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Opinion

Opinion

U.S. influence wanes in Mideast

September 19, 2012

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Mitt Romney echoed the feeling of many Americans after last week’s Mideast violence when he said: “Sometimes it seems that we’re at the mercy of events instead of shaping events.”

He’s correct: American influence in the Arab world has waned dramatically in the last four years. The reason: Both Republican and Democratic leaders pushed for democracy in the Mideast without understanding what it would bring.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the United States had no choice but to endorse the Arab Spring uprisings, which reflected a flow of history that could not be halted. The revisionists who claim we should have kept Arab dictators in power are wrong (more on that below).

But once those friendly dictators fell, it was foolish to believe America could control the governments that came after - as two successive U.S. presidents found out.

Policy failures

The George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations pushed a “democracy agenda” (as does Mitt Romney). Both mistakenly believed the Arab leaders and movements that received U.S. aid would show their gratitude.

Bush’s effort to impose democracy on Iraq by arms failed miserably. The religious Shiite parties that won elections are more sensitive to the demands of Iran’s ayatollahs than to Washington’s pleas. Flush with oil money, they don’t need to take American instructions.

As for Obama, whose famous Cairo speech in 2009 called for a new relationship between America and Islam, he misjudged the power of good intentions.

Initially, he waffled on supporting the Arab Spring but came around to supporting the Tahrir Square revolt and heading NATO’s involvement in Libya. But the fall of Moammar Gadhafi left Libya with virtually no functioning institutions. The elected government was too weak to take control of a multitude of armed militias, including some jihadis from abroad.

In the meantime, the educated moderates who organized the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt proved unable to rally behind one leader. That meant Islamists, who had long organized in the mosque and underground, were best positioned to win elections.

Could Obama have done more to help nonreligious parties organize in Tunisia and Egypt? Perhaps. In Egypt, however, draconian laws have prevented U.S. officials from training locals in the mechanics of elections by penalizing monetary contributions from abroad.

Splintered opposition

Moreover, Obama could not compel moderate Arab opposition groups to join forces when they were so determined to form multiple parties. In Egypt, that guaranteed victory for the party of the Muslim Brotherhood and its presidential candidate, Mohammed Morsi.

Perhaps Obama can persuade the religiously conservative Morsi to behave like a pragmatist because he needs U.S. aid, international loans, and foreign investment (although neither Democrats nor Republicans have shown skill at using U.S. aid as political leverage). But, as we saw last week, Morsi is all too ready to bow to pressure from Islamic extremists on his right flank.

The anti-U.S. violence last week has led some critics to denounce Obama for “abandoning” Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Libya’s Gadhafi, thereby boosting jihadis and alienating our Arab Gulf allies. That argument is endorsed by strange bedfellows, including some Republicans, some Israeli analysts, the Saudis, and, most prominently, the Russians.

Officials and commentators in Moscow last week were eager to tell Americans, “I told you so” after the murders in Benghazi. As Aleksei K. Pushkov, head of Russia’s parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, tweeted: “Under Gadhafi they didn’t kill diplomats. Obama and Clinton are in shock? What did they expect: ‘Democracy?’ Even bigger surprises await them in Syria.”

But what Pushkov and the others don’t understand is that those Arab rulers had run out of shelf life. Their regimes had become rotten and economically frozen; an Arab youth bulge that was Internet savvy would no longer tolerate their rule.

U.S. officials had little to do with Mubarak’s fall or the retreat of his aging, weak circle of military cronies. Perhaps they expedited Gadhafi’s fall, but he couldn’t have lasted much longer.

As for Syria, Obama is hanging back precisely because he fears a fragmented opposition will produce a sectarian, Islamist regime. Romney is urging more U.S. support for the Syrian opposition. I do, too, if only to speed up Bashar al-Assad’s fall before more slaughter and before jihadis take full control.

No one, however, should have any illusions about a post-Assad “democracy.” It will probably be run by Sunni Islamists, with moderates divided and Christians in flight. U.S. influence there won’t be strong, even if we funnel in arms.

Religious pressures

New governments in the Mideast will be cool to Washington because of religious pressures, because the Mideast peace process is dead, and because elections will produce populists who court their publics by thumbing their noses at Washington.

We can influence these governments at the margins. We can assist moderates who were marginalized in elections. We can insist that Arab governments refrain from attacking U.S. citizens and interests, and penalize them if they do. (If we “show strength” by bombing Iran, this is more likely to boomerang than win us renewed respect.)

But, in the coming decade, no matter which party wins the White House, our influence won’t be what it once was. And we’ll have difficulty in “shaping events” in the Middle East.

— Trudy Rubin is a columnist and editorial board member for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Comments

Abdu Omar 2 years, 3 months ago

As long as America supports the Israeli regime, the Arabs will have little to nothing to do with America. This is the trade off and no one in the US Government sees that clearly enough. Tell Israel to stop taking land by building settlements and the Arabs will respond. But they can't until we do. Do we really want peace, that is the first place to start.

Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 3 months ago

"Tell Israel to stop taking land by building settlements and the Arabs will respond."

That experiment has already been tried. In September 2005 Israel withdrew completely from the Gaza Strip. Just packed and left, and anyone that didn't want to leave the settlements was forced to by the IDF. At the time, there were a few Israelis holding their breath, part of that experiment was to determine what might happen if all of the settlements in the West Bank of Jordan were vacated also.

The result of giving up all of the Gaza Strip?

Over 12,000 and counting rockets were shot into Israel. And kidnapping, and not a single bit of evidence of any desire for peace and an accommodation with Israel.

Epic fail.

There has been some talk about the settlements becoming part of Palestine. That is, the residents in the settlements would need to reach an economic arrangement for the property, and everyone residing there would become Palestinian citizens and taxpayers.

But the Palestinians have made it very clear that they will never accept freedom of religion. They want only Muslims, no Jews. It's not that way in Israel, about 17% of Israeli citizens are Muslims.

Jewish 75.6%, Muslim 16.9%, Christian 2%, Druze 1.7%, other 3.8% (2008)

Source: The Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America (CIA) https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/is.html

The general plan in Israel, sorry I can't locate a source for this, I read it too long ago, is to keep the borders at least a bit quiet, a dull roar, for possibly about two generations. And then hopefully, it will become obvious to everyone that whatever is being fought over is simply not worth it. Just as young people in France and Germany cannot even imagine a war between their nations, as occurred in 1938 - 1945.

Abdu Omar 2 years, 3 months ago

Same ol same ol, Ron, Lets talk about the West Bank. Israel occupies the West Bank illegally and is building settlements there. This is an affront to peace.

Two generations, how many has it already been? Since 1948, that is more than two and the bombed out place the Palestinians live it, with all the check points, no jobs, and no way to earn a living is enough. Let them live and you Israelis will have the peace. Remember it wasn't the Arabs who killed you during WWII it was the Germans.

Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 3 months ago

It has always appeared to me that the cart has been placed before the horse in Israel, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank.

If it were peaceful place, there would be an astonishing construction boom in building hotels and resorts for the countless numbers of tourists who want to visit the Holy Land, but so much of it is unsafe to visit. So, they all stay away.

Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 3 months ago

1) Yes, Same ol same ol. OK, lets talk about the West Bank of Jordan. What do you think is going to be different there? Here's another viewpoint, an intrinsic one, one of many different ways of looking at the same ol situation:

Clipped from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/08/why_muslims_must_hate_jews.html#ixzz22ZMnIYwQ

Written on: August 3, 2012

Why Muslims Must Hate Jews

By Nonie Darwish

Recently, a Pakistani religious leader, Pirzada Muhammad Raza Saqib Mustafai, said: "When the Jews are wiped out ... the sun of peace [will] begin to rise on the entire world." The same preaching is routinely done not only by clerics, but by politicians -- in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and elsewhere. This is not just Ahmedinijad; it is at the heart of Islamic theology that world peace will be established only when all the Jews are wiped from the earth. But few people in Western media are alarmed by this kind of rhetoric or care to expose this dreadful dark side of Islam's obsession with Jew-hatred.

I do not believe that one has to be an authority on human behavior or group thinking to find out the obvious pathology in Islamic Jew-hatred. It is time for all of us to uncover and expose this atrocity against the Jewish people. We owe that to humanity and the truth.

No true Muslim can see that such hatred is unbecoming and unholy for a world religion to focus on and that the credibility of Islam is tarnished by such hatred. No Muslim is allowed to go far enough to self-analyze or ask why such hatred. Muslims defend Jew-hatred by claiming that Jews betrayed Muhammad and thus deserve of this kind of treatment. Even when I was a Muslim, I believed that the one-sided story against Jews by Islam was enough to justify all the killing, terror, lies, and propaganda by Islamic leaders against Jews. To the average Muslim, routinely cursing Jews in mosques feels normal and even holy!

Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 3 months ago

2) After a lot of thinking, analysis, research, and writing, I discovered that Jew -atred in Islam is an essential foundation to the Islamic belief system that Muslims cannot seem to be able to rid themselves of. Jew-hatred masks an existential problem in Islam. Islam is terrified of the Jews, and the number-one enemy of Islam is the truth, which must be constantly covered at any cost. It does not matter how many Muslim men, women, and children die in the process of saving Islam's reputation. The number-one duty of Muslims is to protect the reputation of Islam and Mohammad. But why would a religion burden its followers like that? This is why:

When Mohammed embarked on his mission to spread Islam, his objective was to create a uniquely Arabian religion, one created by an Arab prophet, which reflected the Arabian values and culture. Yet to obtain legitimacy, he had to link it to the two previous Abrahamic religions, Judaism and Christianity. He expected the Jewish tribes who lived in Arabia to declare him their Messiah and thereby bring him more legitimacy with Arabs, especially with his own tribe in Mecca, the Quraish. Because his own tribe had rejected and ridiculed him, Mohammed needed the approval of the Jews, whom he called the people of the book. But the conversion of Jews to Islam was part of the scenario that Mohammed had to accomplish in order to prove to Meccans that they had made a mistake by rejecting him.

That was one of the reasons Mohammed chose to migrate to Medina, a town that had predominantly been settled by Jewish tribes and a few impoverished Arabs who lived around the Jews. The Jews allowed Mohammed to move in. At the beginning, the Koran of Mecca was full of appeals to the Jews, who were then described as "guidance and light" (5:44) and a "righteous" people (6:153-154), who "excelled the nations" (45:16). But when the Jews rejected the appeasement and refused to convert to Islam, Mohammed simply and completely flipped. The Quran changed from love to threats and then pure hatred, cursing, and commandments to kill Jews. Rejection by the Jews became an intolerable obsession with Mohammed.

Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 3 months ago

3) Not only did the Jews reject him, but their prosperity made Mohammed extremely envious. The Jewish Arabian tribes earned their living from legitimate and successful business, but Mohammed earned his living and wealth through warfare -- by attacking Arab tribes, some of whom were from his own tribe -- and trade caravans, seizing their wealth and property. That did not look good for a man who claimed to be a prophet of God. The mere existence of the Jews made Mohammed look bad, which led Mohammed to unspeakable slaughter, beheading of 600 to 900 Jewish men of one tribe, and taking their women and children as slaves. Mohammed had the first pick of the prettiest woman as his sex slave. All of this senseless slaughter of the Jews was elaborately documented in Islamic books on the life of Mohammed -- not as something to be ashamed of, but as justified behavior against evil people.

One does not have to be psychiatrist to see the obvious: that Mohammad was a tormented man after the massacre he orchestrated and forced his fighters to undertake to empower and to enrich himself and his religion. To reduce his torment, he needed everyone around him, as well as future generations, to participate in the genocide against the Jews, the only people whom he could not control. An enormous number of verses in the Koran encouraged Mohammed's fighters to fight, kill, and curse Muslim fighters who wanted to escape fighting and killing Jews. The Quran is full of promises of all kinds of pleasure in heaven to those who followed Mohammed's killing spree and curses and condemnation to those who chose to escape from fighting. Muslims were encouraged to feel no hesitation or guilt for the genocide because it was not they who did it, but rather "Allah's hand."

Mohammed never got over his anger, humiliation, and rejection by "the people of the book" and went to his grave tormented and obsessed that some Jews were still alive. On his deathbed, Mohammed entrusted Muslims to kill Jews wherever they found them, which made this a "holy commandment" that no Muslim can reject. Muslims who wrote sharia understood how Mohammed was extremely sensitive to criticism, and that is why criticizing Mohammed became the highest crime in Islam that will never be forgiven even if the offender repents. Mohammed's message on his deathbed was not for his followers to strive for holiness, peace, goodness, and to treat their neighbors as themselves, but rather a commandment for Muslims to continue the killing and the genocide against the Jews. Killing thus became a holy act of obedience to Mohammed and Allah himself.

Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 3 months ago

4) Mohammed portrayed himself as a victim of Jews, and Muslims must avenge him until judgment day. With all Arab power, money, and influence around the world today, they still thrive at portraying themselves as victims. Sharia also codified into law the duty of every Muslim to defend Mohammed's honor and Islam with his own blood, and allowed the violation of many commandments if it is for the benefit of defending Islam and Mohammed. Thus, Muslims are carrying a huge burden, a holy burden, to defend Mohammed with their blood, and in doing so they are allowed to kill, lie, cheat, slander, and mislead.

Mohammed must have felt deep and extreme shame after what he had done to the Jews, and thus a very good reason had to be found to explain away his genocide. By commanding Muslims to continue the genocide for him, even after his death, Mohammad expanded the shame to cover all Muslims and Islam itself. All Muslims were commanded to follow Mohammed's example and chase the Jews wherever they went. One hundred years after Mohammed's death, Arabs occupied Jerusalem and built Al Aqsa mosque right on top of the Jewish Temple ruins, the holiest spot of the Jews. Muslims thought they had erased all memory of Jewish existence.

Mohammed's genocide of the Jews of Arabia became an unholy dark mark of shame in Islamic history, and that shame, envy, and anger continues to get the best of Muslims today. In the eyes of Mohammed and Muslims, the mere existence of the Jewish people, let alone an entire Jewish state, delegitimizes Islam and makes Mohammed look more like a mass murderer than like a prophet. For Muslims to make peace with Jews and acknowledge that Jews are humans who deserve the same rights as everyone else would have a devastating effect on how Muslims view their religion, their history, and the actions of their prophet.

Islam has a major existential problem. By no will of their own, the Jews found themselves in the middle of this Islamic dilemma. Islam must justify the genocide that Mohammad waged against the Jews. Mohammad and Muslims had two choices: either the Jews are evil sub-humans, apes, pigs, and enemies of Allah, a common description of Jews still heard regularly in Middle Eastern mosques today, or Mohammad was a genocidal warlord not fit to be a prophet of God -- a choice that would mean the end of Islam.

Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 3 months ago

5) Then and now, Mohammad and Muslims clearly chose the first worldview and decreed that any hint of the second must be severely punished. Jews must remain eternally evil enemies of Islam if Islam is to remain legitimate. There is no third solution to save the core of Islam from collapsing; either Mohammed was evil, or the Jews were evil. Any attempt to forgive, humanize, or live peacefully with Jews is considered treason against Islam. How can Muslims forgive the Jews and then go back to their mosques, only to read their prophet's words, telling them they must kill Jews wherever they find them? It does not add up, if someone wants to remain Muslim.

That is why the number-one enemy of Islam is, and must remain, the truth. If the truth exposes Islam's unjustified Jew-hatred, Muslims will be left with an empty shell of a religion, a religion whose prophet was a murderer, a thief, and a warlord. Without Jew-hatred, Islam would self-destruct.

Nonie Darwish author is the author of The Devil We Don't Know.

Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 3 months ago

Although, I do believe that we (including all Muslims) have much more modern ways of thinking today in the West. I believe that the real problem is that in many Middle Eastern countries, there is no such thing as a free press.

And when there is no free press, the population is presented with only what the persons in positions of power want them to hear. So, that's what they are all going to hear. So, that's what they believe.

The checkpoints? There would be no such thing if there was no danger in not having them. Why waste the manpower?

No way to earn a living? I think the reasons for that are quite complex, but if the entire population of the West Bank was interested in a good economic future for themselves and the upcoming generations, things would be very different.

But the population hears only propaganda. I think that's most of the problem.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 3 months ago

Your link has nothing to do with Obama.

BTW, his mother was an agnostic secularist, not Muslim of any flavor.

Flap Doodle 2 years, 3 months ago

Oh, my! A wiki citation! Deep stuff there, bozo.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 3 months ago

So, does that mean you can discredit what's said in that link with something more credible?

Or are you just intellectually too lazy to do anything but attack the source on little or no substantial basis?

Flap Doodle 2 years, 3 months ago

I'm saying that wiki is the crutch of the shallow and vapid.

Abdu Omar 2 years, 3 months ago

Get a life, He ISN"T Muslm. If he were would his wife wear sleeveless dresses? NO! Would he drink Beer, NO! Wouldn't he attend the Mosque on Friday (its required of all Muslim men). WHat a bunch of bunk.

Patricia Davis 2 years, 3 months ago

We are not the army of Israel. "God's people" would help themselves if they were not murdering bullies. If the world wanted to help Jews after WWII, we should have given them Germany.

Muslims—not the terroists—have a religion that should be honored as much as the Jews. Frankly, Israel lack of respect for America is galling. I can think of a lot better ways to spend $3 billion a year than to give our money, earned by hardworking American, to these ungrateful, saber rattling zionists.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 3 months ago

"If the world wanted to help Jews after WW II, we should have given them Germany" -

I've heard this suggestion, or some variation of it, several times over the years. Unfortunately, that option wasn't on the table at that time. No serious offer was discussed to slice up Germany or any other country and provide a sanctuary for the survivors of the Holocaust. Stalin, Roosevelt, Churchill, in their discussions didn't discuss this issue. Maybe, in retrospect, it was something that should have been given consideration. But at that time, it didn't happen. Given Europe's long history of mistreatment of Jews, it's not at all surprising that the survivors sought sanctuary elsewhere and took their survival into their own hands.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 3 months ago

"No serious offer was discussed to slice up Germany or any other country and provide a sanctuary for the survivors of the Holocaust."

That's because they decided to dump their "Jewish Problem" on Palestinians, who, fresh off of coming out from under the colonial rule of the Turks and then the Brits, were powerless to do anything about it.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 3 months ago

The point of my comment, and what you are mistaken about about, is that "they" decided anything. "They" didn't. The British spent considerable energy trying to keep survivors out of Palestine. Yet they also didn't give much thought as to what they would do with them. But what they weren't going to do was set up some form of a protected area in Europe for them. No Jewish homeland carved out of Germany or any other country.

And that "Jewish Problem" that you speak of were human beings who had just survived the worst example of man's inhumanity to man. That they chose to live seems to bother you some. And while you demand sanctuary for every refugee, real refugee or imagined, you deny Holocaust survivors refugee status. If you did that, you would have to admit that those that fled to Palestine should have been given refugee status and you would have to condemn the fact that they were greeted with hostility. Why they were greeted with hostility is a long and complex issue. That they were greeted with hostility is not in question.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 3 months ago

BTW - Bozo, your use of the words "Jewish Problem" is interesting. Should you google that phrase, you will find many, many sites dedicated to anti-Semitism. And of course the Nazi response to the "Jewish Problem" was a "Final Solution". However, when discussing what should happen to those Jews that did survive WW II, a more common phrase would be "Jewish Question".

Given your past history of statements that come very close to being anti-Semitic, given your history that your statements probably did cross that line, you might wish to choose your words more wisely.

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

That's why he put it in quotes.

I don't find his comments anti-Semitic, and I'm Jewish.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 3 months ago

Some time ago, Bozo accused an American diplomat of being an Israeli agent. This diplomat, Dennis Ross has served multiple American administrations, both Democrat and Republican, in a wide variety of positions. He has faithfully carried out American policy. He has been recognized and decorated for his service. So why call him an Israeli agent? Because he's Jewish?

It's one thing to disagree with American policy. We are all free to do that. It's quite another to accuse someone of what would be a capitol crime, if he were found guilty. It's a serious accusation, one that should not be made lightly. It's not an accusation that should be made based on something written somewhere on the internet (after all, I could easily find many, many sources on the internet that would deny the Holocaust ever happened. It's totally irresponsible to simply throw that out there, as if it might be true). It was equally irresponsible of Bozo, and coupled with the reason being he's Jewish, that's how I would define anti-Semitism.

BTW - Jafs, I'm not sure you saw my last comment directed at you a couple of days ago, on a thread where we were discussing wounded's comments. I brought up the fact that on a still different thread, he made the accusation that the keeping of Obama off the Kansas ballot was all an elaborate Israeli plot, using a birther in California who happens to be Jewish, all as a payback because Obama refused to meet with Netanyahu. It seems to me that you are more than willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. But when patterns develop and then are repeated again and again, it's no crime to take note.

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

You make the rather common mistake of conflating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 3 months ago

You're choosing not to see. I have no problem with people who criticize Israel. I disagree with much of what they say. But I would never make a claim of anti-Semitism just because of that. But when outrageous claims are made about individuals simply because they are Jewish, that's anti-Semitism. A birther tries to keep Obama off the ballot in Kansas suddenly becomes an Israeli plot just because the birther is Jewish. That's an outrageous claim. The same is true about Mr. Ross. That's an outrageous claim. Denying the Holocaust is outrageous.

Clearly, you and I have had disagreements about Israel. Yet I've never claimed you are anti-Semitic (or in your case, having said you are Jewish, I've never called you a self-hating Jew). We have had disagreements, that's all. I am very much able to separate legitimate disagreements from anti-Semitism. Perhaps your definition is so narrow, that it's you who are not seeing what is there so clearly. A person who justifies reasons behind the Holocaust are not anti-Semitic to you. Unsubstantiated plots by Jews are not anti-Semitic to you. Accusing decorated American diplomats with treason, just because they are Jewish, is not ant-Semitic to you. Maybe it's your definition that's too narrow.

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

Maybe, maybe not.

Why are you more upset about this seeming anti-Semitism than I, given that I'm Jewish and you're not?

Hostility towards or discrimination against Jewish people because of their ethnicity is anti-Semitic.

Being a little paranoid about Israel and seeing Israeli conspiracies where they may not exist doesn't fit that definition for me.

Is Israel plotting against Obama because of his disagreements and criticism of Netanyahu? I don't know, but it's certainly possible. Nations engage in all sorts of covert activities, and deceptions, even with allies, as the Wikileaks scandal showed us.

Accusing bozo of anti-Semitism because he used the phrase "Jewish problem" seems absurd to me - it's obvious that he put it in quotes, and isn't allying himself with the Nazis or their world view.

Bozo is passionately concerned with the plight of the Palestinians, and sees them as victims in this situation. You are passionately concerned about the Israelis. I'm concerned about all of them.

ws is closer to some anti-Semitism than bozo, but hasn't crossed the line in what I've read by him/her. And, clearly doesn't see the faults on the Palestinian side of the equation.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 3 months ago

I've said many times I'm not religious at all. Have I ever denied being Jewish? In the religious sense, yes. But let's just say that ethnically, if I had been in Germany during the '30s-'40s, I would have been one of the first on those infamous deportation trains. That said, I have been very clear when I criticize specific policies, or governments, or political movements, and not entire ethnicities, entire cultures, entire religions. I strive very hard to keep those distinctions clear. I would never criticize Muslims, as an example, but I might criticize the policies of the leaders of certain people.

You said hostility or discrimination towards Jews is anti-Semitism. I gave specific examples of hostility towards people, accusing them of high crimes and doing so because they are Jewish while not making those same claims against others who are not Jewish. Bozo can be opposed to U.S. policies, but didn't claim anyone was treasonous, except the Jewish guy. Wounded did the same. You have not. I strive to keep the distinction clear. I hope you see that and are not so dug in to your position that you "can't" see that.

Israeli plots, UFO abductions, Holocaust denials, I've seen it all. I've read it all. The thing is this, Jafs, it's OK to believe things that are reasonable and dismiss things that are not. Just because it's referenced somewhere doesn't mean it's as valid as, say 2+2=4, which is also referenced on the internet. It's OK to say I believe this and I don't believe that. It's OK to say this is possible, yet so highly improbable that I reject it. (Like wounded's claim that Israel killed it's own athletes at the Olympics, or his claim that Mossad blew up the Marine Barracks in Beirut, despite the fact that "Islamic Jihad" claimed responsibility). Possible? Sure. Likely? No. UFO abductions possible? Sure. Likely? No.

And as to Bozo. Be clear, I cautioned her (a couple of posters mentioned Bozo is female and I can't seem to let go of that image), anyway, I cautioned her on her choice of words. I did not accuse her of anti-semitism here. But I do stand by the accusation in relation to the Dennis Ross issue. And that anti-Semitism, coupled with a poor choice of words, earned my cautionary tone.

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

A quick google search shows that Dennis Ross is not only Jewish, but was involved with Mideast talks for a number of years, and engaged in a variety of actions that make it look very much like he is biased in favor of Israel in the region.

He engaged in pre-consultations with Israel, met with them without letting his partners in the US know about it, etc.

So, I imagine that the reasons Bozo accused him involve much more than his ethnicity, which may not even be a factor at all.

Again, accusations of anti-Semitism seem unwarranted to me.

Shalom.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 3 months ago

Again, Jafs, if it appears he is biased in favor of Israel, that's because the country he represents appears to be biased in favor of Israel. He was working for the U.S. government. But to suggest his behavior was criminal, treasonous, that's over the top. Now if Bozo had said that George Bush Sr. was a traitor and Bill Clinton was a traitor and George Bush Jr. was a traitor and Hillary Clinton was a traitor AND Dennis Ross is a traitor, then it's clear that it's the policy and not the individual that's being criticized. But that's not what was said. Everyone got a pass when it came to being called a traitor, a criminal, except the Jewish guy. The criminal accusation was reserved for him and him alone. And that was based on the fact that he faithfully executed the policy of this country, as determined by our elected officials, who the praised his service and decorated him for it.

The accusation of anti-Semitism isn't because of what he did or didn't do. It's because he was being treated differently than many, many others, even though his behavior was the same. And the reason he was treated different (the criminal accusation) was ... why? Because he's Jewish. Remember further that during Dennis Ross' tenure working for these several Presidents, they would have had many Secretaries of State who would also have been implementing the policies of the U.S. Not one of them got labeled a traitor. Again, only the Jew.

I mentioned above, Jafs, I hope you aren't so dug into your position that you can't change your mind when presented with new facts.

And peace to you as well as we begin the new year. Next year in Jerusalem?

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

If you do a little research, Ross even engaged in things that bothered his colleagues in the department, so I think it's a little incorrect to say he was just carrying out our policies.

His tenure was controversial.

I didn't see the post to which you refer by bozo, so I can't take this any further without doing that.

As far as "positions" go, I try to look at things objectively first, and then form my opinions, rather than the other way around.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 3 months ago

But then, having formed your opinion, are you open to change, should additional facts become known? Or in this case, if one fact reinforces your previously held position but several other facts might call your previous assumptions into question, are you open to change? From what I've seen, the answer appears to be no.

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

Show me bozo's post that spurs your complaint of anti-Semitism, if you can.

Then I'll tell if you if there are "facts" there that cause me to think he's in fact anti-Semitic or not.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 3 months ago

It was months ago. I wouldn't know where to begin to look. Her history, as you know, is very long.

MarcoPogo 2 years, 3 months ago

"Israel is a country of 3.5 million people surrounded by 967 million Arab countries determined to wipe them off the face of the earth"

I just double checked on a globe and "you're" numbers are off.

MarcoPogo 2 years, 3 months ago

There are not 967 million Arab countries.

Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 3 months ago

Still way off on the population of Israel, which is 7,590,758 (July 2012 est.), from the CIA source cited above.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 3 months ago

US foreign policy should not be dictated by espousers of religious, superstitious claptrap such as Sage.

jaywalker 2 years, 3 months ago

"If the world wanted to help Jews after WWII, we should have given them Germany."

Early leader for DLOTD.

Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 3 months ago

I read through all of this comment thread, and not one single poster has mentioned where about 50% of Israel's Jewish population came from. Not a single one!

The Jews and their ancestors had their property confiscated, they were expelled, and many were murdered trying to escape.

And where were the Jews expelled from?

The Arab nations. And now, years later, the Arab nations are complaining about how they don't like where a lot of the Jews went to.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 3 months ago

I'd like to add that of the Jews who stayed in Europe after WW II, but were behind the Iron Curtain, those Jews continued to be subjected to much of the same anti-Semitism that they endured prior to WW II. Anyone suggesting that simply staying in Europe was an option are not looking realistically at their plight.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 3 months ago

I'd like to add that of the Jews who stayed in Europe after WW II, but were behind the Iron Curtain, those Jews continued to be subjected to much of the same anti-Semitism that they endured prior to WW II. Anyone suggesting that simply staying in Europe was an option are not looking realistically at their plight.

Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 3 months ago

1) There is hope for the future! It is unfortunate that very few Arabs will ever read this, clipped from: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4239288,00.html

68% of Arab-Israelis prefer to live in Israel

Survey by Haifa University shows over two-thirds of Arab-Israelis are resigned to living in a Jewish state, but 63% don't think it's fair

Ahiya Raved Published: 06.06.12, 23:12 / Israel News

Some 80% of Arabs living in Israel blame Jews for the Nakba, but 60% of them are resigned to Israel as a state with a Jewish majority, the Index of Arab-Jewish Relations for 2011, conducted by Prof. Sami Samuha of the University of Haifa shows.

The full results of the survey, which Samuha has run annually for the last 30 years, are due to be announced at a university conference on Thursday.

Despite the fact that most of the respondents accepted Israel as a majority Jewish state, 63% of Arabs polled believe that it was not fair. Seventy-three percent of Arab respondents said they believe that the government treated Arabs as second-class citizens undeserving of equality.

Moreover, 68.3% of Arabs polled said they preferred to live in Israel than in other countries. Slightly more than half (56.5%) accepted Israel as a Hebrew-speaking state, and 58% accepted Shabbat as the day of rest.

Asked whether the respondents preferred Israel as a land or as a national entity, Samuha said that the results were mixed: "On one hand there is a connection with the land and on the other hand there is the acknowledgement of convenience, freedom and stability in the State of Israel.

"In Israel there are a lot of benefits and a modern way of life, as well as economic and political stability. You can't compare the lives of Arabs in the Galilee to that of Arabs in Palestine, Lebanon, or Egypt. There is also the element that in Israel there is no concern of an Islamist takeover."

Samuha pointed to responses that showed that 71% of Israel Arabs felt that Israel was a good place to live, while 60% said they felt it was a home and a homeland.

Samuha said that the results of the survey over time show that intelligence and common sense prevail over extremist positions, and added that the long-term results showed pragmatism and acceptance alongside political polarization.

However, extremism was not absent from the survey. Nineteen percent of Israeli Arabs denied Israel's right to exists, as opposed to 11% who expressed a similar view in 2003. Fifty-seven percent of Israeli Arabs said that they would support a referendum that defined Israel as a "Jewish, democratic state that promised full civil rights to Arabs," compared to the 70.9% who said they would support such a referendum in 2006.

"Despite the chasm, there is agreement between the Jewish majority and the Arab majority about living together in the state of Israel, so there is still a base for a common society."

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

I've been saying that for years.

The extremists on both sides make it hard for the majority in the middle to solve their problems.

Of course, the fact that Israel has been recognized as a state, and been the beneficiary of massive amounts of aid from the US make it more attractive a place to live than "Palestine" for many. I wonder what the region would look like if Palestinians had been granted the same recognition and aid for 60 years or so.

Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 3 months ago

2) The survey comprised 1,400 respondents, half Jewish and half Arab. The survey results that indicated the best relations between Jews and Arabs were recorded in 1995, the year former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated.

jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

And, let's not forget that Rabin was assassinated, not by Palestinians or Arabs, but by Israeli right-wing extremists, ok?

Abdu Omar 2 years, 3 months ago

Tell the truth, Ron. The Palestinians are the Children of ISrael who converted to Islam during the years after most of the Children of Israel left the area. The Jews in Europe and Russia (I know also Europe) and diaspora are not related to the Children of Israel. Read the Book by Debra Goener. She has proof.

Leslie Swearingen 2 years, 3 months ago

UNESCO identifies 23 Arab states The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is an agency within the United Nations that is responsible for promoting peace, social justice, human rights and international security through international cooperation on educational, science and cultural programs. It is based in Paris, France and has over 50 field offices located around the world.

1) Algeria Population: 34,586,184 Official Language: Arabic

2) Bahrain Population: 738,004 Official Language: Arabic

3) Comoros Population: 773,407 Official Languages: Arabic and French

4) Djibouti Population: 740,528 Official Languages: Arabic and French

5) Egypt Population: 80,471,869 Official Language: Arabic

6) Iraq Population: 29,671,605 Official Languages: Arabic and Kurdish (only in Kurdish regions)

7) Jordan Population: 6,407,085 Official Language: Arabic

8) Kuwait Population: 2,789,132 Official Language: Arabic

9) Lebanon Population: 4,125,247 Official Language: Arabic

10) Libya Population: 6,461,454 Official Languages: Arabic, Italian and English

11) Malta Population: 406,771 Official Language: Maltese and English

12) Mauritania Population: 3,205,060 Official Language: Arabic

13) Morocco Population: 31,627,428 Official Language: Arabic

14) Oman Population: 2,967,717 Official Language: Arabic

15) Qatar Population: 840,926 Official Language: Arabic

16) Saudi Arabia Population: 25,731,776 Official Language: Arabic

17) Somalia Population: 10,112,453 Official Language: Somali

18) Sudan Population: 43,939,598 Official Language: Arabic and English

19) Syria Population: 22,198,110 Official Language: Arabic

20) Tunisia Population: 10,589,025 Official Language: Arabic and French

21) United Arab Emirates Population: 4,975,593 Official Language: Arabic

22) Western Sahara Population: 491,519 Official Languages: Hassaniya Arabic and Moroccan Arabic

23) Yemen Population: 23,495,361 Official Language: Arabic

jhawkinsf 2 years, 3 months ago

Demographics change over the years, so what I write now I do so knowing it might be somewhat outdated. But about a decade ago, while listening to NPR, there was a discussion about Israel and the U.N. It was mentioned that Israel has 1 vote. There were at that time 22 Arab countries, 55 countries with majority Muslim populations and more countries dependent upon middle eastern oil. Israel had the U.S. as a reliable voting partner. What are the chances of getting a fair hearing with those numbers?

Flap Doodle 2 years, 3 months ago

Next up to inflame the eternally inflamed: Charlie Hebdo, French cartoonist. Very NSFW stuff. Darned funny, too.

riverdrifter 2 years, 3 months ago

"Here's a fun fact"... Just stop: You know little of fun nor fact.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 3 months ago

Attorneys are supposed to defend their clients to the best of their abilities. It's the system we have. It's the system Americans have been fighting for for a long time. The guilt or innocence is for the jury to decide, not the attorney. Whether an attorney defends a guilty person or an innocent person is not at all relevant to his ability to perform other jobs in the future. As long as he did his best, then the system is working as it was designed to work.

A truly foolish post.

Corey Williams 2 years, 3 months ago

"Catherine Herridge reported that they believe that Sufyan Ben Qumu (whose name has also been transliterated as Sofiane Ibrahim Gammu) was likely involved in the attack, and even may have led the attack on the consulate.

Qumu – a Libyan – was released from the US prison at Guantanamo Bay in 2007 and transferred to Libyan custody under the condition that he would be kept in jail. He wasn’t." http://foxnewsinsider.com/2012/09/19/just-in-intel-sources-say-libya-attack-tied-to-al-qaeda-and-former-gitmo-detainee-sufyan-ben-qumu/

Corey Williams 2 years, 3 months ago

If you want to read rockchalk1977's full story, here it is: http://freebeacon.com/from-al-qaeda-7-to-doj-3/ Coincidence?

Flap Doodle 2 years, 3 months ago

The Mope got a Nobel for what he might do. Looks like the Nobel committee backed a loser.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 3 months ago

The Australian treasurer, Wayne Swan, in an unusually blunt criticism of US politics weeks before the presidential election, said "cranks and crazies" had taken over the Republicans and posed the biggest threat to the world's largest economy.

Swan, one of few world leaders able to boast his country had avoided recession during the global financial crisis, also labelled the Tea Party wing of the Republicans as "extreme".

"Let's be blunt and acknowledge the biggest threat to the world's biggest economy are the cranks and crazies that have taken over the Republican party," Swan said in a speech to a conference in Sydney.

The Republican party's position on the US budget had led a year ago to the deadlock in negotiations, Swan said, to prevent the looming "fiscal cliff" – nearly $600bn in planned spending cuts and tax hikes that will bite early next year.

Congress had been debating whether to increase the US borrowing ceiling but the Republicans would not budge.

"Despite President Obama's goodwill and strong efforts, the national interest was held hostage by the rise of the extreme Tea Party wing of the Republican party," he said.

Australian politicians rarely launch such blunt criticism of their counterparts in the US, a key strategic ally.

Swan, named by banking magazine Euromoney as its finance minister of the year in 2011 and treasurer of a centre-left government, also called on the US Congress to resolve an agreement on the budget to support growth in the short term.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/21/wayne-swan-republicans-cranks-crazies

Richard Heckler 2 years, 3 months ago

Russia went into bankruptcy in the mideast

The USA must be next. Oil is not worth it.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 3 months ago

This policy must hit the road for it is nothing but blood and guts!

Bringing republicans back to power brings back this very right wing imperialistic foreign policy position.

"Rebuilding America's Defences," openly advocates for total global military domination” (Very dangerous position which threatens OUR freedoms and the nations security) http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Project_for_the_New_American_Century

Our aim is to remind Americans of these lessons and to draw their consequences for today.

There are four consequences.

We need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global protection for Wal-Mart,Oil,Coca Cola,Pepsico,diamonds,gold etc etc etc.

We need to strengthen our ties to dictator regimes friendly to American interests and Bogus values;

We need to promote the cause of the political right wing and economic rape for corp USA abroad;

We need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in forcing others to accept our corrupt principles.

Such a Reaganite policy of military strength and immoral clarity may not be fashionable today. But it is necessary if the United States is to build on the extortions of this past century and to ensure our security and our greatness no matter how many innocent USA soldiers die.

The Plan

http://www.antiwar.com/orig/stockbauer1.html

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Project_for_the_New_American_Century

http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1312540,00.html

http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0208-05.htm

Followed by taking down our nations financial institutions !

Richard Heckler 2 years, 3 months ago

Remember what Gen Odom relayed to congress.

Confusion about war aims and US interests. The president GW stated three war aims clearly and repeatedly.

The destruction of Iraqi WMD. The overthrow of Saddam Hussein. The creation of a liberal democratic Iraq.

The first war aim is moot because Iraq had no WMD. The second was achieved by late Spring 2003. Today, people are waking up to what was obvious before the war -- the third aim has no real prospects of being achieved even in ten or twenty years, much less in the short time anticipated by the war planners.

Implicit in that aim was the belief that a pro-American, post-Saddam regime could be established. This too, it should now be clear, is most unlikely. Finally, is it in the US interest to have launched a war in pursuit of any of these aims?

And is it in the US interest to continue pursuing the third? Or is it time to redefine our aims?

And, concomitantly, to redefine what constitutes victory?

The war has served primarily the interests of Iran and al-Qaeda, not American interests.

http://www.antiwar.com/orig/odom.php?articleid=10396

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