On Hamas, Saud al-Faisal Agrees with Colin Powell who Agrees with Brent Scowcroft who Agrees with Zbig Brzezinski who Agrees with Eric Shinseki who Agrees with Christine Todd Whitman. . .


powell al-faisal.jpg
This tidbit just appeared in Robin Wright’s recent reporting on the Annapolis Summit in an article titled “Iran: The Uninvited Wildcard in Mideast Talks“:

Iran will still have leverage in the event of peace, Arab officials concede. Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said yesterday that any peace agreement would eventually have to include Hamas, since it controls Gaza and half the Palestinian Authority. Moreover, the two major Palestinian parties — Hamas and Fatah, which controls the West Bank — would need to join a national unity government, he said.
An agreement signed by Israeli and Palestinian leaders would need ratification by their respective parliaments, and Hamas still controls the Palestinian parliament.
“Unless you bring Hamas in tune with what is happening on the peace side, you are really not fulfilling a basic requirement,” Faisal said. “One man cannot make peace; not even half a people can make peace,” he told a roundtable of U.S. journalists. “There has to be consensus about peace among the Palestinians for this to go smoothly.”

I just thought it worth noting that people ranging from former Secretary of State Colin Powell to former New Jersey Governor and Bush administration cabinet member Christine Todd Whitman (who headed the National Democratic Institute election monitoring mission of the 2005 Palestinian elections) to former US Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki to former National Security Advisors Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft to former Senators Nancy Kassebaum Baker, Gary Hart, Lincoln Chafee, Larry Pressler, Birch Bayh and many others from both sides of the aisle agree with the Saudi Foreign Minister.

— Steve Clemons


17 comments on “On Hamas, Saud al-Faisal Agrees with Colin Powell who Agrees with Brent Scowcroft who Agrees with Zbig Brzezinski who Agrees with Eric Shinseki who Agrees with Christine Todd Whitman. . .

  1. kotzabasis says:

    You deliberately displace the whole argument which in my post was about DIPLOMACY to principles and values that is totally another argument and has nothing to do with the art of Talleyrand, which is beyond principles and values.


  2. rich says:

    “Friend of …”:
    I disagree that anyone (i.e., Israel) is being unfairly treated in this. That’s always a stillborn defense for current policy. Remove the root of the grievance and you remove the source of animosity.
    The correct response to across-the-board mistreatment? Hold ALL nations to an equally high standard of conduct towards Palestinian citizens. That’d be an answer, one you seem to agree with (credit, babe). There’s the consistency you’re looking for.
    It’s false, though, to claim the animosity is “rooted in eons-old animosities,” rather than concrete policy & practice on the ground. Remove those, and you pull the rug out from under anyone trying to exploit anti-Israel sentiment for political purposes.
    There are haters everywhere anyone goes, a subset of every ethnicity. No one is unique or exceptional. The question is whether you will assist them in exacerbating the problem—or deflate such habitual responses by not reflexively & predictably getting trapped into giving them good & valid reason. See?
    All God’s chillin’ got wings [yes..]. Only question is whether you’re willin’ to use ’em.


  3. rich says:

    I’ll ignore your insulting mischaracterization to point out that you refuse to substantively respond to the points about political dynamics & reality I clearly articulated.
    Any current sickness in the body politic of Israel and the United States derives directly from their refusal to adhere to foundational political principles. Your pretense is in error: those principles are not mutable–it’s the circumstances that are changeable. It’s that universality that makes them principles, you see, regardless of the specifics. Specifics you’re avoiding.
    Those values have been effectively vetted through the main trunk of the judeo-christian tradition, right up to and beyond 1776; such a shame you reject them so willfully.
    Enduring principles are pragmatic by virtue of their insistence on upholding human survival, human dignity, and human rights. To nations applying that “idealism” in practice accrue real national security, eager & natural allies, the broad respect of nations–and lasting peace.
    The Third Reich was initially hated for demagoguing and ginning up a “rationale” for preemptive war, for abusing civilians, and for “enhanced interrogation techniques”–a term we still use, and a set of methods we still use.
    Again: our tools / methods / policies define us—not the dogmatic and essentializing view of ourselves and others misused to ‘make it ok’ b/c “we” are doing it to “them”—but which inevitably boils down to bigotry.


  4. Friend of Palestinians Beyond Israel says:

    This is a good post – the point that right now, it is a big problem that the Palestinians aren’t even close to having their act sufficiently together to make a peace deal work.
    I’m glad that the Arabs recognize this too.
    Because it really annoys me to hear them harp on Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians when in most of their own countries, both Sunni’s and Shiites tend to treat Palestinians like vermin. Why hold Israel to a different standard? (well, the answer to that is obvious – rooted in eons-old animosities)
    But in any event, I think that part of a peace deal for Palestinians should also be guarantees of equal treatment by ARAB countries where their rights are being infringed upon!


  5. kotzabasis says:

    All I can say to your long logically incoherent, and slightly bitter and irritable, post, is that a person could have been robustly healthy in the past but the same person could be very sick in different circumstances in the future. Likewise, a pragmatic policy of the past could “become” idealistic if applied in different circumstances.


  6. rich says:

    kotzabasis @ 10:25 PM wrote:
    “Certainly it would be laughable to dub the Powell-Scowcroft-Kissinger-Solarz set as ‘idealistic’.”
    But, kotzabasis @ 06:58 AM wrote:
    “As for the constellation of bright stars from Powell, Brzezinski, to Whitman, they are all bound to fall into the black hole of their idealistic uselessness.”
    Which is it?
    You ignored the thrust of my post, which verifies & affirms that idealism/democracy has immense power in practice, and is the root of any real power. The alternative is a lot of dead bodies and radically DECREASED security for Israel, a trend rapidly coming to a head. A state delivering violence to its own citizens as a matter of policy, or presiding over injustice, will engender resistance from any sane human being.
    kotzbasis, again:
    “But you missed my point . . .
    To apply their pragmatic proposals of the past . . . when we are dealing with fanatic IRRATIONAL actors is what makes them idealistic and therefore destines them to be cast into a black hole.”
    So pragmatism becomes idealism, somehow–(readers, pause to note the ‘logic’ here)–and it is that very effectiveness, that practicality that demands these moderates be marginalized, be “cast into a black hole.” In your mind.
    You don’t want a solution. Even one brokered by very conservative Republicans.
    The past is not dead. Obviously. The same rules of political effectiveness & dynamics of human motivations apply, in spades. But thank you for demonstrating that palpable interest in perpetual confict I posited earlier.
    “we are dealing with fanatic IRRATIONAL actors.”
    There are “fanatic IRRATIONAL actors” on ALL sides, US included. There’s nothing about it that distinguishes YOU from them.
    Should we then deal with Israel using your ‘approach’? (I’m pro-Zion) I’d be remiss to omit noting your stance reduces to mindless bigotry. Look: deal with people as people. Nothing short of that, necessarily involving minimal compassion and justice, will solve this problem.
    You entirely, and intentionally, ignored MY point. Deal with its substance; come back; try again.
    Until then, readers may want to check out kotzbasis website:


  7. kotzabasis says:

    Certainly it would be laughable to dub the Powell-Scowcroft-Kissinger-Solarz set as ‘idealistic’. But you missed my point, which is contained in the last sentence of my post. To apply their pragmatic proposals of the past in the present circumstances when we are dealing with fanatic IRRATIONAL actors is what makes them idealistic and therefore destines them to be cast into a black hole.


  8. arthurdecco says:

    rich, you’re impressing the hell out of me!
    kotzabasis… about that spot on your boots where they rub when you click your heels together while shouting out slogans in red-faced support of your Forthechosenland? You need to see a shoemaker – you’re wearing those spots out.
    posted by section9 “The trick is getting Hamas from wanting power and revenge to wanting something more long lasting than that.”
    Why would Hamas want power or require revenge, section9? What has Israel and its Jewish population ever done to them and theirs, besides forcing them to suffer through unthinkable physical crimes and criminal deprivations at their bloody hands, I mean?
    Explain to me what’s more long lasting than what Hamas actually wants for Palestine – sovereignty over the lands they and their fellow Palestinians already legally own, and the security to live fully realized and productive lives within their own internationally recognized borders under the rule of law?
    You’re not very good at your assignment, are you? Unless your assignment is simply to blather and blither on, hoping to divert our attention from sensible people’s posts, that is.


  9. PissedOffAmerican says:

    And now, a word from “Section9″….
    Liberals blablahblah conservatives blahblahblah liberals blahblahblahblah conservatives blahblahblahblah liberals blablahblah conservatives blahblahblah liberals blahblahblahblah conservatives blahblahblahblah liberals blablahblah conservatives blahblahblah liberals blahblahblahblah conservatives blahblahblahblah liberals blablahblah ……..


  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Heres an interesting article that advances the theory that Annapolis is more about the continued demonization of Iran than it is about Middle Eastern peace…..
    The United States-hosted summit in Annapolis on Tuesday is supposed to be about peace in the Arab-Israeli world. But it is also being used as a “means of sorts of cementing a coalition against Iran and its allies”. At a time that the potential for a successful resolution of the Iran nuclear crisis has gained unprecedented momentum, such a ploy has grim consequences. – Kaveh L Afrasiabi


  11. jonst says:

    I’ve been hearing the same crap you tried to spin about Hamas, and some new age of terror you refer to, since Black September first surfaced in the late 60s. And I am sure there are people older than me, or better versed in the history of the region, who could back decades. It was crap then…and it is crap now. The Israelis, to take a line from I Claudius, nursed Hamas like a viper, in the PLO’s heart. Now they don’t want to speak with them.
    This is all a cynical Kabuki dance.


  12. JohnH says:

    I seriously doubt that any “agreement signed by Israeli and Palestinian leaders would need ratification by their respective parliaments, and Hamas still controls the Palestinian parliament.”
    In the highly unlikely event of an agreement,
    1) Gaza will be excluded as not being part of historic Palestine. This will be punishment for Hamas’ “bad” behavior.
    2) Abbas will sign the agreement without ratification by the parliament. Abbas’ position as prime minister was created out of thin air after Arafat’s death, and his authority to single handedly sign peace agreements will likewise be created out of thin air.
    Of course, actually bringing “peace” to the West Bank will depend on Abbas’ ability and willingess to enforce Israeli demands for security on the West Bank. Forget about any legitimate Palestinian aspirations, like return of dispossesed lands on the West Bank, control over borders, airspace, water or even their own economy. Actually creating the conditions for peace is well beyond the scope of the Anapolis charade.


  13. section9 says:

    I’d like to endorse a lot of what Rich said. Hamas WON an election. Aside from their arms shipments from the Revolutionary Guards Corps, Hamas won in part because they provided social services, educational services, and were seen as reformist in ways that Fatah was seen as corrupt.
    One of the reasons the Administration kept Arafat and Fatah at arms length was that they fully understood that a significant amount of the aid that the EU was sending to the PA was going into Arafat’s personal account. I would be very interested to find out how much money is actually available to Suha Arafat and the kid, as well as to Arafat’s cronies. The Karin A incident, which came early in the Bush Administration and followed the collapse of the Clinton/Barak/Arafat negotiations served as an incentive to cut the cord with the old gangster.
    The Palestianians fully understood they were being robbed by Arafat and his Tunis Gang. Hamas would have probably won in the West Bank had there been reasonably honest elections there, as well.
    With this in mind, one wonders with this kind of wind in Hamas’ sails, what incentive has Hamas to negotiate, especially with the Iranians offering arms? Unless Condi’s backchannel with the Iranians offers up some promising alternative (and yes, that exists my liberal friends, but we wouldn’t want to go around embarrassing Mr. Dinner Jacket now, would we….).


  14. rich says:

    This post answered the main question on my mind.
    There’s no way you can bring about peace without all political organizations at the table. Hamas, Iran, Hezbollah and everyone else.
    To what degree does this reverse and/or repair the egregious breach of trust in which two elections were militarily reversed after the U.S. & Israel decided it didn’t care for the results? (Gaza, Lebanon, IIRC) Or, has the roster you cited moved since that time towards meaningful diplomacy and democracy?
    I ask because demanding militias participate in elections, holding them, and then annihilating the outcome/party-elect because you/we don’t like the victor, pretty much slams the door on Hamas’ ability to transition from arms to politics as a means of problem-solving. That it was also a breach of trust that shatters the democratic process and eviscerates the integrity of the US as well as those presumably on “our” side—can only magnify resentment and exacerbate the problem.
    So my question is whether the Annapolis roster altered their thinking between the two events.
    kotzbasis utterly inverts the pragmatic utility of American democracy by applying the non sequitur of Powell’s & Whitman’s “black hole of their idealistic uselessness.” I would never call the Powell-Scowcroft-Kissinger-Solarz set ‘idealistic’. Brzezinski, though, understands the foundational insight that launched America and got us this far: you cannot accomplish via military force what you refuse to work for through political means. To quote that old George Fox hymn:
    “If I give you a pistol will you fight for the Lord?
    But you can’t kill the devil with a gun or a sword.”
    Contrary to kotzbasis’ non-factual comment, Hamas is subject to the same human motivations as every other human being. kotzbasis’ stance–that “You can only FORCE [Hamas] to enter negotiations by isolating it more and more from its people”–is entirely antithetical to democracy and any rational understanding of the military dynamics. The tactic denudes the overall policy of any possible justification. Worse, given that any population has the right to seek representation, such a method is clearly a grave injustice that compounds the situation.
    Steve has already pointed out that Hezbollah and Hamas garner much popular support because they a) provide social services & other support; and b) provide for the common defense. Had Israel the common sense to go to the root of the problem and address the political concerns of “its [Hamas’] people,” there would be no grievances for Hamas to feed off of, as an active militia. Which suggests that Israel sees a benefit to maintaining violent confrontation, i.e., a continuing war.
    We need to constantly remember: it is the tools we apply and the tactics we adopt that define us—NOT some essentializing (& therefore false) idea of us as chosen, democratic, or Muslim.
    After all “enhanced interrogation techniques” is torture whether written in German or English; tomato, tomahto; a ghetto is a bantustan is a strategic hamlet. Anything that doesn’t get all parties to the table, address tactics and ethnic survival straight up, and mete out justice — is just plain insulting, openly damaging, and flat-out a real crime.


  15. section9 says:

    Hamas, of course, has the virtue of having been elected. It also has the virtue of having been better at arms than Fatah.
    The problem, of course, is that success for the Palestinian negotiations is not in the Persian national interest. Building a pocket empire and dominating the Gulf oil states is in their interest. Spengler at the Asia Times figured this out two years ago. Their atomic program serves that interest. One of the reasons the Iranians funnel money to Hamas is to serve that larger interest.
    This is, like, basic stuff. Even liberals should get this.
    We may be able to separate Hamas from their Iranian patrons, but there will be a very steep bride price. Hamas, for example, isn’t going to sit down with the “Zionists” unless they get some huge skin in return. This is akin to asking Nasrallah to give up his missile arsenal in return for knocking off his hijinks against Fouad Siniora AND the Izzies. What does he get in return?
    Nothing of substance that he can show his boyos, that’s for sure. Meantime, the Revolutionary Guards Corps can issue him shiny new Zelzal missiles.
    Hamas sees what Nasrallah got and they want it too. The Guards stop by and say, “Why continue listening to Riyadh, when we can give you so much more? We can give you missiles that can reach Tel Aviv and Haifa, like Hezboallah! You can smite the Jew and pay them back for what they have done to you!”
    What is peace when Hamas merely wants power and revenge? Liberals don’t get this. One of the problem with my conservative brethren is that they are stuck on the fact that too many Palestinians are stuck in the power and revenge cycle to make peace. This leads to yet another Caroline Glick column that claims that Condi is leading the West to Another Munich, but that’s another story.
    The trick is getting Hamas from wanting power and revenge to wanting something more long lasting than that. The trick is getting Hamas to want Palestine to be like Israel. This would require someone like Saud al-Faisal to actually sit down with Mashal and do the Dutch Uncle thing: to convince Mashal that there are larger interests at stake for the Palestinian people than who gets the new missile arsenal.
    Unfortunately, this would require Ehud Olmert to be someone other than Ehud Olmert, which is the fatal ingredient in the whole mixture. Condi Rice, however, has to play the hand she is dealt. I trust her, even if most of you Democrats here don’t.
    Rice cannot carry the whole water pail herself. Olmert needs to step up and show some vision. This is a situation in which his very “weakness” may embolden him. His problem is that last summer’s war gave the measure of the man-all hesitation and lack of boldness. Where Begin was decisive, Olmert was and remains timid. And yet the decisive majority of the Israeli body politic has to be in favor of a peaceful settlement with the Palestinians, even if that means evacuation of the Territories.
    This may be “strengthening the hand of the Moderates in the Kremlin” stuff, which I hate like poison, but Abbas needs something to take home to sell to everyone in the coalition. Whether or not Hamas can be brought around from its attachment to ultramontaine politics and terror is open to question.


  16. kotzabasis says:

    My dear Steven,
    To agree with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, who is the embodiment of Saudi nepotism and has the reputation of being a political manipulator, is hardly a pass to political wisdom.
    Time and time again it was a futile and wasted effort to bring Hamas to the negotiating table. You cannot ENTICE Hamas to embrace diplomacy. You can only FORCE it to enter negotiations by isolating it more and more from its people. And by making it fear a revolt of Palestinians against it they will enter the discourse of diplomacy from a weakened position and hence make the demands of its hard line politically untenable.
    As for the constellation of bright stars from Powell, Brzezinski, to Whitman, they are all bound to fall into the black hole of their idealistic uselessness. The diplomacy of the past is no longer applicable in the Age of FANATIC terror.


  17. Easy E says:

    Not surprisingly, no mention of Hamas from U.S./Israeli participants. Faisal’s message is logical (but that’s the problem considering the slimey criminals that have perpetuated this mess).
    Following satire was posted previously, but more appropriate here.
    The Day After
    By Hesham Tillawi, PhD
    ANNAPOLIS (CITV) November 28, 2007 — Yesterday, Israeli and Palestinian leaders wrapped up a one day peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland, the city that–besides being the locale where many treaties and agreements between adversaries over its 350 year history have been signed–was also the place of the most serious espionage ever to take place in US history, where Jonathon Pollard stole and then sold to Israel some 800,000 pages of highly-classified national defense material. The meeting was the brainchild of George Bush, a man of peace himself, and a recovering alcoholic and born-again Christian who once called Ariel Sharon (war criminal for his role in the deaths of as many as 20,000 people during Lebanon’s civil war) a “man of peace”. The Israelis and the Palestinians agreed to a final peace, the mother of all peaces.
    Terms of the peace agreement include the following—The Israelis agreed to evacuate the West Bank and Gaza Strip within one month of today’s date. They decided to free Palestinian kidnappees–as many as 10,000 in number, including children as young as 12 years–held inside the many facilities in “Israel” and in occupied Palestinian land. In addition, Israel agreed to immediately start demolishing the Wall–the brainchild of the previously-mentioned ‘man of peace’ Ariel Sharon–built to choke the life out of the helpless Palestinian people. In a gesture aimed at building trust and confidence, the Israelis (taking to heart the hard lessons they learned from the Holocaust and their own instances of being expelled from virtually every country in which their ancestors have resided) decided to allow the return of all Palestinian refugees (as many as 750,000 in number) as well as their descendants who were forced out of their homes in 1948 and around half a million in 1967. Owing to the fact that Israel derives billions of dollars from Holocaust reparations from Western nations as a result of what took place during WWII, Israel decided to do the same for the Palestinians by offering reparations to those not wishing to return to their homes. Israel also promised to compensate every person it had kidnapped or tortured for their pain and suffering and for time lost from work and family.
    Understanding that the holy city of Jerusalem is sacred not only to Jews but to Christians and Muslims as well, without even discussing the issue Israel gave the Palestinian side the promise of evacuating East Jerusalem and all the illegal settlements built on Palestinian land around Jerusalem and throughout Palestine in order to make room for the new Palestinian state. In addition, Israel offered to leave these settlements functioning for the newly arriving Palestinians from the refugee camps of Lebanon and Syria, swimming pools, tennis courts, golf courses and all. The Palestinian side offered the settlers the option of staying in their homes and becoming part of the new Palestinian State.
    Water was the sticky issue of the whole conference, as Israel hoped the Palestinians would share some of the water located under Palestinian land. As yet another gesture of Israel’s willingness to bend over backwards in the interests of attaining peace, Olmert and his negotiators promised to limit the size of swimming pools inside Israeli residential homes, the Palestinians in return promised to drink water once a day and take a shower once a month.
    The Israelis agreed to allow Palestinians to go back to their old jobs in Israel and to remove all border crossings between it and its newly neighboring state of Palestine. Israel decided to bring back and re-plant the 1.5 million olive trees it illegally cut down, destroyed and more often transported to “Israel” from the Palestinians. The Israelis presented the Palestinians with a map of Israel with borders similar to the Partition Plan of 1947 by the UN. To help develop the new state, Israel agreed to give back all the monies it illegally collected from the Palestinians, and, in addition, to rebuild every home it had demolished in the last 60 years.
    The Israelis rejected all calls to designate Israel as a ‘Jewish’ state as they felt this was not a good way to start a relationship with their Arab friends and citizens. Since they pride themselves on being the only democracy in the Middle East and are constantly lecturing other countries (particularly those that are Muslim) on the dangers of theocratic and racially-exclusive regimes and believing in the separation of church and state they concluded that making Israel a ‘Jewish’ state would go above and beyond the principles of democracy that the Israelis believe so much in. The Israeli team felt that nothing less than a complete undoing of the injustice that was done to the Palestinians, and the fulfillment of UN resolutions especially 194, and 242 would bring true peace to the Land Of Peace.
    At the end of the conference, the Arabs, willing to turn the other cheek and let bygones be bygones, thanked and kissed their “cousins” the Jews for this important conference ending all wars and the century-old hatred between the two cousins, the sons of Abraham. At that moment however, and much to the surprise of the Arabs, all hell broke loose. The Israelis were offended. They believed the Arabs were trying to trap them into the mistaken notion that Arabs and Jews were cousins. The Israelis were offended by this association because they felt that–due to the fact that 90% of their Jewish citizens in Israel and 99% of Jews outside Israel are not true descendents of Abraham but rather are of European stock, that this move on the Arabs’ part was nothing more than a sneaky attempt at ‘Semitizing’ the Jews of today and that this would spell the end of Zionism, because now the true Semites were identified. At that moment George Bush stepped in to save the moment. In the spirit of his naturally funny statements in which he is so famous for, he said, hey, Abraham had many sons, Ishmael, Isaac, and Bernstein. He was serious, they all laughed. He said Israel now understands that it must do what is right for its people and future generations, it must undo the injustice done to the Palestinian people in the last 100 years.
    Things went so well at the meeting that the Sole Legitimate Representative of the Palestinian People did not even need to be there, the Palestine Liberation Organization that is, also known as the PLO, the forgotten one. That is a great indication of how smooth things went at the meeting. The Israelis even had the IMF and the World Bank invited to Annapolis to be there and ready with the check book to help the poor, and hungry Palestinians. What else do Palestinians want? They will be going back to their homes, they will have a state, a viable one that is, they will have Jerusalem, water, borders pushing back to 1947 Partition Plan, and everything else that was taken away from them. There is one thing though Israel could not give them back, their dignity, or is it the Arab dignity?


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