JFP 11/10: Inouye Balks at Fast Track Escalation Funding

Just Foreign Policy News
November 10, 2009


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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye spoke against speculation that new funding for additional troops in Afghanistan could be quickly inserted into year-end spending bills pending in Congress, the Politico reports. Such a strategy would avoid a divisive fight in the spring over supplemental war spending. "I would be against doing it right now," Inouye said. "If we're going to do something this important, then it should be done according to regular procedure - unless we're going be a rubber stamp."

2) President Obama is nearing a decision to add tens of thousands more forces to Afghanistan, AP reports. National Security Adviser James Jones denied the press reports that a decision had been made.

3) What we confront in Afghanistan is not an insurgency but a civil war - one whose resolution can only be found in a new decentralized Afghan politics based on the realities of power there, and not through another decade of Western military intervention, argues former UN official Nader Mousavizadeh in Foreign Policy.

4) Reports of domestic abuse near Fort Hood have grown by 75 percent since 2001, the New York Times reports. Violent crime in the nearby town of Killeen has risen 22 percent while declining 7 percent in towns of similar size in other parts of the country. Since 2003, there have been 76 suicides by personnel assigned to Fort Hood, with 10 this year.

5) The Pentagon fears that President Karzai, in response to Afghan public opinion, may want to negotiate with the Taliban before the Pentagon can turn the tide of war, writes Tom Hayden in the Los Angeles Times. The US has not responded to peace feelers from the Afghan Taliban, arguing that the US must negotiate from a position of strength. Hayden asks: how many more American soldiers will die while trying to achieve this upper hand?

6) About 10 percent of electricity in the US comes from fuel from dismantled nuclear bombs, the New York Times reports. That gives US utilities a strong interest in President Obama's efforts to conclude a new arms treaty with Russia.

Honduras
7) A U.S.-brokered accord that was supposed to return President Zelaya to power has collapsed and his supporters pinned much of the blame on the Obama administration, McClatchy News reports. Honduras' Congress has made no plans to vote on whether to enact the agreement following remarks by Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon that seemed to remove U.S. pressure. Shannon said last week that the deal meant that the Obama administration would accept the outcome of the Nov. 29 presidential and congressional elections, regardless of whether Zelaya was back in power. Analysts said Shannon's statement Wednesday undercut most of Zelaya's leverage, gave Congress a good reason to dodge a tough vote and strengthened the resolve of de facto President Micheletti to remain in power. "The United States is no longer interested in punishing a coup-installed government," Honduran Congresswoman Elvia Valle said by telephone from Tegucigalpa Monday. Shannon's declarations "have left a bitter taste in our mouths."

Lebanon
8) More than five months after holding parliamentary elections, Lebanon formed a new cabinet on Monday, the New York Times reports. The origins of the breakthrough that led to Monday's announcement remain a mystery, the Times says, since the basic power-sharing formula was agreed on months ago. Some say Syria had finally pushed its allies here to come to terms. Syria's president is planning to visit Paris, and some analysts believe that he pushed his Lebanese allies to come to terms so that he could prove his usefulness to the French, whom he has been courting diplomatically for the past year.

Israel/Palestine
9) The unprecedented Israeli hostility toward President Obama is driven by a fear that Obama is serious about ending Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, argues former American Jewish Congress official Henry Siegman in the New York Times. Israelis do not oppose President Obama's peace efforts because they dislike him; they dislike him because of his peace efforts. If President Obama is serious about his promise to end Israel's 40-year occupation and bring about a two-state solution, he will have to risk Israeli displeasure. If he delivers on his promise, he will earn Israelis' eternal gratitude.

Contents:
U.S./Top News
1) Inouye balks at War Funding Fix
David Rogers, Politico, November 10, 2009 05:05 AM EST http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1109/29357.html

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye put the brakes on Pentagon speculation Monday that new funding for additional troops in Afghanistan could be quickly inserted into year-end spending bills pending in Congress.

Such a strategy would avoid a divisive fight in the spring over supplemental war spending - something Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been loath to put her party through. But the haste would be such that even traditional military allies like Inouye are dubious.

"I would be against doing it right now," the Hawaii Democrat told Politico. "If we're going to do something this important, then it should be done according to regular procedure - unless we're going be a rubber stamp."

President Barack Obama has yet to announce a final decision on his review of U.S. policy on Afghanistan, but the Pentagon is eager to move quickly once new troop levels are settled.
[...]
As currently crafted, the [defense] bill already includes $128.2 billion in contingency funds for Iraq and Afghanistan.

Whatever Obama decides, he will have the option to use these funds as well as the underlying Pentagon defense budget to pay for additional troops. But just as the Bush administration found, military personnel and operations accounts will begin to run down early next summer.

Most estimates of how much more the Pentagon may need now run in the range of $30 billion to $40 billion. But administration officials cautioned that none of these numbers is firm.

The Appropriations committees might still add a down payment on top of the $128.2 billion already in the bill, but such a "bridge" fund would only be in anticipation of a supplemental next year.

The White House had sworn to avoid such an incremental war funding approach, which was the common practice under President George W. Bush. And Pelosi has always said her toughest vote this year was rounding up Democrats to support a similar supplemental war funding bill last June.

"You thought energy was a heavy lift, health care, the budget, the recovery package. Nothing was as hard as funding the war in Afghanistan," she told POLITICO in a recent interview. "The supplemental was very hard. ... And no, I didn't have my heart in it at all. I had told my members last year, this was our last war supplemental."
[...]

2) Sources: Obama Near Decision on Afghanistan Troops
Associated Press, November 9, 2009, 10:47 p.m. ET
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/11/09/us/politics/AP-US-US-Afghanistan.html

Washington - President Barack Obama is nearing a decision to add tens of thousands more forces to Afghanistan, though likely not quite the 40,000 sought by his top general there, as Pentagon planners work to ready bases and provide equipment the troops would need in a country with scant resources.

The White House emphasized Monday that the president hasn't made a decision yet about troop levels or other aspects of the revised U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.

Administration officials told The Associated Press on Monday the deployment would most likely begin in January with a mission to stiffen the defense of 10 key cities and towns. An Army brigade that had been training for deployment to Iraq that month may be the vanguard. The brigade, based at Fort Drum in upstate New York, has been told it will not go to Iraq as planned but has been given no new mission yet.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the president would meet again on Wednesday with key members of his foreign policy and military team but was unlikely to announce final plans for Afghanistan until late this month, when he returns from an extended diplomatic trip to Asia.

Gibbs said the Pentagon is "working on additional recommendations" to present to Obama and that Obama has made no decision on troop numbers, or even on what the ratio should be between combat troops and trainers.
[...]
"Reports that President Obama has made a decision about Afghanistan are absolutely false," said the president's national security adviser, James Jones. "He has not received final options for his consideration, he has not reviewed those options with his national security team, and he has not made any decisions about resources. Any reports to the contrary are completely untrue and come from uninformed sources."
[...]

3) No Insurgency Here
Let's be honest: What Afghanistan has on its hands isn't an insurgency, it's a civil war.
Nader Mousavizadeh, Foreign Policy, November 5, 2009
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/11/05/no_insurgency_here

[Mousavizadeh, a special assistant to U.N. Secretary General Annan from 1997 to 2003, is at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.]

Two conclusions are inescapable from the fiasco of Afghanistan's presidential elections and the McChrystal assessment: There is no electoral solution to Afghan government's crisis of legitimacy, and there is no military solution to the challenge of the Taliban. And when observing the current Afghan conflict not from the perspective of America's post-9/11 intervention, but from Afghanistan's own quarter-century of warfare, a third conclusion becomes still more apparent: What we confront is not, in fact, an insurgency but rather a civil war - one whose resolution can only be found in a new decentralized Afghan politics based on the enduring, if ugly, realities of power there, and not through another decade of Western military intervention.
[...]
It is time to help Afghans resolve their civil war in the only way that is likely to help, and not further hinder, their search for security and stability. Painful as it is, the time has come to set aside the illusion of Afghan democracy and implement a new federal power-sharing agreement between those Afghans willing and able to provide security and governance in a sustainable manner for the Afghan people. The best chance we have of achieving minimal Afghan objectives at an acceptable cost to the West is by establishing a new Loya Jirga - drawing on the shrewd diplomacy of the 2001 Bonn Conference and the persistent muscle of the 1995 Dayton Agreement, but looking forward as a New Afghanistan Conference.
[...]
A Brahimi-Holbrooke convened Loya Jirga solution to the Afghan civil war will demand a compromise with the high ideals of the early intervention; a redrafting of the Afghan Constitution to allow for a decentralized structure of governance; a granting of provincial power to leaders and warlords with less than clean hands; a de facto reduced commitment to human rights and women's rights; a greater involvement of neighbors whose motives are mixed, and not necessarily aligned. While this solution would initially require a substantial troop presence, over time it will place responsibility for security among provincial and tribal leaders and the militias under their command, leading to a steady withdrawal of Western troops.

Despite the challenges of this approach, it's important to recognize that the West's early ambitions have been, in practice, long abandoned, and it's past time to end the callous hypocrisy of promising Afghans a Western-style democratic future we have neither the ability nor the will to deliver.

Instead of trying to end or somehow sublimate deeply held ethnic and tribal loyalties in pursuit of an imagined community of modern Afghan citizenship, we should rather embed the country's future security and governance mechanisms precisely within those allegiances and give each group the incentive and means to defend itself within a broader federal structure. Instead of seeking to impose a demonstrably failed Western construct of government on the Afghan polity, it is time to implement an Afghan peace to end an Afghan civil war.

4) At Fort Hood, Some Violence Is Too Familiar
Michael Moss and Ray Rivera, New York Times, November 10, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/10/us/10post.html

Fort Hood, Tex. - Staff Sgt. Gilberto Mota, 35, and his wife, Diana, 30, an Army specialist, had returned to Fort Hood from Iraq last year when he used his gun to kill her, and then took his own life, the authorities say. In July, two members of the First Cavalry Division, also just back from the war with decorations for their service, were at a party when one killed the other.

That same month, Staff Sgt. Justin Lee Garza, 28, under stress from two deployments, killed himself in a friend's apartment outside Fort Hood, four days after he was told no therapists were available for a counseling session. "What bothers me most is this happened while he was supposed to be on suicide watch," said his mother, Teri Smith. "To this day, I don't know where he got the gun."

Fort Hood is still reeling from last week's carnage, in which an Army psychiatrist is accused of a massacre that left 13 people dead. But in the town of Killeen and other surrounding communities, the attack, one of the worst mass shootings on a military base in the United States, is also seen by many as another blow in an area that has been beset by crime and violence since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began. Reports of domestic abuse have grown by 75 percent since 2001. At the same time, violent crime in Killeen has risen 22 percent while declining 7 percent in towns of similar size in other parts of the country.

The stresses are seen in other ways, too.

Since 2003, there have been 76 suicides by personnel assigned to Fort Hood, with 10 this year, according to military officials.

A crisis center on base is averaging 60 phone calls a week from soldiers and family members seeking various help for problems from suicide to anger management, with about the same volume of walk-ins and scheduled appointments.
[...]
Col. Edward McCabe, a Catholic chaplain at Fort Hood, said signs of fatigue and other strains are "rampant" on the base. "The numbers of divorces I've had to deal with are huge, the cases of physical abuse," Colonel McCabe said. "Every night in my apartment complex some soldier and his wife are screaming and shouting at each other."
[...]
At The Killeen Daily Herald, which covers the base with a sympathetic ear to its military readers, employees see similar patterns play out with each troop rotation.

One day, it is a homecoming, with hundreds of families waving flags and homemade signs along T. J. Mills Boulevard leading into the base's main gate. The next day, crime reports increase, especially cases of domestic violence. "Unfortunately, you see the trend every time there's a homecoming, when the divisions come home," said Olga Pena, the paper's managing editor.

Nicolas Serna, the managing attorney of the local legal aid office, said requests for protective orders had steadily increased over the last several years.
[...]

5) Why die for Karzai?
Does U.S. support for the Afghan president really make sense?
Tom Hayden, Los Angeles Times, November 10, 2009
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-hayden10-2009nov10,0,5592560.story

[...]
I suspect that part of the U.S. unhappiness with Karzai has nothing to do with his well-known incompetence and corruption. After all, with Afghanistan's economy almost entirely dependent on heroin, how could the government not resemble a mafia state?

What worries the Pentagon even more is that Karzai, in response to Afghan public opinion, may want to negotiate with the Taliban before the Pentagon can turn the tide of war.

Semi-secret peace talks with the Taliban, supported by the Karzai government, were reported in May. During the campaign, peace talks were the top issue among voters, with Karzai depicted as "the most vocal candidate" calling for talks with the Taliban, according to the New York Times.

Perhaps his campaign promise of peace talks was only a ploy to win votes, but that also is a measure of Afghan public opinion.

There were signs that the Afghan Taliban leadership was interested in a peace process too. An April task force led by Washington insiders Thomas Pickering and Barnett Rubin noted that "the [Taliban] Quetta shura is showing signs of willingness to distance itself from Al Qaeda and seek a political settlement."

A back-channel, U.S.-blessed Saudi diplomatic initiative in December reported a negotiating proposal from Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar demanding, among other things, a new power-sharing arrangement in Kabul, including Karzai; a timetable for U.S. withdrawal; replacing NATO forces with peacekeepers from Islamic countries; and a role for the insurgents in the reconstituted Afghan security forces. On Sept. 19, Omar issued a statement of assurance that the Taliban, "as a responsible force, will not extend its hand to cause jeopardy to others" - words interpreted by a British intelligence officer as a willingness to separate itself from Al Qaeda.

U.S. officials haven't exactly leaped to pursue these feelers. The reason is pure power politics. The United States and NATO apparently want to negotiate only from a position of strength. "Reconciliation is important, but not now," said one Western official in August. "It's not going to happen until the insurgency is weaker and the government is stronger." Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton claimed her readiness "to welcome anyone supporting the Taliban who renounces Al Qaeda, lays down their arms and is willing to participate in the free and open society that is enshrined in the Afghan Constitution." She was calling for a surrender, not the opening of a conflict-resolution process.
[...]
Negotiating with the Taliban would be distasteful, but how many more American soldiers will die while trying to achieve this upper hand? The Pentagon forecasts two years of harsh combat in Afghanistan alone, which at current rates could mean an additional 1,000 American dead and 8,000 wounded. For each American boot on the ground, there will be an equivalent increase in roadside bombs, according to a U.S. agency called the Pentagon Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization. Meanwhile, Afghanistan is running taxpayers about $3.6 billion a month.

The Al Qaeda strategy of overextending our military and exhausting our economy seems to be on schedule. With Al Qaeda relocated to Pakistan, the Pentagon now is fighting Afghan insurgents - who hate foreign invaders - on the hypothetical grounds that Al Qaeda will someday return to Kandahar. Elsewhere, national security strategists such as Britain's Peter Neumann claim "broad agreement" that Europe is actually the nerve center for global jihad. One is tempted to respond that NATO should invade Europe instead of Afghanistan, but this is not a laughing matter.

Al Qaeda is a real threat, but the threat only worsens as Western powers rampage through Muslim countries. Defense against Al Qaeda is a legitimate mission, but not where the tactics being used feed a desire for indiscriminate revenge among millions of people with nothing to lose.
[...]
This is the choice facing Obama: Whether to send more Americans to their graves in support of Hamid Karzai while at the same time blocking the emergent quest for peace negotiations in Afghanistan.

6) Power For U.S. From Russia's Old Nuclear Weapons
Andrew E. Kramer, New York Times, November 10, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/10/business/energy-environment/10nukes.html

Moscow - What's powering your home appliances? For about 10 percent of electricity in the United States, it's fuel from dismantled nuclear bombs, including Russian ones. "It's a great, easy source" of fuel, said Marina V. Alekseyenkova, an analyst at Renaissance Capital and an expert in the Russian nuclear industry that has profited from the arrangement since the end of the cold war.

But if more diluted weapons-grade uranium isn't secured soon, the pipeline could run dry, with ramifications for consumers, as well as some American utilities and their Russian suppliers.

Already nervous about a supply gap, utilities operating America's 104 nuclear reactors are paying as much attention to President Obama's efforts to conclude a new arms treaty as the Nobel Peace Prize committee did.

In the last two decades, nuclear disarmament has become an integral part of the electricity industry, little known to most Americans.

Salvaged bomb material now generates about 10 percent of electricity in the United States - by comparison, hydropower generates about 6 percent and solar, biomass, wind and geothermal together account for 3 percent.

Utilities have been loath to publicize the Russian bomb supply line for fear of spooking consumers: the fuel from missiles that may have once been aimed at your home may now be lighting it.

But at times, recycled Soviet bomb cores have made up the majority of the American market for low-enriched uranium fuel. Today, former bomb material from Russia accounts for 45 percent of the fuel in American nuclear reactors, while another 5 percent comes from American bombs, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry trade association in Washington.

Treaties at the end of the cold war led to the decommissioning of thousands of warheads. Their energy-rich cores are converted into civilian reactor fuel.
[...]
One potential new source is warheads that would become superfluous if the United States and Russia agree to new cuts under negotiations to renew the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expires on Dec. 5.
[...]
An American diplomat and an official with a federal nuclear agency in Washington have confirmed, separately, that the two countries are quietly negotiating another agreement to continue diluting Russia's highly enriched uranium after the expiration of Megatons to Megawatts, using some or all of the material from warheads likely to be taken out of the arsenals.
[...]
This possible successor deal to Megatons to Megawatts is known in the industry as HEU-2, for a High Enriched Uranium-2, and companies are rooting for it, according to Jeff Combs, president and owner of Ux Consulting, a company tracking uranium fuel pricing. "You can look at it like a couple of very large uranium mines," he said of the fissile material that would result from the program.

American reactors would not shut down without a deal; utilities could turn to commercial imports, which would most likely be much more expensive.
[...]

Honduras

7) Honduras deal collapses, and Zelaya's backers blame U.S.
Tyler Bridges, McClatchy Newspapers, Mon, Nov. 09, 2009
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/117/story/78599.html

Caracas, Venezuela - A U.S.-brokered accord that was supposed to return ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya to power has collapsed and his supporters pinned much of the blame Monday on the Obama administration.

Honduras' Congress has made no plans to vote on whether to enact the agreement following remarks by Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon that seemed to remove U.S. pressure.

Shannon said last week that the deal meant that the Obama administration would accept the outcome of the Nov. 29 presidential and congressional elections, regardless of whether Zelaya was back in power.

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., lifted a hold on Shannon becoming U.S. ambassador to Brazil after Shannon and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton privately reiterated this view on the elections, DeMint said.

Analysts said Monday that Shannon's statement in a television interview Wednesday undercut most of Zelaya's leverage, gave Congress a good reason to dodge a tough vote and strengthened the resolve of de facto President Roberto Micheletti to remain in power.

"The United States is no longer interested in punishing a coup-installed government," Honduran Congresswoman Elvia Valle said by telephone from Tegucigalpa Monday. Shannon's declarations "have left a bitter taste in our mouths."

Zelaya supporters, who've been organizing street protests against the Micheletti regime, are down to their final card: Calling on Hondurans to boycott the elections.
[...]
DeMint is also taking credit for the U.S. support for the election after receiving private assurances from Shannon and Clinton.

DeMint said last week that Shannon and Clinton both had assured him that the Obama administration would accept Honduras' winner, even if Zelaya weren't president.

As a result, DeMint released his hold blocking Shannon from becoming ambassador to Brazil and another on Arturo Valenzuela to replace Shannon as the top diplomat for Latin America. However, Sen. George LeMieux, R-Fla., then put on a new hold on Shannon.

Shannon made his comments last week to CNN en Espanol. State Department spokesman Charles Luoma-Overstreet in an e-mail to McClatchy questioned the widespread interpretation of what Shannon said and sent a transcript of the interview that left out the relevant quotes. The actual transcript shows Shannon twice confirming that the U.S. would respect the outcome of the elections no matter whether Zelaya were restored.

A senior State Department official declined to discuss Shannon's statements Monday, saying instead, "What we're trying to do is get the parties to follow the accord . . . If the accord is not implemented fully, that will affect international perceptions."

Lebanon
8) Impasse Over, Lebanon Forms Cabinet
Robert F. Worth, New York Times, November 10, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/10/world/middleeast/10lebanon.html

Beirut - More than five months after holding parliamentary elections, Lebanon formed a new cabinet on Monday, ending a long period of gridlock that illustrated once again the myriad dysfunctions of this country's bitterly divided political class.
[...]
The new cabinet includes 15 seats for the majority led by Mr. Hariri, 10 for the Hezbollah-led opposition, and five for President Michel Suleiman, who has struggled to maintain neutrality. But because of the role of independent power brokers - including the wily Druse leader Walid Jumblatt, an ally of Mr. Hariri's who distanced himself after the elections - the majority will have little chance to dictate the agenda.

That limitation could be a formula for further gridlock, especially on divisive issues like the international tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the father of the prime minister-designate.

Another volatile issue, Hezbollah's arsenal, is not even up for discussion. When Saad Hariri's allies appeared to challenge Hezbollah's military prerogatives in May 2008, the group and its allies seized much of west Beirut, setting off the worst internal clashes since this country's 15-year civil war. The violence was a bitter lesson, and led to a power-sharing agreement that enshrined a cabinet veto for Hezbollah and its allies.

The origins of the breakthrough that led to Monday's announcement remain a mystery, since the basic power-sharing formula was agreed on months ago. Some say Syria, which long dominated Lebanon politically, had finally pushed its allies here to come to terms. But relations between Syria and Saudi Arabia, which have long vied for influence here, improved earlier this year, and many analysts believe that the two countries agreed not to interfere in the elections and their aftermath.
[...]
Mr. Hariri finally gave in last month and agreed to let Mr. Aoun have the telecommunications ministry. Mr. Aoun still held out for more. Soon afterward, two allies of Mr. Aoun made public comments expressing their frustration with him. Because the two allies are also strong allies of Syria, some believe that their comments signaled a decision by Syria to force an end to the long drama.

If so, Syria's own diplomatic timetable may have been a factor. Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, is planning to visit Paris next week, and some analysts here believe that he pushed his Lebanese allies to come to terms so that he could prove his usefulness to the French, whom he has been courting diplomatically for the past year.

Israel/Palestine
9) Israelis and Obama
Henry Siegman, New York Times, November 2, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/02/opinion/02iht-edsiegman.html

[Henry Siegman, a former national director of the American Jewish Congress, is director of the U.S./Middle East Project.]

Polls indicate that President Obama enjoys the support of only 6 to 10 percent of the Israeli public - perhaps his lowest popularity in any country in the world.

According to media reports, the president's advisers are searching for ways of reassuring Israel's public of President Obama's friendship and unqualified commitment to Israel's security.

That friendship and commitment are real, President Obama's poll numbers in Israel notwithstanding. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sought to reinforce that message during her visit to Israel. The presidential envoy George Mitchell has reportedly been asked to make similar efforts during his far more frequent visits to Jerusalem.

The White House is about to set a new record in the number of reassuring messages and video greetings sent by an American president to Israel, as well as to Jewish organizations in the United States, on this subject. Plans for a presidential visit to Jerusalem are under discussion.

Presidential aides worry that the hostility toward President Obama among Israelis can be damaging to his peace efforts. This is undoubtedly true.

But a White House campaign to ingratiate the president with Israel's public could be far more damaging, because the reason for this unprecedented Israeli hostility toward an American president is a fear that President Obama is serious about ending Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Israelis do not oppose President Obama's peace efforts because they dislike him; they dislike him because of his peace efforts. He will regain their affection only when he abandons these efforts.

That is how Israel's government and people respond to any outside pressure for a peace agreement that demands Israel's conformity to international law and to U.N. resolutions that call for a return to the 1967 pre-conflict borders and reject unilateral changes in that border.
[...]
An American president who addresses the Arab world and promises a fair and evenhanded approach to peacemaking is immediately seen by Israelis as anti-Israel. The head of one of America's leading Jewish organizations objected to the appointment of Senator Mitchell as President Obama's peace envoy because, he said, his objectivity and evenhandedness disqualified him for this assignment.
[...]
This pathology has been aided and abetted by American Jewish organizations whose agendas conform to the political and ideological views of Israel's right wing. These organizations do not reflect the views of most American Jews who voted overwhelmingly - nearly 80 percent - for Mr. Obama in the presidential elections.

An Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement has eluded all previous U.S. administrations not because they were unable to devise a proper formula for its achievement; everyone has known for some time now the essential features of that formula, which were proposed by President Clinton in early 2000.

Rather, the conflict continues because U.S. presidents - and to a far greater extent, members of the U.S. Congress, who depend every two years on electoral contributions - have accommodated a pathology that can only be cured by its defiance.

Only a U.S. president with the political courage to risk Israeli displeasure - and criticism from that part of the pro-Israel lobby in America which reflexively supports the policies of the Israeli government of the day, no matter how deeply they offend reason or morality - can cure this pathology.

If President Obama is serious about his promise to finally end Israel's 40-year occupation, bring about a two-state solution, assure Israel's long-range survival as a Jewish and democratic state, and protect vital U.S. national interests in the region, he will have to risk that displeasure. If he delivers on his promise, he will earn Israelis' eternal gratitude.

-
Robert Naiman
Just Foreign Policy
www.justforeignpolicy.org

Just Foreign Policy is a membership organization devoted to reforming US foreign policy so it reflects the values and interests of the majority of Americans.

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