Why Is Obama Triangulating on Meeting with World Rivals?

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I watched the debates and admired Barack Obama’s strongly expressed commitment to “engagement” — particularly with leaders of states with whom America was in conflict. This was a great contrast from Hillary Clinton’s positon — and even a starker contrast with McCain’s.
Gallup has just released a poll showing that 2/3 of Americans favor this kind of engagement and that 6 in 10 Americans favor the President meeting Iran’s president. Best I can tell there were no qualifiers, asterisks, special circumstances, and the like outlined in the poll tallies.
Obama has nothing to fear on this issue and should stop trying to back peddle on his earlier positions. Otherwise — I hear a “I was for it before I was against it” line coming down the pike. . .if not by Obama, then by McCain surrogates.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

34 comments on “Why Is Obama Triangulating on Meeting with World Rivals?

  1. Sweetness says:

    It seems to me Wigwag, above, was making an argument. Just as
    David T was. Their comments don’t seem to fit the hasbara model
    as your post portrays it. As far as name-calling, or smearing, goes,
    it seems to be endemic on the Web and used quite a bit here on
    this site, too. So, bottom line, I don’t see any proof or any real
    argument that Wigwag is hasbara, and easy doesn’t provide any,
    which is what I was responding to. Calling someone “hasbara”
    amounts to name calling, just as calling someone an “antisemite” is
    name calling–unless accompanied by supporting evidence–in
    the other direction.

    Reply

  2. Kathleen says:

    Sounds like Karl Rove wrote that book.

    Reply

  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I disagree. Amble on over to the thread where this jackass MarkL calls me “virulently anti-semitic”, despite the fact that I guarantee you he will be completely unable to butress his assertion with any quotes or stances I have taken about Jews that would justify his comment.
    In turn, isn’t it reasonable, considering his accusation, sans evidence or substantiating commentary, that I can credibly accuse him of using the EXACT techniques that are outlined in the “Hasbara handbook”?
    I see tactics of debate used here by people such as MarkL, MP, or WigWag that, if not actual Hasbara efforts, closely mirror the tactics Hasbara is known to use. As Carroll points out, its the same old horseshit, justa different monicker.
    Its the ‘ol quacks like a duck, waddles like a duck, etc. Odds are it ain’t an Ostrich.

    Reply

  4. Sweetness says:

    No. I’m saying the term hasbara is thrown around the way the
    word “anti-Semite” is–uncritically.

    Reply

  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Sweetness”…….
    Are you just being snide, or are you denying the existence of Hasbara? The term not only has “meaning”, but the existence of Hasbara is a reality.
    “Anti-semites” exist too, but they aren’t usually the people that these jackasses like WigWag or MarkL accuse.
    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Hasbara
    Hasbara
    From SourceWatch
    Hasbara refers to the propaganda efforts to sell Israel, justify its actions, and defend it in world opinion. Using contemporary euphemisms, it is Public diplomacy for Israel, or using a pejorative interpretation, then it is apologia. Israel portrays itself as fighting on two fronts: the Palestinians and world opinion. The latter is dealt with hasbara. The premise of hasbara is that Israel’s problems are a matter of better propaganda, and not one of an underlying unjust situation.
    Contents
    1 The techniques utilized
    2 Hasbara Campus Manual
    3 Proponents and Practicioners
    4 Resources
    The techniques utilized
    Smearing/defaming critics of Israel, aka, attacking the messenger. This is even the terminology found in the Hasbara Handbook
    Selective discussion of issues
    Framing of issues, and setting the terminology used in discussing Israel
    Harassing media about its coverage, aka, flak
    Challenging the portrayal of an alternative narrative, and attempting to keep the zionist narrative as the dominant one.
    Hasbara Campus Manual
    The Hasbara Handbook: Promoting Israel on Campus, is now available online. And this is an interesting admission (page 31 onwards):
    Propaganda is used by those who want to communicate in ways that engage the emotions and downplay rationality, in an attempt to promote a certain message.
    The manual goes on to describe seven propaganda techniques:
    Name calling: through the careful use of words, then name calling technique links a person or an idea to a negative symbol.
    Glittering generality: Simply put, glittering generality is name calling in reverse. Instead of trying to attach negative meanings to ideas or people, glittering generalities use positive phrases, which the audience are attached to, in order to lend positive image to things. Words such as “freedom”, “civilization”,…
    Transfer: Transfer involves taking some of the prestige and authority of one concept and applying it to another. For example, a speaker might decide to speak in front of a United Nations flag, in an attempt to gain legitimacy for himself or his idea.
    Testimonial: Testimonial means enlisting the support of somebody admired or famous to endorse and ideal or campaign.
    Plain folks: The plain folks technique attempts to convince the listener that the speaker is a ‘regular guy’, who is trust-worthy because the are like ‘you or me’.
    Fear: See fear.
    Bandwagon: See bandwagon.
    The examples given are very interesting, and worth reading.
    Proponents and Practicioners
    Elias Buchwald
    Frank Luntz
    Resources
    “Habara Handbook: Promoting Israel on Campus”, World Union of Jewish Students, March 2002.
    Fadi Kiblawi, Israel’s Campus Concerns, The Palestine Chronicle, Oct. 23, 2003. Quote: “The Hasbara Handbook prescribes fascinating instructions on attacking the messenger and avoiding the message at all costs ‘in ways that engage the emotions, and downplay rationality, in an attempt to promote’ their cause. In a section entitled ‘Name Calling,’ Israel’s Jewish Agency writes, ‘Creating negative connotations by name calling is done to try and get the audience to reject a person or idea on the basis of negative associations, without allowing a real examination of that person or idea.”
    Conal Urguhart, Israel uses TV show to find its best spin doctor, The Guardian, Nov. 27, 2004.
    Gary Rosenblatt, “Hasbara’ Goes Prime Time”, The Jewish Week, December 3, 2004.
    Hilary Leila Krieger, Expert: Israeli PR improving, but…, Jerusalem Post, December 16, 2004. Interviews Frank Luntz during the 2004 Herzliya Conference.
    Gary Rosenblatt, “Inside Israel’s Image War”, The Jewish Week, January 19, 2007.

    Reply

  6. Kathleen says:

    Obama should triangulate his ass over to J Street, ASAP. That would square things.

    Reply

  7. Sweetness says:

    I think it’s safe to say that most people start conversations about
    Israel and Palestine with their minds made up and don’t leave
    them much different. In fact, I’ve never seen anyone change his
    views in mid stream on any blog.
    Wigwag, “hasbara” is what people call you when they want to
    bash you for your “pro-Israel” views. It’s the inverse equivalent
    of calling someone an “anti-Semite”–just something they throw
    out there that’s supposed to mean something, but doesn’t. An
    epithet created and used by college dormitory radicals so they
    don’t have to write or think too much.
    In some ways, it’s hard to know when or whether any country is
    a true ally of the U.S. What has England done for us lately? Or
    France? Or, if money is the factor, Korea…or Japan…or Taiwan?
    Last I heard, England, and the Downing Street memo-writers,
    abetted our invasion of Iraq.

    Reply

  8. WigWag says:

    Hasbara, is that your secret code word? Do I need a decoder ring to figure it out. Wow easy e, this secret language of yours is so mysterious.

    Reply

  9. easy e says:

    Posted by WigWag Jun 04, 12:29AM
    *********
    Yes, TWN is lucky to have Carroll.
    Wonder if Wigwag = Hasbara?
    Hmmmmmmm……………

    Reply

  10. WigWag says:

    “this latest wigwag is just the latest manifastation and isn’t aware who is talking to on this issue…none of us want to bother to go thru it all again.”
    So sorry Carroll; you’re right, I’m not aware of who I am talking to on this issue. Englighten me. Are you a member of the State Department? Are you an eminent academic expert in foreign affairs? Perhaps you were on the negotiating team at Camp David. Or maybe you work for Hamas, the Palestian Authority or are a member of the Knesset. Perhaps you are a famous middle east correspondent. If you just explain to me who you are, then maybe I will understand why you are too sophisticated to debate with me. If you only help me understand the depth of your knowledge, then I will understand why I should never comment on any subject that you have decided to comment on.
    I knew right away, Carroll that you were on to me when you realized so quicly that I was just pretending to be reasonable and consider all sides.
    Carroll, you are just so smart. All that time you spent in the Truman Library really paid off. What an asset to this site you are. Steve is just so lucky to have you here; so are we all.

    Reply

  11. Carroll says:

    Posted by David T Jun 03, 1:51PM –
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Listen, I don’t have the patience to listen to myth and rationalizing from the wigwags. For six years those of us on here that have done the homework on the Israeli issue have deflated the former wigwags propaganda time after time…this latest wigwag is just the latest manifastation and isn’t aware who is talking to on this issue…none of us want to bother to go thru it all again.
    I tell you what…if you want answers and discussions on your questions about why the US supports Israel I suggest you start at Truman’s Presidential Library, then work you way thru every presidential Library ..just Insert the word Israel into the search function to bring up all Israel related documents.
    You’ll get an education straight from the official horses mouth on why politicans support Israel..and it isn’t pretty. Then you will be able to discuss the “fact” the politicans have taken actions that harm the US interest strictly because of the pressures and tactics used by jewish zionist activist on our politics….you will also learn that Israel has never been of any use to the US…it’s a myth. There are hundreds of book on this issue, I suggest if you are really interested in the subject you read the latest one “The Israel Lobby’ by W&M.
    A lot of people on blogs just love to play “reasonable” and “consider all sides” and play policy wonkie because they think that makes them seem intelligent. Frankly I passed thru that phase and left it behind long ago and now I would rather listen to a Jeffery Dalimer serial killer whine about how his mother beating him made him kill people and eat them so he’s not responsible for his actions then listen to any more jewish Israeli whining and contortions of reality.
    The rubber has met the road and the buck passing has stopped in my world view. Truth and conquences have arrived.

    Reply

  12. DonS says:

    David T, I’m not sure I followed all of what you are saying, explicitly or implicitly, but you did trigger my interest on couple of points. I’ll mention just one:
    “Why does giving Israel a blank check enhance its security?”
    This notion that Israel somehow works in concert for the security of the US seems to have general currency but, other than hearing slogan, I’ve yet to see explicit evidence. What I fantasize, should someone “in the know” ever be put on the spot with regard to this question, is that they would obfuscate, condescend and disemble with some alusions to “national security” beyond the ken of the ordinary citizen to know or understand. Case closed.
    Whereas, the case why blind rubber stamping (my perception of the de facto U S government policy and behavior towards Israel for years) of Israeli behavior is dangerous, potentially tragic FOR THE UNITED STATES, is made clearly and repeatdly by experts, but rarely gets a hearing above the din of Israel firsters, and those who follow their talking points.
    On the one hand, all emotion, don’t question Israel too hard, is acceptable. On the other hand, ask the hard questions about the strategic realities of “support” for Israel, hard nosed inquiry, is not only not acceptable but is met with contempt and implications of anti-semitism and, especially post 911, being “for the terrorists”. 911, as you seem to imply, was a gift that keeps on giving, for the AIPAC strategists (though I am not entirely clear of your meaning that “09/11 made the Israel narrative to so many in this country look more like ours”).
    The Cuban situation is an interesting study as a microcosm of policy being driven by a smallish number of zealots with high leverage in a swing state. The actual import for the politicos (and their constituents) who “go along” is comparable to the dynamics of support for Israel; very little salience except for emotional imagination. The stakes with Cuba are so miniscule (with the exception of possibly flipping Florida in a Presidential election!!!) compared to the Israeli case that it is easy to recognize why getting rationality back into mideast policy seems intractable.

    Reply

  13. Tahoe Editor says:

    “Change you can believe in” is perennial fence-sitting with the occasional “present” vote tossed in for good measure. Why? Because he doesn’t get it.
    Obama caught in frequent flip-flops
    http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080601/OPINION02/207370987/-1/ARTSANDLIVING

    Reply

  14. David T says:

    I find myself dissappointed in such forums when the “discussions” seem to move in the direction of personal attacks. To me what is most disturbing about this administration is its willingness to paint those that see things differently than they do as somehow bad or “unpatriotic” or on the other side of the good and evil divide. It may be that there are liberals that take the same approach but just reverse the labels (i.e. that the Administration is evil and they are good).
    Support for Israel in this country has never been stronger whether or not I like it. I don’t think that’s a bad thing if its okay to be able to exert influence over those you support. Yes Israel is an important issue for a number of Jews and more importantly for a number of powerful Jewish organizations. But its hardly an issue of strictly Jewish support. Much of the evangelical community are as fervent in their support of Israel and their insistence that criticizing Israel is to coddle terrorists as does AIPAC. 09/11 made the Israel narrative to so many in this country look more like ours (i.e. expressing ones views by killing many innocents). That’s not disputable whether its good or bad.
    I think what’s more useful in such a discussion is rather than attacking Jews or other interest groups for subverting the Democratic process, making compelling arguments that might take into consideration some of those views and explain why other issues supercede them. Why does giving Israel a blank check enhance its security? Why does it enhance our security? Wasn’t it in both our interests when Secretary of State James Baker was tough on the Israelis — trying to hold them responsible for their short-sighted actions? Doesn’t it make sense since Israel’s parliamentary system makes it so difficult to maintain a working majority and take bold action to use our leverage to bolster that working majority’s efforts to make efforts at peace and reconciliation in that region?
    Sorry to go on so long. Just think its a pity when such intelligent people as yourselves who care so much about the future of our country question the motives of the other participants in the dialogue.

    Reply

  15. Tahoe Editor says:

    Talk about perversion of Democracy — the “Democratic” Party’s “Rules” award more Nevada delegates to Obama after Hillary beat him by 6 points. That’s enough reason to stay home in November.

    Reply

  16. WigWag says:

    So let’s see if I have this straight, Carroll. People who oppose U.S. policy on Israel are free to lobby for their point of view, but people who support U.S. policy on Israel are not. Your’re right, I am no historian but I do occassionally pop open a history book. Maybe you can explain to me how you would preserve your rights to speak, to vote and to petition your government while at the same time opposing the right of AIPAC to do the same. AIPAC is no freeer to express their point of you than you are. They’re just smarter and more effective. Have you ever wondered why AIPAC’s postions pervail and not yours. Oh yeah, I forgot; it must be that secret Jewish Cabal that controls the world.
    So you’re calling “a spade a spade.” Supporters of Israel are not only guilty of dual loyalty, they’re actually traitors. Wow!
    Carroll, with detractors like you, I don’t think AIPAC has anything to worry about for a long, long time.

    Reply

  17. Carroll says:

    You know wigwag your kind are part of the problem in our political society. “This is how democracy works”..is not good enough for Americans. Because this is not how it is “suppose” to work and there is nothing democratic about special interest groups being deciding factors in who is elected. All your claims that special interest lobbies and sects are a part of freedom of speech and right to representation are the same “rights” claim used by lobbies like AIPAC and zionist and militant Cuban exiles and so on.
    I know you don’t read American history but many of our past presidents and founders have warned the nation about people like you who would use our democratic tools to “pervert” the democratic system. They foresaw how our “rights” could be a two edged sword and used in ways not intended.
    As far as accusing jews or others of “dual loyalty” being dangerous…let’s call a spade a spade…they aren’t even dual loyalist…they are traitors plain and simple. You are so far gone you don’t even know what it means when you confirm that jews vote based on Jews interest in the foreign country of Israel, not America’s and Americans interest.
    I am way past debating points on this issue with zionist like yourself because you are so deep into your faulty justifications for these perversions of our democracy that you can only rationalize and repeat the same old babblecock that you try to pass off as reasonable wonking.
    No one even cares about being called an anti-semite anymore because the slur has been misused so often by zionst militants.

    Reply

  18. WigWag says:

    Linda, thank you for being interested enough to ask where I’m going from. I am happy to tell you. The direct answer to your question is that I am pro choice and I might actually vote for McCain; I’m thinking about it. I know this must seem ridiculous to you so let me explain.
    Like many supporters of Senator Clinton, I have never voted for a republican in my life. Not once. Not for dog catcher, not for city counselor, not for state senate, not for mayor or governor, not for president. Not once. I am old enough to remember the race between Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon. Humphrey was a true progressive on civil rights and a wonderful orator, not unlike Senator Obama. As Johnson’s Vice President, he felt he had to support Johnson on the Viet Nam war. As a result, millions of people who opposed the war refused to vote for him and Nixon was elected by a mere 200 thousand votes. It was one of the closest elections (in the popular vote) in American history. I thought the people who refused to vote for Humprhey (and thus insured Nixon’s election) were idiots. So the irony is not lost on me that in this election, I will probably do the same thing they did.
    I understand that Senator Obama’s views on most issues, foreign and domestic, is much closer to mine than Senator McCain’s. I think Senator Clinton is highly qualified by experience and temprement to be president. I think that Senator Obama is unqualified. Reasonable people can disagree about that and I know that smart people looking at the same facts as me, have come to a different conclusion. But that’s what I think. I think Senator Obama is unqualified. After everything I’ve seen in my life, I just can’t bear to vote for an unqualified man who has defeated a highly qualified woman with the help of a press corps that spews the most vile sexist comments.
    It’s hard for me to understand why Obama supporters don’t get this. Had the press corps been racist instead of sexist, would Obama supporters feel obligated to support Senator Clinton. If, in their comments about Obama, the press had purveyed vicious and disgusting stereotypes like blacks are lazy or they commit crimes and thus implied that Senator Obama might be lazy or a criminal, would Obama supporters vote for Clinton if she remained silent in the face of this? I doubt it.
    If one of the candidates had been an Irish American and had the press purveyed vile sterotypes like the Irish drink too much and wondered whether we can we afford to elect an Irish American candidate, would Irish American voters feel compelled to vote for a candidate who remained silent in the face of this, even if they agreed with that candidate’s views on everything else? I doubt it.
    But that’s exactly what happened here. Hillary’s cleavage was an issue commented on for days on cable news. Carl Bernstein on CNN commented on the thickness of her ankles. The so called crying incident before the New Hampshire primary was news for weeks. Tucker Carlson on MSNBC mentioned that he crossed his legs whenever he saw Senator Clinton. Chris Matthews said that all of Senator Clinton’s accomplishments can be attributed to the fact that her husband messed around. David Schuster implied that Senator Clinton was pimping out her daughter (thus making Chelsea Clinton a prostitute). While all this was happening, Senator Obama said nothing. He was overjoyed to benefit from the political advantage he got from it. And Senator Obama’s supporters? Well their commentary was as bad or worse than the republican wing nuts who thought Mrs. Clinton murdered Vince Foster.
    Linda, when they were attacking Senator Clinton this way they were attacking all women. They were attacking you to. Those comments have been made about women in the work place over and over again.
    After all of this, the Democratic Party thinks Clinton supporters should forget it all and be loyal Democrats. How stupid do they think we are? Senator Obama seems to think he can call people names with impunity and still get their votes. Does he (or do you) really think it’s okay to tar tens of millions of people as bitter merely because they are white and working class? I was always taught that steroptypes are bad and destructive. Jewish people are not greedy. Black people are not slovenly. Irish people are not drunks. So tell me, why is it okay to call white working people bitter? I don’t get it.
    I know that McCain is likely to appoint 2 and maybe 3 Supreme Court judges. I am agonizing over that. But everything about this campaign has demonstrated to me that not only is Senator Obama inexperienced; he has also behaved terribly. I don’t want to reward that.
    So I hope that Justices Stevens and Ginsberg will live very long lives. I hope that a Democratic Senate will carefully scrutinize any Supreme Court justice that he might nominate. And I hope that John McCain will be a little smarter than George Bush and that his foreign policy will be moderately better. I know it won’t be great.
    Will I vote for McCain? I haven’t decided. Will I vote for Obama. The answer is no.
    Thank you again for asking.

    Reply

  19. Linda says:

    WigWag,
    I have wondered and not asked previously where you are coming from–and you stated a lot of views in your most recent post. So I will ask you the question that I’ve wondered for several days now–Are you pro-choice? And would you actually vote for McCain against Obama in November and give McCain the ability to appoint as many as three justices to the Supreme Court if he is elected?

    Reply

  20. DonS says:

    “I do think that accusing people of dual loyalties is dangerous.” OK, so its a veiled warning by proxy, and with velvet gloves, and for others to provide the conclusion, i.e., therefore one is anti-semitic. I take it back, but you should know as well as I that this playing on survivor guilt, and the putative historical guilt of the persecutors, to control the debate. Fits right in with the “poor little Israel” meme.
    Sometime when you have some time I’d be interested in how you square your coincidence with the neocons and wingers when it comes to Israel — albeit you have occasionally distanced youself from the farthest right — with professed reasonable views elsewhere. Nevermind, that’s exactly how the sheople in Congress, the media and elsewhere, compartmentalize the issues. Israel is sui generis (unique)! Our “special relationship! the one democracy in the misdast wit “shared values”!
    You can call me paranoid all day. The Israel lobby is definitely good at what they do, per you, per Mershiemer and Walt. But does that make it good for America? Like Sen. Hagel says, he is not the Senator from Israel.

    Reply

  21. WigWag says:

    To Don S:
    “Veiled Warning” what “veiled warning?” As the song goes, Don, “paranoa will destroy ya.”
    As for your comment that my views are identical to the views of neocons, well, you don’t know me very well. Nothing that I say at the Washington Note suggests this. I voted for Kerry not Bush; I was always against the war in Iraq, I don’t think we should use military force in Iran. I oppose the expansion of NATO, I think the army should not be expanded in size and that the military budget should be much smaller. I think that significant numbers of American troops now abroad in Europe, Korea and other places should be brought home. I don’t completely disdain Hugo Chavez even though he is vehemently anti-Israel. In other words, Don, when it comes to characterizing my politics, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Reply

  22. DonS says:

    Wigwag, I am aware of the dual loyalties issue to some extent. And, like other such toxic areas it is one that AIPAC and its ilk have learned to wield as a sword, as they have become expert in manipulating many other issues sensitive to Jews. It does not make the issue any lest apt when interpreting the motives of neocons, nor will I shirk from addressing it. I have been called a self-hating Jew inEnglish, Yiddish, another terms so your vieled warning is noted.
    As to your personal take on neocons, seeking to differntiate yourself from those with whom you share apparently identical views on Israel, may work rhetorically for you, but it is a distinction without a difference. Israel centrism is their major focus, and it has been their major mark of disgrace in influencing US foreign policy in the Mideast, even as they they attempt to rewrite history and extricate their fingerprints from the deed..

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  23. WigWag says:

    Don S, I don’t like neocons and the fact that they are universally pro Israel doesn’t change that. I don’t think it’s my responsibility to defend them and I won’t. I do think that accusing people of dual loyalties is dangerous. This is a charge that has been leveled against Jews for hundreds of years. You may or may not be aware of it, but it’s why Jews were expelled from England, from France, from Spain. It was used to justify the pogroms in Russia. Ironically whle all this was happening, one of the few places to welcome the Jews was the Muslem Ottaman Empire (now Turkey). That’s one of the reasons why Turkey and Israel have such close relations today. It’s one of the reasons that the Turks are now the interlocutors between Israel and Syria. Making charges of dual loyalty is not necessarily anti-Semetic, but given Jewish history, it is highly emotiionally charged and not likely to lead to a real dialog. Without that dialog, people who think like you do about the Middle East are unlikely to see a more nuanced US approach materialize.
    As to whether AIPAC or AJC should register as agents of a foreign government, I have no opinion because I don’t know much about it. All I can say is that for better or worse, AIPAC and AJC do represent the views of a U.S. domesitic constituency (some American Jews).
    In my previous post, I explained why AIPAC is so influential. All they’ve really done is avail themselves of the perogatives that we have in a democracy; freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, freedom to vote, etc. They have been extremely successful, but not uniquely succesful. The issue of Northern Ireland is not so much in the news anymore. But when it was (in the 1970s 80s and 90s)Americans of Irish decent had very significant impact on US policy towards Northern Ireland.
    As for my drawing the comparison between the way many commentators who don’t like Israel speak versus the way many Obama supporters who don’t like Clinton speak; well the comparison is apt. Vituperative comments rarely change the other guys mind; even if they make you feel good.
    Alan, thank you for your response to me. I do disagree with you slightly. Actually, every candidate for President with one exception in the past 12 years has spoken at the NAACP convention. That one exception was our current President. Even Ronald Reagan spoke to the NAACP convention when he was running for President. Gore did, George H.W. Bush did and Kerry did.
    As for speaking to Arab groups, James Zogby, the President of the American Arab Institute is a very eloquent representative for the Arab American point of view. Ironically, George Bush actively campaigned for Arab American votes. And some say that in his first election he actually won a majority of them. I can’t speak for Arab Americans but from listening to Mr. Zogby on television and from perusing Arab American newspapers, I actually think many Arab Americans are less anti-Israel than some of the people who comment on the Washington Note. As for native Americans, Chinese Americans or Iranian Americans, I can’t comment because I don’t know anything about the issues facing those communities. Obviously none of them have anywhere near the impact of AIPAC.
    My last point is related to your reference to Cuban Americans. You’re right, the Cuban American community has influenced American foreign policy in a way similar to what AIPAC has done. In the last few years, both Republicans and Democrats have begun to take a less rigid approach to Cuba. We seem to be headed in the direction of loosening the restrictions on American intercourse with Cuba. Why has this happened? I don’t think it’s because commentators on sites like this have been screaming and yelling for years about our Cuba policy. I think it’s because a younger generation of Cuban Americans have begun to think differently about Cuba and thus politicians can now follow their lead. Perhaps the same thing could happen with American policy on Israel and the Middle East. It will never happen though if critics of American policy on Israel think that vitriolic commentary is likely to change anyone’s mind.

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  24. alan says:

    Wigwag: you’re honest and straight about the subject of Jewish influnece on US FP towards the ME. One of the interesting things is that candidates for the US Presidency take the view that a speech before AIPAC in support of Israel is an essential component of their campaign. A speech before NAACP? before Arab-Americans? Iranian Americans? Indigenuous Indians? Chinese Americans? – no, not essential. Wait: the one before Hispansics and esp Cuban Americans: two very definite items to be pencilled in.
    You are right: it is all politics and how to get votes.

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  25. DonS says:

    Wig wag, you certainly have set up the ideal scenario haven’t you? If the candidates don’t tow the Zionist line on Isreal, “Jews” will topedo that candidate.
    So, where is tail not wagging dog. Thanks for spelling it out.
    By the way, I noticed you never did respond to the question about neocons dual loyalties )after specifically addressing me). Or AIPAC, AJC dn the like not registering as agents of foreign governments. Or Zionist and neocons having disportinonate influence on the U S government way out of line with, say, your exqmples of IRA sympathizers.
    Your definition of “hate speech” is not even clever propaganda.

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  26. Tahoe Editor says:

    Iran is not a serious threat.
    Iran is a grave threat.
    No one has suffered more than the Palestinian people.
    No one has suffered more than the Palestinian people from their leadership failures.
    Maybe I’ll just vote “present”

    Reply

  27. WigWag says:

    JamesL, I don’t know much about politics. I’m just interested. If I really knew what I was talking about, I’d be working for the New American Foundation like Steve, not just commenting on his site.
    I’m just giving my opinion for the fun of it like everyone else. Often I learn alot from the folks who make substantive comments here.
    If you have anything substantive to say, I am sure I might learn something from you as well.
    By the way, I certainly don’t think that the 2 percent of Americans who are Jews are more important than anyone else. I am just commenting about how I think poliics works. Small numbers of people who are passionate about a cause frequently have more impact on that cause then large numbers of people who are indifferent. Israel is not the only example of this. There are scores of others.
    As to whehter it represents a good health democracy, I think it works this way. People on the winning side think democracy is working just fine. People on the losing side think there’s something wrong with the process. I know this first hand. I support Senator Clinton. It looks like she’s lost. I have grave doubts about the process by which she lost. My grave doubts won’t make a damn bit of difference on who wins the nomination and your grave doubts about whether a healthy democracy would support our current middle east policy won’t change things either.
    By the way, thank you for responding to me.

    Reply

  28. JamesL says:

    >The only group likely to be able to move American >policy on the Middle East in a new direction are >American Jews.
    Well Wigwag, I guess I have to admit that you know more about politics than any of us. It also appears that you believe that 2% of Americans who are Jews are more important than the rest of us, that no one else makes a difference, and that fact represents good, healthy democracy. Zionist, eh?

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  29. WigWag says:

    Well Carroll, it doesn’t sound like you understand politics very well. Jews may make up only 2 percent of the American population but they could easily play the decisive role in must win states like Florida and Ohio. If Obama wins both, he will almost certainly be elected President. If he loses both, he will almost certainly lose. In 2000, Gore lost Florida by less than 600 votes. In 2004, Kerry lost Ohio by less that 20 thousand votes (less than one percent of the votes cast in Ohio). Both Kerry and Gore got over 60 percent of the Jewish votes in those states. If Obama wins fewer than 50 percent of the Jewish votes in Ohio and Florida, he will almost certainly lose those two states (and thus the election.)
    And don’t forget the millions (or perhaps tens of millions) of Christian Zionists out there. To them, a candidate’s policy on Israel is one of the things they vote on. Of course, most of them will vote for McCain anyway. But these voters tend to be working class voters who are experiencing economic hard times. Even though Obama called them bitter, enough of them might vote for Obama to help him carry those states, if, and only if, they like his position on Israel.
    That’s why tomorrow, when Obama speaks at the AIPAC convention, Zionists like me will like what he says, and people who think like you, will have to keep your fingers crossed that he doesn’t really mean what he says.
    I understand that you don’t like it, but it’s called democracy. Jews and Christian Zionist vote and a candidate’s position on Israel is a major factor in whom they vote for. People who think like you do (or many people who comment here) are relatively few in number. Over time, that might change, but I doubt it. Americans who aren’t enamored with Israel or U.S. middle east policy, for the most part, don’t consider the issue important enough to change how they vote.
    The only group likely to be able to move American policy on the Middle East in a new direction are American Jews. If they demand a more nuanced approach to the Israel/Palestine issue, politicians will almost certainly oblige. But instead of trying to win the hearts and minds of this powerful and essential block of voters, critics of Israel on this site, in academia and elsewhere, think they help their cause by spewing the most incindeary invective. Until that changes, the most right wing Israeli positions will continue to prevail whether you like it or not.
    By the way, the hate speech that so often characterizes how critics of Israel present themselves here and elsewhere should ring a bell to you. It sounds an awful lot how Obama supportrs sound about Clinton supporters. That’s why so many Clinton supporters will never support Obama. It’s why so many woman hate Obama even though he is generally very supportive of women’s issues. It’s why, in an otherwise overwhelmingly democratic year, Obama could easily lose.

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  30. David says:

    Much truth in what you say, Carroll. I keep thinking to myself, Isn’t this campaign for the president of the United States, not Israel (or any other country, except that who wins has a major impact on the future of Iraq).
    AIPAC influence is disproportionate to its reasonable place in American politics. Israel is an ally, not a protectorate, and in fact does not need our protection. AIPAC needs to understand that it is in Israel’s best interests for the United States to recapture to role of honest broker, if we still have the creds to broker anything.

    Reply

  31. Carroll says:

    We all know why Obama is “triangulaing” on Iran. He is trying to get past the Jewish lobby. Frankly if I were him I wouldn’t even bother…the jewish vote is 2% of the nation and this time around the majority nation isn’t interested in Israel, except for the corruption of our foreign policy it’s lobby has generated.
    The first time a president gets elected after saying we need a even handed policy on Isr-Pal..(and let’s hope this is the time and election)…it will be the end of politicans pandering to the jewish Israeli voters and money men.
    Hillary had the biggest hard line jewish zionist money men in the the US behind her in this primary and she’s down and out.
    And I really hate saying that about Hillary because I like all of her positions except the ME one…and as goes our ME foreign policy so goes our future US foreign and domestic condition.

    Reply

  32. WigWag says:

    “I watched the debates and admired Barack Obama’s strongly expressed commitment to “engagement” — particularly with leaders of states with whom America was in conflict.”
    So Steve, just to be clear. Which Senator Obama do you admire? The one who told mountain state voters that Iran is a threat, or the one who told Pacific Northwest voters that Iran is not a threat?

    Reply

  33. Spunkmeyer says:

    Steve, can you provide a link to an example of what you consider
    his “back-peddling” on this position? Life has been crazy enough
    as of late that perhaps something has been said that I’ve missed…

    Reply

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