to worry. The Cheney Cabal, the Likudniks and AIPAC consider CUFI members to be useful idiots, holding naïve and foolish religious beliefs, useful to their program to remake – militarily, if necessary – the Middle East to their liking, politically and economically.
    Surely neither President Bush or any of his close associates hold such naïve and foolish religious beliefs. Right?
    Well, Michael Gerson – now a Washington Post columnist and until last year chief speech writer for President Bush – wrote a column last week in which he concluded that the mess that the Cheney Cabal has wrought in Iraq would probably be made worse by an outright attack on Iran. So, Gerson proposed, instead, a bank-shot – the “use of force” against Syria “to disrupt the trail of suicide bombers” Gerson claims are “passing through Syria” on their way to “murder” Americans.
    But Gary Leupp, a Professor of History at Tufts University and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Religion, notes that Gerson was rated in 2005 by Time magazine to be one of the top 25 Christian evangelicals in America.
    “As a member of the White House Iraq Group, tasked to disseminate frightening disinformation about Iraq preparatory to the attack on Iraq in March 2003, he proposed the “smoking gun turns into a mushroom cloud” metaphor used by Bush, Cheney and Rice in late 2002 to frighten the nation into war.
    “Gerson wants to transform the Greater Middle East, that biblical prophecy might be fulfilled and Jesus comes back soon. According to the Book of Revelation, there must be a great war surrounding Israel before that happens, involving kings to the east of the Tigris and Euphrates. That implies war with Persia (Iran). So he wants the U.S. to provoke war with Iran, but if that’s not doable just now, he wants an attack on Syria.”
    Now, Leupp does not charge that the fulfillment-of-biblical-prophecy convictions of speechwriter and propagandist Gerson are held by Bush, himself.
    Of course not. The “God” Bush talks to every day – who tells him what to do, who assures him that he is doing the right thing in sending thousands of American servicemen to their deaths in Iraq, in collaterally ending the lives of many, many thousands of Muslims – is not Gerson’s “God.” Is not Hagee’s “God.”
    Of course not.
      
    Find this article at:
    http://www.antiwar.com/prather/?articleid=11363

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  52. Sandy says:

    “US accuses Saudis of telling lies about Iraq,” The Guardian
    WASHINGTON, July 27 — The Bush administration is preparing to ask Congress to approve an arms sale package for Saudi Arabia and its neighbors that is expected to eventually total $20 billion at a time when some United States officials contend that the Saudis are playing a counterproductive role in Iraq.
    The proposed package of advanced weaponry for Saudi Arabia, which includes advanced satellite-guided bombs, upgrades to its fighters and new naval vessels, has made
    …Israel and some of its supporters in Congress nervous. Senior officials who described the package on Friday said they believed that the administration had resolved those concerns, in part by
    promising Israel $30.4 billion in military aid over the next decade, a significant increase over what Israel has received in the past 10 years….”

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  53. JohnH says:

    Kathleen, you raise valid issues–like oil and war profiteering–that Steve and Scott won’t touch with a ten foot pole. Despite this being a foreign policy blog, many core foreign policy issues are simply not addressed, reflecting common taboos of the inside beltway crowd and the corporate media in general.
    Thanks to Bill Moyers for having an interiew with Fawaz A. Gerges, a Middle East Historian and researcher and Brian Fishman from The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/07272007/transcript4.html
    The conclusion I drew is that the Bush administration is caught in a dilemma. They need Arab resources. But their drive to secure these resources is losing the hearts and minds of the Arab world to Al Qaeda. The solution? Withdrawing from Iraq would sap Al Qaeda’s message but deprive the US and its allies of control of oil. My interpretation: Bush is determined to get the oil, and Al Qaeda actually helps him by providing a concrete enemy to rally Americans around. Bush seems eager to forget the long term problem arising from fact that there are something like 200 million Arabs under the age of 25 waiting to be radicalized. (The US military has had its hands full with 5 million Sunnis; 200 million opponents would wipe out any US influence in the region.)
    Gerges: “The way the American mission is perceived in the Muslim world is that this not about democracy. This is not about the fight against– al Qaeda. This is a fight to subjugate– to subjugate the Arab and Muslim world and control its resources. And that’s why what I find most really alarming, Bill, al Qaeda’s ideological claims basically are finding receptive ears in that part of the world because al Qaeda is telling Muslims the United States is waging a war against Islam and Muslims. And, in fact what the war itself has done, it has radicalized and militarized a tiny segment of mainstream public opinion…The longer we stay in Iraq, the more we help al Qaeda spread its ideology and tactics. And al Qaeda ideology and tactics are truly spreading into many communities in the Arab and Muslim world.”

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  54. Kathleen says:

    We cannot win hearts and minds with bombs and bullets. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. It’s the oil.
    Taxpayers are paying in blood and money to secure product for some corporations. Is that a national interest or a commercial interest? Surely having those companies pay a fair price for the product they need is the right thing to do and definitely the least expensive for taxpayers. We are being used by those who wrap their greed in a flag.
    And then there’s all the profiteeering by companies involved in the military industrial nexus. Peace is not so hot for their bottom lines.
    I find the MSM rather shallow and glitzy. Making such a toodoo about the nano difference between Hillary and Obama is debasing the whole process of serious deliberations on what to do now, given the contempt Dopey and Darth invariably display for the Constitution.
    Reports are that the most frequently submitted question for the candidates addressed impeachment. Why were those questions filtered out? That’s the real story, not whether one of the candidates will meet with perceived enemies within a year or not. Leave it to the MSM to split all the wrong hairs.

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  55. Shawn says:

    You have to meet with these people. As the saying goes, once the talking stops, the bullets start flying. Hillary is, shockingly, wrong again!

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  56. JohnH says:

    More important still is for our putative leaders to clearly define what they think the goals of our foreign policy are. Only then can we have a discussion of what’s important and what the alternatives are.
    First they can start by addressing what led us into Iraq. Was it really Saddam or was it oil? And why are we intent on staying indefinitely? Is it really stability we seek or is it oil? Why are we intent on intimidating Iran? Is it really those hypothetical nuclear weapons, or is it oil and natural gas? And are we really concerned about Russian democracy or is it oil and natural gas?
    Instead of talking about the real goals of American foreign policy, the candidates, when they talk about goals at all, join together with neocons and realists to hint at “vital strategic interests,” which they refuse to specify. Perhaps they’re so caught up in the domination-submission paradigm that they can’t even recall why it is they want other countries to submit. Steve and Scott are as guilty as the candidates and their foreign policy advisors, for they refuse to define those strategic interests or what makes them so vital. And they absolutely refuse to connect the country’s addiction to impeding shortages of oil reserves with anything done internationally.
    Only Kucinich has come forward with honesty, explicitly relating energy interests to foreign policy in Iraq and Iran. And he goes further. By attempting to secure more carbon based energy assets, this administration is implictly committed to making global warming warming worse. Scott derides Kucinich for this but makes no effort to suggest an alternative.
    Now maybe Kucinich is wrong (I doubt it), but at least he has the courage to tell the American people what we’re fighting for. And if the other candidates want to engage in effective diplomacy, they need to clearly determine what they’re trying to accomplish and why. Otherwise, the country had better prepare itself for years of ill conceived and potentially disastrous diplomatic and military adventures.

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  57. Arun says:

    >>>(Since several TWN comments have challenged Steve on his read of this, if we’re going to have a close textual reading of the debate transcript, its important to note the question asked about a “willingness” to meet with leaders that somehow metamorphosed into a “promise” to meet with them<<<<
    We disagree here. If the question was – are you will to meet the other leaders, the answer would and should be yes. But since the question was – are you willing to meet other leaders without precondition and in the first year – the answer should be no.
    As to “promise”, “absolutist terms” etc. – they’re running for office and anything they say will be interpreted as a promise. This is not some New America Foundation debate where there is no implication that what is said constitutes any kind of commitment to action.
    — I really think you guys should take a one year sabbatical from your current jobs and live and earn a living from some commercial venture well away from Washington D.C. The gaps between you all and reality are showing rather severely.

    Reply

  58. Erica says:

    Foreign policy needs to involved a definitive action on Global Poverty. 78% of Americans and many great corporate leaders of the world agree that fighting poverty is the best way to fight terrorism. These countries are less inclinced to accept terrorists if they are more stablized, and not through military force as previously done. We’d gain respect from other countries and economical benefits.

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