I have suspended writing new posts for this blog. I watch the Republican presidential debates and listen to the debate about bombing Iran and am speechless. There is hardly anything left to say.
Haaretz reports that the UN Security Council members sent a tough message to the US:
In a move which Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin (current Security Council president) called historic, diplomats from almost all regional blocs represented on the council stepped to the microphone Tuesday after closed council consultations on the Mideast to condemn the lack of progress toward a solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“The call for bilateral negotiations without preconditions would seem a normal thing to ask for,” he said.
But Churkin said the Palestinians are overwhelmed militarily and in every other way by the Israelis and without preconditions they would not get a fair shake in negotiations.
Britain’s UN Ambassador said Israeli security and Palestinian statehood are not mutually exclusive but mutually reinforcing.
The diplomats – including key U.S. allies in Europe – also criticized the council’s failure to take action against escalating violence by Israeli settlers and urged a speedy resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Britain’s UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, also speaking for EU members France, Germany and Portugal, said “Israel’s security and the realization of the Palestinians’ right to statehood are not opposing goals.”
South Africa emphasized that Israeli settlement activity is the main obstacle to peace talks.
While the United States was not mentioned by name, the diplomats anger was clearly directed at Washington which vetoed a resolution in February backed by the 14 other council members that would have demanded an immediate halt to all settlement building.
It’s about time the Security Council had this debate. The US stands isolated in its ‘Israel: right or wrong’ positions that have set peace talk back years. Maybe the next move will be to censor one of its members. Especially significant was Churkin’s criticism of the false equivalency on what ‘no preconditions’ means for the Palestinians and Israel.
Once again, blogs are on fire. This week, Andrew Sullivan, the maestro of the blogsphere, endorsed Ron Paul for the GOP nomination. (He still supports Obama for the general elections.) Others, including other media, criticized Fox News for their condescending and unfair coverage of Paul’s campaign, and Fox ended up giving Paul an unusual amount of time in this week’s debate to explain his ideas.
Jonathan Chait is astounded that many left-of-center politicos or pundits so appreciate a man whom he chronicles as promoting some serious racist views. Frum blames everything sectarian about today’s GOP on the libertarian trend that Paul represents.
Wow! The ‘intellectuals’ -both right and left – seem obsessed with Paul. Why? After all, Paul had an intense and vocal following in 2008 which got him into the GOP debates as a sid-show.
This year is different. He may even win Iowa and has shown stamina in other states leading up to the primaries. More importantly, at a time when it’s downright embarrassing to listen to what comes out of the mouths of each GOP candidate for the presidential nomination, Paul is at least consistent, humble and genuine. This in itself is attracking attention.
But Paul’s real contribution to American politics in 2011 is his uncompromising anti-interventionist foreign policy framework.
In 2008, Obama held out the promise of the new path for US foreign policy. He was against the Iraq war and pledged to ‘talk to’ enemies like Iran and to solve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
Obama instead has proved a ‘realist’ without the scope and vision that once defined realism nor does he offer an integral, unique vision arising from his own views.
Here comes Paul. The Iraq war was a huge waste of money. So are all the other costs of America policing of the world. Iran isn’t a threat; it doesn’t even have the flying ability to reach the US. In fact, Iran reacts to what it sees as American military moves all around it, primarily American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, but this summer NATO actions in Libya, with threats against its ally, Syria. Iraq is in defensive, not offensive, mode.
Israel is more a problem than an asset for the United States. Why should the US stay involved in the ‘peace process’? Let them figure it out on their own.
Paul is the only politician within the Democrats or Republicans who can and does consistently advocate a new way of looking at the US role in the world. His world view counters establishment ‘realism’, ‘neoconservatism’ , ‘liberal imperialism’, an ill-define and muffled ‘Obama’ doctrine and other theories so in vogue in America since it became a Great Power after WW2 – a phenomenal rise for a country not yet 200 years old!
Paul appealed to strong sentiments within the American electorate in last night’s GOP debate. Why are we trying to change the world: we have too many problems here. All the money going into war would be better spent here.
Paul ignores ‘popular’ intellectual discussions about, say, Iran. He offers up a completely different world view. It’s no longer ‘should we have given more support to the Green movement’ or ‘how close are the Mullahs to possessing a nuclear bomb’?
It’s ‘why are we in this conflict with Iran in the first place’? Maybe Iran is reacting to the Anglo-American coup against their democratically-elected government in 1953; the forced installation of a brutal Shah; support for Iraq during the Iraq/Iran war; the rejection of Iran’s olive branch to the US after 9/11?
I voted for Obama because I thought he would put American foreign policy on a new track. I thought he might actually do something with Iran on the same level that Nixon did with China. But that takes skill, patience and sometimes years of preparation, not to mention a clear understanding on both sides of what each gets out of it. It didn’t happen.
I thought Obama would actually work behind the scenes for a regional solution to Iraq and Afghanistan. Deals with Assad. Deals with Saudi Arabia. That did not take off.
Paul dismisses all that. As a candidate he asks: could America help build an international order based on trade that could move beyond the balance of power politics that has been the foundation of international relations for several centuries.
I may be reading too much into Paul’s views as well as Obama’s. But the world went from a regional balance of power framework for understanding foreign policy relations, into a two superpowers framework, and now into something variously described as a’unipolar’ model, a ‘multi-polar’ world or a ‘hyper power’ framework. If not these, then the foundation is ‘American decline’ and paralysis among everyone else.
This is too much, too fast. Someone who can get the stage has to advocate for a competing world view. That wasn’t Obama. At least for a moment, it’s Paul
Fifty Israeli settlers and right-wing activists stormed an IDF base in the West Bank on Tuesday. According to the Jerusalem Post:
They punctured the tires of nearby military vehicles and hurled rocks at brigade commander Col. Ran Kahane as he drove nearby in his military jeep. He was not injured.
The infiltrators were pushed out of the base by IDF troops and Israel Police forces alerted to the scene.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the IDF to use all of the resources at its disposal to prevent further “price tag” attacks and to capture the perpetrators of Tuesday’s morning’s attack.
The attack was in retaliation for the IDF clearing out an illegal settlement on the West Bank/Jordanian border. In another trouble area, JNET reports:
Violent night clashes: Some 300 settlers hurled stones at Palestinian vehicles on the main road near the settlement of Ramat Gilad fearing an eviction on Monday night. They also opened the door of the Ephraim Brigade commander’s jeep and pelted the vehicle with stones causing the officer and his deputy light wounds.
The attacks are presumed to be part of the ‘price tag’ movement, a militant settlers’ posse aimed at punishing Palestinians and Israelis for any actions taken against their settlements.
Israel is in a mess. Israelis fighting the IDF is startling. But the settlers have been encouraged by 20 years of non-stop building on Palestinian land by successive Israeli governments and further prodded by Netanyahu’s hard-line stance against negotiations for peace.
Even if Netanyahu condemns the militants’ actions, it will mean little. He’ll use even Israeli on Israeli violence as an excuse to maintain the status quo. However, Netanyahu faces an increasingly violent threat of retaliation from the right and must keep in mind that PM Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli man angry at what he saw as Rabin’s appeasement of the Palestinians and international opinion.
The shift in Israel from a democratic - even socialist – society into a fundamentalist-driven, expansionist state, contemptuous of its closest ally, and aggressively hostile to all its neighbors is one of the most depressing developments in our time. It is driven by the religious parties, the settler movement and the opportunism and paranoia of Netanyahu. To give a flavor of his government, note that his neo-fascist foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, just went to Moscow to give Putin an embrace after the latest rigged elections, and denigrated the Russian opposition. The idea that a man like Lieberman is interested in democracy for the Palestinians on the West Bank is ludicrous. To him, the Palestinians are sub-human irritants, one day to be expelled or subdued.
All of this would be disastrous enough, but we now know that the two likeliest Republican nominees next year back neo-fascists like Lieberman to the hilt. Today, Gingrich has all but declared that under his presidency, the American position would be that of Netanyahu’s. This is Pamela Geller territory:
Ben Smith, the best reporter on the US-Israel struggle, quotes Hussein Ibish:
To call the Palestinians ‘an invented people’ in an obvious effort to undermine their national identity is outrageous, especially since there was no such thing as an ‘Israeli’ before 1948,” he said. “Arab and Jewish identities are very old, but Israeli and Palestinian nationalisms are both 20th-century phenomena, and arose at the same time in competition with each other. The idea that either is more ‘invented’ and hence less ‘authentic’ than the other is ignorant, ahistorical claptrap.
Horrible Dictu! This debate has centered around:
1. Killing Obamacare
2. No amnesty for illegal immigrants
3. Bibi Netenyahu is ‘my’ friend
4. Character counts: you should not cheat on your wife/husband.
Pathetic doesn’t describe this. All it has become is reality TV in which the quickest, in-your-face responses spell the winner.
They all want to kill Obamacare. Does that mean my insurance next year does not have to cover my ‘wellness’ physical and gynecological exams? without applying to deductible? Does it mean my 23-year-old nephew without a job will be dropped by his parents insurance?
Who supported the individual mandate? The insurance companies refused to offer to cover the uninsured unless and until an individual mandate was law. Why? It’s business, guys. Only if all Americans paid into the insurance funds through individual mandates would the insurance giants agree to offer insurance plans to the riskier uninsured population. Actuary tables are the sole driver of the ‘individual mandate’.
How do you deport 11 million people. That would be like deporting the entire Jewish population of the US. How will farmers harvest crops without itinerent farm workers? How will the lawns on mansions in Beverly Hills be cultivated? How will the “Grand Old Opry Hotel” stay financially solvent?
So, were PM Barak and PM Olmert, who steadfastly pursued a negotiated two-state solution not your friends, dear Mitt and Newt? Were their efforts a betrayal of their country?
Character counts. We all have good marriages with lots of children. Newt ran right over them. “It’s an important issue. I said I’d made mistakes.” The prodigal son was shown favor over the loyal son.
Sequence of actions:
1. Palestinians fail to get a nine vote majority for statehood through the Security Council. Disunity between Gaza and the West Bank a major issue.
2. Europeans go into crisis mode: get agreement from Palestine and Israel that each submit its concept of border within three months, in attempt to get sides to establish border and security arrangements before proceeding to other ‘final status’ issues.
3. Quartet asks Israel to stop settlement building to allow talks. Israel declines.
4. State Department says parties have to be in direct talks before approaching borders/security.
5. Palestinians say the Quartet envisioned dealing with the security/border issue outside direct talks.
6. Borders/security not addressed.
What’s wrong with this picture?
It was my understanding, and I’m sure more than just mine and the Palestinians (!), that the Quartet proposal was to avoid the entire issue of ‘direct talks’ at this time. So why did the State Department butt in and essentially derail the Quartet (of which the US is a member) goal?
Diplomacy in the Middle East is a joke.
The Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, is reporting that Germany Chancellor Merkel insisted that Israel release $100 Million of Palestinian funds it was holding before Germany would approve a submarine sale to Israel.
Israel’s decision to release frozen public funds to the Palestinians last week came after Germany insisted it did so as a condition for the completion of the sale of a submarine, a German newspaper reported Sunday.
The Welt am Sonntag quoted sources as saying Germany had told Israel it could not go ahead with the purchase of the submarine unless it made political concessions.
And here we have President Obama adding more funds to the Israeli ‘Iron Dome’ project and getting nothing back from Israel for all-out American support for Israel at the UN. In contrast, the Palestinians’ money was returned the same day Merkel spoke.
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