Open Thread: Back in DC — Little Rock on Tuesday


Just got back to Washington from the Middle East, or what I called the Middle West when I lived in Japan. I’m tuckered out — but may be back on later.
For those in Arkansas, I’ll be down in Little Rock on Tuesday speaking at noon for the Arkansas Committee on Foreign Relations. My event doesn’t seem to be up on the ACFR’s website — but I will be there.
Thursday and Friday, I will be in New York. I’m serving as master of ceremonies for an event with Parag Khanna on Thursday evening, the 17th, in Manhattan. If there are TWN readers who might want to attend, email me and I’ll forward an invite. Khanna will be talking about his book The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order.
In other updates, the Financial Times‘ Edward Luce picked up my commentary on Obama’s less than inspiring position on continuing an isolation strategy with Hamas.
More later — and consider this an open thread.
— Steve Clemons


11 comments on “Open Thread: Back in DC — Little Rock on Tuesday

  1. Kathleen says:

    Mmm,Mmm, gooood.. Enemies Foreign, Enemies Domesticm, Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy(Retired)was operations officer of Carrier Air Wing Eight, and writes for Pen and Sword. My kind of article, complete with Pavlav’s dogs. It is a discussion of a servicman’s oath of service to defend the Constitution.
    See the Appeal To Congress I drafted for Robert Y, Watada. September 28. 2006, requesting Congressional hearings on the Constitutional questions raised by Lt.Ehren Watada’s case. http:///
    Commander Jeff Huber’s piece at Pen and Sword
    I wonder what Commander Huber thought of Mission Acconmlished?
    Carroll. pauline have been wondering where you were, Sandy, susan too.


  2. pauline says:

    Here’s a slanted view of President Carter’s meeting with Hamas. imo, the current cabal of warmongers in [and controlling] the WH, along with AIPAC, don’t want ME peace — period.
    Tuesday, April 15, 2008
    “Carter kisses Hamas terrorist”
    Former president also lays wreath
    at ‘peace fighter’ Arafat’s gravesite
    Posted: April 15, 2008
    1:45 pm Eastern
    By Aaron Klein
    Jimmy Carter meets with Palestinian Authority officials (Israel Broadcasting Authority)
    RAMALLAH, West Bank – Former President Jimmy Carter today warmly embraced a top Hamas terrorist and laid a wreath on the gravesite of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, whom Carter called a “peace fighter” and a “dear friend,” according to Palestinian officials speaking to WND.
    Visiting the West Bank city of Ramallah, Carter attended a reception with Nasser Shaer, a senior Hamas leader. The reception was closed to the media, but according to participants and the Hamas leader, Carter hugged Shaer and kissed him on each cheek, the customary greeting for good friends. Many U.S. diplomats refrain from kissing Palestinian officials.
    “He gave me a hug. We hugged each other, and it was a warm reception,” Shaer told the Associated Press. “Carter asked what he can do to achieve peace between the Palestinians and Israel … and I told him the possibility for peace is high.”
    Shaer previously served as deputy prime minister and education minister in the Hamas-led Palestinian government, which was toppled last year. He served time in Israeli prison after being charged with terrorist activities.
    According to Israeli security officials, Shaer functioned as a financial and communications link between cells of the Hamas organization in Gaza and in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
    Prior to embracing Shaer, Carter met with officials from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah organization at the Muqata, the main Fatah headquarters.
    Carter paid a visit to the gravesite of Arafat, who is buried just outside the Muqata. Palestinian officials who escorted Carter told WND the former president paused for a moment of silence at Arafat’s grave before laying a wreathe there.
    The Palestinian officials quoted Carter stating Arafat was a “peace fighter and a dear friend of mine.”
    They also quoted Carter calling Arafat a “partner in representing the question of justice in the world.”
    The officials said Carter repeatedly accused Israel of not implementing its side of agreements that called on the Jewish state to ease travel restrictions for Palestinians and to dismantle what are termed illegal outposts, or West Bank Jewish communities constructed without governmental permission.
    Israel earlier this month dismantled 50 anti-terror roadblocks as a gesture to Abbas. The Israeli-Palestinian agreements also called for an end of Palestinian terrorism, but more than 100 incidents of terrorism have been carried out in the past 45 days alone, security officials pointed out.
    Tayeb Abdel Rahim, Abbas’ secretary general, told Carter that Arafat’s burial site in Ramallah was only temporary until his remains can be transferred to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Palestinian officials told WND.
    In the years before his death in 2004, Israel and the U.S. attempted to isolate Arafat after he turned down a peace agreement in 2000 at U.S.-mediated peace talks at Camp David and, instead, returned to Ramallah to launch an intifada – or terrorist war – against the Jewish state.
    Carter told reporters today he had requested permission to enter the Gaza Strip from Israel but was turned down.
    He said he may meet with other Hamas leaders while visiting Syria later this week.
    According to Hamas officials, Carter is slated to meet with Hamas chieftain Khaled Meshaal, who resides in Syria.
    In a WND exclusive interview yesterday, Ahmed Yousuf, Hamas’ top political adviser in the Gaza Strip, called Carter a “noble person” whose planned meeting with Hamas would help the terror organization “engage with the world community.”
    “Carter can achieve something no one else can. He is open-minded and has a very noble cause to come and meet with all people,” said Yousuf, the chief political adviser to Ismail Haniyeh, the deposed prime minister of the Hamas-led Palestinian government.
    Yousuf, the Hamas figure usually responsible for coordinating meetings with foreign officials, said Carter “should get credit because he is the one who really understands the (Israeli-Palestinian) conflict and knows what is needed to achieve peace.”
    He indicated Carter’s visit could help end Hamas’ international isolation.
    “If he comes and meets Hamas, this will also enhance the image and understanding between America and the Muslim world,” said Yousuf, speaking by phone from Gaza. “Carter’s visit is a good step and a positive step in the right direction. It would engage with the world community. To what degree he succeeds depends on the people in Europe and the U.S.”
    Yousuf blasted the Bush administration for “trying to block every attempt to lift sanctions against Hamas.”
    He accused “Zionists” and U.S. Jewish groups of “trying to sabotage” Carter’s Middle East trip. “Some reports said American Jewish groups tried to stigmatize him with being connected to terrorism or working against Jewish ambitions at home,” Yousef said.
    Asked if he believed Democrats would engage Hamas if the party takes the White House next year, Yousuf replied, “I do believe Democrats will make a drastic change in American foreign policy. I hope they are able to fix the damage done by [President] Bush and the Republicans and engage again in a very positive way with the Arab and Muslim world, where most of their vital interests lie.”
    source —


  3. karenk says:

    Wow, you describe disgusting shameful greed and corruption at it’s finest-rampant everywhere unfortunately and difficult to deal with effectively…smart move posting here-I think Steve’s site is read by many elite intellectuals and powerful voices in the US and elsewhere. I’m not one of them but always interested in this area for my own selfish reasons-I’m a NYer and the people who tried to ruin our existence(and failed but will no doubt try again)exist there.Best we know what’s going on there and what we have to deal with.


  4. Sudhir Afridi says:

    By Sudhir Ahmad Afridi
    APA Landikotal Ahmad Khan Aurakzai has topped the corruption in Landikotal.He has earned 90 million rupees through smuggling in the last 400 days in his office as assistant political agent of Landikotal, told confidential official sources. APA Landikotal Ahmad Khan Aurakzai had taken charge as APA on 6 March, 2007.But he has hardly spared 100 days for the solution of the problems of the tribesmen in his office. Mostly he remained absent from his office. According to official confidential sources APA Landikotal gets one and a half million purely on weekly basis from the income of the smuggling through different routes in Landikotal.The Khasadar Force in stead of doing some thing for themselves or serving the area has been snatching money from the smugglers for APA Landikotal and other officials in Khyber Agency.
    Smuggling is considered a fair business or trade in tribal areas, as the people in FATA have not any other business or industry. But the mian thing is that the local people could not utilize this legal or illegal business. Gul Hamid is a runner of APA Landikotal who plays the main role in dealing the money related cases, told an official. Basically Gul Hamid is a class 4 at the PTDC at Torkham, but APA Landikotal has taken him as special private secretary who mostly drives his official car. Driving the official car of APA Landikotal means that Gul Hamid pressurizes the lower staff including subidars of Khasadars to keep him pleased, observed an official on condition of anonymity. Majority of the subidars and khasadars try to please Gil Hamid class 4 for their immediate transfer orders to the profitable posts such as Ghakhi and Torkham posts. The smugglers of spare parts and other goods contact him after their goods are seized and confiscated. Then he returns the seized goods to the owners after fining them from APA as per his income routinely.
    The smuggling of fertilizers, iron bars, cement, poultry, meat, fishes, flour, animals and diesel etc is on the rise from Landikotal via Shelman and Torkham routes. Whereas from Afghan side spare parts, scrapes, ghee and some times covertly and secretly weapons are also smuggled to Pakistani sides via Shelman, Torkham, Mishtra and Tabai Zakha Khel routes. The cars in pieces are brought to Tabai and Mishtra, which are then, assembles at Bazaar Zakha Khle area and then drives through Ziarai check posts. Every pick up vehicle is charged fifteen hundred to two thousand on each check post. Daily more than 200 vehicles bring and carry smuggling goods through these posts and routes. It is also worth mentioning that the Zakha Khel families lying on the smuggling routes also charge the transporters involved in smuggling. That is why the Pero Khel tribe in Shinwari area also stopped the smugglers not to carry smuggling goods through Pero Khel Shinwari area until and unless they pay the Shinwari tribe. As a result, the smugglers with the consultation of administration converted the smuggling route from Pero Khel Shinwari to Kam Shelman, which is a little longer distance. An official source told that APA Landikotal could not take any action against the elders of Pero Khle tribe, as he would not be justified to punish them to let the smuggling goods be carried through their areas. Many under ground officially sponsored jirgas took place to resolve the issue with Pero Khel tribe but in vain. The large scale smuggling on the one hand causes loss to national exchequer while on the hand the genuine tribesmen could not take any benefits from it rather than the bureaucracy in tribal areas.
    The custom officials are also blind to see the widespread smuggling through various routes in tribal areas particularly Landikotal.Avoiding heavy custom duty the smugglers resort to smuggle goods via porous routes in the mountains. This seems that either Custom officials are involved with the smugglers or they are not eligible to check this illegal business.


  5. pauline says:

    Hope you’re getting better. Besides some homemade chicken soup, drink fresh fruit juices and vegetable juices and try and stay warm.
    Not much at all in the English speaking press. As you know, Rice, gw and Olmert were all openly against Carter’s meeting.
    What does that say?
    Methinks their foreign policy towards Palastine is against giving peace a chance.


  6. Carroll says:

    I have been sick, still sick, for 10 days…but did see that Carter was meeting with Hamas….anyone know the outcome of that yet?


  7. via says:

    Is anyone else disturbed by the fact that we now have a Faith and Compassion forum/debate between the Democratic candidates? Compassion, fine, but faith? I do not want a religious litmus test administered to presidental candidates.


  8. pauline says:

    Bush: Yeah, We Signed Off on Torture. So What?
    By Paul Kiel – April 11, 2008, 6:03PM
    ABC finally got a hold of President Bush to respond to its story that top administration officials, as members of the National Security Council’s Principals Committee, had signed off on “enhanced interrogation” techniques in 2002 that included waterboarding. And Bush doesn’t understand what the big deal is:
    “Well, we started to connect the dots, in order to protect the American people.” Bush told ABC New s White House correspondent Martha Raddatz. “And, yes, I’m aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved.”…
    Bush said the ABC report about the Principals’ involvement was not so “startling.”
    The AP reported yesterday that the administration officials involved in the meetings “took care to insulate President Bush” from the decisions made during them.
    see —


  9. pauline says:

    Blake Hounsell writes at Foreign Policy that in Iraq, the U.S. has created another failed state:
    Such critiques miss the larger point. Surge or no surge, it’s extremely doubtful the U.S. occupation can ultimately produce a successful Iraq—a stable, unitary, democratizing state at peace with its neighbors. The surge is merely the most preliminary precursor to this intended outcome, and even Petraeus admits that it could all come undone overnight. For that matter, Iraq is just one part of a larger strategic picture, as former CENTCOM commander Adm. William J. Fallon tried to impress upon the Bush administration before he resigned. A myopic, irrational focus on Iraq has impaired the United States from making progress on the Arab-Israeli conflict, managing the rise of China, and everything in between. In short, the Iraq war is long past being worth the $120 billion a year being spent to wage it—an amount that exceeds Iraq’s entire annual economic output. […]
    The arguments for staying in Iraq are drearily familiar. There will be a “blood bath” if the United States leaves. Withdrawing will only “embolden” al Qaeda. Iraq’s oil will be taken off the market. Iran will seize control of the country. These risks are not only overblown, they are also deeply uncertain. They must be weighed against the well-known costs of sticking around—a U.S. military stretched to the breaking point, a Middle East becoming more radicalized and anti-American, continued distraction from the real fight against al Qaeda in Afghanistan and the real diplomatic action in Asia, to name but a few. Most importantly, we must not forget that even a perfect surge would still have left the United States chasing an expected strategic payoff—a stable, democratic Iraq—that is extremely unlikely to be realized for decades, if at all.
    It’s one thing to ask American soldiers to lay their lives on the line for freedom and democracy, or to safeguard their country from weapons of mass destruction. But who wants to be the last man to die for Nuri al-Maliki?
    see —


  10. pauline says:

    Bush: The Country Is at War, Therefore We Do Not Torture
    By: emptywheel Monday April 14, 2008 4:42 am
    While I wait patiently for the press to notice that George Bush admitted to instituting a regime of torture last Friday, I wanted to call your attention to one of Bush’s most famous statements purportedly denying that we torture. The statement came on November 7, 2005, just after Dana Priest’s Black Sites article appeared, and in the middle of Congress’ efforts to forbid torture. The statement came within days–if not hours–of the time when the CIA (supposedly working on its own) destroyed the evidence of torture.
    The statement starkly follows the logic of John Yoo.
    Q: Mr. President, there has been a bit of an international outcry over reports of secret U.S. prisons in Europe for terrorism suspects. Will you let the Red Cross have access to them? And do you agree with Vice President Cheney that the CIA should be exempt from legislation to ban torture?
    PRESIDENT BUSH: Our country is at war, and our government has the obligation to protect the American people. The executive branch has the obligation to protect the American people; the legislative branch has the obligation to protect the American people. And we are aggressively doing that. We are finding terrorists and bringing them to justice. We are gathering information about where the terrorists may be hiding. We are trying to disrupt their plots and plans. Anything we do to that effort, to that end, in this effort, any activity we conduct, is within the law. We do not torture.
    And, therefore, we’re working with Congress to make sure that as we go forward, we make it possible — more possible to do our job. There’s an enemy that lurks and plots and plans, and wants to hurt America again. And so, you bet, we’ll aggressively pursue them. But we will do so under the law. And that’s why you’re seeing members of my administration go and brief the Congress. We want to work together in this matter. We — all of us have an obligation, and it’s a solemn obligation and a solemn responsibility. And I’m confident that when people see the facts, that they’ll recognize that we’ve — they’ve got more work to do, and that we must protect ourselves in a way that is lawful.
    Note the logic of the statement:
    1. Our country is at war
    2. The executive branch has the obligation to protect the American people
    3. The legislative branch has the obligation to protect the American people [Remember, Bush and Cheney were successfully convincing Congress not to prohibit the CIA from torturing]
    4. What we are doing is “aggressively” fulfilling our obligation to protect the American people
    5. Our “aggressive” efforts to protect the American people consist of: bringing terrorists to justice, gathering information about where the terrorists may be hiding, trying to disrupt their plots (that is, torture)
    6. Anything we do to the end of protecting the American people is within the law
    Bush does not say, “torture is illegal, but we do not torture, therefore we are working with the law.” He flips the whole question around, as Yoo did. He basically states that anything the executive does to fulfill its obligation to protect the American people is–because it is done in the name of protecting the American people–within the law. The rationale for these activities–protecting the American people–and not the nature of the activities themselves, is what makes them legal, according to Bush.
    Anything we do to the end of protecting the American people is, therefore, within the law.
    Stated, as Bush did it, in response to an implied yes or no question, “do we torture?,” it appears to be a denial. But stated after you’ve read Yoo’s memo, it is, rather, an assertion of extra-legality. Anything Bush does to the end of protecting the American people is within the law, Bush promoted a torture regime ostensibly to the end of protecting the American people, ergo, torture is within the law.
    It took them five years to declassify the OLC memo, but in truth, Bush has been waving it around like a red flag since it was issued (the memo had already been rescinded by the point Bush makes this statement, though it had been replaced by a still-classified Bradbury memo in early 2005).
    Of course, Bush’s response to the question was not presented in the press as an assertion that “Anything we do to the end of protecting the American people is therefore within the law.” Rather, it was presented as a sharp denial that we torture:
    Bush: “We do not torture” terror suspects
    Bush defends interrogation practices: “We do not torture”
    US does not torture, Bush insists.
    We do not torture detainees, says Bush
    Bush: “We do not torture”
    Which I’m guessing is the problem the press, all of it, is now having with Bush’s admission on Friday. On Friday, Bush glibly admitted to approving of meetings at which is top advisors approved water-boarding. We all know water-boarding is torture. Therefore Bush has glibly admitted to instituting a program of torture.
    But the press has been uncritically accepting Bush’s twisted sophism for years, interpreting a claim of extra-legal powers as, instead, a denial of torture. How can the press explain now that, contrary to what the press reported for years, all along Bush has been claiming that torture is legal?
    see —


  11. DonS says:

    I don’t know Edward Luce’ writing, so my take on his piece is uninformed. However, saying Obama’s [new]position has been “unsurprisingly” criticized confounds me:
    “Unsurprisingly, he [Obama] has also been criticised for his stance on Hamas. Steve Clemons, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, a centrist think-tank, said that many leading figures – including former national security advisers Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski – endorsed direct talks with Hamas.”
    To me this denigrates the substance of Steve’s critique or, more accurately, Steve. Indeed, it is counterintuitive, since in fact Obama was falling in line with the conventional political posture. Like I say, I don’t know where Luce is coming from. Fortunately he redeems himself to the extent of getting the money graf from the post.
    “While knocking Carter’s efforts, Obama fails to articulate how any negotiation that does not include an attempt at a negotiation with Hamas will be stable enough to believe in,” said Mr Clemons. “What is his position today, if not one that has been influenced by special interests whose political weight has undermined the strategic interests of the US?”
    Now all we wait for is a follow up article from Mr. Luce addressing those “special interests”, and the nature of the compromised U.S. “strategic interests”, and the subversion of the entire politcal class.
    Don’t disappoint us, Mr. Luce.


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