Jimmy Carter, James Baker, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft on Israel-Palestine Conflict

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Landrum Bolling, former President of the Lilly Endowment and Earlham College, has put together a collage of commentary from four outstanding American foreign policy giants.
They are former President Jimmy Carter; former Secretary of State and Treasury James A. Baker; former National Security Adviser to Presidents Ford and George H.W. Bush General Brent Scowcroft; and former National Security Adviser to President Carter Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Two Democrats and two Republicans — but they represent a convergence of pragmatic thinking and analysis about US foreign policy interests in the region rather than self-damaging ideological or emotional impulses that have recently kept the US from getting on the right course in Israel-Palestine affairs, which are consequential globally.
These vignettes harness a stockpile of major experience on American engagement in the Middle East peace process — and Baker’s comments in particular that the “absolutists on both sides need to be overcome” are right on target.
Scowcroft and James Baker very clearly state that the US has to ‘offer to talk to Hamas.’ Scowcroft notes that there is more than one Hamas — and that if peace talks got going, Hamas would not allow itself to be left behind in the process.
These clips also get into the well-known Geneva Accord achieved via negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli political leaders, the Iraq Study Group recommendations, and other issues that must be squarely dealt with by the Obama administration and other interlocutors in the region.
Scowcroft and Brzezinski practically demand that Obama will fail in the Middle East unless he clearly articulates the vision of the United States for the region and pushes hard. Brzezinski is compellingly logical — and his commentary implies disappointment in the current President and his team for not taking the bit more quickly and decisively.

I would add that Iran’s internal tensions may make it a less robust patron for Hamas and other groups and states in the region — at least for the time being — and that there may be a pliable moment of opportunity with Hamas that may want to diversity its portfolio of interests and support and possibly adjust its posture.
The question of whether to deal with Hamas or not is just a part of the puzzle.
Israel’s preemptive strike against Obama’s dealmaking in the region by deciding to expand East Jerusalem settlements is a poke (worse than Facebook) at the President and his team. Israel, an ally of the United States, is testing Obama’s strength and resolve as much as a number of American foes. I find myself in complete agreement with Scowcroft and Brzezinski that decisive, strong American engagement and agenda setting are required here.
Obama needs to be smarter, tougher and clearer about American views on Israel-Palestine resolution.
There are two segments of commentary in these YouTube clips — roughly nine and a half minutes each. I’ve pasted the first above — and the second in the middle.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

48 comments on “Jimmy Carter, James Baker, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft on Israel-Palestine Conflict

  1. PissedOffAmerican says:

    How do we insure that the radicals within the Palestinian cause don’t scuttle everything? Is this not the real core issue?
    No, thats not the “core issue”.
    And you needn’t wory about the Palestinians “scuttling everything”. Israel will handle that part of the equation.

    Reply

  2. Greg R. Lawson says:

    How do we insure that the radicals within the Palestinian cause don’t scuttle everything? Is this not the real core issue?
    Netanyahu and Likud would never have political oxygen if moderate elements were able to take charge within the Palestinian movement and make a believable and legitimate effort to pursue peace and recognition of Israel.
    I fail to see how Israel can negotiate legitimately until Hamas is no longer in power in Gaza and a more responsible, “moderate” group either takes over Fatah or develops independently.

    Reply

  3. Paul Norheim says:

    Well Dan,
    I see no reason to moralize here. As a Marbella-insider, I realize
    that you HAVE TO join these parties frequently to get all this info
    from powerful insiders like POA`s long lost uncle Vinny.

    Reply

  4. questions says:

    “Sperm donor-in-law” — make a line of greeting cards! You’ll get rich, and you can leave the tawdry life of posting on the internet behind.

    Reply

  5. Dan Kervick says:

    “OMG!!! The one in the middle is my long lost uncle Vinny!”
    Then I think that makes you my half-step-nephew by sperm donor-in-law, or something.
    Vinny chaired the session on Malta’s clandestine nuclear program.

    Reply

  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Here is a photo……..”
    OMG!!! The one in the middle is my long lost uncle Vinny!

    Reply

  7. Dan Kervick says:

    Paul, I don’t have time to read all that stuff right now because I am headed out for a speaking engagement at Ben Affleck’s new Institute for the Advancement of Regular People in Marbella, Spain. Here is a photo from our most recent Progressive Ideas Workshop:
    http://www.no7agency.com/nikki%20beach%20marbella%20champage%20spraying%20party.gif
    Ben’s private jet is double parked outside on the street, so gotta run!

    Reply

  8. Paul Norheim says:

    Dan,
    Questions here… a lot of questions,,, I somehow agree with
    most of what you`re saying in your post. As a vegetarian, I
    especially agree on the Lutefisk-eating, socialist reindeer-
    fuckers. Not to say that I am entitled to control the eating
    habits of others, but personally, I only eat frozen baby-
    tomatoes from Lappland. I recommend them.
    On the other hand – as someone who asks questions – I think
    you`re exaggerating the power of VICPAC in Scandinavian
    politics.
    If you study the statistics, it`s not as if there is a proved
    connection between correlation and causation, with regards to
    the elected men and women to the Stortinget, and their
    constituencies. The correlation/causation issue is really very
    very huge, especially within Scandinavian politics, and I`m
    afraid it`s premature to draw any conclusions whatsoever with
    regards to VIPAC yet.
    There is a whole library on this issue in all the five main
    Scandinavian languages, and I think you should read up on this
    stuff before claiming that VIPAC is the root cause of everything
    evil in Scandinavian politics and the universe as such. Read up
    on Plato, Thomas Aquinas, Spinoza and Rawls while you`re at
    it, It would remove a lot of misconceptions.

    Reply

  9. Dan Kervick says:

    “And BTW, Dan, your anti-scandinavism is abominable.”
    Oh sure, the minute someone tries to set the record straight with you Lutefisk-eating, socialist reindeer-fuckers, out comes the “anti-scandinavism” canard. Well, you and your VIKPAC buddies can take your FølsenkrÃ¥pp bullshit and stick it!
    Anyway, we Americans are about to whip an Indigo Revolution on your asses as soon as we find enough Norwegian college kids who aren’t too drunk to hold the signs up in the direction of the camaras.

    Reply

  10. Paul Norheim says:

    easy e,
    if you`re referring to my alleged membership in Følsenkråpp, I`ve
    already denied it, vehemently.
    I`m just an honest and hardworking spy from Myanmar, trying to
    act as if I were an American who pretends to be from Norway. It`s
    as simple as that.
    Shalom!

    Reply

  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Now you’re gettin’ it!!!!

    Reply

  12. Paul Norheim says:

    Shove it where the sun doesn`t shine, you mewling, sniveling,
    dissembling piece of shit!

    Reply

  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Give me another couple of years…”
    Thats “coupla”, man. Get it right, will ya?

    Reply

  14. Paul Norheim says:

    I`m learning, POA.
    Give me another couple of years…

    Reply

  15. easy e says:

    The recent comments here suggest that somebody’s “cover” may have just been blown.
    Hmmm…..

    Reply

  16. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “If you`re able to find the new FølsenkrÃ¥pp website, you may discover the real story behind all this corporate media crap, you
    ignorant little prick”
    Gee, Paul, if one didn’t know any better, they’d think I was givin’ ya english lessons.

    Reply

  17. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Professional propagandists would be expected to adopt a more subtle approach of building relationships and building trust by selectively befriending and agreeing with the members of the target audience, so that they can acquire credibility and then later get their key points across in a receptive atmosphere”
    Gosh Dan, you just described Wig-Wag.

    Reply

  18. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Hell, thats nuthin’ Paul.
    I just busted Louie, whom I thought was a simple mongrel, putting a cyanide capsule in my gallon jug of Gatorade. Little bastard.
    Jake’s got him hanging from his ears right now in a jaw lock, and Nina’s holding a T-bone just out of reach of the traitorous little cur. We’ll have the truth out of him by the time dawn breaks.
    My bet? Definitely Mossad.

    Reply

  19. Paul Norheim says:

    Horseshit.
    And BTW, Dan, your anti-scandinavism is abominable.
    I`m sure the schools over there are indoctrinating your kids
    that we are rapists, thieves and murderers – as preparations to
    legitimate the well known joint US/Russian plans to invade the
    Scandinavian peninsula and steal our oil and our women.
    Do you think we are so dumb that we are unaware of the real
    reasons why Obama had a chat with Putin earlier this month,
    you asshole? And what do you think was the real topic on the
    G8 meeting? And in Ghana? Do you buy the MSM horseshit that
    all your president was talking about was “slavery”,
    “environment”, “the economy”, “Iran”?
    If you`re able to find the new Følsenkråpp website, you may
    discover the real story behind all this corporate media crap, you
    ignorant little prick.
    You bet we`ll be prepared.

    Reply

  20. Dan Kervick says:

    “With other words: I vehemently deny being a member of the underground organization FølsenkrÃ¥pp.”
    That’s what you *would* say, your piece of shit Viking scum!

    Reply

  21. Paul Norheim says:

    Ok, I admit the neo-Viking part of Dan`s accusations – but what
    is “FølsenkrÃ¥pp”?? It sounds Norwegian but… I googled it, and the
    only thing mentioned was a certain post by Dan Kervick at TWN…
    With other words: I vehemently deny being a member of the
    underground organization Følsenkråpp.

    Reply

  22. Dan Kervick says:

    But I do think Paul Norheim has been hired by the Norwegian government to dispense neo-Vikingist propaganda – FølsenkrÃ¥pp – on the internets.

    Reply

  23. Dan Kervick says:

    “I’d be interested to know if there is one single person on this blog that doesn’t think Nadine is a hasbarist. And, if such a person exists, WHY they don’t think she is.”
    I don’t. Professional propagandists would be expected to adopt a more subtle approach of building relationships and building trust by selectively befriending and agreeing with the members of the target audience, so that they can acquire credibility and then later get their key points across in a receptive atmosphere.
    Nadine just lets fly with every standard pro-Israeli complaint and claim – serious or frivolous, plausible or implausible – and hopes they will stick somewhere. So I think she is just a self-motivated, freelance true believer.

    Reply

  24. Paul Norheim says:

    Me. I think Nadine is paid by Syria, Iran or Hamas to act like a
    hardcore hasbarist, with the aim of destroying the reputation of
    Israel.
    Just joking.

    Reply

  25. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I’d be interested to know if there is one single person on this blog that doesn’t think Nadine is a hasbarist. And, if such a person exists, WHY they don’t think she is.

    Reply

  26. Dan Kervick says:

    Aw, poor Israel … they’re always being singled out.

    Reply

  27. nadine says:

    “It’s amazing how Israeli Prime Ministers always seem to make these generous offers while they are packing up their boxes at Beit Aghion.”
    No, the PMs made offers over a longer period, and if they were weak because the Palestinians never responded with a counter-offer. If Arafat had seriously negotiated in good faith (& I remind you that not only the Israelis, but Bill Clinton, say that he did not) Barak would have been reelected. So you can say that if Arafat didn’t like Arik Sharon, he shouldn’t have elected him.
    If the two state solution is not about a Jewish State next to an Arab State then please tell me, what is it about?
    It’s not as if the Mideast isn’t full of states that make no bones about declaring themselves Muslim and Arab, as the Palestinian do, and all these states contain non-Arab and non-Muslim minorities. There is no contradiction between demanding protections for minorities and acknowledging the ethnic basis for the state.
    What Bibi has done is show up the lie in the Palestinian negotiating strategy: they tell the West they are for a two-state solution (Jewish Israel next to Arab Palestine), but they tell their own people they are for an Arab State next to another Arab State (Israel flooded with 5 million Arab refugees next to Arab Palestine). That is why the deal keeps breaking not over borders, but over “right of return” of the Palestinian refugees to Israel.
    The Arab citizens of Israel are citizens of an existing state because the Jews accepted the partition of 1947, while the Arabs rejected it, and have rejected many different proposals for an Arab Palestine since then. There could have been an Arab Palestine with citizens of an existing state a dozen times over by now if they had ever chosen to make one. But they refuse the half loaf because they want the whole one. You wish to reward this track record by absolving them of all responsibility.
    Meantime you can delicately call the West Bank “extra national” territory all you like, but the fact remains that legally, it is territory which belongs to no country (Jordan’s occupation was never internationally recognized) and has not had an internationally recognized owner since the Brits left in 1948. This stateless territory was taken by Israel in a defensive war against Jordan in 1967, and had it been any other country but Israel, they would have been allowed to annex the whole thing without international objection.

    Reply

  28. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Just about every human rights and aid organization on the planet have released reports describing Israeli war crimes cxommitted during Operation Cast Lead. To hear the Israeli propagandists tell it, all these groups are “mistaken”, or lying, and the IDF is “the mosdt moral army in the world”. (That must mean they wipe thier asses after they shit in the living rooms of Palestinians whose homes have been besieged at gunpoint). And it is not as if Operation Cast Lead supplied the only fodder for accusation. Point of fact, Israel has a long history of racist and facist actions against the Muslims. It is with our vote in the UN that Israel has managed to escape being called to account for thier actions. Even with our constant efforts to block Israel being held to account, they are still in violation of over sixty UN resolutions. Of course, that doesn’t count, as UN Resolutions are only underscored when it is a Muslim country thumbing their noses at them.
    Israel has become a racist fascist nation, subsidized and protected by our own government. On the backs of every tax paying American citizen.
    Fix the fuckin’ pothole on my cul d’ sac before you send these racist hate mongers one more single red dime.

    Reply

  29. samuelburke says:

    its about war crimes not one state or two states.
    whats sause for the goose is sause for the gander.
    Breaking the Silence on Israeli War Crimes
    The Johnny Procedure
    http://counterpunch.com/avnery07212009.html
    By URI AVNERY
    Like the ghost of Hamlet’s father, the evil spirit of the Gaza War refuses to leave us in peace. This week it came back to disturb the tranquility of the chiefs of the state and the army.
    “Breaking the Silence”, a group of courageous former combat soldiers, published a report comprising the testimonies of 30 Gaza War fighters. A hard-hitting report about actions that may be considered war crimes.
    The generals went automatically into denial mode. Why don’t the soldiers disclose their identity, they asked innocently. Why do they obscure their faces in the video testimonies? Why do they hide their names and units?
    How can we be sure that they are not actors reading a text prepared for them by the enemies of Israel? How do we know that this organization is not manipulated by foreigners, who finance their actions? And anyhow, how do we know that they are not lying out of spite?
    One can answer with a Hebrew adage: “It has the feel of Truth”. Anyone who has ever been a combat soldier in war, whatever war, recognizes at once the truth in these reports. Each of them has met a soldier who is not ready to return home without an X on his gun showing that he killed at least one enemy. (One such person appears in my book “The Other Side of the Coin”, which was written 60 years ago and published in English last year as the second part of “1948: A soldier’s Tale”.) We have been there.

    Reply

  30. samuelburke says:

    to reiretare what i said above…if these erudite american elder statesmen expect for just one man…even if he is the president of the united states to take on the israeli lobby within the u.s power structure then they are insane…what will happen is that obama will start to encounter difficulties…some scandal…some series of events to either distract or disqualify him from the undertaken task.
    at this late stage of the game americans need to quarantine the naivette through which the see israel, you are dealing with something akin to the mythical Hydra.
    watch the difficulties that will show up out of nowhere to plague obama.
    below is more justin raimondo…
    http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2009/07/21/israel-and-the-nutbar-factor/
    To come up with an analogous situation, what did the U.S. and the Europeans do when confronted with an Austrian government that included the relatively benign Joerg Haider, who merely advocated withdrawing government subsidies from immigrants and restricting their entry into the country? They established a diplomatic cordon sanitaire around Vienna and refused to deal with the Austrians. Yet Avigdor Lieberman, an open racist and former bouncer who once proposed that Israel should bomb the Aswan dam, is greeted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her European counterparts as if he were a normal, decent human being.
    I have longed warned that Israel’s ostensible commitment to traditional Jewish values of openness, democracy, and respect for the dignity of all persons could not long withstand the requirements of maintaining what is essentially a religious-racial caste system. Israel, a settler colony that exists on account of its ability to drive out the indigenous Palestinians and keep them out, is of necessity the Sparta of the Middle East (there is no Athens). Militarism, by its very nature, makes a mockery of democracy and is the mortal enemy of liberty. It was only a matter of time before this inner contradiction was resolved in favor of creatures like Lieberman, whose rise is a barometer of the ongoing corruption of Israeli society – an indicator of a collective madness.
    What we are witnessing in Israel today is the degeneration of a once liberal democracy into a militaristic theocracy, one armed with nuclear weapons – and quite conceivably willing to use them against those they consider less than fully human. And if that doesn’t scare us into cutting them off – financially, at the very least – then we ought to prepare ourselves for the consequences. Because it isn’t going to be pretty…

    Reply

  31. Dan Kervick says:

    Nadine, I didn’t ignore the small footprint blocs near the Green Line. That’s why I said “pretty much all” of the West Bank. A two-state solution will probably allow Israel to retain some settlements in exchange for equal amounts of compensating territories on the Israeli side of the line.
    It’s amazing how Israeli Prime Ministers always seem to make these generous offers while they are packing up their boxes at Beit Aghion. A weak, outgoing Prime Minister throws some lame duck peace plan over his shoulder at an equally weak Palestinian leader, but won’t give him a copy of the plan. Neither man has the capacity to deliver his side to an agreement. It sounds like a re-make of Melvin and Howard. Is this just some game to supply ammunition to the incoming PM?
    My understanding is that there are many non-Jewish Arab citizens of Israel. Why would any self-respecting Palestinian declare those citizens non-existent and acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state? Maybe the next time the US is negotiating a trade deal with South Africa, and the going gets tough, we can demand that South Africa recognize the United States as a “white state”, and then use their obvious refusal as evidence of obstructionism. Again, this is a game: divide and sow discord among the Palestinians by playing Israeli Palestinians and non-Israeli Palestinians off against each other, or else use their refusal to breed dissension among themselves as evidence of obstructionism.
    Yous say, “Why do the Palestinians insist that Arabs have a right to live inside Israel and the WB and Gaza, but NO Jews have a right to live in the WB or Gaza? There are a million Arab citizens of Israel! Why can’t there be any Jewish citizens of Palestine?”
    Nadine, don’t you think there is a difference between holding that people who are law-abiding citizens of an existing state have a right to remain citizens of that state, and holding that people who are already citizens of a state have a right to colonize and cleanse extra-national territory, and then claim citizen rights in a possible future state that doesn’t exist yet?

    Reply

  32. samuelburke says:

    here are some excerpts from justin raimondons piece over at antiwar.com
    “According to the survey of 800 registered voters, which was conducted June 9-11 by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, those who believe Israel is committed to peace has dropped to 46 percent this month from 66 percent last December. The poll found that some 49 percent of American voters call themselves supporters of Israel, down from 69 percent last September, and only about 44 percent of voters believe the United States should support Israel – down from 71 percent a year ago.”
    If the Obama administration is wondering why the Netanyahu government – with the support of most Israelis — is openly disdaining his Middle East peace initiative, then they ought to review the propaganda put out by the U.S.-funded IDF rabbinate, such as the following, as reported by Ha’aretz:
    “[There is] a biblical ban on surrendering a single millimeter of it [the Land of Israel] to gentiles, though all sorts of impure distortions and foolishness of autonomy, enclaves and other national weaknesses. We will not abandon it to the hands of another nation, not a finger, not a nail of it.”
    Imagine if that happened in this country, and the U.S. Army was funding and promoting Christian fundamentalism in the ranks – why, you’d never hear the end of it, and, what’s more, the Anti-Defamation League and allied organizations would emit the loudest expressions of outrage.
    To come up with an analogous situation, what did the U.S. and the Europeans do when confronted with an Austrian government that included the relatively benign Joerg Haider, who merely advocated withdrawing government subsidies from immigrants and restricting their entry into the country? They established a diplomatic cordon sanitaire around Vienna and refused to deal with the Austrians. Yet Avigdor Lieberman, an open racist and former bouncer who once proposed that Israel should bomb the Aswan dam, is greeted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her European counterparts as if he were a normal, decent human being.

    Reply

  33. jdledell says:

    Nadine – Three points:
    1 – Everyone in Israel has a different idea of what the settlement blocks mean. To some it includes places like Kiryat Arba from the Green line. Ariel is not close to the green line but many expect it to be included also. How about Eli, Shilo and Ofra? Ma’ale Adumim is considered a suburb of Jerusalem and should be kept. How much of Ma’ale Adumim municiapal area does that mean? The industrial park? Kefar Adumim? Mizpe Yeriho? Do you know exactly which settlements are considered “close in”? Israel claims it had an agreement with Bush that allowed expansion in those settlements Israel was going to keep? Which ones are they?
    2 – As you know from 1993 on, in all the peace negotiations recognition of Israel as a “Jewish” state was never put on the table. Bibi has introduced this for the first time. The Palestinian government has recognized Israel, just as Egypt and Jordan did when they signed peace agreements. Israel’s official name is Israel and it’s membership in the UN is under the name Israel – not the Jewish Republic of Israel. I’m sure you are aware that Bibi introduced this Jewish concept as a deliberate roadblock to negotiations. When Israel officially changes it’s name and suffers the internal upheaval that will cause within, maybe it could be considered. Abbas has offered Jews to be able to remain in their settlements subject to Palestinian laws and taxes.It’s not the Palestinians who won’t allow Jews to live in the West Bank, it’s the settlers who refuse to recognize Palestinian sovereignty.
    3 – Until all the fine print of Olmert’s offer is put on the table for the world to judge, it must be considered pure speculation. I would not trust Olmert to tell the truth if his life depended on it. In February I heard Livni explain about a perpetual lease of land in the Jordan Valley and that land was tecnically part of Palestine but off limits to Palestinians. If Olmert’s offer was as magnanamous as he claims he should lay it out in detail. It would be a public relations coup for Israel, one that is badly needed.

    Reply

  34. nadine says:

    Dan, Three points:
    1. You have completely ignored a long-standing distinction in the negotiations: that of large population but small footprint “settlement blocs” near the Green Line, which were long expected (as in the Taba Accords) to stay with Israel in any final status agreement vs smaller outlying settlements, greater in number but much smaller in population, which Ehud Barak & Ehud Olmert offered to dismantle. It is those settlement blocs that Netanyahu claims, which are less than 3% of the WB in territory, not every outlying settlement.
    2. Netanyahu insists that the Palestinians recognize that Israel is a Jewish state, and they absolutely refuse. Well wasn’t the the whole point of a two state solution? A Jewish state next to an Arab state? Why do they refuse? Israel recognizes that Palestine will be an Arab state.
    Why do the Palestinians insist that Arabs have a right to live inside Israel and the WB and Gaza, but NO Jews have a right to live in the WB or Gaza? There are a million Arab citizens of Israel! Why can’t there be any Jewish citizens of Palestine? Netanyahu is pushing back against the Palestinian position which amounts to: Arabs have a right to live everywhere in Palestine but Jews have no right to live anywhere in Palestine because it’s ALL Arab land.
    3. From all this bewailing of Israeli “colonizing” the WB, one would never guess that the Palestinians were already offered a state on 97% of the West Bank just last year – and turned it down flat. If Israel were really colonizing the land in the way you describe, wouldn’t the Palestinians have an incentive to hurry up and do a deal? Yet strangely, they themselves (cf recent interviews by Abu Mazen and Saeb Erekat) proclaim they are in no hurry at all. They way they reckon it, Israel keeps offering more each time so they should keep waiting. This gives Netanyahu a BIG incentive to alter their calculations.

    Reply

  35. kotzabasis says:

    “Absolutists on both sides need to be overcome” which Steve obviously agrees with this statement of former secretary of state James A. Baker. This statement however ravages the truth by its direct reference of a ‘political equivalence’ between Hamas and the Netanyahu government. No Israeli government ever governed on behalf of the minority absolutist interests of the religious fanatics of Israel unlike Hamas which governs Gaza in the interests of its millenarian goals. It’s like saying that Republican governments, such as the former Bush administration, governed on behalf of the narrow interests of the religious right and not for the general interests of the United States. To say otherwise is a patent lie and a historical fabrication.
    If this is the quality of strategic thinking that the four eminent persons of Carter, Baker, Scowcroft, and Brzezinski, are offering to the Obama administration for resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict then such advice will be a repeat performance of past failures as it rises from the lowest ebbs of their strategic cogitations.
    And Steve will be found to be completely wrong if he thinks that the new situation in Iran might ‘force’ the Khaitami-Ahmadinejad regime to change its policy toward the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist surrogates. Steve in his misplaced realism does not realize that Iran will never abandon its pawns as long as it engages in its power-play in the region.

    Reply

  36. Franklin says:

    Great video and great comment Dan Kervick.
    As far as the domestic politics and timing go, this one is probably going to be on the back-burner for the next couple months — at least as far as Obama’s public presence is concerned. Obama needs to focus on health care reform and he needs to get a good measure passed. That effort alone is going to require his full attention. If he gets something through it will likely bolster the kind of political capital domestically that he needs to tackle the I-P issue (if he doesn’t, it could limit the leverage that he’ll need with this particular congress).
    Once Obama takes a more visible role with the I-P conflict, it’s likely that it is going to eat up a lot of the oxygen domestically. Hopefully he can make the pivot by October-November. That may be too optimistic. On the plus side, so far his team has maneuvered adeptly and has at least set the table for future maneuvering.

    Reply

  37. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “She added that “good PR cannot make the reality in the occupied territories prettier. Children are being killed, homes are being bombed, and families are starved.””
    Particularly if the “good PR” is being presented by the likes of Nadine.

    Reply

  38. samuelburke says:

    The existence of an “internet warfare team” came to light when it was included in this year’s foreign ministry budget. About $150,000 has been set aside for the first stage of development, with increased funding expected next year.
    http://counterpunch.com/cook07212009.html
    The team will fall under the authority of a large department already dealing with what Israelis term “hasbara”, officially translated as “public explanation” but more usually meaning propaganda. That includes not only government public relations work but more secretive dealings the ministry has with a battery of private organisations and initiatives that promote Israel’s image in print, on TV and online.
    In an interview this month with the Calcalist, an Israeli business newspaper,Mr Shturman, the deputy director of the ministry’s hasbara department, admitted his team would be working undercover.
    “Our people will not say: ‘Hello, I am from the hasbara department of the Israeli foreign ministry and I want to tell you the following.’ Nor will they necessarily identify themselves as Israelis,” he said. “They will speak as net-surfers and as citizens, and will write responses that will look personal but will be based on a prepared list of messages that the foreign ministry developed.”
    Rona Kuperboim, a columnist for Ynet, Israel’s most popular news website, denounced the initiative, saying it indicated that Israel had become a “thought-police state”.
    She added that “good PR cannot make the reality in the occupied territories prettier. Children are being killed, homes are being bombed, and families are starved.”

    Reply

  39. PissedOffAmerican says:

    You gotta be kidding me, Steve. With Harry Reid actively undermining Obama’s efforts, it doesn’t matter how “smarter, tougher and clearer about American views on Israel-Palestine resolution” Obama is. There is a whole cadre of powerful Democrats, (personally, I include Hillary), that have made it clear to Obama that they do not support rocking the boat with Israel. Without the support of Congress, and key Democrats, Obama is dead in the water.
    Its interesting that much lip service is being given to Obama’s “request” that settlement expansion is ceased, yet the very blatant “shove it, America” that Israel has responded with has not been answered with anything other than a promise of MORE money.
    As I’ve said numerous times these past couple of weeks, to my recollection it is unprecedented for a foreign diplomat to engage in talks with an American Secretary of State, then, immediately after the meeting, stand right next to the SOS and declare to the media that his nation has no intention of acting in the manner requested of it. Thats exactly what this racist Lieberman did, and there has been no appropriate heavy handed response from Obama or Hillary. Fact is, if Obama, Hillary, and Mitchell were playing hardball behind the scenes, I doubt we’d see the arrogance and defiance from Netanyahu and Lieberman that they so obviously feel empowered to publically exhibit.
    Personally, I think the Freeman castration pretty well illustrates the impotence of this administration to change the dynamic of our relationship with Israel. And with this mewling POS Reid working against Obama’s efforts, the handwriting is on the wall. That is, if you can read Hebrew.

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  40. samuelburke says:

    Team Twitter
    Israel’s Internet War
    By JONATHAN COOK
    http://counterpunch.com/cook07212009.html
    in Nazareth.
    The passionate support for Israel expressed on talkback sections of websites, internet chat forums, blogs, Twitters and Facebook may not be all that it seems.
    Israel’s foreign ministry is reported to be establishing a special undercover team of paid workers whose job it will be to surf the internet 24 hours a day spreading positive news about Israel.
    Internet-savvy Israeli youngsters, mainly recent graduates and demobilised soldiers with language skills, are being recruited to pose as ordinary surfers while they provide the government’s line on the Middle East conflict.
    “To all intents and purposes the internet is a theatre in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and we must be active in that theatre, otherwise we will lose,” said Ilan Shturman, who is responsible for the project.
    The existence of an “internet warfare team” came to light when it was included in this year’s foreign ministry budget. About $150,000 has been set aside for the first stage of development, with increased funding expected next year.

    Reply

  41. samuel burke says:

    ” Obama will fail in the Middle East unless he clearly articulates the vision of the United States for the region and pushes hard”
    if these american elder statesmen expect to send in obama all by himself into the lions den that is full of american zionist jews and their christian zionist sycophants and expect him to be succesful then i believe that this group represents cowards and dreamers.
    the american zionist need to be called out if they come out against obama…let the american public see who it is that is taking the hard line stance against our president from within the united states… these guys have operated under the cloak of invisibility for too long. as for the palestinians i am sure there will be no resistance coming from them when it comes to a just peace. israel has never wanted peace only land.
    the only ones with anything to lose are the israelis…the palestinians have already lost it all.
    our president needs some groups within the american political world to run interference for him against these zionist forces here in the u.s.

    Reply

  42. WigWag says:

    To jdledell:
    You say,
    “At the end of 1980, your idol Reagan was in charge.”
    I hated Ronald Reagan’s guts in the 1980s, I hate his guts today. He was never any idol of mine.
    But yes, Carter was to blame for Afghanistan but Brzezinski was even more to blame.
    I posted this interview Brzezinski gave in a comment I made the other day. I’ll post it again for your viewing pleasure:
    Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, 15-21 January 1998
    Posted at globalresearch.ca 15 October 2001
    Question: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs [“From the Shadows”], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?
    Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.
    Question: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?
    Brzezinski: It isn’t quite that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.
    Question: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn’t believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don’t regret anything today?
    Brzezinski: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.
    Question: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?
    Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?
    Question: Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.
    Brzezinski: Nonsense! It is said that the West had a global policy in regard to Islam. That is stupid. There isn’t a global Islam. Look at Islam in a rational manner and without demagoguery or emotion. It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion followers. But what is there in common among Saudi Arabian fundamentalism, moderate Morocco, Pakistan militarism, Egyptian pro-Western or Central Asian secularism? Nothing more than what unites the Christian countries.
    How you, jdledell or Steve Clemons or anyone else can read that interview with anything other than utter disgust is beyond me.
    I understand that “realists” are indifferent to the role of morality in foreign policy but they’re not supposed to be indifferent to American interests. Because of decisions Brzezinski and Carter made back during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (which Brzezinski admit’s to encouraging in the interview quoted above)Islamic extremists gained a foothold in South Asia. The end result was 9/11 and untold suffering by millions of Afghan men and women.
    Was Reagan worse than Carter? Yes.
    Was Wolfowitz (who liberals love to hate) worse than Brzezinski? If anything, the decisions Brzezinski made were more unethical and produced even more dangerous results.

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  43. jdledell says:

    wigwag – I know you don’t like Jimmy Carter but to lay the entire Afganistan problem on his shoulders is ridiculous. The Soviet invasion occurred in later December, 1979. Yes, Carter worked with the CIA to get the resistence going working primarily with the Pashtuns. That reisitence movement slowly built up during 1980.
    At the end of 1980, your idol Reagan was in charge. For the next 8 years he was in charge and that’s when the major flow of money and weapons occurred, including the stinger missiles which were crucial in turning the war around. If Reagan had pulled the plug anytime during his 8 years on funding the resistence, your communist uptopia would still be there.

    Reply

  44. Dan Kervick says:

    Yes, Obama needs to be more definitive about the end state. He needs to paint a clearer picture.
    But it appears to me that after the long night of Bushism we are finally seeing some developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that constitute progress. It is dangerous and risk-fraught progress, but progress nonetheless. The most important vehicle of this progress is that simply by insisting on a return to established US and international policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and by taking advantage of the amazing opportunity offered by the brazen right turn of Israel’s government and political culture, the Obama administration has successfully cut away several old Israeli fig leafs, and induced Israel’s government into embarrassing acts of indecent exposure of years of obstructionist Israeli policy. A major part of the Israeli establishment has self-discredited. Israel’s unattractive and wrinkled old stuff is now dangling and flapping in the breeze for all to see, and the result is a nauseated global cringe – even in the US.
    Here are some of the fig leaves that were formerly draped over the settlement policy:
    The settlements, we were often told, were just the work of some out-of-control extremist renegades, and were an unintended side effect of the occupation. The occupation was supposed to be justified on security grounds, but was not designed to advance and defend colonization.
    Then there was the line that the settlements were all part of an elaborate, long-term land-for-peace plan, and would be traded back at the opportune moment.
    Then there was the idea that removing settlements, no matter how appropriate a move in itself, would be a dangerous display of Israeli weakness before the glowering Arab hordes, at a crucial and perilous juncture in the “peace process”. (It always seemed like every juncture was crucial and perilous.)
    But now the Netanyahu government seems to have brushed away the fig leaves and settled on the bald assertion that Israel doesn’t want to remove settlements in the occupied territories, or even stop them, because it is Israel’s position that Israelis have a right to live in those territories if they want to.
    So it is now it is the straightforward position of the Israeli government that those sad remaining portions of Palestine, which so far as I am aware are not recognized as Israeli territory by any country in the world, not even Israel’s own government, are rightfully open to Israeli settlement or colonization..
    At last!
    Thank you Bibi! The only thing that would have been more brazenly effective would have been if he had mounted up before a joint session of the US Congress and pulled open his trenchcoat.
    With Netanyahu spilling all the beans, it is now very hard for objective and disinterested observers not to accept the point that has been made by many critics of Israel all along: that the colonization of the West Bank has been deliberate Israeli government policy – not an accident of extremism; not a peace strategy; not a battlefield tactic – and that the chief force driving the settlement movement has been the powerful urge in Israel by a substantial body of Israelis, perhaps even a majority, to lay permanent claim to Palestinian territory simply because Israelis want to have it.
    This is progress. This development opens up tremendous political space all over the world for responsible leaders to take a firmer line with Israel. But it is also dangerous progress. There is the persistent danger of outbreaks of settler violence, or destabilizing domestic strife in Israel, or organized political revolt by Israel’s political allies, or of a diversionary adventure in regional war-making. There is also the danger that some Palestinian factions will get excited or greedy, and will overreach. Those rejectionist Palestinian factions that oppose a two-state solution may try to sabotage it.
    But I think the chief task now for the Obama administration is just to stick it out. There will be a few months of loud noise and gnashing teeth. Some crockery will be broken in the Israeli kitchen. But after a few months of Israeli political culture beating its head against the wall and throwing things, realism will set in. Israeli political society will psychologically adjust to reality, and either with a brand new government or a much-chastened and rehabilitated current government, they will get to work on the only kind of settlement that has ever made enduring sense.
    The administration has to continue to hold out carrots as well as sticks, and while showing a resolved and frowning visage to those on both sides of the conflict who continue to obstruct and defy the will of the international community, they must be supportive and welcoming of those who are willing to get with the program. Political forces in Israel willing to accept a Palestinian state, and who are willing to recognize that that state will occupy pretty much all of the West Bank and retain political control over parts of Jerusalem, must be supported. Israel’s citizens and political elite need to see a clear beacon lighting the way forward, even as Obama shuts all the old tunnels and escape hatches leading to obstruction.
    Right now, it looks like Steve was right and I was wrong. Steve predicted earlier this year that the right turn in Israel might have beneficial results. I thought that worse was just worse. Hopefully Steve will continue to be right.

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  45. DonS says:

    Netanyahu poke his finger in Obama’s eye, and a bunch of other so-called Americans, spearheaded by Mike Huckabee, make it ever so clear that they seconds the gesture.
    http://thinkprogress.org/2009/07/21/huckabee-settlement/
    Senior statesmen can argue for reasonable solutions; Israeli firsters promote messianic thinking. So who is Obama influenced by? And is there no one is government willing to tell the firsters to sit down and shut up?

    Reply

  46. WigWag says:

    Like Lurker I am delighted that Steve Clemons is back safe and sound. I only wish that his sojourn through Europe had improved his taste in heroes and tempered his views on foreign policy.
    James Baker and Brent Scowcroft are fine (wrong, but fine). But why would Steve think we should take Zbignew Brzezinski seriously? Isn’t Brzezinski the person who practically single handedly invented the Taliban by encouraging Jimmy Carter to provide financial and logistical support for the Mujahideen? Didn’t Brzezinski brag about tricking the Russians into invading Afghanistan? Were the Afghans better off with a few secular (and incompetent) communists running things or were they better off with the Taliban?
    Did the communists allow women to go to school or become literate? What about the Mujahideen whom Brzezinski supported in his single minded and obsessive desire to win the Cold War? What would Afghanistan be like today but for Brzezinski’s and Carter’s terrible and immoral decisions? Isn’t it possible that instead of brutalizing women, religious minorities, gay people and dissidents that it might look a little bit like Poland and Hungary or at least Kosovo or Albania?
    Aren’t the two thousand dead Americans killed in the 9/11 attacks, at least in part, a legacy of the decisions that Zbignew Brzezinski and Jimmy Carter made in Afghanistan thirty years ago?
    The idea that Zbignew Brzezinski has been any more correct, any more moral or any smarter than Paul Wolfowitz is ridiculous.
    The fact that Steve Clemons is willing to excuse Brzezinksi’s many intellectual and ethical failings merely because he happens to agree with him on the Israel-Palestine dispute is telling.

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