Morning Reading

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My New America Foundation colleague Daniel Levy scores a great article in Ha’aretz suggesting that Condoleezza Rice is now a believer in and delivering on construction of “a horizon” for Palestinian-Israeli negotiated peace.
George Soros’s piece, if you have not yet read it, on “Israel, America and AIPAC,” deserves another read by this blogger.
For a laugh, watch this recruitment video for Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Forces. I had seen it a couple of years ago but someone sent the link recently from YouTube.
As if we needed one, here’s yet another reason to get rid of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who is the “anti rule-of-law Attorney General.”
And a strong partner article to that of George Soros was written by Gary Kamiya at Salon.com titled “Can American Jews Unplug the Israel Lobby
And then. . .Wow. . .David Ignatius wallops the Bush administration for its disdain of America’s hard-working, solid civil servants. Here’s the whole piece, but after reporting a short roster of obituaries of career civil servants in the Post op-ed pages, Ignatius writes:

What infuriates me about the Bush administration is its disdain for people like these. You sense that scorn reading the e-mails that have surfaced in the flap over the firings of U.S. attorneys. I don’t think the story is much of a scandal. U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president, and he can fire whomever he wants. What interests me about the Justice e-mails is that they are a piece of sociology, documenting the mind-set of the young hotshots and ideologues who populate the Bush administration.
Here’s Kyle Sampson, now-deposed chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, griping about a U.S. attorney in Phoenix who had the effrontery to want to make his case personally: “In the ‘you won’t believe this category,’ Paul Charlton would like a few minutes of the AG’s time.” And here’s Brent Ward, the director of a Justice Department task force who made his name as an anti-pornography crusader grumbling that he doesn’t want to deal with the U.S. attorney in Las Vegas: “To go out to LV and sit and listen to the lame excuses of a defiant U.S. attorney is only going to move this whole enterprise closer to catastrophe.”
The Bush political operatives have become the people the Republicans once warned the country against — a club of insiders who seem to think that they’re better than other folks. They are so contemptuous of government and the public servants who populate it that they have been unable to govern effectively. They are a smug, inward-looking elite that thinks it knows who the good guys are by the political labels they wear.

More later.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

5 comments on “Morning Reading

  1. j says:

    Congratulations to Dr. Rice. This is creative stuff, and worth the effort. Some say — “too little too late”; it can’t be too late, because the problem is still there boiling and the United States is destined to have role in helping the parties find a workable solution.
    This isn’t the first time Dr. Rice has turned personal attention to the Middle East. She did it effectively for a period in 2003 around the Road Map…but the parties (more particularly Arafat and Sharon) were not prepared to play ball and, in the face of deadlock, her boss decided not to press either side. The Administration’s interested, including Rice’s, waned quickly, and the Road Map died from neglect.
    Hard as now Secretary Rice plays her new hand, it’s imperative, and it needs to be soon, that the President signal his personal engagement and determination (visits and meetings aren’t enough, and probably not necessary now). He needs to find a way to make abundantly clear he will hold the parties accountable for commitments they make and made, including those Israel and Palestine made to him at Sharm El Sheikh in 2003. Saying “I expect” (publicly or privately) isn’t enough. He did that in 2003 and both sides called his bluff.
    The sides need to be convinced this time he will act — whether vav Palestine or Israel. He also needs to make clear in Jerusalem, Ramallah, and his own White House, that Dr. Rice is the only channel to him; the WH back door is closed. The 4+2+4 architecture can be a real boon, provided our other partners understand we’re more than just talk, that we will act, and we will expect them also to use their leverage to move matters forward.
    Unless all parties are clear that the President is personally backing Dr. Rice’s efforts, and that he will hold both Palestine and Israel accountable, any architecture Dr. Rice designs, including 4+2+4, is likely at best to be a house of cards.

    Reply

  2. J says:

    Congratulations to Dr. Rice. This is creative stuff, and worth the effort. Some say — “too little too late”; it can’t be too late, because the problem is still there boiling and the United States is destined to have role in helping the parties find a workable solution.
    This isn’t the first time Dr. Rice has turned personal attention to the Middle East. She did it effectively for a period in 2003 around the Road Map…but the parties (more particularly Arafat and Sharon) were not prepared to play ball and, in the face of deadlock, her boss decided not to press either side. The Administration’s interested, including Rice’s, waned quickly, and the Road Map died from neglect.
    Hard as now Secretary Rice plays her new hand, it’s imperative, and it needs to be soon, that the President signal his personal engagement and determination (visits and meetings aren’t enough, and probably not necessary now). He needs to find a way to make abundantly clear he will hold the parties accountable for commitments they make and made, including those Israel and Palestine made to him at Sharm El Sheikh in 2003. Saying “I expect” (publicly or privately) isn’t enough. He did that in 2003 and both sides called his bluff.
    The sides need to be convinced this time he will act — whether vav Palestine or Israel. He also needs to make clear in Jerusalem, Ramallah, and his own White House, that Dr. Rice is the only channel to him; the WH back door is closed. The 4+2+4 architecture can be a real boon, provided our other partners understand we’re more than just talk, that we will act, and we will expect them also to use their leverage to move matters forward.
    Unless all parties are clear that the President is personally backing Dr. Rice’s efforts, and that he will hold both Palestine and Israel accountable, any architecture Dr. Rice designs, including 4+2+4, is likely at best to be a house of cards.

    Reply

  3. Zathras says:

    A walloping by David Ignatius’ standards is a tap on the shoulder to most other people. I didn’t notice him whacking any of the people he is able to use as sources, in the first place. And whether one considers replacing prosecutors, because they have not announced pre-election indictments against Democrats or have investigated Republicans against whom there is evidence of corruption, “much of a scandal” must depend on whether or not one has been paying attention.
    It wouldn’t be much of a scandal if we could take at face value White House assurances that nothing like this happened. Why on earth would anyone do that after all this time?

    Reply

  4. Linda says:

    I hardly call seven visits to Israel in 8 months anything approaching shuttle diplomacy, especially compared to Secretaries of State in previous administrations. It would be interesting to see how many days Secretary of State Rice spends in US and vs. abroad compared to other Secretaries of State. The early decisions by the Bush Administration to not follow up and carry on with almost any Clinton Administration major foreign policies has been tragic in many areas.
    I am not sure how to define “shuttle” diplomacy, but I think it means flying back and forth and back again over and over. It also involves not only the Secretary of State but heads of state meeting as Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon with their counterparts in serious talks. This President Bush does not seem capable of doing that.
    So finally doing something in the right direction after six years of screwing up is much too little and much too late.

    Reply

  5. Caitlyn says:

    Just because the President has the power to take an action doesn’t mean that the action isn’t wrong. By firing competent US attorneys for political gains, whether to derail an ongoing investigation, to pursue bogus charges for political aims, or to place less skilled political cronies into influential positions, the effect is to undercut the effectiveness and perception of unbiased action that has been earned by US attorneys in the past. The use of legal means to damage the integrity of american justice is a scandal. It should not be discounted just because the constitution gives the president the tools that he, though is staff and appointees, has so badly abused.

    Reply

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