Saturday at Sam’s

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I am in Chestertown, Maryland this morning enjoying a bit of a break from DC — planning a retreat to discuss alternative US policy options in Afghanistan.
Chestertown is an old colonial American town with great character and characters. About an hour and a half outside of Washington and two hours from Philadelphia, this eastern shore spot which George Washington frequented in the early days of the nation is a great place to think and refresh. If you visit some day, check out the programs of the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College. It’s one of the best institutional American cultural and historical provocateurs in the nation.
For those of you who someday want to visit, the town “living room” is a great coffee shop, “Play it Again Sam“. Just learned that the shop owner’s cool wife, Liz, is from Bartlesville, Oklahoma where a chunk of my own family is from. Small town meet small town.
On other fronts around the world. . .
~ The UN has released figures on the official number killed by the Haiti earthquake: 111,000.
~ Air America Radio is done, kaput, no more.
~ Defense Secretary Bob Gates, returning from Pakistan, relaxed by watching the film “Seven Days in May,” about an attempted military coup against the President of the United States. This happens to be Senator Lindsey Graham’s favorite film. (see above)
— Steve Clemons

Comments

22 comments on “Saturday at Sam’s

  1. Carroll says:

    The only reason we are still talking about ALQ is because the public is brain washed.
    According to the CIA ALQ only had about 200 to 300 actual members in 2001…and they were in Afghan…as opposed to the 10’s of thousands of Taliban in Afghan.
    ALQ is a force only in that it inspires other militants to take actions against whoever or whatever they think their oppressor is…the US or their own government or their own people.
    ALQ just shows other NS-Actors that they too can have an effect, can create chaos or fight back.
    Every time we go chasing ALQ in a country and blowing it up it just empowers and invigorates those with a similar grudge as ALQ, who see the great Satan doing it again.

    Reply

  2. Paul Norheim says:

    As for al Qaeda’s hostility towards America and the West, Israel/Palestine is ONE
    significant reason among several other significant reasons, Samuel – as you would know if
    you had read or listened to a handful of Osama bin Laden’s or al Zawahiri’s speeches.
    Among the other reasons: the civilian deaths due to the US sanctions against Iraq in the
    1990’s, the stationing of American soldiers in Saudi Arabia (“holy soil”), etc. etc.
    Reading those speeches may be an enriching experience, Sam. Al Quaeda’s world view seems
    to be slightly more complex than yours. Judging from your comments here, even studying at
    a Pakistani madras would certainly widen your horizon.

    Reply

  3. samuelburke says:

    osamas message from the grave suggests that the israeli palestinian conflict is the reason why the united states was attacked on sept 11th.

    Reply

  4. bob h says:

    Does the mastermind of 9/11 really stoop to boasting about a guy who set his underpants on fire? I doubt it, but if true it suggests Al Qaeda is really a much diminished threat.
    But perhaps Al Qaeda was encouraged by the way Fox News, et. al., magnified a botched, minor incident into a major political attack on our President.

    Reply

  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “It’s all bunk. I will re-state my own strong hunch that Bin Laden is dead or out of commission, and has been for some time. I will also vent my hypothesis that the demise of Bin Laden is widely known inside the US government, since there is no other plausible accounting for the evident lack of zeal in pursuing him, an eight-year non-pursuit that shows all the intensity of OJ’s hunt for the Real Killer”
    http://www.infowars.com/spanish-politician-threatens-to-sue-fbi-over-bin-laden-makeover/
    “A Spanish politician said on Saturday that he was ’stupefied’ by the FBI’s decision to use his photograph to compose its latest image of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and is considering taking legal action,” the CIA’s favorite newspaper, The Washington Post, reports today. “In the last few days I have seen the security services involved in some very strange things, some major failures, but I would never have believed they could have affected me so directly,” said Gaspar Llamazares, a former leader of Spain’s communist party Izquierda Unida.

    Reply

  6. Dan Kervick says:

    Sorry for the weirdly missing words in the previous post; but Kotz stole my dictionary, and so I had to leave some blank holes in what would have been, no doubt, a series of opulently bejeweled sentences.

    Reply

  7. Dan Kervick says:

    I mostly content to snivel in silence these days, POA.
    But in this case, given the ongoing national discussion of Obama’s political woes, I’ll acknowledge that the Israel issue is highly relevant. If Obama is looking for the roots of his present political problems among many of his former supporters, he should recognize those problems began during the transition, and then in early 2009, with his handling of the issues of Israel, the West Bank colonies and Gaza. The signal of fraudulence and weakness he sent was so stunningly naked that it has reverberated throughout his administration, deeply discouraging many of his allies, and emboldening all of his enemies to conclude that he is an easy mark. It’s still hard to believe that he thought Israeli expansionism could be checked with a few firm words, and without any backup plan for sanctions of any kind following the very predictable. And yet the people who advised him that he possessed this vast “soft power” of talk still have their jobs.
    Regrettably, the lesson he seems to have learned from the embarrassment is that where Israel is concerned, he is so weak that he shouldn’t even pretend to be strong any more, and should just bend over submissively.
    I love the absurdity of these routine Bin Laden reports. Buried in the news accounts of every one of these alleged missives is a joke line like “the authenticity of the statement could not immediately be confirmed”. I’ve never been a journalist, but at some point, aren’t responsible journalists supposed to stop attributing statements to individuals when the authenticity of those statements cannot be confirmed? Is the authenticity of any of the statements *ever* confirmed? And does the confirmation ever come from an actual reporter, or just from some official who claims that they *possess* such confirmation, but can’t release it?
    It’s all bunk. I will re-state my own strong hunch that Bin Laden is dead or out of commission, and has been for some time. I will also vent my hypothesis that the demise of Bin Laden is widely known inside the US government, since there is no other plausible accounting for the evident lack of zeal in pursuing him, an eight-year non-pursuit that shows all the intensity of OJ’s hunt for the Real Killer.

    Reply

  8. PissedOffAmerican says:

    As usual, I have no doubts that there will be great lamentation and sniveling from some of the readers here that, once again, Isr/Pal is dominating the thread. To those people, I would like to remind them that foreign policy is the focus of Steve’s blog, and there can be no greater topic of discussion than Israel when it comes to discussing the motives and propelling forces that dictate our Middle Eastern policies. To see Mitchell, and therefore Obama, so completely giving in, giving up, and catering to Israel’s racist and murderous designs surely has great effect on how the Muslim community views the credibility and the morality of United States’ foreign policy. Netanyahu has exposed Obama as a stumbling feckless idiot who has neither the ability, nor the courage, to stand up for his own stated convictions. And our Congeress has demonstrated to Netanyahu, clearly, that Israel can commit ANY human rights abuse, ANY war crime, any arrogant and disrespectful afront to all human decency, without jeopordizing their meal ticket, their flow of arms, or their insidiuous infiltration of the United States’ body politik.

    Reply

  9. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Its absolutely asinine and dishonest to say something like “And please don’t blame this on Congress”. It is Obama that seemed to have a willingness to place constraits on this arrogant racist Netanyahu. And it is these pieces of shit like Reid that put the brakes on Obama’s stated policy advocations. Yes, Obama didn’t have the balls to stand up for his own stated goals, so the failure is as much his fault as it is Congress’s. But it is Congress that signaled to Netanyahu that he could give the shaft to Obama and they would do nothing to intervene or support their President. And their handling of the Goldstone Report was akin to giving Netanyahu a double dose of Viagra, while giving Obama a cold shower. Our Congress is indellibly stained red with the blood of the Palestinian people. They are swimming in it, and it makes me ashamed to be an American.
    And now the propaganda machine comes up with another “Bin Laden tape” that claims… “Hey, I’m the big bad boogie man, and if you guys criticize or separate from Israel, you are doing my bidding. BOO!!!”
    What transparent horseshit. And sadly, the American people are apparently ignorant enough to buy into it.

    Reply

  10. DonS says:

    “And please don’t blame this on Congress. Yes, Congress will
    pander to the lobby, oppose a tougher U.S. stance, and continue
    to supply Israel with generous economic and military handouts,
    but a determined president still has many ways of bringing
    pressure to bear on recalcitrant clients. The problem is that
    Obama refused to use any of them.”
    That’s really the crux of it isn’t it. I mean there was some whoopdedo about maybe something to do with loan guarantees, that Liberman and McCain postured against. But has the administration pushed back against the disgraceful and hypocritical situation Walt summarizes (not that it get’s much media noticein the US)? Or just how about high profile types out there citing chapter an verse on Obama’s strenuous efforts to push Israel? Not much of that either.
    I guess most of the zionistas here continue to be happy as a pig in mud with the status quo, to wit, land grab, expansion, oppression, outposts, harassment and assault. I sure don’t take the finger pointing at Obama to be a sign that the zealots crave an effective mid east policy which would curtail Israeli behavior. It’s just reinforcing the meme that Obama could do nothing even if he wanted to. Convenient.

    Reply

  11. samuelburke says:

    “Osama Bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader, has warned Barack Obama, the US president, that there will be further attacks on the United States unless he takes steps to resolve the Palestinian situation.
    In an audio tape obtained by Al Jazeera on Sunday, the world’s most wanted man also praised the Nigerian accused of a failed attempt to blow up an airliner heading for Detroit on Christmas Day.”
    “The message I want to convey to you through the plane of the hero Omar Farouk [Abdulmutallab], reaffirms a previous message that the heroes of 9/11 conveyed to you,” Bin Laden said.
    “America will never dream of living in peace unless we live it in Palestine. It is unfair that you enjoy a safe life while our brothers in Gaza suffer greatly.
    “America will never dream of living in peace unless we live it in Palestine. It is unfair that you enjoy a safe life while our brothers in Gaza suffer greatly.
    “Therefore, with God’s will, our attacks on you will continue as long as you continue to support Israel,” bin Laden said.
    “If it was possible to carry our messages to you by words we wouldn’t have carried them to you by planes.”
    israel is the problem according to obama.
    what do you think nadine?
    lol.
    http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/01/201012415287209336.html

    Reply

  12. samuelburke says:

    “Protests have erupted across the Arab world and Europe targeting Egyptian embassies and consulates; I attended one yesterday in Beirut. But the Egyptian regime isn’t responsive to popular pressure, so a group of activists here in Lebanon have begun a movement to draw attention to the Egyptian company assembling the wall – Arab Contractors. Our hope is that details emerge, other companies can be targeted. I reported on our first press conference for Electronic Intifada.
    We spend so much time on the Zionists in Israel, Egypt and America and their actions today that the big picture sometimes loses focus. The most powerful state in the world – and its regional lackeys – are targeting the people in Gaza for… what? For starvation? For extermination? What is Mr. Obama’s endgame here? Once the tunnels are gone, the land degraded and the water undrinkable… well, then what? I cannot express how I feel. There is no solace in this tragedy.”
    http://mondoweiss.net/

    Reply

  13. samuelburke says:

    the good news is that there is a wing of the american establishment that is stuffed full of israels specialness within our governmental structure and its now time to pay the piper.
    get your wallet ready.

    Reply

  14. nadine says:

    “This admission raises an obvious question: who was responsible
    for this gross miscalculation? It’s not as if the dysfunctional
    condition of Israeli and Palestinian internal politics was a dark
    mystery when Obama took office, or when Netanyahu formed
    the most hard-line government in Israeli history. Which advisors
    told Obama and Mitchell to proceed as they did, raising
    expectations sky-high in the Cairo speech, publicly insisting on
    a settlement freeze, and then engaging in a humiliating retreat?
    Did they ever ask themselves what they would do if Netanyahu
    dug in his heels, as anyone with a triple-digit IQ should have
    expected? And if Obama now realizes how badly they screwed
    up, why do the people who recommended this approach still
    have their jobs?” (Stephen Walt)
    Who was responsible? Barack Hussein Obama. These were HIS promises and HIS policies. Anybody who knew anything about the Mideast understood it wouldn’t work. Plenty of people in the Mideast tried to warn him, Israelis and Arabs both. But nooooo. Obama was supremely confident.
    As Mickey Kaus observed this week, “What do presidents do when they should fire themselves? They fire their advisers and bring in a new crew. That’s what may happen here.”

    Reply

  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Netanyahu is planting trees on stolen land, using Obama’s severed balls as fertilizer. And the fruit that will be sown from this orchard will be dead Palestinians.
    http://palestinenote.com/cs/blogs/blogs/archive/2010/01/24/israeli-media-obama-s-frustration-is-israel-s-loss.aspx
    “And Yedioth Ahronoth’s Washington correspondent Orly Azulai chides: “Obama could have pounded on the table and done what the world expected him to do: To take the initiative, seize the recalcitrant parties by their hair and not let go until they consented. Every US president has at his disposal an impressive array of tools, but Obama has not yet used any of them. He neither raised a diplomatic hammer nor threatened with a political ax. He did not even do the minimum that his aides promised when they entered the White House: To openly present a detailed American peace plan and apply pressure to the sides to conform to it. ” Asserting that the worse thing for Israel would be “American indifference,” Azulai points out that “Netanyahu and [Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, aka] Abu Mazen know that the only plan on the agenda is establishing a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with border revisions, a land swap on a dunam-for-dunam basis, declaring Jerusalem as the capital of the two states–and establishing diplomatic ties between Israel and all the Arab states.” With that in mind, Azulai writes, “Obama should have presented this plan, set a strict timetable for its implementation, threatened to denounce the recalcitrant parties and marketed it at a grandiose international conference. But Obama chose the easy way out: He chose to be offended, turned up his nose and turned his back.”

    Reply

  16. jonst says:

    I remember Ava Gardner’s line to Kirk Douglas from Seven Days in May………inviting Douglas’ character to dinner, she said;
    “I promise you a steak, medium rare. And the truth, which is very rare”.
    Indeed.

    Reply

  17. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Personally, I put this whole latest fiasco of seeing the President of the United States being pissed on by Netanyahu SQUARELY in Hoyer and Reid’s lap. They both made it very clear to Netanyahu that their loyalties, when it concerned Isr/Pal, were NOT with Obama’s policy advocations, and that Obama’s own party did not support his demands for a settlement freeze. Reid and Hoyer stood right next to Netanyahu flipping Obama the bird. Obama’s cowardice is more about not being able stand up to Reid than it is about not being able to stand up to Netanyahu. Its Reid that snipped Obama’s balls on this issue, not Netanyahu. And as a consequence, this sack of shit Reid is soaked in future Palestinian blood, (not that he cares).
    Reid showed his true colors with the Phase Two skit, and there can be no doubt he sold out on that one. I’d love to know what his price was for backing off. He is just as slimey as that worm Lieberman is, if not more so. At least Lieberman is REAL, and not the slimey backstabbing fraud of a leader Reid has proven himself to be. Lieberman makes no bones about being a backstabbing worm. Reid tries to hide it.
    Reid is one of Steve’s favorites, and I find that quite disconcerting considering my respect for Steve. What he sees in the maggot escapes me.

    Reply

  18. samuelburke says:

    Stephen M Walt who has this on his blog today.
    “if Mideast special envoy George Mitchell wants to end his career
    with his reputation intact, it is time for him to resign. He had a
    distinguished tenure in the U.S. Senate — including a stint as
    majority leader — and his post-Senate career has been equally
    accomplished
    Why should Mitchell step down now? Because he is wasting his
    time. The administration’s early commitment to an Israeli-
    Palestinian peace was either a naïve bit of bravado or a cynical
    charade
    http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/
    in an interview earlier this week with Time’s Joe Klein, President
    Obama acknowledged that his early commitment to achieving
    “two states for two peoples” had failed. In his words, “this is as
    intractable a problem as you get … Both sides-the Israelis and
    the Palestinians-have found that the political environments, the
    nature of their coalitions or the divisions within their societies,
    were such that it was very hard for them to start engaging in a
    meaningful conversation. And I think we overestimated our
    ability to persuade them to do so when their politics ran
    contrary to that”
    This admission raises an obvious question: who was responsible
    for this gross miscalculation? It’s not as if the dysfunctional
    condition of Israeli and Palestinian internal politics was a dark
    mystery when Obama took office, or when Netanyahu formed
    the most hard-line government in Israeli history. Which advisors
    told Obama and Mitchell to proceed as they did, raising
    expectations sky-high in the Cairo speech, publicly insisting on
    a settlement freeze, and then engaging in a humiliating retreat?
    Did they ever ask themselves what they would do if Netanyahu
    dug in his heels, as anyone with a triple-digit IQ should have
    expected? And if Obama now realizes how badly they screwed
    up, why do the people who recommended this approach still
    have their jobs?
    It’s not as if Obama and Co. don’t realize that this is important.
    National Security Advisor James Jones has made it clear that he
    sees the Israel-Palestinian issue as absolutely central; it’s not
    our only problem in the Middle East, but it tends to affect most
    of the others and resolving it would be an enormous boon. And
    there’s every sign that the president is aware of the need to do
    more than just talk.”
    “And please don’t blame this on Congress. Yes, Congress will
    pander to the lobby, oppose a tougher U.S. stance, and continue
    to supply Israel with generous economic and military handouts,
    but a determined president still has many ways of bringing
    pressure to bear on recalcitrant clients. The problem is that
    Obama refused to use any of them.”

    Reply

  19. Liza Brocker says:

    Steve-you rock, but you already knew that…such a nice “meet cute!”
    So glad to know a fellow Bartion…
    Love,
    Liza

    Reply

  20. PissedOffAmerican says:

    So how does a pro-Cuban embargo lobby react to the United States intention to resupply Cuban doctors who are on the front lines of saving Haitian lives???
    “It’s “absolutely unconscionable to try to use tragic disasters — such as Haiti’s earthquake –as a springboard for bilateral relations,” wrote Mauricio Claver-Carone, executive director of the hardline Cuba Democracy Advocates”
    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/01/us_and_cuba_show_rare_signs_of_cooperation_in_hait.php#more
    These pieces of shit should promptly be dumped in the middle of Port Au Prince with nothing but the shirts on their backs, no identity papers, no money, no food, no water, and a severe case of dysentary.

    Reply

  21. Roci says:

    One of the best films of an era passed by. But one wonders, the Military-Industrial complex that Ike warned of, is it, in truth, any less dangerous than any rogue officer? After the Second World War, McArthur re wrote the constitution of Japan. Article 9 forbids the Japanese from spending more than 1% of it’s GDP on Defense. It is controversial, but it works, and Japan has the best Armed Forces in Asia.
    Perish the thought that some President, some day, would make the same sort of judgment for our Nation. Would the people support him? Would that matter in the face of a vast sea of money at stake? These questions hold and deserve as much consideration as the issues in “Seven Days in May.” Times change, but questions like these compel us to examine the real meaning of National Defense.

    Reply

  22. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I will be interested to see how you feel about Mitchell dumping everything in the Palestinian’s lap, while Netanyahu pumps away on Obama’s backside.
    Or, uh, gee, we can just ignore yet one more example of Obama’s cowardice and contrived insincere posturing.
    Better yet, lets see if we can spin it into the realm of Constanze’s surreal departure from reality.

    Reply

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