Israel/Palestine and Iran: Linkage Should be Hard Wired by Obama Team

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obama and fareed zakaria book.jpg
Barack Obama is occasionally photographed carrying a weighty and important book around with him. One of those books — which he seemed to carry around for nearly a year (it is a very long book at 738 pages) — was Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 by my New America Foundation colleague Steve Coll.
Another book that Obama took very seriously and had his pic snapped with is Fareed Zakaria’s The Post-American World.
What Obama likely learned from Coll’s book is that Afghanistan would be a tough grind, one that America couldn’t easily walk away from without running the risk that the drama in that region will come knocking on America’s door if not dealt with. What the President learned from Zakaria is that the tools of American power are severely diminished, that enormous global doubts exist about the United States and its future course, and that foes and allies alike are not doubling down on American leadership but are rather placing new bets.


America is not completely out of the global power game. In my view, a combination of brilliant leadership and well orchestrated “strategic leaps” coupled with visionary re-crafting of America’s global social contract with other of the world’s leading stakeholders could actually restore significant American leverage (and power) in global affairs.
Much of being a leading superpower is about managing mystique — and Obama is the kind of President that can restore the mystique that previous administrations shattered by displaying military, economic, moral, and institutional leadership lapses.
Barack Obama needs to generate “strategic leaps” — but he is surrounded by a large number of policy practitioner incrementalists who are so well acquainted with the weeds and granular detail of historically insoluble national security problems — like Israel/Palestine, or Iran, or Cuba, or Syria — that they have a hard time not bringing their lethargy, depression, or obsessive compulsiveness about the past into discussions about the policy challenges today and how to pragmatically move these problems and American interests forward.
Obama needs to hang out with some creative thinkers, those who know something about Nixon’s and Kissinger’s assessment of China when we had no relations, or are experts in Eisenhower’s “Solarium Exercise”, or others who are thinking in creative and innovative ways about the global system and America’s place in it.
Those who have seen it all, heard it all, done it all on the Israel/Palestine conflict for instance should be heard and comments noted — but then they need to be showed the door so a new discussion about the future can begin. Time needs to be given to those who see this as a moment of “historical discontinuity” when doing tomorrow mostly what the nation did yesterday is recognized as a recipe for disaster and failure rather than success.
Dennis Ross, who now serves on President Obama’s National Security Council team, is author with David Makovsky of an important book, Myths, Illusions, and Peace: Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East, that strongly argues that there is no ‘linkage’ between the Israel/Palestine issue, Iran, and broader Middle East dynamics. The strongest part of their argument rests on the notion that there have been dozens of conflicts, coups, and other instabilities in the Middle East since Israel’s founding in 1948 and that most were unrelated to the Arab-Israeli conflict and would have occurred whether the Israel-Palestine divide had been bridged or not.
With all due respect to the writers, they are trapped in the inertia that came from those who lived and breathed foreign policy deal making and analysis during the Cold War.
Today is different. The ongoing and repeated failures to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict are increasingly consequential to American security and US interests.
In other words, this used to be a conflict that America, Europe, Russia, the Arab States, and Israel could all afford to lose — with increments of progress now and then, a few steps forward and predictable steps backward. Jumps forward won for the key protagonists Nobel Peace Prizes — but essentially, the Arab-Israeli conflict was a side show pursued with the passion of Sunday school do-gooders and philanthropists.
The Israel-Arab standoff was dramatic but not really vital, sort of like the Northern Ireland mess — which Senator George Mitchell showed so much patience and capacity to help move forward. But today, it is vital conflict that is a defining challenge for the United States — and can’t without great risk be approached by Senator Mitchell and the administration as a conflict that can just bubble on and simmer for a few centuries. This conflict matters far beyond the Israeli and Palestinian populations and is a screaming, right now challenge.
Beyond this conflict itself, particularly after 9-11 and the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, tensions of many sorts have exploded across a wide band of the world stretching from North Africa to South Asia with spots in Southeast Asia, Russia, China and more.
The United States and its core allies have decided to try and remake parts of the world and as might be expected, much of the Arab Middle East and the global Muslim community have institutionalized grievances about their place in the modern world and wonder if the West values their lives and societies. The Palestinian mess is for many of these people the packaged microcosm of their anger about exploitation and humiliation by the West and by their own governments.
Solving the Israel-Palestine conflict will not solve all the political and identity tensions which will continue to boil in Arab and Muslim-dominant states — but the echo effect of resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians will knock down many walls in these societies that have been resisting change.
Ross and Makovsky think that this argument is wrong. Many do. But from my perspective, these thinkers are not recognizing the vital demands of ‘strategic leaps’ at historical pivot points. Nations rise or sink at times like this — and America can’t return to be the kind of benign global power it used to be, inspiring other nations to follow its lead, unless it demonstrates a capacity to shape the environment in a way that constructively confronts Iran’s ambitions and which reorders the security and political environment surrounding Israel, which is essentially a client state of the United States.
The quid pro quo of moving Palestine and Israel toward a credible two state track is normalization of relations between Israel and 57 other now hostile countries.
Will Israel still have security problems? Of course. Will Israel likely work to keep the Palestinian state dependent on Israel in all sorts of ways? Yes. Will Israel allow a large, strong state to develop next to it? Probably not — at least not in terms of military capacity. There are many big questions ahead — and all of them are manageable.
But what will result is that Israel will be able to collaborate much more directly, if not in the warmest of terms, with the major Arab stakeholders in the Middle East on regional security. Israel needs to do this as a supplement to their security relationship with the United States as a region-wide buffer against the encroachment of Iran’s power.
America’s security relationship with Israel is very close and strong but is nonetheless something like a New Orleans levy — doing the job today but of diminishing capacity over time.
Overcoming the chasm between Israel and 57 Arab and Muslim-dominant nations is the strategic leap that the world most needs to see at this moment.
While Washington, DC and foreign capitals in Europe and the Middle East are buzzing with intoxicating (and mostly wrong) rumors of an Israeli bombing strike against Iran’s nuclear program, the obvious question needs to be asked of what the so-called “concerned states” in the region will do if such a strike were to take place. What would the leaders in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan, Egypt and so on do if they showed even veiled support for Israel’s actions without concomitant gestures by Israel to solve the biggest grievance burning in the hearts and minds of their citizens?
The Arab street could catch fire and burn down a few of these governments. Perhaps that is part of the plan that neoconservatives and others hope for. But that would be disastrous for the United States and most likely create conditions for a terrorist super highway up to the edge of Israel with few control valves. And there are just many more consequences, unseen and unexpected, that await any time some conflict of this scale is unleashed.
In my estimation, Barack Obama sees the vital and obvious linkage between resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict over Palestine and any sensible strategy rolling back and/or containing Iran’s nuclear and regional hegemonic pretensions.
The interesting thing is that progress on a Palestinian state is what Arab governments may most need in order to be more robustly supportive of American, European, and Israeli designs with Iran. Delivering on Palestine may actually create conditions in which these states accept an “all options on the table” approach to Iran. And just as in other cases of deterrence, this ASEAN Regional Forum-like collaboration may impact fundamentally Iran’s leadership calculations.
Achieving a Palestine-Israel track that is inclusive and operates at levels higher and broader than the mutual irresponsibility of both Israeli and Palestinian interlocutors would allow Barack Obama to show that his administration is changing global gravity.
The key stakeholders in the region would be in a better position then to either contain Iran — or to militarily challenge Iran. And if the Iranian leader’s calculations shift, to embrace Iran on a more positive track.
Obama, National Security Adviser Jim Jones, Deputy National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, and NSC Chief of Staff Denis McDonough — and I’d add Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns — are all about “strategic leaps”. However, a good chunk of Obama’s team is intimidated by the political downsides of this kind of vision and strategic leadership.
These naysayers surround themselves with and thrive in anachronistic assessments of these challenges in a way that have been appropriate and worked out over the last several decades — but which are simply out of place and passively reckless in the post-Cold War period.
In his book, Second Chance: Three Presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower, which Barack Obama should read (if he hasn’t) and have his picture snapped with, Zbigniew Brzezinski assesses the performance of the three U.S. Presidents who held office after the collapse of the Soviet Union — George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.
Brzezinski applies systematic criteria to evaluate the vision and foreign policy efficacy of these Presidents in not only dealing with the global power turbulence left in the wake of the Soviet empire’s collapse but also their success in instituting a new pathway for America’s place in a post-Cold War world (the topic of Brzezinski’s next book along with Brent Scowcroft and David Ignatius).
Brzezinski gave George H.W. Bush an A- for reasons that are better explicated in the book than here. Clinton received a “C”, and George W. Bush flunked in the eyes of Brzezinski.
Obama has a chance still to earn an A and to reorder the global environment and America’s place in it in a way that re-invents American power and leadership.
But Barack Obama needs to instill in his team the consequence that incrementalism will take the U.S. over a cliff and will lead to either head on military confrontations with Iran that leave all parties worse off with enormous implications for American primacy over the oil and energy sector not to mention what is left of America’s global power position.
The Israel-Palestine conflict is a global fault line, a San Andreas fault of conflicts that ranks higher today than even the tension between India and Pakistan. Resolving the tension in that fault will have a disproportionately positive impact on global stability, but letting it fester and allowing Iran and others to continue to exploit this division will severely constrain U.S. options and eventually undermine both America and Israel.
It’s time to start jumping more seriously into the dynamics of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
President Obama has always been correct about the fundamental inter-connectedness of the challenges posed today by Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan with the Israel-Palestine standoff.
President Obama gets this. I know he does, but he needs to demonstrate that he can rise above reacting to crises which the region forces on him and instead exhibit his strategic skills.
Strategic opportunity and awareness of costs and folly are what Zakaria’s, Coll’s, and Brzezinski’s books should really be conveying to the President.
– Steve Clemons

Comments

139 comments on “Israel/Palestine and Iran: Linkage Should be Hard Wired by Obama Team

  1. nadine says:

    JD, I think you have convinced yourself that your most rabid relatives comprise all of Israel, and that all the professional whining done by Pal representatives is accurate.
    It must be something in your family that drives people to extremes; you seem to be the mirror image of your settler relatives. I try to steer a more rational course, based on evidence, personal histories, and past performance, as best I can figure them out. I also have a basic respect for the collective wisdom and understanding of the Israeli people, which you obviously do not.
    The Jews spent most of their existence for the last 2000 years in far worse conditions than the Palestinians have now, and reacted far more pragmatically. They had to. The last time the Jews reacted as with as much irridentism and refusal to compromise as the Palestinian Arabs have for the last 90 years, the Romans wiped out two Jewish rebellions, together with thousands and thousands of Jews, and drove the remnant into exile.
    The Pals’ good fortune, if you can call it that, is that they have the Jews for their enemies. I’m sure the Kurds in Syria, who don’t have citizenship, don’t have representation, and whom the Syrian government is using Israeli-made UAVs they got from Turkish PM Erdogan to massacre, would switch places with the Palestinians in a New York minute. I’m sure they would make a deal in a hurry, without moaning about how their wounded pride won’t let them ever make a compromise because it’s not “fair and just” to make them live next to Israel.

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  2. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Hilarious. Nadine posts some Eliot Abrams rant like…..
    “The Israeli toughness the Arabs have complained about for over a half century is now their own most likely shield against Iran. ”
    …..when recent polls are showing that Arabs are beginning to embrace Iran’s alleged efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.
    A liar quoting liars. That is what Nadine is reduced to being in order to continue her ridiculous propaganda.
    Meanwhile, she finally pushes one of the few sensible and sane Jews that posts here over the edge. One could almost imagine that Nadine is working actively to speed Israel towards is demise, that she is actually an anti-semitic mole seeking to cast the Jews in an unflattering light. But you can’t fake viral racism. Like the leering and hate filled faces of those Jewish teens pictured harrassing an evicted Palestinian woman, there is no more vivid an image than openly expressed bigotry, whether it be photographic evidence, or the blog posts of those such as Nadine and her ilk.

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  3. jdledell says:

    “JD may boo-hoo over their awful circumstances, but I do not.”
    Nadine – Just remember these words the next time Jews are in the same position as the Palestinians. It has happened numerous times over the past few thousand years and it will happen again.
    I must admit to my chagrin that I find you to be an awful human being. I have never met anyone in my long life of world travels as callous towards others as you. How do you live with yourself? I have heard many foul things about Jews from the mouths of some arabs and yet you are nothing more than a mirror image of them. May G-d have mercy on your soul – if you even have one.

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  4. nadine says:

    Gaza will remain isolated until Hamas changes internally (unlikely) or something external changes.
    Eliott Abrams lays out his take on the Mideast:
    “Who will stop the Iranian nuclear weapons program, the Arabs wonder; they place no faith in endless negotiations between earnest Western diplomats and the clever Persians.
    Israel is the enemy of their enemy, Iran. Now, the usual description of Arab-Israeli relations as “hostile” or “belligerent” is giving way to a more complex picture. Following the joint Arab military efforts to prevent the formation of the Jewish State in 1948, and the wars that followed in 1956, 1967 and 1973, this is a bizarre turn of events. Israel is as unpopular in the Arab street as it has been in past decades (which is to say, widely hated), but for Arab rulers focused on the Iranian threat all those the Israeli Air Force jets must now appear alluring. The Israeli toughness the Arabs have complained about for over a half century is now their own most likely shield against Iran. ”
    read the whole thing http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703748904575411162454395320.html

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  5. questions says:

    And regarding Gaza?

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  6. nadine says:

    questions, I don’t see that common people on the West Bank are suffering all that badly. They live under PA rule, which is for the moment, quiet, and the economy is prospering.
    Ehud Barak has just ordered Israeli soldiers at checkpoints not to eat, drink or smoke in front of Arabs. Is that a “something” that Israel could do?
    Gee, will we see a “something” that the PA could do, like admitting the Jews have a history in Israel, and aren’t Europeans who first showed up 60 years ago? I wouldn’t count on it.
    Nothing about the actual situation really accounts for the unbalanced Israel bashing (which Steve Clemons is doing his bit to contribute to).
    It’s gotten so bad that Tom Friedman, who is usually just a Dem Establishment hack these days, wrote a column telling his fellow columns to stop with the one-sided Israel bashing, which only insures that the Israelis will continue to move to the right.

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  7. questions says:

    nadine,
    If you were to try perhaps to separate out the elite vs. masses view of “The Palestinians” you might argue better.
    The fact is that at the individual level, it is not so easy to be a Palestinian lately. Individual parents, individual kids, individual suffering.
    The elites might have all sorts of games they want to play, they might be deceitful or wicked, sincere or devout, whatever. The fact is that there are people aside from the elites who suffer deeply from the current situation.
    And, as I have said many times, I think Israel can do better. I don’t think they can fix everything, I do think there are major trust issues that are actually quite legitimate and are going to take a long long time to repair.
    Within that very distrustful atmosphere, I think there are things Israel should be doing.
    As for the 1850 issue, it’s harder in so small a space with so much news coverage to be quite so publicly wicked. I think the basic comparison is still a good one as it shows something about political development, analogues between the US and Israel, and all the other nations that run through these foundation sacrifice rituals.
    But if you want to pick a different date, go for it.

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  8. nadine says:

    questions, if Israel was really inhabited by 1850 Americans, they would have annexed the West Bank and Gaza and driven out the Arabs, leaving only a population they thought they could handle. Just like we did when settling the West. We didn’t leave any majority Spanish or majority Indian areas, except for the reservations.
    So the different behavior bespeaks a different mentality.
    JD refuses to acknowledge that the Palestinians never make their demands public because their demands are wildly unrealistic. All of the WB and Gaza isn’t good enough for them, they keep telling their people that “fair” = all Palestine. Clutching their artfully contrived Nakhba narrative, they refuse one realistic deal after another, that would let them rule themselves and propser.
    JD may boo-hoo over their awful circumstances, but I do not. When your core position is a wish to eradicate your neighbors, naturally you meet resistance. When you keep starting wars and losing them, your position naturally does not improve. Actually, the position of the Palesitnians is far more fortunate (and far better funded) than other similar minorities, e.g. the Turkish Kurds.
    JD, I remain amused by your insistence that my worldview would change if my Hebrew were better. If my Hebrew were better I could listen to all the Mizrahim tell me, “Listen, we know these Arabs. We know how they think. This utopian Meretz crowd is trying to get us all killed. Arabs don’t think about ‘fair’. They think about conquer or be conquered.” I daresay I would wind up further to the right.

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  9. questions says:

    jdledell,
    I couldn’t agree with you more. And the 1850 comparison sounds fine to me. After 1850, the US went through the Civil War, Jim Crow, and a couple of World Wars and the Cold War…. Much upheaval, lots of death, horrors all around.
    And the sad fact of it is that it’s all coming back as the dumbfuck republicans try to repeal the 14th Amendment. Dumbfucks moving the wrong direction. Hatred spewing all over the place. And they think they can play this game and contain it over and over again. Really dumbfuck move.
    Happily there are a few republicans around who are calling attention to the instigators.
    But countries really do need to find inner balances as they are the ones living with themselves. I know where I’d like the balance in Israel. But that’s not really the issue.
    I also know that in the case of Israel, there actually is something of a real threat that gives enough legitimacy to the crazies that they are harder to refute than are our crazies. Jan Brewer actually has to make up shit to scare people about brown folk. I don’t think they have to make us stuff about suicide bombers and political rhetoric in Israel.
    Sometimes out of the greatest hate arises a real desire for peace. Sometimes people see in their souls that they are full of wickedness and bile, that others are human too. The Mormon Church is apparently running commercials about their humanity. Will it help Mitt Romney? Who knows.

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  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Its laughable seeing questions prattle on about….
    “Process, generational change, getting people ready for what’s to come is really really a good idea socially speaking”
    ….when he has very little to say about the willful indoctrination of Israeli youth into activities such as the recent IDF Bedouin evictions and demolitions. As described in a recent article I posted and linked to, the “generational change” occurring in the I/P imbroglio is one of NEGATIVE direction, with the Palestinian youth being increasingly removed from living situations that expose them to positive interaction with Israeli Jews. Instead, they are increasingly drawing their opinions and inevitable prejudices from their contact with the IDF . And on the Israeli side, sending Jewish teens into Arab households to assist in evictions speaks for itself. Israel is NURTURING racial hatreds, NOT effecting positive “generational change” with sensible or sane youth programs designed to steer youth away from racial or cultural animous. Israeli society is veering AWAY from positive “generational change”, not towards it.
    One wonders how long it takes before this equivicating psuedo intellectual jackass “questions” can see the need for change in policies or situations that have maintained a status quo stagnation of positive results for decades. How many decades must roll by before the jackass is willing to consider calling a change in policy anything other than “brash”???
    And jdledell sees clearly what is clearly to be seen. It is sane, and begs the question, “Are Jews like Wig-wag and Nadine insane?” Well, one must draw an opinion about religious fanaticism and a belief in genetic superiority to answer that question. Surely, if Hitler is to be considered to have been insane, so too must Netanyahu if one uses the same criterias for definition.
    Israel is working against its own best interests, and such a self-defeating direction is unsustainable. Yes, perhaps thay can sugar coat the truth here through massive and well funded hasbara and lobbyist efforts, but such efforts only affect the narrative, they DO NOT affect the ACTUAL laws of cause and effect. Denying Israel’s suicidal racist policies and the resultant downhill slide may keep the Jews smiling in smug feelings of righteousness and moral superiority, but ironically, this denial is one of the major phenomena’s driving the downhill slide.
    And is this a bad thing, this downhill slide towards national suicide? Seeing what Israel is becoming, I’d have to answer, NO.

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  11. jdledell says:

    questions – WOW – that was quite a rant. I agree with you that the veneer of “civilized” people and countries is very thin. Scratch it too hard and evil oozes out. We see that in every country and people. As you point out the US and it’s anti-hispanic and anti-muslim commotion is indicative of this. Taken to an extreme, the US is fully capable of using nuclear weapons to commit a holocaust out of anger and feelings of exceptionalism. Many countries feel rules apply to others but not to themselves because “we” are more important and worthwhile. For example, on a trip to Russia 15 months ago, I was agahst at the attitude of people toward people of the Caucasus. Their lives were considered worthless and how dare they challange the Russina motherland. In effect, they should be grateful we let them live.
    Unfortunately, I find similar attitudes in Israel toward the Palestinians. America and Israel are similar in many respects. Both consider themselves extremely exceptional and better in every way than any other peoples. While every people feels this way to some extent, it is far and away the strongest in these two countries. The difference is the US has matured more than Israel. The latter is about 1850 America in it’s maturity. I even hear similar slogans like the “only good Palestinian is a dead Palestinian” and if “reservations are good enough for America they are good enough for us”.
    The West Bank has a Wild West feeling and I foresee a Israeli civil war in the future. As I’m sure you know there is a strong climate in the West Bank to break away from Israel to create a State of Judea. As long as there is a continuation of the occupation and growth of settlements, this succession movement will grow stronger to explode when, and if, a Palestinian state on these lands becomes reality.
    Many of these larger settlements have impressive armaments stored away – compliments of friendly IDF units. In Kiryat Arba there is an impressive supply of rifles, RPGs, small bore mortars etc. Sad to say but some of my relatives are leaders in the Judean State movement.
    While larger countries and populations might get away with going thru the necessary upheavals on their way to maturity, I think Israel and it’s Jewish population is too small and fragile to survive such a conflagration. While the 200,000 settlers surrounding Jerusalem will easily ally with Israel proper, the 300,000 West Bank settlers include 100,000 who are not moving come Hell or the IDF.
    I am one small voice who will continue to warn Israel to pay attention to history and the human elements of the Torah to take a giant leap into maturity rather than risk internal dissolution. The only real existential threat Israel faces is from the inside.

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  12. questions says:

    Dan,
    The problem is that W and M are wrong about interests, wrong about Congress/lobbying, and wrong about the effects of policy shifts.
    All of that wrongness is couched in some very very creepy language that they deny they use and then they use.
    They claim to be worried about anti-Semitic tropes, and then they list Jewish people….
    On and on. The book goes on.
    It’s a poor work of scholarship by people deeply outside their fields of training and expertise. That can sometimes produce interesting insights, but THEBOOK doesn’t really have anything going for it.
    So even if you think your three points are really W and M restated, there’s a gulf the size of, well, a gulf. You don’t do the JohnH list-making. You don’t revert back to anti-Semitic tropes right after denying that you’ll use them, and you actually seem vaguely open to the possibility that there are things worth learning in the debate. Your philosophy training shows in numerous ways. W and M? Not so much. (Though there may be something of a split between them with M’s going off the deep end and W’s moderating a bit???)
    I still think that your basic position is probably not the right one. I think it undersells a wide range of IR risks that are so incredibly significant that we really dare not undersell them. You occasionally express a kind of world-weary misanthropy that I generally find unhelpful and not really the right way to look at things.
    The US got a lot of years to kill its indigenous people, settle its civil wars, enslave a bunch of people, free them, deny them rights, extend them rights, have crazy presidents and sane ones…. The US has gotten a free pass to have all of its strife, and that strife has affected people all over the planet for a very long time. We’re not done with this process, by the way. And we’ve all benefited from huge amounts of wickedness, cruelty, death, disease, dismemberment, and truly disgusting behavior.
    Israel, too, and Palestine and Saudi Arabia and and and also need to work out their wars, their hierarchies and so on.
    It’s a hideous thing to watch. It’s a sick-fuck thing to participate in. Already-settled hierarchies let us pretend they never happened. Kinda nice.
    THAR BE AN ANALOGY THAT WILL SEEM OFF TOPIC BUT ISN’T — SKIP IT YOU’RE TOO LITERAL IN YOUR READING
    One of the hallmarks of modernist architecture is the determination not to hide structural features. Glass and steel towers wear their support systems, their skeletons, their metal framework on the outside. And in some of these buildings, that same skeleton isn’t covered by brick, drywall or any other cosmetic aid. It’s all skeleton. And open ductwork, and visible conduits.
    Older buildings from other architectural styles cover all that stuff up with fancy trim, ogees, floor molding, plaster work, brick and whatever else can go between the skeleton and the eye. We don’t see where the floor meets the wall because we put trim in. Same with wall and ceiling. We don’t see where drywall sheet meets drywall sheet because we tape, cover with mud, sand, primer and color coats. All is smooth, beautiful, as if it hadn’t been made but had appeared whole and complete in the universe.
    Woodwork, if you pay attention to it, covers its joints and nails with all sorts of tricks of the trade. Pay attention to the construction of a wooden rail sometime. Look for the things that were done to hide all the nails.
    TRANSITION FROM ANALOGY TO TOPIC — BEWARE!!!!
    This idea of hiding what holds us together and what can drive us apart, what our “social skeleton” is, what our history of construction is, is a trick of the trade. The US keeps a lot of stuff hidden from us. And we seem to prefer it that way.
    With I/P we see what it is that makes human societies. We see history in all its brutality being lived out in magazines, on TV, on the web. Kinda ugly stuff.
    BUT that process is far more necessary than any of us really wants to admit.
    Power relations have to be settled in a way that those living in them won’t feel ready to challenge them at the drop of a hat. When people feel they can challenge the hierarchies in which they live, the result isn’t freedom, it’s chaos at such a sickening and death-inducing level that I can’t imagine anyone around here really wants to court it.
    POA invokes two young idealists over and over again because they got in the way of the Israeli forces and they were seriously and horribly injured. Those injuries are nothing compared to what happens when people really challenge their hierarchies.
    Social stability with carefully structured procedural changes is a far better system than is any kind of radical, sudden change.
    People have to be ready for what political and social forces hand them. When we’re not ready, we don’t cope well, in fact we get violent.
    How does all of this apply — well, if the US backs off of Israel and courts some other side of the ME (we’re not going to remain “neutral” or treat everyone as “normal” (W and M) because we have too much at stake in the region), what messages are we sending to whom?
    What governmental structures do we undermine? What status quo relations do we fuck with such that the fairly hideous governments of the region start having significant problems with their own domestic instigators?
    What war forces do we unleash if we let go of the status quo?
    Read your Machiavelli and pay attention to what happens when you support a principality against others, and then try to broaden that understanding. When you pick a side and then you change sides, you intervene in a far wider set of circumstances than you realize.
    Many of the ME countries have unsettled, barely contained internal struggles, and letting them go is a huge huge mistake. There are always instigators willing to fuck with things, and the shifts in policy so passionately advocated here are likely to open the flood gates to regional instability.
    Process, generational change, getting people ready for what’s to come is really really a good idea socially speaking.
    *****
    As for “clash of civilizations” — I call bullshit.
    The clash isn’t ever “civilizations” — it’s instigators playing power games, pitting people against each other for their own gain.
    The shit we’re getting about the 14th Amendment, the racist dogwhistle crap the right is tossing out — this is careerist, inhumane dumbfuck instigation for the sake of a republican majority and the continued enrichment of the wealthiest and the really stupid policies of deregulation and economic redistribution upwards.
    The Verizon/Google thing will just send more fees up the economic ladder to the top…..
    There’s no clash of civilizations in the US, just a bunch of dumbfuck politicians.
    There’s no Islam vs. Christendom clash either. Just a bunch of dumbfuck politicians who think that they can stay in power or get more by playing games. They may feel that they are being sincere at some level, but the fact is that non-elite people often live with “others” and generally do fine. It’s the instigators who are the problem. And they will instigate no matter what.
    What we really need is slow syncretism rather than puritanism. My guess is that we’ll get just that over time. If, that is, we’re not too dumbfuck in our policies.

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  13. John Waring says:

    WigWag,
    I know you have had issues with Tony Judt’s views.
    Please read the last chapter of his book on postwar Europe. I have read a lot of history. I consider this chapter among best expamples of historical writing my generation has produced.
    His was a rare, towering intellect, and I will dearly miss his voice.

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  14. jdledell says:

    “BTW, you never answered my question: if you made what you considered a fair and just offer, and the other side responded by doubling their demands, would you have agreed or walked away?”
    Nadine – Of course I would walk away. However, the terms of the negotiation were outlined upfront. It took no real intelligence for the other side to recognize it’s fairness and realize if they did not accept, one of their competitors would accept it in a heartbeat.
    The reason the Palestinians pocket a concession and then continue to demand more is they realize Israel has more to offer if fairness is the objective. That is Israel’s big mistake. It is negotiating incrementally hoping to give away the least it can. Sadat demanded 100% of the Sinai and Begin finally realized that he had to go all the way or no deal.
    The difference between the Egyptians and Palestinians is that Begin recognized that Egypt would always be a significant threat, with repeated wars, until they got the Sinai back. Memories of the casualties of 1973 were fresh in everyone’s mind. Israel does not consider the Palestinians a threat. I’ve listened to numerous Israeli politicians tell their constituents how Israel can keep the occupation for as long as they want and the Palestinians can’t do a damn thing about it. If they act up like Hamas, Ramallah will be as devastated as Gaza City. This is the reason for the the incremental negotiations with the Palestinians.
    Nadine – My advice to you is to learn Hebrew and go to Israel and the West Bank. You will finally realize that the Hebrew Israel is very different from the English Israel.

    Reply

  15. Paul Norheim says:

    Nadine said: “I would only add that if W&M’s arguments
    resonated as strongly with the traditional Ku Klux Klan
    positions on African-Americans, as they resonate with the
    traditional “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” anti-Semitic
    positions on Jews, I think you would have reacted with extreme
    indignation. But since it was Israel and the Jews, you did not.”
    —————————-
    I guess that was said to Dan Kervick. I’m not sure if you were
    around here at that time, Nadine, but on several occasions Dan
    has addressed the anti-Semitic remarks here, and also the
    obsessive anti-Israel rants.
    ——————————–
    Questions said: “First we get the “it’s not a conspiracy theory”
    then we get JohnH saying “For years, discussion of Israel policy
    was verboten” — umm that kind of smacks of conspiracy –
    who’s doing all of this verbotening?
    Questions: you may agree or disagree with people like your
    former President Jimmy Carter or Bishop Desmond Tutu when
    they claim that Israel is turning into an apartheid state, but do
    you really agree with those who accuse them of being anti-
    Semites for saying so? I think that’s the climate JohnH referred
    to when he says that frank discussions of Israeli policy “was
    verboten”.
    I think you have to acknowledge the specific problem created
    by certain passionate pro-Israel groups, as well as the Israeli
    government, managing to hijack and limit the meaning of the
    word “anti-Semitism” as to signifying opposition to or criticism
    of whatever the Israeli government does or says – as if the
    historical dimension and the animosity towards Jews outside
    Israel is just a minor issue when speaking of anti-Semitism.
    In my view, this is very far from a conspiracy theory mentality.

    Reply

  16. Sand says:

    Oh ‘Master Dan’ may you train our TWN ‘Grasshopper’ well.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068823/quotes
    Meanwhile:
    – Rep. Berman Halts US Military Aid to Lebanon
    Border Clash With Israel Cited in Stoppage of $100 Million in Aid
    by Jason Ditz, August 09, 2010
    http://news.antiwar.com/2010/08/09/rep-berman-halts-us-military-aid-to-lebanon/

    Reply

  17. nadine says:

    “The three main components of their thesis, as I understand it, are that (i) there is a pro-Israel lobby, i.e. a “loose coalition of individuals and organizations who actively work to steer U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction”, (ii) this lobby is influential in that they sometimes succeed in steering US policy in a direction it would not otherwise go if it weren’t for the lobby’s activities, and (iii) in some of these cases, the direction in which the lobby has steered American policy is contrary to US interests.” (Dan Kervick)
    “First we get the “it’s not a conspiracy theory” then we get JohnH saying “For years, discussion of Israel policy was verboten” — umm that kind of smacks of conspiracy –who’s doing all of this verbotening?… There’s a sense that comes out loud and clear in that book that there’s a right way to do foreign policy and a perverted way, and we have been forced into perversion by the dirty deeds of this allegedly “loose” coalition that somehow seems fairly tightly coordinated despite its looseness.” (questions)
    Dan, I agree with both your point and question’s point as quoted here. The tendentious nature of W&M’s argument comes in when they switch their terms from “loose coalition” to “powerful lobby” without letting on. While they originally defined the “Israel Lobby” as an extremely loose coalition that includes anybody with any position they consider “pro-Israel”, they proceed to argue as if it were a tightly functioning, uniquely powerful lobby, indeed, as if it were the only foreign lobby in DC.
    For evidence, they adduce its repeated “successes,” which are easy to find, since having included nearly the entire political waterfront in the original definition, some part of the “Lobby” will always be enjoying a success. Sarah Palin and Chuck Schumer don’t have many common positions; if it’s “proof” of the “Israel Lobby’s” reach and scope every time some policy is adopted that one of them approves of, the Lobby’s power will be demonstrated on a daily basis. W&M never address the possibility that you brought up, that the so-called “Israel Lobby” is powerful because it represents the views of a majority of Americans.
    I would only add that if W&M’s arguments resonated as strongly with the traditional Ku Klux Klan positions on African-Americans, as they resonate with the traditional “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” anti-Semitic positions on Jews, I think you would have reacted with extreme indignation. But since it was Israel and the Jews, you did not.
    In adopting multi-culturalism and learning to embrace the “narratives” of the Third World, the Left has also learned to accept or at least ignore a high level of overt anti-Semitism, which would have been completely unacceptable in polite society even 10 or 15 years ago. An open bigot and Jew-hater like Carroll would not have been welcome on a forum like this one not so long ago. Now, Steve Clemons doesn’t even notice.

    Reply

  18. nadine says:

    “Publish the damn details and finally the world will understand who wears the white and black hats. Is Israel scared of such transparency?”
    Of course. Because every time Israel publishes a concession, the Palestinians pocket it. They demand that all Israel concessions be the STARTING point for the new negotiations; of course, they have agreed to nothing themselves.
    This is called raising the asking price. If they have done it once, they have done it a hundred times.
    They don’t want to sell.
    BTW, you never answered my question: if you made what you considered a fair and just offer, and the other side responded by doubling their demands, would you have agreed or walked away?

    Reply

  19. Dan Kervick says:

    “And Dan, the milder statement you make with points 1, 2, and 3 are a nice way to put it and stay far more within the bounds of the defensible and the accurate.”
    I think those claims are taken fairly directly from Walt & Mearsheimer. It seems that no matter how often, in the book and elsewhere, they explicitly affirm certain claims and explicitly deny certain other claims, people are determined to attribute to to them the claims they explicitly deny.

    Reply

  20. observer says:

    questions:
    You wrote: …It requires a full understanding of all the resource issues — energy, minerals, goods and services, trade relations, and immigration patterns. …”
    Only Nixon had that understanding.
    Nobody since him has shown that depth.
    I think the issue for US is “What price Israel?”
    Is emotional defense of Israel – diplomatically and otherwise – worth a religious war with Islam?
    What do you think?

    Reply

  21. questions says:

    Just keep in mind that absence of Israel isn’t absence of policy.
    Isn’t absence of war.
    Isn’t absence of pressure.
    It’s merely absence of Israel.
    This is the fallacy I referred to somewhere that we like to think that if we changed one aspect of something, we’d end up with something totally new. In fact, changing our relationship with Israel might simply mean we end up emphasizing, say, a relationship with Iran that gets us into some other war.
    It simply isn’t simple.
    Policy analysis isn’t a rant, a freak out, a panic attack, a worshipping of W and M, or MJ or mr mondo.
    Policy analysis in this arena requires a really sound understanding of congressional procedure and the effects of pressure systems.
    It requires a whole lot more history than I know.
    It requires a really good understanding of the domestic pressures in all of the relevant countries, what’s possible for them and what’s not, how their governments respond to their pressure systems, and so on.
    It requires a deep understanding of international alliances, international stability, the consequences of alliance shifts.
    It requires a full understanding of all the resource issues — energy, minerals, goods and services, trade relations, and immigration patterns. The fact that there are lots of Americans in Israel, lots of former Soviet citizens in Israel and so on — this affects policy as well.
    There are so many factors to keep straight as we try to craft something that will keep enough constituencies happy that we can all shift to a happier world that I just cringe when I see these overly simplistic reads of what seems so clear in an armchair and what is so impossible repeatedly on the ground.
    This is not the place to go full Reagan with the whole there goes questions all over again with all the bs complexity stuff. The fact is that it’s a complex situation fraught with disaster in many directions and it likely needs a dynamic and shifting working out where several factors are linked in simultaneous play.
    As always, I wish us all well, and I wish the fantasy of the rosy world sans Israel would just go away. For it is merely a fantasy.

    Reply

  22. JohnH says:

    questions, no one is salivating. When Israeli recklessness finally drags the US into the Mother of All Quagmires, killing off the global economy, I’ll be suffering along with everybody else. It’s just that those who are associated with gung-ho boosterism of the fiasco will suffer the most.
    My ancestors here in America were stigmatized and threatened with bodily harm because of their religion and their ethnicity. I don’t wish that on anyone. It may not happen, but it can definitely happen here. And Israel and its billionaire funders seem to be doing their best to dramatically increase the odds.

    Reply

  23. questions says:

    First we get the “it’s not a conspiracy theory” then we get JohnH saying “For years, discussion of Israel policy was verboten” — umm that kind of smacks of conspiracy –who’s doing all of this verbotening?
    And as for W and M, they have, so far as I can tell, something of a core of CTism.
    There’s a sense that comes out loud and clear in that book that there’s a right way to do foreign policy and a perverted way, and we have been forced into perversion by the dirty deeds of this allegedly “loose” coalition that somehow seems fairly tightly coordinated despite its looseness.
    So there’s some space to read in CT-like thinking between the lines, and even in the lines of text themselves. In the hands of some of the posters here, and around the webiverse, their vague sense of perversion by the unrighteous Jews is brought to the forefront so that we really do seem to have something of a cabal.
    Remember, when I did my little book report thing on it some months ago, one of the themes that came up again and again was the number of times W and M would SWEAR up and down they weren’t saying or doing something on the nastier side, and then BAM, they’d go ahead and do just that thing.
    Ugh.
    They really aren’t good on policy, they are horrible on Congress, and if the data in this Baumgarten book hold up, then they aren’t really right about THELOBBY or “the community” either.
    But then, I’ve said most of this stuff before.
    The tides of opinion do change over time, which of course really suggests that there’s no such thing as this allegedly super powerful lobby pulling strings. Rather, the reading would be more like a surfer finding a great wave and going along with it until it hits the shore or the winds calm down or whatever. The community, if we’re to call it that now, rides the wave. The wave is a complex formation that arises from the interactions of numerous forces.
    The question is going to be in which direction this tide turns. It’s not so clear it’ll go the way JohnH wants. It’s not like there’s a deep fondness for Arab and Islamic nations in this country, so assuming a swing away from Israel is on the iffier side.
    If people become disenchanted wit Israel (assuming they are even enchanted in the first place — BIG assumption), that doesn’t mean that they will prefer an even hand in the ME, and we know that there’s a limit to what preference can do in Congress unless it’s expressed as a re-election threat. If the public is quiet about an issue, if there isn’t much in the way of an instigator to wake people up and make them become attentive, not much will change regardless of poll numbers.
    But go ahead and salivate JohnH. You so love doing it!
    And Dan, the milder statement you make with points 1, 2, and 3 are a nice way to put it and stay far more within the bounds of the defensible and the accurate.
    From those three points, we can have a reasonable debate about what might happen in the absence of any pressure at all regarding Israel policy. There’s a lot of nuance in the lit about the circumstances under which lobbying might be said to be effective. I’m not sure how much of this the Baumgartner book takes up. I’m sure there’s room for a whole lot more work and I sincerely hope the number crunchers work on this for a generation. They’ll all get tenure somewhere and we’ll all have a better sense of decision-making patterns in Congress!
    We can also try to figure out what might or might not be against US interests, especially once we’ve figured out what those interests are. This one is long and complicated as I’m sure you know.
    Note that our dear friends the Pakistanis are playing multiple sides. Our dear dear friends the Saudis supplied most of the 9/11 bombers, our beloved friends the Iranians nationalized their oil industry and so that was a problem, our loyal Iraqi friend Saddam Hussein was found to be inconvenient for some number of incoherent reasons. So what’s the substitute, how do the alliances work, whom do we pal around with? It’s just not straightforward to me that there’s a clear path through the thicket of domestic ME politics such that we could say for certain we were pursuing our national interests (whatever that phrase means.)
    There’s really a lot of non-conspiratorial space for trying to figure out what really goes into policy setting, what inputs work and don’t, and what we “should” be doing as well.
    People can have disagreements on these issues without the hasbara crap coming up, and I really have to thank you, Dan, for avoiding that whole construct. So, thank you.

    Reply

  24. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Why it matters???
    Because we have entities such as AIPAC funneling funds, (huge amounts), into influencing United States’ policy, through bribery, (“We’ll support you and that guarantees Jewish contributions, IF……) or (“You wanna criticize Israeli policy or actions, fine, don’t expect to have the same war chest that your political opponent has.”).
    The above two tactics when used by the NRA, are employed to represent the will of its AMERICAN membership to influence American DOMESTIC policy. AIPAC, as described in its own words, exists to benefit Israel, and Jewish Israelis. Anyone that regularly peruses the AIPAC website cannot fail to ascertain, with certainty, that AIPAC is designed to benefit the citizens of a foreign nation, and work for the interests of that nation, NO MATTER the effect on our own security or interests.
    To argue that it is irrelevent whether our obscene support for Israel is based in the ideology of American Jews, and their loyalty to Israel, or based on the very well financed and managed efforts of what, (by all rights), should be considered a FOREIGN AGENCY is ridiculous.
    AIPAC is an organization the controls the narrative through intimidation, propaganda, and bribery. AIPAC works to shape the public sentiments about our middle eastern policies, by any means necessary. Read their website today if you wanna see what the whores in Congress will be saying tomorrow, and usually, its bullshit.
    Is that a Kingsnake or a Rattler my dog is gonna step on when he goes out the front door??? Its an important question, because it determines whether or not I need to chop the snake’s head off. AIPAC is a snake we shoulda beheaded aloooooong time ago.

    Reply

  25. JohnH says:

    What does matter, Dan, is that the discussion is taking place at all. For years, discussion of Israel policy was verboten, taken off the table by a pro-Israel media narrative and brutal retribution against politicians and other prominent people who stepped out of line.
    That dike has been breached. The water has begun to leak. People now freely discuss Israel and Israeli policy, despite attempts to plug the dike with fingers.
    Public opinion tends to move like the tides. Imperceptibly at first, the tide is moving against Israel. Then the tide gains momentum.
    This is what makes Nadine and her ilk so strident. They understand that discussion exposes Israel and its indefensible behavior. The more public discussion, the more Israeli behavior is exposed, and the faster the momentum becomes.
    Interestingly, arrogant Likud/Kadimites cannot resist the temptation to hasten the momentum by targeting lots of innocent women, children and elderly folks or by killing a few unarmed peace activists on the high seas.

    Reply

  26. Dan Kervick says:

    “As for the business about the lobby as interesting, in what sense, Dan (asked sincerely, not palinizingly).”
    It’s always interesting to learn more about how policy is made in this country, and what are the forces that drive it. Also, understanding the causal origins of a policy is very useful for thinking about the most effective ways to change that policy.
    FWIW, I don’t think Walt and Mearsheimer offer a conspiracy thesis. Most of the activism they describe is fully public. The three main components of their thesis, as I understand it, are that (i) there is a pro-Israel lobby, i.e. a “loose coalition of individuals and organizations who actively work to steer U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction”, (ii) this lobby is influential in that they sometimes succeed in steering US policy in a direction it would not otherwise go if it weren’t for the lobby’s activities, and (iii) in some of these cases, the direction in which the lobby has steered American policy is contrary to US interests.
    I think these things are true, but that establishing them doesn’t help much – at least not in forums like TWN. If Nadine argues in a public forum for some pro-Israel policy, and I want to argue against that policy, then I have to try to refute her argument. It doesn’t matter whether she is part of a lobby. It doesn’t matter if she is Alan Dershowitz or Steve Rosen wearing a wig. If her argument prevails, her side gains traction; and if my refutation prevails, my side gains traction.

    Reply

  27. JohnH says:

    questions, you’re right. It isn’t a conspiracy. It’s right out there in the open, plain as day.
    And when Israel and its wealthy supporters drag the US into ruinous quagmire in Iran, it won’t be billionaires who pay the price–it will be the entire community on whose behalf the US attacked Iran. And I assume you will be one of them, like it or not, deserving or not.
    Think about it…

    Reply

  28. questions says:

    JohnH,
    You gotta ask yourself something really really BIG.
    What is representation?
    Is it a one-for-one demographic relationship such that in fact we need all the voting age adults to be directly involved in the Congress?
    Is the process of elections sufficiently just for you? Or would rather overturn any election that leads to there being “too many” of some or other ethnicity, race, color, gender, class, handedness, hair color, baldness, or whatever other salient feature? So which MCs will you toss out as insufficiently representative of their constituency?
    And which Supreme Court members will you toss cuz none of them is a Protestant for now? Come to think of it, there aren’t and Buddhists, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there aren’t any vegetarians, doctors, engineers, or carpet layers on the Court either.
    WE MUST HAVE PERFECT DEMOGRAPHIC MATCHES an’ all.
    You do realize what a dumb place you’ve come to, I hope. In the name of DEMOCRACY you seem to want to overturn elections that have led to what you think is a mismatch in representation.
    Of course, I’m not even going near the whole, can a Jewish person “speak” for me if I’m not Jewish nonsense…..
    Obama’s a black guy (in case you hadn’t noticed.) Only something like 12 or 13% of the country is black. So I guess we need a pres who’s 12 or 13% black, n%white, 100-13-n% brown and asian, too…..
    Can you really be this simplistic and stupid in your thinking?
    Representation is not a demographic characteristic.
    It is, under our constitution, a procedural notion. If we can’t fucking stand our rep, we vote him/her out of office and try again.
    The fact is that, as Dan said, you all have a policy disagreement with US policy over the last n years.
    You have taken that disagreement and built on it til it festers and you have an open sore and fistula that is oozing really gross goop out of your collective psyches.
    To help you “heal” you have invented superstructure upon superstructure, epicycle upon epicycle, insane conspiracy theory upon insane conspiracy theory that so totally bears no relationship to what our political process is that you no longer recognize how the system here works.
    You are so consumed by this insanity that you’d overturn elections in the name of democracy, that you’d undermine the quite thoroughly procedural underpinnings of our system in the name of a preferred outcome, you’d start listing Jewish people to prove what I don’t know….
    You don’t fucking like the policy. So say so.
    I don’t fucking like education policy in the US. I think it’s destroying us. I think Arne Duncan, especially following the Bush mess, is a walking talking disaster for the nation’s school children. I think Race to the Top is a piss poor way to impose quite necessary national education standards. I think there has to be a better way than to have states falling all over themselves to test more and faster. I think charter schools suck. I think privatization is the dumbest fucking thing we can do for civic education. I think magnet schools suck. I think our ed. policy sucks from top to bottom, from K-college and grad school, from teacher education all the way through the abolition of tenure, from funding kindergarten through funding profs. It all sucks.
    But it isn’t a conspiracy. And I don’t think there’s an overrepresentation of anyone doing education policy in this country save for idiots. But they are likely well-meaning idiots, actually.
    I disagree with the policy, I have evidence to show the faults, I can cite some pretty good scholars like Diane Ravitch who has done a total 180 and now agrees with me.
    You have, for your disagreement JohnH, a list of Jewish people. So there. THAT proves everything, according to you.
    A list isn’t an argument, and you have no argument.

    Reply

  29. questions says:

    But then, Dan, you’d be more rational, less conspiratorial, not a W and M acolyte, and not particularly mystified about how we got here.
    Your motivations are different from those of some of the other posters around here, at least according to the post above.
    “Disagreement” is a very different stance from the one most often bandied about around here.
    And disagreement is insufficient for the wingiest posters around here because it allows the space for the legitimacy of the current status quo, and it’s precisely that legitimacy that they need to call into question. After all, if it’s legit, it might stay status quo. If it’s mere disagreement, then we might be stuck.
    The goal really seems to be to tap into a deep well of illegitimacy, paranoia, purity concerns, overwrought emotions in order to make the status quo far worse than mere policy preference. The intensity of the traitor meme, the impurity meme, the conspiracy meme, the disproportion meme, JohnH’s list, Mearsheimer’s lists… all to push people into such a sick sense of having been used, betrayed and thrown away that we can never ever keep the status quo. Indeed, we much launch an attack in return for the betrayal.
    We’ve been used and abused repeatedly and it must not stand. So goes the meme around here.
    As for the business about the lobby as interesting, in what sense, Dan (asked sincerely, not palinizingly).

    Reply

  30. jdledell says:

    “Really? Wow, I want to negotiate with you. You must be the ultimate soft touch.”
    Nadine – I was hardly a soft touch – if I was I would not have continued to be trusted with billions of dollars of deals. It was really quite simple. I announced beforehand I was going to offer a very fair deal and aside from minor points there was no negotiations. It worked everytime.
    Can you tell me the details of Olmert’s offer of 2007? Of course not, no one knows and it certainly was not published for the world to see. As I told you before, according to Livni, the percentages of land offered were distorted by the lease deals.
    The reality is no one really knows what goes on in these negotiations and what the specifics of the offers are. People reporting on what they think was offered were usually only party to parts of the deals and EVERY SINGLE person reporting has an ax to grind and is biased. That goes for Israel and the Palestinians.
    Publish the damn details and finally the world will understand who wears the white and black hats. Is Israel scared of such transparency? I think they are because when it’s all out in the open, Israel’s offer will fall far short of a viable,continguous state of Palestine.

    Reply

  31. JohnH says:

    How would questions and Nadine react if Iranian-Americans were represented by Senators, 31 Congressmen, 3 Supreme Court Justices, and a significant proportion of the cabinet? What if they had a powerful lobby funded by a group of fanatical billionaires and supported by Iranian-American media moguls at the NY Times and Washington Post? What if their main foreign policy objective was to lend unqualified support to the mullahs and bomb Israel?
    Oh well, I’m sure questions and Nadine would not bat an eyelash. After all, it’s the American way to have rich people hijack the federal government to suit their agenda, even if it means dragging the country into hopelessly expensive, foreign quagmires on behalf of foreign religious states!

    Reply

  32. Dan Kervick says:

    “You may bend over backwards to think that Iran is non-threatening; the Gulf Arabs know better.”
    You wouldn’t know it from these poll results. And any policy that is so unpopular that it can only be practiced behind the scenes by a few elites is not sustainable, and is no foundation for an entire US strategic approach.
    Now that Obama and his people have gotten their precious sanctions, and have made a high-handed show of rebuffing mediation by third parties, they will hopefully recalculate the Iran policy after they have finished their media victory lap and bragging display. We might have to wait until the election season is over however.

    Reply

  33. Dan Kervick says:

    This running debate about the lobby illustrates why I have generally preferred to use the term

    Reply

  34. nadine says:

    “Nadine – Your comment betrays your lack of knowledge of successful negotiations. When I made an fair offer there was nothing left to haggle about.” (jdledell)
    Really? Wow, I want to negotiate with you. You must be the ultimate soft touch. But the crucial difference is, the guys you negotiated with wanted to make a profit off you, not kill you. The sine qua non of negotiating is to figure out what the other guy really wants. BTW, if they had responding to your fair and just offer by doubling their demands, would you have agreed or walked away?
    “The Taba negotiations were probably 2 weeks away from successful conclusion. It was Barak who walked away at the end because of the infitada and the election. Put it back on the table and finish it off – be totally open about it. Let the world see exactly what is being offered and if it is as fair as you think, I believe Israel will gain the support of a vast majority of the world.”
    Why in the world should I think the result would be different that Olmert’s offer in 2007? If Abbas told Mitchell that he would be willing to take an offer like that, Obama would put the full court press on Netanyahu to offer it. Instead Abbas runs from the table.
    The idea that the two sides were close to a deal at Taba is an illusion. That’s why talks broke down so badly; Taba was about as far as the Israelis could go, politically, and they saw it was nowhere near enough to make a deal. When a dove like Ben-Ami says that the Palestinians were steeped in a negative ethos about Israel and wouldn’t accept any deal that left Israel standing, you should pay attention. That is significant.
    You should read
    Getting to No
    Donald L. Horowitz
    As proximity peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians appear to give way to a resumption of direct negotiations, the parties will shift their attention from pre-negotiation maneuvering to the substance of the negotiations themselves. When they do, conventional wisdom will reassert itself. That wisdom holds that there is already in existence at least the general shape of a deal to which both sides can agree. It is a modified version of what Yasir Arafat walked away from at Camp David and then at Taba in 2000, what an unofficial group of Israelis and Palestinians presented at Geneva in 2003, and what Mahmoud Abbas failed to answer definitively when it was presented to him by outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008. With some fine-tuning, the chorus of pundits will say, perhaps an agreement can be consummated. President Obama himself said, during Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

    Reply

  35. questions says:

    OMG OMG OMG
    The REAL ISSUE is that AIPAC IS A FOREIGN LOBBY.
    RUN FOR THE HILLS there’s a foreign lobby in town made up of anchor babies with dual loyalties who are not righteous Jews and so don’t appear on Mearsheimer’s RIGHTEOUS JEWS LIST ™. (You think he was aiming for the Cafe Press t-shirt and mug market?!)
    Run for the hills. It isn’t about lobbying which, of course, the data are mixed about. It’s about foreignness, foreign-osity, foreign-itude.
    Impurity, oh so foul.
    America for Americans. Damn that 14th Amendment and all its anchor babies. Damn them all!
    ***
    People on the right are so fucking funny about things like purity.
    ****
    Ok, here’s an informal fallacy worth thinking through. I don’t know the name of it, so I’ll make one up –
    In the absence of the current policy I don’t like, a new policy I do like would emerge — that’s the description.
    So this one says that if, say, AIPAC or every lobby that concerns itself with anything having even remote relationships with Israel, has to register as a FOREIGN LOBBY, then suddenly, miraculously, we will simply stop diplomatic relations with Israel. And of course, we’ll put Berman and the JohnH percentages at the top of the registry. And the WILL RECUSE from any conflict of interest votes.
    (And men won’t vote on things that affect men, and whites won’t vote on things that affect whites, and the members from Texas will not vote on anything that affects Texas and Latino/as will stay away from anything that affect Latin, Latin America, Spain, Cuba, case endings and gender in grammar, long words….. GOOD LORD, you all really think this way??!!)
    If we suddenly stop diplomatic relations with Israel, and financial relations as well, ALL THAT BILLIONAIRE MONEY will flow back into my pocketses and I will be rich rich rich!
    And when I’m rich rich rich, and policy follows my rationality, there will be world peace and loveliness and beauty will reign forever.
    In the absence of the present, a new and better present will emerge, the one I like and not one that in the least bit resembles what we do now.
    But of course it don’t work that way.
    There aren’t single causes for major events and policies, so absenting one “cause” doesn’t really knock the whole system down.
    Single cause, easy fix issues — it’s a fantasy that sits in the OCD minds of poor thinkers.
    You latch on to some simple, simplistic, not well informed notion (THE LOBBY), some utterly simplistic notion of causation (donation of any size or proportion = vote) and you obsess over and over again until you are so convinced by your own head that you cannot take in any information to the contrary (“It’s THELOBBY” NO, it’s the FOREIGNness of THELOBBY, LOBBY… FOREIGNNESS) And round and round it goes.
    It’s neither THELOBBY nor the FOREIGNNESS of THELOBBY. It’s a complex outcome from a lot of complex inputs over a very long time period and a lot of geographic space. Many interests coalesce. Many structures come into play.
    And voila, a policy. A policy, by the way, that plenty of people over many years have supported. Without conspiracy. They just think it’s ok.
    But of course, no amount of evidence penetrates the brains of ideologically motivated people. Research has pretty much shown this one.
    As I said before, you hate the policy. You think it’s crazy. You think the only way people can believe it is if they are crazy or conspirators. Conspiracy wins the day (THELOBBY, no I mean the FOREIGNNESS OF THELOBBY.)
    Evidence about what lobbying actually does, in the form of decent data analysis, is not going to change one brain cell in your ideological haze of a brain.
    But really, instead of posting here, go ahead and write to Baumgarten. It’s his field at some level. He might not specialize in AIPACKY, but he does seem to know how to do congressional data analysis.
    Of course, he might not say what you want him to, and he might not even go as far as I do into crazy denialism. But maybe he’ll have something to say. And he’d welcome the attention to his new book.

    Reply

  36. questions says:

    JohnH,
    Regarding you post as follows:
    “Sand is right. questions is being willfully naive.
    Let’s let the facts speak for themselves. Besides the formal Lobby, you also have the inside Lobby.
    14 Senators (14%)
    31 Congressmen (7%)
    2 Supreme Court Justices (29%)
    1 White House Chief of Staff (Rahm Emanuel)
    Obama’s cabinet is interesting: “a chock full

    Reply

  37. nadine says:

    Sure, Carroll, the Hamas guys who said they personally witnessed the Israelis shooting the kids were lying. What, you’re shocked? Bet you believe Pravda always told the truth too.
    Hamas routinely blames everything on Israel. Why should anyone doubt it? It’s not shameful for them to lie; taqqiya in defense of Islam is perfectly permissible. In fact, it’s their duty to lie. But it’s not the duty of western journalists to swallow the lies whole, which many do. Hedges does every time.
    Remember how POA was going on about some explosion in the Gaza strip, which Hamas blamed on Israel and antiwar.com promptly chimed in and accused Israel of using illegal flechette bombs (=nail bombs)? Was it this explosion? Oops, it turns out it was another Hamas work accident. A factory in the middle of a crowded refugee camp blew up. The neighbors had begged Hamas to remove the bomb factory, but Hamas doesn’t care about the lives of the neighbors. Of course, Hamas immediately blamed Israel for it. Notice that the source for this article is a Palestinian human rights organization:
    GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A Palestinian rights group has called for an investigation into a blast in central Gaza that injured several civilians, saying it was likely caused by an internal explosion.
    In a statement, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights called upon the Hamas-led government in Gaza to launch an inquiry into the explosion in the Deir Al-Balah refugee camp Monday morning which, according to its statistics, injured 58 civilians including 13 children.
    Medics told Ma’an shortly after the blast that Israeli warplanes struck Al-Qassam Brigades leader Alla Ad-Danaf’s home, injuring at least 42 civilians. The Israeli army has denied involvement, however, saying there was no army or air force activity in the area that night.
    PCHR said after the blast that Palestinian resistance members arrived in the area and surrounded the affected house, collecting shrapnel from an explosive device and transporting it in a car. Gaza police also arrived in the area and prevented people from reaching the house.
    The rights group said that in light of information available to it through field investigations, and according to testimonies of eyewitnesses that saw transportation of bombs from the house, “there are reasons to suspect that the explosion was coming from inside the house and occurred for no apparent reason.”
    Internal explosion have occurred in the past in houses amidst densely populated areas because of “mistakes in manufacturing, bad storage of bombs or other reasons, which caused many fatalities among civilians and destroyed houses,” the PCHR said.
    The group urged the Gaza government to publish the findings of its probe into the blast, noting that several similar incidents have been recorded.
    In response, a statement issued Tuesday by the Ezz Ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, read, “We confirm that what happened

    Reply

  38. nadine says:

    “One thing that comes through loud and clear in Shibley Telhami’s latest Arab Public Opinion Survey is that the vaunted Sunni Arab front against the “Shia Crescent” is built on pillars of sand at best, and is more realistically seen as an utter fiction”
    Dan, you’re looking at apples and making conclusions about bananas. The Arab regimes must make allowances for their Street, and will whip up the radicalism when it suits them, but regime preservation is always Job One, and the Shia Crescent threatens it.
    You may bend over backwards to think that Iran is non-threatening; the Gulf Arabs know better. Arab regimes have no problem cooperating with Israel behind the scenes, while yelling about how Israel is the biggest threat to the Arab Mideast on TV.

    Reply

  39. Carroll says:

    Posted by nadine, Aug 08 2010, 11:11PM – Link
    >>>>>>>>>>>>
    Camera?..camera, is your refute? A org who exist to smear academics much like the now defunct JDL who collected info of politicans and blew up an office is your source for the truth? omg, how pitiful.
    So ALL the people who have personally witnessed these things are and were lying?
    What I expected but I wanted you to have to do it.
    Posted by Sand, Aug 09 2010, 12:18AM – Link
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Don’t expend so much energy, it’s wasted. questions has been here babbling this way about the lobby that isn’t much of a lobby and is just like all other lobbies for a year.
    It’s his attempt to keep you away from the real point which is that AIPAC is a lobby for a ‘foreign country” not a lobby for domestic issues.
    Which is another whole dangerous point the US Israeli firsters want to avoid at all cost.
    Because most Americans quite rightly see something wrong with US Jews working so hard to take American money for themselves and Israel and influencing congress for that foreign country’s benefit in ways that are damaging to us.
    If you do make that point their is no debate …you’re just an anti semite. LOL

    Reply

  40. Sand says:

    ‘preferential COVER’
    oh I do like blogs you can edit.

    Reply

  41. Sand says:

    Questions.
    You don’t respect or like Hersh [a guy who has for decades been an *investigative* journalist/writer who gets into the bowels of government more than any fly by night expert writing his/her one off paper], Carter (who happened to have had the most powerful job in the world], Judt — [a guy who was one of the Lobby troops].
    Interesting that you think that Rep. Berman & Rep. Ackerman (out of how many reps in congress?) who happen to carry districts in NY and CA that you presume have constituents that have an overwhelming devotion of Israel over the US should get positions in government that give them carte blanche to give cover and preferential to another State over the United States — interesting.
    But that’s ok coz the Democratic Party said it was ok… [see below] Which incidentally, would take us OUT of the purview of the workings of the Lobby specifically within Congress — and into the party infrastructure itself, as well as even looking into the workings of the US bureaucracy — My oh my — & how is that going to factor into our infallible scientific model?
    =========================
    “…While the relationship between Democrats and Jews is longstanding, it has taken its hits in recent years. About one-quarter of American Jews voted to re-elect President Bush in 2004, as some Jews complained that Democrats were less supportive of a strong Israeli defense. There were lingering concerns this year that some Democratic lawmakers, including a few who are now likely to chair committees, want to pressure Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians.
    Price worked hard to counter that perception for this election, orchestrating an online town hall where congressmen tackled tough questions from the community head-on. JEWISH LAWMAKERS MADE CLEAR THAT THE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS WOULD SUPPORT ISRAEL, AND THOSE MEMBERS WHO WERE NOT SUPPORTIVE WOULD NOT HAVE INFLUENCE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS. In one exchange, Pelosi said that former President Jimmy Carter

    Reply

  42. Dan Kervick says:

    One thing that comes through loud and clear in Shibley Telhami’s latest Arab Public Opinion Survey is that the vaunted Sunni Arab front against the “Shia Crescent” is built on pillars of sand at best, and is more realistically seen as an utter fiction. To the extent that such neo-Cold War strategic thinking reflects the outlook of a few Arab elites (and very aged elites, one must add), that thinking appears to have very little grounding in broader public attitudes. Not only that, public attitudes are actually trending away from the anti-Iran direction, not toward it.
    Even given the fact that these Arab societies are only minimally democratic, sustaining a Sunni Arab anti-Shia and anti-Iran entente would require constant upstream paddling against the flow of popular opinion. Mubarak and Abdullah will be gone soon, and their largely self-interested preoccupations with preserving 20th century sand castles that are being eroded inexorably by the incoming tides of history are no basis for an enduring US Middle East policy.
    As should already have been evident to US policy-makers for about a decade now, the US interest in the Middle East is best advanced by promoting a multilateral balance of power in the region, not by promoting a bipolar cold war, regime change and rollback strategy. A US strategic wager against Iran, a state which for two and a half millenia has almost always been culturally and intellectually ahead of its Arab neighbors, is a bad bet. This is especially the case when the most powerful Sunni Arab neighbor these days is a hidebound and despotic clan state with a mere veneer of modernity built on the temporary gilding of oil money.
    I don’t see how US interests would be served by breaking off Iraqi Kurdistan from its current home state. Apart from the fact that the breaking off itself is likely to be very violent and unpredictably destabilizing, the presence of three diverse communities in Iraq pushes the politics of that state in a direction which is neither too close nor too far from its important neighbors to the South and East. It is not in the US interest for either the Islamic Republic of Iran or the As-Saud clan to dominate the region on the Western side of the Shatt-al-Arab. Pushing Kurdistan out of Iraq would both extend Iranian influence in the remaining portion of Iraq, and bring Iranians and the As-Sauds into more direct conflict.
    A larger, three-community Iraq with triangulated internal politics is better for the stability of the region, and there is good reason now for reckoning that a stable Iraqi state is emerging from the destruction of the Iraq War. It would be reckless to abandon that stabilization process for a new round of Middle East slicing and dicing.
    Maybe it won’t take too long for the Israelis themselves to recognize that the best way to protect Israel from Iran, in the short run and over the long run, is for the United States to develop a closer and friendlier relationship with the Islamic Republic. If they are betting instead on the octogenarians Mubarak and Abdullah to forge a durable regional containment order, one based mainly on sectarian affiliation, and that runs against the prevailing directions of Arab opinion, then it would appear they don’t know how to count.

    Reply

  43. nadine says:

    “Let’s let the facts speak for themselves. Besides the formal Lobby, you also have the inside Lobby.
    14 Senators (14%)
    31 Congressmen (7%)
    2 Supreme Court Justices (29%)
    1 White House Chief of Staff (Rahm Emanuel)”
    You forgot, it’s 3 Supreme Court Justices now.
    We’re everywhere, sending out our secret Joooo-beams.
    Unfortunately, most of my fellow religionists are liberal lunkheads, so they are send their beams in the wrong direction.
    But never mind. Its THE LOBBY. Who cares what they are actually lobbying for?
    So what are you going to do next, JohnH, demand we all wear yellow stars to warn off the innocent?

    Reply

  44. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gads, questions is the most full of shit I’ve seen him in a while. He’s really on a roll tonight.
    Or, should I say;
    ….hes really rolling in it tonight.
    “Blablablablah…….”
    What I don’t understand is why he devotes so much time to advance such an asinine argument. Why not just say “The power of the Israeli lobby groups is overstated” and be done with it? I mean geez, if you’re going to make an ass of yourself, why expend uneccessary energy????

    Reply

  45. JohnH says:

    Sand is right. questions is being willfully naive.
    Let’s let the facts speak for themselves. Besides the formal Lobby, you also have the inside Lobby.
    14 Senators (14%)
    31 Congressmen (7%)
    2 Supreme Court Justices (29%)
    1 White House Chief of Staff (Rahm Emanuel)
    Obama’s cabinet is interesting: “a chock full

    Reply

  46. nadine says:

    Carroll, That so-called “account” from Chris Hedges (“Gaza Diaries”) is nine years old. In it, Hedges claims that the IDF deliberately shot boys whom he did not see shot, or hear get shot. Hedges said the IDF used silencers, which regular Israeli troops don’t even have on their rifles. The whole thing is a concoction of lies, and has been debunked many times. E.g. http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_article=4&x_context=2 We can only speculate whether Hedges made it up himself, or passed on whatever he was told in a gullible manner.
    In that same piece, Hedges was pushing the old Leftist line that Palestinians disapproved of their boys becoming suicide martyrs. This was when the Left was still pushing the “desperation” angle for suicide terrorism. Since then, thousands of proud martyr’s parents interviews, and thousands of suicide bombers all over the Mideast have given the lie to that line. I notice the Left doesn’t claim anymore that suicide bombers must be “desperate” or that their societies don’t approve.

    Reply

  47. questions says:

    Sand writes,
    “As an everyday American they views are obviously legitimate — however, both Berman and Ackerman are not everyday Americans are they? They are powerful members of a United States foreign affairs committee, that can control and direct important foreign policy. They are supposed to be concerning themselves with the interests of the United States first — but all I see coming out from them (lobby or no lobby in their case) is a massive, massive (maybe even dangerous) conflict of interest.”
    OMG — Manchurian candidates everywhere!!!! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!!!
    They are supposed to represent their constituents. If they fail in that regard they get tossed out.
    CONFLICT OF INTEREST OMG — a rep has a viewpoint and then votes!!! OMG OMG OMG.
    In fact, it’s precisely their view points that get them elected. We’re all ideological at some level, and Berman seems to represent his district well enough to be re-elected. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll look up his district’s PVI, or if Nate Silver has done his new thing, PPI (I think that’s what it’s called)…..
    Maybe his constituents like him?

    Reply

  48. questions says:

    Three things you should know about me — I am fearless in disagreeing with “reputable journalists” I don’t give a damn about their reputations, I care only about their arguments. If the arguments suck, then that’s enough for me.
    Second, I am fearless about disagreeing with “reputable academics” too. If their arguments suck, that’s enough for me. And when they are way outside their field of training and scholarship I am way way more suspicious. W and M — U of C and Hahvahd — big fucking deal — they do IR of a sort I don’t even like. Judt — wasn’t he a historian?? Not, say, a congressional scholar? So, again, big fucking deal what he says about the miraculous powers of THELOBBY. MJ? He’s an insider-turned-outsider, a true believer become apostate, an exaggerator of what power he had so that he can add drama. Sorry.
    The field has a standard of proof that I have a lot of respect for, even if I can’t duplicate the quant work myself. At least I can recognize it and question it and wonder if more work needs to be done or not.
    What you see from a lay perspective is not what experts see. No more would I want a lay surgeon who’s pretty sure my heart needs to be removed than would I want a lay blogger to determine whether or not THELOBBY has power.
    Third, not actually about me, when people talk about lobbying, they are supposed to mean the act of convincing an MC to vote in a particular way.
    What the fuck does it mean that Berman is part of THELOBBY when he’s not in the business of lobbying but rather is in the business of being lobbied? Certainly he talks to colleagues, but are we now defining any and all interaction BETWEEN members of Congress as “lobbying” — so now they can’t sit down together and talk, but have to stand up and eat hot dogs on tooth picks or whatever?
    Are all the rules of lobbying to apply to floor action in the chambers?
    Does anyone have their categories straight, a clear notion of evidence, an understanding of how causation works?
    A sense that a historian or an IR specialist might not know much about Congress, that “being an academic” is not a credential, that “being a journalist” or a “blogger” is also not a credential, that what seems obvious can simply be wrong?
    Yikes.
    You do realize that the data don’t seem to support your conclusions, and your definitions of terms are waffly and unhelpful, and you don’t even define “power” such that “the most powerful foreign lobby” makes sense.

    Reply

  49. questions says:

    So the author, Frank Baumgartner, put his email address at the end of the pdf of the power point slides and he says, e-mail me!
    http://www.unc.edu/~fbaum/teaching/POLI065_Fall09/Baumgartner_UNCPubPol_Oct_2_2009.pdf
    Just e-mail him and say, hey, whassup with the THELOBBY THANG and see what he says. Let him know there’s some batshit THELOBBY denialist posting really batshit crazy stuff and you need this set right.
    I’m sure he’ll reply if you’re polite. He certainly invites questions about his methodology.
    He finds problems with lobbying, and a certain kind of effectiveness of lobbying, but not the ones that people freak out about most.
    For Baumgartner, what gets lobbied isn’t what people think is the most important problem set facing the nation. So the disconnect is anti democratic. According to the final slides.
    Money counts a lot less than people seem to think. So “muscle” is less of an issue.
    Thanks for the link. The book looks really interesting, and it even ties in a little of the economics stuff I’ve been reading about information and its relationship to price. Price already reflects known information, and so MC positions already reflect known preferences. Hence lobbying has an enormously difficult time effecting any policy outcomes at all. The status quo bias is structural as the preferences are already in the status quo.
    Really interesting reading!
    I haven’t read the book yet, but the thesis seems reasonable from what I have read.
    Perhaps he’ll say, OH, well, THELOBBY really is different. And then I’ll have to be fast on my feet.

    Reply

  50. Sand says:

    – “Berman is in it from inside the House”
    Yeah Berman is definitely in it from inside the House — Actually Berman [Chairman of the United States Foreign Affairs Committee] is also in the Jewish Caucus — and somehow I don’t think they meet-up to exchange recipes?
    JPost Berman: …”Israel’s security and the US-Israeli relationship is for me an issue that shapes my whole agenda [in] Congress, and guides it,” he told The Jerusalem Post in a recent interview in his Capitol Hill office…”
    He’s also a member of the “International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians” under the World Jewish Congress. the ICJP was in the JTA news recently when Rep. Ackerman it’s President [another member of the Jewish Caucus and having immense power over our foreign policy] was screaming that there should be an emergency meeting held in ‘Israel’ — coz it was under attack!
    As an everyday American they views are obviously legitimate — however, both Berman and Ackerman are not everyday Americans are they? They are powerful members of a United States foreign affairs committee, that can control and direct important foreign policy. They are supposed to be concerning themselves with the interests of the United States first — but all I see coming out from them (lobby or no lobby in their case) is a massive, massive (maybe even dangerous) conflict of interest.

    Reply

  51. Sand says:

    The ‘acceptance’ of the Israel Lobby’s (esp. AIPAC) extreme power is evident in more than just one poll. Also it would be silly to dismiss the acceptance by many ‘reputable’ journalists [e.g. Hersh], Statesmen [e.g. Carter], and academics [e.g. Judt].
    Sorry Questions — the fact that the ‘Israel Lobby’ ‘is’ powerful and is successfully pushing Israel’s agenda even when it’s not in the best interests of the US — is totally ‘out-of-the-bag.’
    You can’t stuff it back — sorry.

    Reply

  52. questions says:

    W and M do IR. They do not do Congress. I promise you the fields are so specialized that what they say about Congress is meaningless.
    And in fact, “Congress” gets broken down too.
    You need someone well versed in quantitative method, vote patterns, lobbying issues, policy determinations, and the like.
    Why not join up over at 538 dot com and if enough of you beg Nate Silver, who probably does have the resources to do this, maybe you’ll get a response.
    And I would say that Nate Silver is someone whose work I trust enough that if he showed the kind of data I know needs to be shown, I could quite easily change my mind about what I take to be the effectiveness of lobbying in general and THELOBBY in particular (especially if someone could offer a fucking rational definition of it — cuz according to mr. mondo, Berman is in it from inside the House. Suddenly, THELOBBY is even bigger. Why, these guys lobby themselves!!!! Manchurian candidates all of them! (Practically just like “Salt” the Jolie vehicle. Maybe mr mondo saw it the other night!!!!!!)
    Qualitative “muscle” lobby surveys are about as meaningless as patient reports for major drug studies.
    Objective criteria please. The field has developed reasonable parameters for reading what “power” means, what success means, how lobbies work. And none of it conforms to what you read in MJ or mr. mondo or POA and Carroll for that matter.
    It’s all a little more complicated.

    Reply

  53. questions says:

    “”One of the questions we would ask people is ‘Which interest groups seem to have the most sway?’” Veis said.”
    From the GQ piece linked to above.
    I’m sorry, but “seem to have the most sway” isn’t proof of a damned thing.
    Compare money donated to total money to vote counts to district preferences to ideology.
    Compare nothing to “seems”.
    Please read up on informal fallacies, use of evidence and the like.
    “Seems” is not evidence.
    Now why would any any DC insider say to anyone ever “Oh, no, Lobby X has no power at all.” Who would say that.
    I’ve been over this point before, by the way, and I’ve posted various quotations from various MCs about some or other super powerful lobby or other.
    What they say matters a whole lot less than what they actually do given the constraints I’ve listed time and again.
    Anecdotal evidence is merely anecdote. Until it’s linked up in a system, it’s just one guy talking out his ass. Or 60 guys. Whatever.
    The number doesn’t matter until you show vote counts correlated with money as a significant percent and correlated with MC ideology and district preference.
    Until you have all that tedious vote count stuff down, you got nothing.
    And you’ll still have problems with the status quo bias which suggests that anyone who pushes for the status quo gets the status quo — NOT BECAUSE THEY PUSHED but because we almost always get the status quo.
    What’s the power in screaming to the shining noontime sun, “SUN, BE OVER MY HEAD NOW” and lo, the sun was over my head. Since I’m Jewish, I guess I had the power!

    Reply

  54. Sand says:

    Keep your hair on…
    Just because you *want* it to be a ‘conspiracy theory’ doesn’t make it so.
    +
    W&M (er.. academics): “A National Journal study in March 2005 reached a similar conclusion, placing AIPAC in second place (tied with AARP) in the Washington ‘muscle rankings’.”

    Reply

  55. questions says:

    Here’s mr. mondo himself….
    “This is not helpful language. When I say Israel lobby, I include the natural inclinations of empowered Jews like Berman, who see Israel as a democracy at existential risk because of the threat of its Arab and Muslim neighbors. This is his natural concern, and it motivated him to seek an important position in Congress, and to cluck over his love of Israel to his constituents. Fine; that is how faction works. These people genuinely believe this and are engaged on that basis.”
    http://mondoweiss.net/2008/02/foreign-affairs.html
    *****
    So suddenly, “natural inclinations” are part of the nefarious LOBBY that controls all, sees all, knows all, never fucks up at all (except sometimes).
    He then goes on to note that we’d never let an evangelical Christian control whatever — what the fuck? We had an evangelical Christian president for 8 long and miserable years and he stopped all sorts of things that I would like to have had continued. We have all sorts of people with all sorts of views using their very own views to guide their very own sense of policy in all sorts of places all throughout the government.
    You do realize that mr. mondo also undermines the LOBBY position with this.
    (You do also realize that the right is using the sexual orientation of the CA judge to suggest that he should have recused?!)
    There’s nothing organized here. There’s a guy with beliefs who has been put into a committee seat by his party for whatever reason the party wishes to have him there (see Cox and McCubbins for data on committee seat selection — this too is not quite so straight forward according to the data).
    And that’s THE MOST POWERFUL LOBBY in the known universe????
    Yoiks.
    Really learn to use evidence better. I have never trusted mr. mondo. He doesn’t argue well, and he, like MJ, has a huge axe to grind that stops him from being rational.
    Yes, you can criticize Israeli policy. I do it all the time.
    No, you can’t say that the only reason we have the policy towards Israel that we do is that there’s some worldwide conspiracy, some special deep dark secret “THELOBBY” that makes us do what we do not want to do.
    WE want the policies we have, or we change them. The people we put in charge of changing policy are quite sensitive to re-election so they don’t rock the boat. We don’t like boat rocking.
    Where’s the conspiracy?
    When there’s a large area of policy set up already, interests of many sorts coalesce around it, build up realities and lives and contracts and jobs and cities, towns, businesses, consumption patterns, schools, lifestyles, meanings, sensibilities and so on.
    The defense industry, and all other industries, are part of a broad system of production and distribution that does not like to be changed.
    What the hell is conspiratorial about this?
    *****
    Theoretical reading — ignore if you have a hard time with such things….
    Complexity arises without central causation. It comes about from the play of small forces in localized spaces. All those forces add up to larger and more complex things.
    Darwin’s account of evolution is an account of small forces of survival and sexual attraction working over generations to shape life forces and food webs. No great creator, no conspiracy, no good and evil forces battling. Just evolutionary pressure, some accidents that are neither sexual nor survival-related, but merely accidental. And some random shit happens too. Environment and genetics work their blind magic.
    There is no central cause needed to get what we have.
    Same holds for US/ME policy. It evolved out of a broad array of competing demands, some of which worked better for the survival of MCs and some of which didn’t and were dropped.
    There doesn’t need to be a THELOBBY to make things happen any more than there needs to be a CREATOR for there to be the world.
    Things evolve in systems, and US/I/P policy is the current result of an ever evolving system.
    PART II of the theoretical stuff that’s too hard to read sometimes….
    We would seem to be programmed to attach events to causes and we don’t like to think of slowly evolving complexity stemming merely from systemic pressure. But it’s a far better read of the events than is this notion that there’s a quasi-deitific THELOBBY out there pulling strings attached to MCs.
    This blog attracts a lot of semi-theologians whose version of counting angels on pinheads is counting dancing Mossad agents on roof tops or trying to show that BP really wanted to destroy the Gulf or whatever latest conspiracy theory there is.
    Conspiracy theories are attractive because they are both simple cause-and-effect relations and at the same time literally devilishly clever plots that take a certain kind of specialized brilliance to see through. It’s fun to have specialized brilliance instead of, say, spending huge amounts of money every year on books and hours of reading the damned things on top of it all!
    Those who SEE THELOBBY plots all share a set of characteristics — a love of figuring out a pattern, a refusal to accede to normal standards of proof, a dislike of current policy and the assumption that if s/he finds it irrational it must be irrational and if s/he finds it to be obviously so, so must everyone else save the co-conspirators.
    Note all the invective and charges leveled at nadine and WigWag (and me, of course!) for the crime of having a different view — clearly they/we are hasbarists because no one else can see the world the way they/we do. It simply isn’t possible….
    Well, people, it is possible. It’s more than possible. It’s quite common to see the world in very different terms from what you all do. And seeing the world that way is not evidence of co-option or of hasbarism or of evil intent. It’s not evidence of the greater conspiracy either.
    See, if you disagree you prove the conspiracy and if you agree you prove the conspiracy. Everything serves as proof of the conspiracy.
    The lord left his mark on everything, it is all proof of the great creator…. Yikes.

    Reply

  56. Sand says:

    coz — actually *talking* to “Washington political players” wouldn’t be prudent to find out how Washington ticks. [eyesroll]

    Reply

  57. Sand says:

    Sorry Questions correction:
    AIPAC Israel Lobby is the: ‘MOST POWERFUL *FOREIGN* LOBBY…’ [sigh]
    ==================================
    – GQ Magazine: “The 50 Most Powerful People in D.C.”
    “…based on the judgment of “think tankers, congressional aides and political journalists” – Congress people, Democrats, Republicans, the occasional coiffeur and … Jews. Lots of them.
    – Topping the Jewish dozen was Howard Kohr, the executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, who tied for sixth with counterparts at the National Rifle Association; AARP, the lobby for retired people; and PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry’s lobby. At 51, AIPAC’s top professional was the youngest of the four. –
    In two months of interviews with about 60 people, the lobbying groups stood out.
    “One of the questions we would ask people is ‘Which interest groups seem to have the most sway?’” Veis said.
    http://www.jewishaz.com/issues/story.mv?070817+gq
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    –”AIPAC listed 2nd most powerful group on Fortune list”
    “A forthcoming edition of Fortune magazine ranks the American Israel Public Affairs Committee as the second most powerful interest group in Washington.
    The magazine, which based its findings on a survey of Washington political players, said AIPAC – along with the Association of Trial Lawyers and the American Medical Association -owes its high ranking in part to its “substantial campaign contributions.” But, it said, interest groups are valued more for “the votes they can deliver.”
    http://www.jewishaz.com/jewishnews/971128/aipac.shtml
    =======================================
    And no I didn’t get these quotes from a Nazi-Ville magazine.!

    Reply

  58. Carroll says:

    I am still waiting for nadine to comment on the deliberate IDF killing of Palestine children.
    Maybe even nadine can’t justify this.
    But she and wig always avoid this subject.
    I can understand why.

    Reply

  59. questions says:

    Here’s a list from 2001:
    1. National Rifle Association
    2. American Association of Retired People (AARP)
    3. National Federation of Independent Business
    4. American Israel Foreign Affairs Committee
    5. Association of Trial Lawyers of America
    6. AFL-CIO
    7. Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America
    8. National Beer Wholesalers of America
    9. National Association of Realtors
    10. National Association of Manufacturers
    11. National Association of Homebuilders of the United States
    12. American Medical Association
    13. American Hospital Association
    14. National Education Association of the United States
    15. American Farm Bureau Federation
    16. Motion Picture Association of America
    17. National Association of Broadcasters
    18. National Right to Life Committee
    19. Health Insurance Association of America
    20. National Restaurant Association
    21. National Governors’ Association
    22. Recording Industry Association of America
    23. American Bankers Association
    24. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
    25. International Brotherhood of Teamsters
    http://faculty.ucc.edu/egh-damerow/interest_groups1.htm
    But a list like this still doesn’t really answer the question about what “effectiveness” is and so on.
    So you’ll go on with your conspiracizing, your sense that there’s a nefarious group of people who pull our strings even when we don’t want to go there, that we’ve been co-opted, taken over and so on…..
    And I know you’ll do that because you are ideologically committed and no amount of fact helps with ideological commitment.
    Every fact, indeed, becomes all the more support for your position even when it contradicts.
    So the alternet piece, that Sand must have misread, actually contradicts Sand’s (and Carroll’s) thesis and therefore is proof that they are right.
    “Most powerful” has to mean something. “Most” needs to mean, well, “most” and you have to define “powerful” as well.
    Clearly, the data on lobbying suggest that power doesn’t work the way you all seem to think it works, that lobbying doesn’t work the way you all think it works.
    But now we have a new subthesis to show that what contradicts Sand actually proves Sand to be right.
    The Baumgartner book doesn’t talk much about DEFENSE LOBBIES and therefore supports the notion that DEFENSE LOBBIES ALWAYS get what they want even if much other lobbying fails.
    See, proof is proof, contradiction is proof, logic is proof…everything proves your central point even though you don’t read the data on what makes Congress tick.
    And even when you read some line somewhere by some random MC that thus-and-such lobby is the most powerful, and in this case it isn’t AIPAC, that too proves that AIPAC is the most powerful….
    And somehow the list, which is really a questionable piece of pseudoscholarship with I’m guessing seriously poor methodology, which puts Israel 4th will also prove that Israel is the most powerful lobby…….
    The NRA couldn’t do shit if people weren’t orgasmic about guns.
    AIPAC couldn’t do shit if defense contractors weren’t orgasmic about contracts.
    Lobbies can’t make us do what we don’t want done, because if they do, the MC involved loses his job and that’s that. No one else goes that way ever again.
    MCs are timid, status quo biased, blame-ducking, career-saving, well-intentioned but stymied by procedure and process and the vastness of what needs to be done and opposition in and out of chamber, stymied by the vast array of wishes and differences and preferences in and out of district. Limited by desire for prestige, by the committee to which s/he is assigned, limited by media attention, limited, limited, limited.
    It’s a shitty job in a lot of ways, actually.
    So to declare that Lobby X is THE MOST POWERFUL in the face of all of this is nonsense.
    By the way, the status quo bias Sand alludes to also undermines the LOBBY’S alleged power, and Sand uses it as proof of the LOBBY’S power.
    Did you ever read an informal fallacy book?
    **********8
    Not the 2001-ness of the list. Health care and telecoms and finance are probably up more. And the NRA, well, they want guns in churches, on planes, and probably they would like the pre-school set to carry them as well….. Plenty more things to lobby for, plenty more money to collect…..

    Reply

  60. Sand says:

    “no problem SELLING sensitive weaponry to our competitors”

    Reply

  61. Sand says:

    And — ‘This one is on the way to me.’:
    – Buying National Security: How America Plans and Pays for Its Global Role and Safety at Home Gordon Adams, Cindy Williams
    http://www.amazon.com/Buying-National-Security-America-Global/dp/0415954401/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1281315077&sr=1-1
    I’m trying to get some idea why the hell we’ve got ourselves into the mess of sending billions of our own taxpayer money to develop and manufacture sensitive weaponry in Israel (a country who spies on us, and has no problem sensitive weaponry to our competitors — China. We should for ‘national security’ reasons investing, developing and manufacturing our weaponry here?
    I paid $20 for mine — god knows how. I just hope it arrives — $40 is a bit high for me.
    h/t:
    http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/08/05/short_takes_bloomberg_on_the_ground_zero_mosque_the_celtics_and_iran

    Reply

  62. Sand says:

    Berman, Congressional Foreign Affairs Boss, Cites Israel as a Prime Motivator in His Politics, Then Calls Israel Lobby a

    Reply

  63. Carroll says:

    August 8, 2010
    Here’s the front page for JINA this month. Israel, Israel, Israel..gee whiz…could this be about Israel? I would list all the former military who now work for defense contractors and sell to the pentagon on JINSA’s board of hired faciliators who arrange for Israel’s slice of US defense goodies but it’s too depressing.
    JEWISH INSTITUTE FOR NATIONAL SECURITY
    HomeAboutContactSupport
    Programs & Events
    The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) Fired on Israel
    JINSA Report #1011
    August 3, 2010
    It wasn’t Hezbollah; it was the LAF that killed one Israeli officer and seriously wounded another. It wasn’t in Lebanon; it was in Israel that they were attacked.
    Read the JINSA Report
    Rapid Unraveling in the Middle East
    JINSA Report #1010
    July 27, 2010
    The best way to give the Palestinians a better future would be to liberate 1.2 million of them from Hamas in Gaza. Hamas, which ousted Fatah from Gaza in a bloody and ongoing civil war, appears to be the reason the U.S. Government is building Fatah an army. Clearly, the State Department is busy executing its two-state vision while the Palestinians are busy executing one another.
    Read the JINSA Report
    CENTCOM Plans for Dayton’s Army?
    JINSA Report #1009
    July 23, 2010
    What will be the future of “Dayton’s Army”under a commander with only CENTCOM experience?
    Read the JINSA Report
    “Demography, Ideology and Technology”
    JINSA Report #1008
    July 21, 2010
    It is not against “demography” that Israel fights

    Reply

  64. Sand says:

    Berman doesn’t need $$$ — he’s on record as saying he got into politics because of Israel!
    Questions — stop being so damn naive.
    It’s Feinstein and Ackerman should be looking at at getting a really good deal by not only working for the Lobby, but getting some great investment deals at the same time.

    Reply

  65. questions says:

    So on MC’s “talking points” memo is sufficient evidence for every extravagant claim belied by the the alternet link? Why’d you put the link in then?
    Talking points memos are designed for mc’s to use in media appearances. Not sure how this memo is relevant to the question of the effectiveness of lobbying.
    In fact the only things I can see that are of use in judging the effectiveness of lobbying are the following:
    Amount and kind of lobbying significantly and positively correlated with voting, negatively correlated with member ideology and district patterns.
    That is, the lobbyist has to give enough to make a difference, has to push the MC into voting against his or her interest, and has to have a credible threat of punishment.
    Berman’s talking points is not evidence of anything at all UNLESS he a)gets a decent percentage of his money from those lobbying him, b)really would never vote this way or write up this memo on his own c)is going against his district’s clear preferences.
    IF a)he gets a small portion of his money from the group in question, there’s not much in the way of influence b)he would vote this way or write this memo regardless of the money, there’s not much room for influence c)he is acting on his constituent’s preferences there’s no evidence of lobbying’s effectiveness.
    I really can’t see how you can ascribe causation in any other circumstance.
    And given the alternet piece which you found significant enough to link to and recommend despite its alleged horrificness, not sure how you can maintain your position regarding the lobby issue.
    Berman’s talking points memo is really pretty boilerplate meaningless unless it meets the conditions above.
    It’s not a fun or conspiracy-laden view, but scholarship is usually not a party animal, it’s the guy in the corner reading a book and ignoring the alcohol.

    Reply

  66. Sand says:

    – Lobbying and Policy Change: Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why [Paperback]
    Frank R. Baumgartner (Author), Jeffrey M. Berry (Author), Marie Hojnacki (Author), David C. Kimball (Author), Beth L. Leech (Author)
    http://www.unc.edu/~fbaum/teaching/POLI065_Fall09/Baumgartner_UNCPubPol_Oct_2_2009.pdf [PDF]
    Er… out of 98 Case Studies! Only 7 relate to Defense and National Security and Only *1* to International Affairs and Foreign Aid!
    http://www.unc.edu/~fbaum/teaching/POLI065_Fall09/Baumgartner_UNCPubPol_Oct_2_2009.pdf
    I can’t see how this book is at all relevant to the operations of the ‘Israel Lobby’ whose MO is to maintain the status quo — NOT change it? A Lobby that has already been acknowledged by policymakers and Congressmembers as being one of the most, if not the most powerful and influencial Lobby on the hill.

    Reply

  67. Carroll says:

    Posted by questions, Aug 08 2010, 8:15PM – Link
    Sand,
    You do realize that the alternet piece you linked to kinda sorta undermines the LOBBY thesis, dontcha?
    I mean, as soon as it’s a military contractor pushing for military contracts for individual congressional districts, it’s no longer THELOBBY pushing “Israel First”. Instead you have a coalescence of forces all acting for different reasons in the same direction.
    A gathering of, oh, say, military alliance concerns, and intell alliance concerns, and contractor funds, and the defense industry and Cold War concerns….
    Isn’t that pretty much what I’ve been posting over the years here? That THELOBBY claims credit for what is really something else, that lobbies don’t actually have all that much power, that the lit on lobbying doesn’t support what W and M claim or what many posters around here claim>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    You really are a amateur at this aren’t you questions?
    Here, let me introduce you to the defense industry lobbying arm of AIPAC and their stable of neos. Everyone knows about JINSA except you apparently.
    http://www.jinsa.org/
    You should read more.
    http://www.thenation.com/article/men-jinsa-and-csp?page=0,3

    Reply

  68. David says:

    First, what DonS just said.
    Second, what JohnH said: “The biggest mystery of the Obama presidency is why he adamantly refuses to use his most powerful weapon, the bully pulpit. If he is a one term president, which is likely, it will not be the fault of the economy or the Republicans. Rather, it will be because he refused to use his brilliant rhetorical skills.
    Obama is like a brilliant three point shooter who refuses to take outside shots, preferring instead to get hammered inside.”
    And finally, kudos to Obama for reading GHOST WARS. Obama has the kind of mind that absorbs and assimilates, with the goal of insight, although he might be too hesitant in this moment which I think Steve correctly describes, assuming that US influence can be a force for good. And as much as I am appalled by much of the history of US foreign policy, the world with US leadership will be a worse, not a better place, in part because of our ideals, even though we fall so short of them so often. The idea of China becoming the most influential nation on earth does not get the planet to a better place. And Europe is just too incapable of pulling together consistently enough. Second behind the US would be, in my judgment, a coalition of enlightened leaders to our South, but even together they are not a stand alone force in the world, and economically they are forced to look to China.
    Actually, the coalition I would most like to see would involve the United States and the newly enlightened nations of South America, but we are too busy fighting against reformist leaders who put the well-being of their commoners much than did “pro-American” governments of the past.
    We must deal economically with China, just as they must deal economically with us. But to have Chinese thinking chart the future course of the globe? They crushed the Tiannamen Square spirit, whose primary symbol was our Statue of Liberty (gratis the French, of course).
    Flawed as the West is, its best thinking is still our best bet, especially if we back up from our obsession with our military prowess and choose rather to connect with the best thinkers around the globe and become the prime enabler of the planet’s best thinking.
    Hey, an American idealist can dream, can’t he?

    Reply

  69. Sand says:

    Nope — not when I read Berman’s Talking Points.

    Reply

  70. jdledell says:

    Nadine – Your comment betrays your lack of knowledge of successful negotiations. When I made an fair offer there was nothing left to haggle about. The other side could recognize fairness and the thought of walking away from all those potential profits stopped them in their tracks from demanding more. My deals were usually done in a week and it only took that long because the lawyers had to codify it.
    I’ve seen other deal makers in action where they try to negotiate as a zero sum premise -trying to get the very best deal for themselves. Negotiations dragged on so long they eventually fell apart -just like the I/P negotiations. The Star Wars character, Yoda, had a saying that I always took into negotiations. “Do or Do Not, there is no Try”.
    The Taba negotiations were probably 2 weeks away from successful conclusion. It was Barak who walked away at the end because of the infitada and the election. Put it back on the table and finish it off – be totally open about it. Let the world see exactly what is being offered and if it is as fair as you think, I believe Israel will gain the support of a vast majority of the world. I believe you are far too cynical about attitudes toward Israel and Jews. Once an just peace is in place, Israel will become just another first world country.

    Reply

  71. questions says:

    Sand,
    You do realize that the alternet piece you linked to kinda sorta undermines the LOBBY thesis, dontcha?
    I mean, as soon as it’s a military contractor pushing for military contracts for individual congressional districts, it’s no longer THELOBBY pushing “Israel First”. Instead you have a coalescence of forces all acting for different reasons in the same direction.
    A gathering of, oh, say, military alliance concerns, and intell alliance concerns, and contractor funds, and the defense industry and Cold War concerns….
    Isn’t that pretty much what I’ve been posting over the years here? That THELOBBY claims credit for what is really something else, that lobbies don’t actually have all that much power, that the lit on lobbying doesn’t support what W and M claim or what many posters around here claim…..
    And now you’ve even provided a link that says the same thing.
    Thanks for the support!
    http://www.amazon.com/Lobbying-Policy-Change-Wins-Loses/dp/0226039455/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1281312489&sr=8-1
    This one is on the way to me. When it gets here, I’ll read it and write it up just for your benefit. This is the one that does actual data analysis on lobbying and covers the successes and failures for some time period’s worth.
    Get your own copy and we can do a reading group!
    By the way, those who have been apoplectic about the treatment of Shalala at the airport should hop on over to the comments to MJ’s idiocy at TPM Cafe. The university affiliation he ascribes to Shalala is wrong, by the way! And the whole thing depends on an anonymous someone who “knows the University of Florida” where Shalala doesn’t even work. Kinda funny.

    Reply

  72. DonS says:

    JDledell, your voice is authentic and informed. Thank you for posting here. It helps for readers to hear a voice of Jewish humanity still exists.
    Nadine’s voice is carping, whipering, whining, contrived, and tendentious by comparison. Divorced from Jewish kindness; filled with the hate that afflicts the lesser of all cultures.
    The voice of the mensch versus the voice of the machine.

    Reply

  73. nadine says:

    “As I said, all the Israeli negotiators have to do is put themselves in the Palestinians shoes and make an offer the entire world will recognize as fair and just. ” (jdledell)
    If you had offered what you thought was fair, even given more than you thought you had to, to the point where your boss would yell at you for being a fiscally irresponsible idiot, and the small company doubled its demands in response, would you have kept offering? or walked away?
    In business, people do want to get to mutual benefit. That’s not true in war. The Allies and Axis forces in WWII were not aiming at mutual benefit. Zero-sum games do exist.
    The world has left it to the Palestinians to declare whether the Israeli offer is “fair and just” and surprise, surprise, they always declare what Israel has offered is wildly unfair and unjust.
    When the Israeli offer approached what the world might think was fair and just – such as the Taba accords: 100% of Gaza 95% of WB, with land swaps to make 100%, the Palestinians were in a fix. Oh, no! What if the world thinks they turned down a reasonable deal? So they began lying about bantustans (and yes, I will believe Ross and Miller and Clinton over Arafat any day of the week).
    The world shrugged, ignored the suicide bombers, and scolded the Israelis for defending themselves after having made what must have been a wildly unjust offer, or else the Pals wouldn’t be so “desperate.”
    The Pals have discovered they have a free hand to make up any story, because the world will either credit their lies, being biased and too lazy to check anything, or at the worst will ignore it – e.g. the charges of dropping poisoned candy or using strippers on tanks, etc.
    It’s a win-win situation for the Pals. The Pals get more aid for their Swiss bank accounts, the world scolds Israel, and the world pretends there must be some solution that the Israelis are withholding, because everybody knows they are the only grownups in the room and thus responsible for everything.
    Don’t you see this attitude in Steve Clemon’s post? He calls the I/P conflict “the global fault line” yet in 9 out 10 posts he simply picks out some minor incident to scold Israel over; he never bothers analyzing the political situation even in Israel, let alone inside Fatah, Hamas, or Hizbullah. If the conflict is so damn important why doesn’t he bother to analyze it?
    This reality has left the Israelis feeling badly betrayed: the world promised them diplomatic support if they took risks for peace. They took real risks for peace; they signed Oslo, created the PA, they offered a Palestinian state, they withdrew from Gaza, and the world double-crossed them. Now they are declared war criminals for defending themselves from rockets and suicide bombers.
    You know this. You know how the Israelis feel. You know how whatever the Israelis offer lies out on the table forever, no matter what the Pals do. Open your eyes and stop insisting there must be a pony in there somewhere.

    Reply

  74. Carroll says:

    Posted by jdledell, Aug 08 2010, 6:20PM – Link
    In every negotiation, the first and foremost commandment was to determine what was fair for the LONG TERM. Sure I could have taken advantage of our power position but I never did because unless both sides felt the deal was fair, it would not last
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Exactly again.

    Reply

  75. Sand says:

    –Why the U.S. Won’t Cut Ties with Israel, No Matter How Extreme Its Government Gets
    A thick web of military-strategic ties is at the heart of the US-Israeli relationship.
    Phyllis Bennis 8/4/10
    http://www.alternet.org/world/147733/why_the_u.s._won%27t_cut_ties_with_israel%2C_no_matter_how_extreme_its_government_gets/?page=entire
    Makes you ill — but you gotta read it.
    =========================================
    –One More War, Please
    David Bromwich 8/7/10
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-bromwich/one-more-war-please_b_674357.html
    “…President Obama has called Israel a “sacrosanct” ally, and EVEN BEFORE he used language so pious, fulsome, and unsuitable to the leader of an independent republic, Iran did not entirely trust the United States. To remember why, we would have to violate President Obama’s pledge to look only at the future, and actually look at the past…”
    Regarding our Wars — “…Possibly the result Obama is hoping for is that these two manifestations of slowness, slow on the right side in Afghanistan, slow on the wrong side with Iran, will meet somewhere in the middle, and spare us two catastrophes at once. Yet time, in politics, doesn’t work like that; a fact this president often seems unwilling to absorb. IT IS SOMETIMES IMPORTANT TO SAY NO EARLY AND DEFINITELY. You must say it early and definitively if you don’t want to get trapped into saying yes later in spite of yourself. History suggests that wars, by their nature, are not as well equipped for multitasking as the mind of Obama…”

    Reply

  76. jdledell says:

    Nadine – Have you ever done a business deal? Well I have done hundreds in about 18 different countries. I was a senior executive of a firm with over 1/2 a trillion dollars. Every deal I negotiated was with a MUCH smaller company. They needed our money and we needed their knowledge of the culture and environment of the target country and we always did joint ventures to keep them involved.
    In every negotiation, the first and foremost commandment was to determine what was fair for the LONG TERM. Sure I could have taken advantage of our power position but I never did because unless both sides felt the deal was fair, it would not last.
    Some of those deals are now 25 years old and every single one of them has proven mutually beneficial. As I said, all the Israeli negotiators have to do is put themselves in the Palestinians shoes and make an offer the entire world will recognize as fair and just.
    I honestly believe such a deal would be mutually beneficial to both Israel and Palestine. The economics positives alone would be enormous. Why spend all the time and resources for years while arguing over every single duman of land? Cut to the chase and get it over with. It’s not being a frier being fair. You have stated you think Taba provides the essentials for a deal – why doesn’t Netanyahu make that offer?

    Reply

  77. Carroll says:

    Posted by nadine, Aug 08 2010, 4:22PM – Link
    “Of course not, Jewish NATO soldiers would make the wonderful human shields. Only American soldiers could be better. Fatah and Hamas are just salivating at the thought of firing rockets at Israeli cities from behind such defenses”
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    We noticed nadine that you have no comment on
    how Hedges observed the IDF baiting of Palestine children so they could kill them when they rushed to the fence.
    And these aren’t ‘staged’ by the Palestines for propaganda purposes. They have been witnessed and described by too many diverse people from journalist to UN personnel to our own pentagon military liaisons in Israel.
    Tell me why anyone should care about Jewish life when this is how the home of the jews, the Jewish state, choses to preserve it? Hum?
    We are anti semites? No.
    We have been ‘forced’ to ‘choose’ between the Jewish state and zionism and basic humanity.
    We chose basic humanity.
    Israel has lost now everywhere except the US government and will lose that next. And they have no one and nothing to blame except themselves. Not their holocaust nightmares, not their tiny nation size, not anti semites,not the Arabs, nothing. Because there is nothing in the world that can justify the evil of what the Hedges story illustrates. And it happens every week.

    Reply

  78. nadine says:

    “And the seriousness of Clemons

    Reply

  79. rc says:

    “The Pessimist, Aug 08 2010, 3:50PM” = 100%

    Reply

  80. JoaoAlfaiate says:

    What Clemons refuses to recognize is that the inability to get any kind of fair settlement for the Palestinians and the perceived need to bomb Iran stem from precisely the same source: The domination of American foreign policy by Israel

    Reply

  81. nadine says:

    “Mahmoud Abbas is not opposed to including Jewish soldiers in an international NATO force to be deployed along the borders of a future Palestinian state under a potential permanent peace agreement, the Palestinian president’s political adviser said Saturday.
    Mimar Hamad told the Palestinian news agency Wafa that “Abbas is open to an international force along Palestinian borders of any religion or origin.” ”
    Of course not, Jewish NATO soldiers would make the wonderful human shields. Only American soldiers could be better. Fatah and Hamas are just salivating at the thought of firing rockets at Israeli cities from behind such defenses.

    Reply

  82. nadine says:

    “If Israel had an ounce of empathy they would try to contruct a deal that they would accept if they were in the Palestinian’s position. Can you imagine Jews thinking tha life in a ghetto with everything controlled by an outside party would be acceptable?” (jdledell)
    Can you imagine Jews thinking that a partition plan with completely indefensible borders (at a time when they were likely to be destroyed) that didn’t even include Jerusalem was acceptable? But Ben Gurion took the deal, because he wanted a state. Arafat didn’t want a state. Arafat wanted to be Saladin and drive the Jews from Jerusalem.
    None of your elaborate rationalizations for the Palestinians EVER explain why they have never put forth their negotiating position or a counter-offer. Or why, deep into negotiations, they add conditions like “right of return” that are show-stoppers because they will destroy Israel as a Jewish country.
    Have you considered how abnormal this is in the history of negotiations?
    In normal negotiations, each side starts with a position and they meet in the middle. In Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the Palestinians refuse to give a position, and reply to Israeli concessions with additional demands. It’s as if you’re trying to buy a house from somebody, and every time you raise your offer, he raises his asking price.
    Let’s go for the simplest explanation, shall we? They don’t want to sell the house. They are not ready to sign a deal that leaves Israel standing. Either Israel has to be destroyed, or they have to be able to explain to their people (who have been given a steady diet of incitement) that they have put Israel on a path for destruction and it will become Palestine from the river to the sea. Jews dead, gone or dhimmis.
    Besides, the Palestinians are in no rush. They feel well protected, and the world is giving them literally billions in aid. Perish the thought they should ever need to run a normal economy and live off tax revenues like other governments.

    Reply

  83. Carroll says:

    Posted by The Pessimist, Aug 08 2010, 3:50PM – Link
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Perfectly described.

    Reply

  84. Carroll says:

    THIS, is a bad idea. I’ am for NATO forces between Palestine and Israel. And generally I am against profiling. But in this case I am for it.
    As far as possible any International force should exclude participants, Muslim or Jewish, who for religious or ethnic reasons might not be able to act objectively in their duties. At the very least any individuals in those forces should be called in for review and given the chance to voluntarily ‘opt out’ of that assignment. That at least would put them on notice that showing any bias in their duty will be noticed.
    Latest update 23:15 07.08.10
    Abbas: Jewish NATO soldiers could defend future Palestinian state
    By Haaretz Service Tags:
    Mahmoud Abbas is not opposed to including Jewish soldiers in an international NATO force to be deployed along the borders of a future Palestinian state under a potential permanent peace agreement, the Palestinian president’s political adviser said Saturday.
    Mimar Hamad told the Palestinian news agency Wafa that “Abbas is open to an international force along Palestinian borders of any religion or origin.”
    Hamad was responding to earlier reports that Abbas opposed the deployment of Jewish soldiers along the future borders.
    Hamad told Wafa that the American media had quoted Abbas as having said that he would refuse to allow Jewish soldiers on the border between Israel and the Palestinian state. “The remarks attributed to the president are baseless,” Hamad said. “The president said in his meetings with AIPAC and with Israeli journalists and world leaders that he welcomes the deployment of an international force regardless of the troops’ religion.”
    >>>>>>>>>>>>
    The reason for my seeming hypocrisy is the following example. The hatred for Palestians by the Israelis and the support too many Jews give to it has descended into true and total madness as illustrated by the IDF. This should disqualify any Jews, fair or not, from being put between Palestine and Israel. Same for Muslims and Arabs who would want to get even. This would be a situation where you could not afford to have any foxes in the hen house.
    Hedges

    Reply

  85. The Pessimist says:

    “Tepid little forays into criticism” is the single most accurate definition of the standard Washington establishment deference to Israel I have read in ages. Thank you, sir.
    You have precisely exposed the tactic du-jour. Criticize, but do it only after conveying fealty to the criticized. One can only criticize Israel if the vassal neuters the criticism pre-emptively.
    Pre-emptive self-defense is an oxymoron of epic proportions, yet it is adopted by the world

    Reply

  86. Carroll says:

    Posted by jdledell, Aug 08 2010, 9:12AM – Link
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Exactly

    Reply

  87. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Steve, reading through the recent essays offered by you on the I/P mess, (as well as his past ones), it becomes obvious that you are not willing to embark upon the shift in narrative that MUST take place if the American public is to become informed enough, and incensed enough, to actually demand a change of direction in Washington DC.
    The insanely ineffective effort of decrying Israel’s two hour questioning of a US dignitary, while ignoring Israel’s targeting, (and maiming), of American protesters, demonstrates, AT BEST, an effort to paint the illusion of moral outrage while not actually offering components of the issue that are truly deserving of the outrage.
    Boo fuckin’ hoo. Some low level academic lackey for Israel is inconvenienced by the Israeli jackboots. Meanwhile, Tristan is damned near a vegetable, and Emily goes through life seriously maimed.
    And where the fuck is Hillary Clinton and our State Department in this debate? Do you think this woman has performed admirably, (or less than admirably?), in moving any kind of progress towards a tangible “peace process”? Does not this woman share some of the blame, (or credit, if you are seeing it through the eyes of the zionists)for squandering the hopes of the Arab world that were unjustifiably uplifted by Obama’s Cairo speech???
    These tepid little forays into criticism of Israel are somewhat sacharin, as are your rebuttals to the racist natterings and accusatory responses of the zionist duo of Wig-wag and Nadine. Your essay about Israel’s recruitment of Jewish teens into “Hitler Youth” kinds of actions showed promise, only to be quickly diluted by your ridiculous indignation at Israel’s security force’s lack of common sense in actually inconveniencing one of their own American whores.
    People like Tristan or Emily are worth more than 100 of these mewling academic profiteers like this Shalala puppet, whose concern for Israel’s nefariously motived donations to learning institutions over-rides her respect for human rights and universal justice. And it is stories and fates such as Emily’s and Tristan’s that must be aired if we are honestly interested in providing a fair and balanced accounting of what is happening to the “peace process”.
    Linking Iran and the I/P imbroglio is just another diversion away from the basic and separate truths of BOTH issues. It is a tactic of demonization rather than a positive tactic being utilized for any kind of resolution of conflict. BOTH issues have narratives scripted and controlled by the Israeli’s, and there is no reason to suspect these attempts at linking the two are not written by the same authors.
    Wanna change the narrative? Put people like Emily in the spotlight, and expand on exposes such as the one describing Israel’s attempt to clone “Hitler’s Youth”. And specific historical events may make for good conversation, but it is the Israeli’s generational nurturing of racist mindsets that set the stage for future decades of continuing conflict.
    And for God’s sake, quit preceding gripes about Israel’s behaviour with some sacharin little disclaimer swearing your fealty to the Jewish State. They don’t deserve your fealty. Unless you’ve sold it to them. And only you know the answer to that. (But in Hillary’s case, the answer is obvious. Is that why you have attempted to push her behind the curtains???)

    Reply

  88. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Older Gazans recall Israelis, youth sees only army
    By BEN HUBBARD – Associated Press Writer
    SHATI REFUGEE CAMP, Gaza Strip

    Reply

  89. observer says:

    nadine:
    Obama’s outreach to Iran had not adequately grasped the strategic realities of that region post US-Iraq War of 2003.
    “What exactly are you prepared to give them? This is a very good question that American leaders and commentators have not answered.
    I think, at a minimum, the cessation of US Cold War against Iran could be one.

    Reply

  90. JohnH says:

    How many times is Nadine going to trot out that canard that it’s the Palestinians who are the obstacle to peace? It is Likud that is that obstacle. Likud leaders including Netanyahu have said they talk reasonably but concede nothing. I have the quotes.
    Nadine proves herself a liar every time she casts the blame on the Palestinian side.

    Reply

  91. PissedOffAmerican says:

    New poll: angry at US, Arabs support an Iran nuclear bomb
    A majority of Arabs said it would be a positive development if the Iran nuclear program built a bomb

    Reply

  92. samuelburke says:

    Linkage Just Won

    Reply

  93. Paul Norheim says:

    “If Israel had an ounce of empathy they would try to contruct a
    deal that they would accept if they were in the Palestinian’s
    position.” (jdledell)
    And they would benefit immensely politically by constructing
    such a deal.

    Reply

  94. jdledell says:

    “Are they really? So why don’t they want to negotiate an end to the occupation, if it’s so dreadful? Why do they run away from negotiations, even when pressured, throwing up one impossible condition after another?”
    Nadine – The reason Abbas is reluctant to resume negotiations is they have proven to be a failure over the last 17 years. All the negotiations have failed to provide a fair deal primarily because the Palestinians have absolutely no leverage. Thus the current approach is to try to entice the US and the rest of the world to help even out the negotiating odds with Israel. That seems to be a sound plan to me. Israel on it’s own will never offer a fair deal.
    If Israel had an ounce of empathy they would try to contruct a deal that they would accept if they were in the Palestinian’s position. Can you imagine Jews thinking tha life in a ghetto with everything controlled by an outside party would be acceptable? G-d gave humans dominion over beasts – not fellow human beings.

    Reply

  95. rc says:

    Hilary C. is on a mission working hard at ensuring that the Blackberry can be used in the UAE (and we assume other places like Saudi’s Arabia.
    “Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, announced earlier the US will engage in technical discussions with the UAE to avoid a Blackberry ban.” http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/08/20108712633281664.html
    Although not mentioned in this report, it seems the Saudi dictatorship are also concerned that men and women may be texting each other and possibly ‘flirting’!
    Oh my G-d, stop modernity! It looks like another extreme case of “don’t ask, don’t tell” — especially when the State monitors male-female Blackberry communications outside marriage and users risk adultery charges. We really have progress. It’s worth thinking about what certain ‘same-sex’ communications might lead to — death by stoning even. (e.g. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2007/05/the-kingdom-in-the-closet/5774/ )
    Yep, Hillary’s very busy keeping up that focus on Iran!!! Don’t look at the man in the dark suit — watch the puppet kids!

    Reply

  96. nadine says:

    “That is, the new improved US strategic opening should be with Iran. ” (observer)
    Didn’t Obama try that already, to no avail? What exactly are you suggesting? Tell Iran it’s no skin off our nose if they get nuclear warheads, tell all our allies in the Gulf they are now subjects of Iran? What?
    Iran knows what it wants, and that is power and the spread of revolutionary Shia Islam. Nice gestures won’t make a difference. What exactly are you prepared to give them?

    Reply

  97. nadine says:

    “No, no, no, Nadine…the Likudniks including Netanyahu…and others (ie David Aaron Miller) “link” it the other way..they erroneously (deceptively) suggest that if the “existential threat” that Iran (allegedly) posses to Israel is eliminated, then peace will break out. They said this when Oslo was ongoing (about Oslo). They said this about Iraq…”the road to peace in the ME runs through Baghdad.” It is all a front for a nation (Israel) that survives by and promotes perpetual conflict. Compromise is weakness for Israelis. The “linkage” concept is just another ploy. Bibi is giggling thinking about it.” (Robert C)
    No, Robert, you came in in the middle of the movie. You missed the first hour of the plot. The neocons who said the road to peace runs through Baghdad (by which they meant an example of Arab democracy) were reacting to the Brzezinski “realist” school (to which Steve Clemons belongs) who had insisted for many years that the an Israeli/Palestinian peace settlement was the sine qua non for making any progress in the Arab world, later expanded to the whole Muslim world.

    Reply

  98. ChinaHand says:

    Steve,
    Thanks for this very lucid commentary on the White House and
    Middle East. You are hitting a home run here. I will read this blog
    now regularly and appreciate the way you write and think.
    Best wishes,
    Thomas

    Reply

  99. observer says:

    Steve Clemens:
    I think this was a good presentation of what troubles US strategic planners. I think you might want to consider the effect of GM Syndrome within USG. That is, just like General Motors before its demise, the government leaders are in strategic-denial of salient facts in the international arena.
    I also think that your point of departure for new US strategic initiative, the Arab-Israeli War (now Islam-Israel War) should be reversed. That is, the new improved US strategic opening should be with Iran.
    There is no other alternative.

    Reply

  100. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Should we assume you mean our Secretary of State since you don’t mention her in the positive column?”
    Hell, whatd’ya talkin’ about???
    He never mentions her AT ALL.

    Reply

  101. DavidT says:

    Thanks for your thoughts on this weighty topic Steve. However
    I’m unclear what you’re proposing. Incrementalism or strategic
    leaps, how do you get there? What should the U.S. do to get the
    Israeli’s to normalize relations with the 57 countries of the
    region you mention? What could Israel do? Let’s suppose that
    it ended any element of the Gaza blockade, ended checkpoints,
    suggested that the settlers were just going to have to give up
    whatever land they had taken that the Palestinians would be
    entitled to at a minimum in a peace deal, and made whatever
    reasonable concessions that might be sensible to get closer to
    a peace agreement. Would that result in this normalization?
    Would the Saudi government jump towards normalization?
    How about the Iranian? The Libyan or Syrian? And even if yes,
    how to get there and make the Israeli public feel secure enough
    (and I know that without doing so peace will be nearly
    impossible — but that ignores the political realities of any
    change argument).
    Who could disagree that settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
    would be a good thing? Isn’t that sort of like who would
    disagree that kids should be well educated or kids should be
    healthy or that streets should be safe? What’s hard is how one
    gets there, what trade-offs one makes — sacrifices here for
    potential benefits there, domestic constituencies that will be
    unhappy for the future of long-term security of one’s country
    and stability in one’s neighborhood.
    Whether it would solve our problems in the Persian Gulf is
    certainly open for debate (or at least that our security and
    interests greatly enhanced). However that it would remove a
    source of grievance and a lightening rod in that region of the
    world is hard to reasonably (at least in my view) dispute. But
    isn’t that part of the problem? Isn’t part of Israel’s problem,
    however clumsily they have operated and however clumsily we
    may have operated in showing support for this ally? Isn’t
    Israel an ideal target that helps a number of the governments in
    that region with an easy diversion from their country’s focus on
    their internal challenges and the genuine opportunity-building
    so hard to do and so poorly addressed by these governments?
    Isn’t Israel to those governments a bit like taxes to Republicans
    – the ideal whipping boy to rally their base and divert attention
    from the paucity of efforts to help their countrymen in other
    ways?
    Nixon and Kissinger with respect to China is the grand slam of
    big initiatives but how successful was that administration in
    normalizing relations between Israel and those Arab
    governments, Cold War or not? And there are only so many
    “Nixon goes to China” opportunities. What would Nixon have
    done here? Is not the Carter initiative a better analogy and one
    that while less dramatic is really the best one can do? What
    equivalent in the Middle East is an opening of U.S. relations
    with a particular country? Obama to Libya (or is that no longer
    an option?). Obama to Iran? Or is that such a good idea?
    What can this administration learn from Kissinger and Nixon
    that they should do other than take giant leaps and have fewer
    incrementalists? You mention many who understand the giant
    leap but it’s unclear who doesn’t (you take Ross to task but not
    about incrementalism but about his measure of the centrality
    of the I/P issue as relates to Iran — and wasn’t he a central
    player in the Bush 41′s Administration’s A- foreign policy
    approach as relates to the Middle East?). Should we assume
    you mean our Secretary of State since you don’t mention her in
    the positive column?
    Was just hoping for a bit more explicitness and a few fewer
    platitudes :).
    Fondly,
    DavidT

    Reply

  102. Robert C. says:

    No, no, no, Nadine…the Likudniks including Netanyahu…and others (ie David Aaron Miller) “link” it the other way..they erroneously (deceptively) suggest that if the “existential threat” that Iran (allegedly) posses to Israel is eliminated, then peace will break out. They said this when Oslo was ongoing (about Oslo). They said this about Iraq…”the road to peace in the ME runs through Baghdad.” It is all a front for a nation (Israel) that survives by and promotes perpetual conflict. Compromise is weakness for Israelis. The “linkage” concept is just another ploy. Bibi is giggling thinking about it.

    Reply

  103. nadine says:

    Robert C, you have that backwards. The proponents of “linkage” are always demanding to fix Israel/Pal first, never any other problem to which it is supposed to be “liked”.

    Reply

  104. Robert C. says:

    “Linkage”…hmm..so if we solve the “Iran problem”…Israel will suddenly stop its colonization of the West Bank. Just like Oslo right Steve? They are not linked. If Iran did not exist, Israel would continue to grind the Palestinians down. If there is war with Iran, Israel will cointinue to grind the Palestinians down. Steve, are you a closet Neocon?

    Reply

  105. questions says:

    I’m sure by the way that singing songs is exactly what gang counselors and mediators and conflict resolution and anger management people do all the day long…..
    As a matter of fact, the core of diplomacy is sing-a-longs. That’s why we don’t here much from Hillary Clinton. She’s busy doing eensy weensy spider with those finger motions.

    Reply

  106. questions says:

    I like the sing-a-long angle for sure!
    Frere Jacques, Frere Jacques, dormez-vous, dormez-vous? Sonnez les matines, sonnez les matines, ding dong…..

    Reply

  107. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Fayyad first. Hamas later. Gang counselors should be brought in. If the Bloods and the Crips can do it…..”
    Or, we could send in troop leaders from the BSA to organize camp fire meetings and get it all sorted out. Amazing what a group sing of “Michael Rowed The Boat Ashore” can do.
    (Damn!!! This “intellectualism” thing feels kinda good!!!!)

    Reply

  108. nadine says:

    “The Palestinians in the west bank are treated cruelly and inhumanly every day and under your scenerio, Israel would continue to do so even if the soldiers are not comingling with the population. ” (jdledell)
    Are they really? So why don’t they want to negotiate an end to the occupation, if it’s so dreadful? Why do they run away from negotiations, even when pressured, throwing up one impossible condition after another?
    Face it, jd, the Palestinian leadership is collecting billions of dollars in aid with no responsibility whatsoever. They don’t want to change their situation. Whining about how much they suffer (while they live like millionaires in the nicer sections of Ramallah) is just part of the game. Don’t be a frier.

    Reply

  109. nadine says:

    “lets talk about the power that causes the linkage…phil weiss is all over this one like a lox on a bagel.” (samuelburke)
    Unfortunately, phil weiss’ lox slid off his bagel some time ago.
    The Arab world has spent 50 years living in a “dream palace” explaining its own failure and weakness by spinning a comforting web of lies, paranoia and conspiracy theories. Phil Weiss’ bright idea is to join them in the insanity! Tiny Israel is the problem with the entire Muslim umma! A billion people must wait for the exact demarcation of the borders of Jerusalem before they can make economic or political progress! The Jews control the world! It’s their fault!
    Compared to the rest of the world, the Arabs have to be grateful for Sub-Saharan Africa to save them from being at the bottom of the heap. Fifty years ago Egypt and South Korea had the same per capita income. Look at them now.
    I understand why the Arabs have fallen prey to the temptation of believing this nonsense, but why do Westerners who should know better get sucked into it? To see how ridiculous it sounds, try substituting any other conflict and call it a “global fault line” on which the entire foreign policy of the US depends:
    Armenia-Ngorno-Karabach
    India-Kashmir-Pakistan
    Turkey-Cyprus-Greece
    Kosovo-Serbia-Bosnia
    Could you sell any of these as “the great global fault line” of foreign policy? of course not, they are local conflicts. And guess what, they all involve Muslims (what an extraordinary coincidence. Not really.)
    Maybe it’s a post-Christian thing. Even when somebody isn’t a believing Christian, maybe you can still sell him on the idea that an ordinary intractable ethnic conflict is actually the fulcrum on which the entire world depends, if that conflict is in Jerusalem.

    Reply

  110. questions says:

    WigWag,
    On the disassembling of multi-ethnic states, I’m not so convinced that it’s a great thing to push for.
    There are swings between sorting peoples and mixing peoples, for sure. But one has to be pretty careful in ascribing causation in the correct direction.
    If elites “use” multi-ethnic situations to divide and conquer, to pit people against one another, to divvy up spoils such that there’s a clear in-group and a clear out-group, then yes, the place is gonna blow.
    BUT on the level of actual individual people, there tend to be all sorts of crossings and pairings and friendships and business transactions that would suggest a much stronger coalescence than you seem to allow for.
    People don’t necessarily sort themselves out, and they don’t always refuse to blend together, altering languages and social practices when the incentives are worth it.
    So I’m not sure that pushing for these ethnically singular nations is the best idea, one worth pursuing as a policy.
    Probably one needs a whole lot more history and political understanding of why any group actually has the desire to split from a larger and relatively more powerful nation before one should advocate for partitions.

    Reply

  111. jdledell says:

    “to accept merely 80-85 percent of the West Bank with Israel permanently controlling the Jordan Valley”
    wigwag – This is absolutely laughable. Do you really think that the Palestinians will acceptIsrael surrounding Palestine as another open air prison in the West Bank, like Gaza? To have Israel control EVERYTHING and EVERYONE entering and exiting Palestine is absurd. Israel’s control of Palestinian life is the very thing they are fighting against.
    In your scenerio, if Abbas wanted to visit the US, it’s up to Israel to decide. If Intel want to build a chip plant in the west bank, Israel could, AND WOULD, tell Intel build it in Israel or we won’t let your chips leave Palestine.
    Remember absolute power corrupts absolutely and that is true even of Jews, as the current situation testifies. The Palestinians in the west bank are treated cruelly and inhumanly every day and under your scenerio, Israel would continue to do so even if the soldiers are not comingling with the population.
    Until Isral recognizes that Palestinians are human beings and as much G-d’s children as Jews, then Israel should have zero control over Palestinian lives. Simply put Israel cannot be trusted with this kind of power.

    Reply

  112. Alex Becker says:

    “In my view, a combination of brilliant leadership and well
    orchestrated “strategic leaps” coupled with visionary re-crafting
    of America’s global social contract with other of the world’s
    leading stakeholders could actually restore significant American
    leverage (and power) in global affairs.”
    Part of what has contributed to the decisions behind the relative
    decline in US influence in the post-Cold War world is the
    strategic frame of mind through which many of leading policy
    makers and academics still view the world. Those born during
    the Baby Boom and raised and educated during the end of the
    Cold Wa,r have in many ways still failed to predict and
    understand the ways in which “power” and “influence” are
    measured in a multipolar, globalized environment. For all the
    intellectual talk about the wonders of globalization, we still tend
    to measure ourselves in relation to other nations using very
    simple, black and white meters, ie. economic size, military
    strength, technology etc. These aspects of national power take
    on very different meanings when viewed in the context of an
    international system in which nations are connected through
    economic and social networks. As Ann Marie Slaughter of State
    Policy Planning has written, the United States has an inherent
    advantage in that it’s social, cultural and economic networks
    reach globally in a way not other nation can match. Now, rather
    than simple meters of size and strength, a nation’s position
    within the international “network” is the most important measure
    of its power and influence.

    Reply

  113. Carroll says:

    ROTFLMAO
    This is what a brain looks like on ziocaine.
    1) Support the Iraqi Kurds in their desire to declare independence from Iraq. Concomitant with this the United States should use its remaining troops to expel Sunni interlopers placed in the North of Iraq by Saddam Hussein; both Kirkuk and Mosul should be incorporated into the new Kurdish nation. The United States should then station at least 25,000 troops in Iraqi Kurdistan and use those troops to support Kurdish independence movements in Iran and Syria. Support for those independence movements could wax and wane depending on the behavior of those two states. If Turkey finds this objectionable (which it will), that’s merely an added benefit of the policy. Ultimately, the United States needs to work for an independent Kurdistan that incorporates the Kurdish regions of Iraq, Iran, Syria and even Turkey.
    3) Support the partition of both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan, which is the most dangerous state in the world today, is a seething cauldron of ethnic division and hatred. While the nation is held together (barely) by the Muslim religion it is really not a viable nation. Pakistan should be divided into four separate nations:
    4)What I think Steve Clemons fails to understand is that while the United States is as strong or stronger than ever, our strategic position in the world is weakened by the crashing and burning of our trilateral partners, the Western Europeans and the Japanese. Those nations are committing demographic suicide and considering how troubled their economies are likely to be for the long term, the U.S. needs new allies. Russia could be one, but the most obvious candidate to replace (or at least supplement) the work of junior partners like Europe and Japan is India. The Obama Administration, which has foolishly ignored India, should see India for what it is; the most important potential geopolitical player in the world today. The United States should be massively supporting India and Indian aspirations. The goal should be to move India into a position in the 21st century that Europe held in the 20th century. The benefits to this would be enormous, not the least of which would be to act as a check on Chinese expansion. If the Indians want a prominent role in Afghanistan; let them have it. This would be another perfect way to check Iran. A bold foreign policy would include a program for India that rivals what the United States did for Europe after World War II.
    *A contiguous Palestinian state (that incorporates small parts of Jerusalem but far less than the Palestinians aspire to) is possible, but that state will always be surrounded by Israel and Israeli troops will be stationed indefinitely in the Jordan Valley. The Obama approach to the Middle East, which is little more than a dumbed down version of the European approach, induces Palestinian recalcitrance because it encourages them to possess an unrealistic vision of what they can achieve. Until Palestinians acquiesce to the reality that Israel isn

    Reply

  114. Carroll says:

    Maybe we could add a little Shakespeare for inspiration to Steve’s suggested reading list for Obama.
    ‘We at the height are ready to decline.
    There is a tide in the affairs of men
    Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
    Omitted, all the voyage of their life
    Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
    On such a full sea are we now afloat,
    And we must take the current when it serves,
    Or lose our ventures’
    Or shorter….quit dawdling around for politics sake, you might not get another 4 years to get it done.

    Reply

  115. Sand says:

    Hell, where’s Samantha Power, Rob Malley, Chas Freeman — even Chuck Hagel?

    Reply

  116. WigWag says:

    FYI
    Tony Judt died from ALS at the age of 62.

    Reply

  117. jonst says:

    Yeah, Fareed, ok its a start. Let me know when he is reading Bachvich’s book. Or, Simon Johnson’s? Heaven forbid, Tom Engelhardt’s book. Does he have a single person in any position of importance whom:
    Opposed the Iraq War by voting against the Resolution?
    Opposed the Patriot Act?
    Support’s an investigation into alleged war crimes by the Bush Admin?
    That opposes the “all options on the table” nonsense about Iran?
    Supports a so called “single payer” medical system?
    Opposed Glass Stegall Act?
    Mind you, I’m not talking about actively ENDORSING one of these positions. I’m saying does he have ONE VOICE, ONE, that takes any of these positions that Obama/Rahm allow into the Halls of Power?
    Everybody loves this Doris Kearns Goodwin corporate bullshit “Team of Rivals” but the only Rivals on this team are the ‘centrists and right wingers’. Obama does not have to read FK’s book….it is his default setting. And he brooks no opposition. He can’t hear it. It can’t be in the room.

    Reply

  118. Carroll says:

    99% excellent to me.
    However I don’t agree with linking ‘progress’ on Iran to ‘progress’ on Palestine/Israel. They should be seperate issues. Despite the linkage by Israelis and Arabs.
    Trading something I/P for something Iran will turn out to be another source for resentment and suspicion among many in the ME. First you sacrificed Palestine for Israel and now you’re going to sacrifice Iran for Palestine. Hello there!..this is too familiar.
    I think part of the reason for US rejection is we think we are clever ‘deal makers’ but some group in the deal always gets the short end of the stick and erupts down the line eventually.
    If we are going to send everyone out of the room and really do something new let’s try making decisions on each issue on it’s own first. Before we hop off on another tangeled web ‘expidency’ deal.
    Of course it’s not totally that simple.
    But focusing that way would be as good as it would ever get in decision making.
    Well, maybe they are doing that, who knows. Just doesn’t sound like it.

    Reply

  119. samuelburke says:

    lets talk about the power that causes the linkage…phil weiss is all over this one like a lox on a bagel.
    lets link it and talk about the power that causes links…stop the madness.
    “But Ynet’s writer Yisrael Wolman is shrewder than Harel and he concludes that there’s nothing Israelis can do about it and, worse, they better not do anything about it. Yes, it’s all about the Israel lobby in the end, isn’t it? (My emphasis on the brother Madoff bit. Wow; Madoff really was all about the Jews?)
    “The more interesting question is what we can do: Regrettably, it appears that we can do very little. This problem is the hot potato of community leaders: They understand that the key has to do with guiding the parents, initiating Jewish social ventures, and of course, high-quality Jewish education. Much of the money that was spared after the collapse of our brother Madoff is currently invested in this struggle.
    On the other hand, we Israelis have the power, as always, to cause damage: Fostering our alienation to the world

    Reply

  120. nadine says:

    “The Israel-Palestine conflict is a global fault line, a San Andreas fault of conflicts that ranks higher today than even the tension between India and Pakistan.”
    This is the foreign policy equivalent of enabling a drunk to keep drinking by buying all the silly reasons he puts forward to excuse his drinking.
    When somebody claims that a conflict a thousand miles away with nothing to do with him is the “real” reason for his bad behavior, rational people recognize that it’s an excuse.
    My house in Vermont is dirty. The San Andreas fault is to blame. I can’t clean up until you fix that fault, Steve.
    Whew. That should save me from house-cleaning for the next few years.
    99% of the problems of the Muslim world from Morocco to Indonesia would still be there if Israel fell into the sea tomorrow. All they would need to find is a new excuse. It wouldn’t be hard, the Muslim world has been polishing that list for the last 200 years at least.

    Reply

  121. nadine says:

    questions, Fayyad has money, and construction. He doesn’t have a state. He doesn’t have control of the militias. He doesn’t have control of Hamas. At any time, the Fatah Central Committee or Hamas could decide to start shooting, and Fayyad could not stop them.
    However, Fayyad could not have done what he has done without Israeli encouragement. It’s wrong to speak as if Israel has never tried any strategies to encourage growth or prosperity or autonomy in the WB or Gaza. They have tried many, for example the Gaza industrial zone to supply work to Gaza. But these efforts ended when Hamas blew them up.
    That’s the problem with the current structural situation; the radicals have the final veto. Israel cannot fix this unilaterally.

    Reply

  122. WigWag says:

    “Barack Obama needs to generate “strategic leaps” — but he is surrounded by a large number of policy practitioner increment lists who are so well acquainted with the weeds and granular detail of historically insoluble national security problems — like Israel/Palestine, or Iran, or Cuba, or Syria — that they have a hard time not bringing their lethargy, depression, or obsessive compulsiveness about the past into discussions about the policy challenges today and how to pragmatically move these problems and American interests forward.” (Steve Clemons)
    This is an extremely interesting post; not only is it very lucid but it is also very thought-provoking.
    I agree that Obama’s approach to foreign policy has been unimaginative and timid; for an Administration that likes to “talk big,” his actions have been remarkably small and incremental. Steve blames Obama’s advisors for this but refrains from putting too much blame on Obama himself. Steve is wrong to give the President a pass. What I think Steve is missing is that Obama is so convinced of the redemptive power of his own words, that he actually confuses talking with concrete action; his Cairo speech was the perfect example of this. Obama thought it would be a game changer but now, less than two years after he delivered it, its effect has now completely worn off. See,
    http://www.brookings.edu/opinions/2010/0805_middle_east_telhami.aspx
    There are many strategic leaps that the Obama Administration could take that would dramatically improve the strategic position of the United States. In fairness to Obama, the state of the economy is in such terrible shape that it’s hard for him to be bold in the foreign policy arena. But if he really wants to improve America’s position in the world here are some things he could do:
    1) Support the Iraqi Kurds in their desire to declare independence from Iraq. Concomitant with this the United States should use its remaining troops to expel Sunni interlopers placed in the North of Iraq by Saddam Hussein; both Kirkuk and Mosul should be incorporated into the new Kurdish nation. The United States should then station at least 25,000 troops in Iraqi Kurdistan and use those troops to support Kurdish independence movements in Iran and Syria. Support for those independence movements could wax and wane depending on the behavior of those two states. If Turkey finds this objectionable (which it will), that’s merely an added benefit of the policy. Ultimately, the United States needs to work for an independent Kurdistan that incorporates the Kurdish regions of Iraq, Iran, Syria and even Turkey.
    2) Revoke U.S. recognition of Kosovo. One area where Obama has done a good job is repairing the American relationship with Russia. An improved U.S. – Russian relationship is decisively in the interest of the United States and both nations actually have a number of common strategic interests especially in the area of fighting radical Islam. Apologizing for the rash recognition of Kosovo would make quite an impression in Moscow and would help bring the two nations much closer together. Kosovo is not a viable nation; recognizing it despite the objections of Moscow was a strategic blunder that should be rectified. In the long run, the goal should be make the Russians as much of an ally as the French.
    3) Support the partition of both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan, which is the most dangerous state in the world today, is a seething cauldron of ethnic division and hatred. While the nation is held together (barely) by the Muslim religion it is really not a viable nation. Pakistan should be divided into four separate nations: Baluchistan (which would in time come to include the ethnic Baluchs in Iran), Punjab (the Punjabis already dominate Pakistani politics), Sindh, and the Northwest Frontier Provinces that are largely Pashtu. Obviously the Pashtu

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  123. nadine says:

    “Much of being a leading superpower is about managing mystique — and Obama is the kind of President that can restore the mystique that previous administrations shattered by displaying military, economic, moral, and institutional leadership lapses.
    Barack Obama needs to generate “strategic leaps” — but he is surrounded by a large number of policy practitioner incrementalists who are so well acquainted with the weeds and granular detail of historically insoluble national security problems — like Israel/Palestine, or Iran, or Cuba, or Syria — that they have a hard time not bringing their lethargy, depression, or obsessive compulsiveness about the past into discussions about the policy challenges today and how to pragmatically move these problems and American interests forward.
    Obama needs to hang out with some creative thinkers, those who know something about Nixon’s and Kissinger’s assessment of China when we had no relations, or are experts in Eisenhower’s “Solarium Exercise”, or others who are thinking in creative and innovative ways about the global system and America’s place in it.”
    This reads like a job application. Trouble is, didn’t Obama already try hitting “reset” with Russia and the Middle East and Iran, and fall flat on his face?

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  124. The Pessimist says:

    This is Steve’s money statement in my opinion:
    “…but he is surrounded by a large number of policy practitioner incrementalists who are so well acquainted with the weeds and granular detail of historically insoluble national security problems — like Israel/Palestine, or Iran, or Cuba, or Syria — that they have a hard time not bringing their lethargy, depression, or obsessive compulsiveness about the past into discussions about the policy challenges today and how to pragmatically move these problems and American interests forward.”
    And why are America’s rulers incremental and resistant to change course? Because doing so would be acknowledging that their course needed changing. The most fundamentally difficult thing for a politician to do? Admit to being wrong.
    The status quo is safe in a herd mentality. Death by a thousand pin pricks is preferable to death by beheading. Political calculations are what motivate these morally bankrupt criminals, not public good. They are a different class of people than those of us out here in the Homeland and our needs and desires have no bearing on their post campaign actions.We are only required to elect them to the offices where they serve the interests of their political patrons. The day after the votes have been collected is the day they start ignoring us again.
    To borrow an analogy from football: we are the center, we deliver the ball to the quarterback, and our work is done. Nothing happens until the center initiates the action. Once he has fulfilled his singular role the quarterback becomes the most important player on the field. The center is typically left on the bottom of a pile at the end of every play, battered, bruised and thoroughly exhausted by the end of the game. That

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  125. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “As for POA, thanks for the constant contrarianism and anti-intellectualism….”
    ROFLMAO!!!!
    Suggesting we send gang counselors to the ME is “intellectualism”????
    And quit with the straw, I’m not criticizing community based activists, organizers, counselors, etc.
    I’m simply criticizing your inane horseshit.
    Nice job working in something about the Mexicans. “Intellectualism” at its best, no doubt.

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  126. questions says:

    samuelburke,
    The biggest “mistake” and note the scare quotes is that Israel has “failed” to “trust” irrationally and accept the risk that trust might cause.
    Israel has failed to curb the settlements in part because of a structural problem endemic to parliamentary systems.
    Israel has failed to bridge east and west, religious and secular strains successfully.
    Israel has encouraged right wing paranoia — based on the reality of suicide bombs, no doubt.
    Because there is deep uncertainty in the situation, Israel has used the maximin strategy quite rightly. The maximin strategy, though, is dysfunctional on a socially broader level even if it makes a great deal of rational sense locally.
    Israel’s border guards are too often vicious and inhumane and the crossings and ridiculous road and blocking systems are designed more to humiliate and immiserate and impose collective punishment than to help lead to peace.
    Training soldiers to be a “public face” instead of nutwing would help.
    All of this I say with the caveat that the security problems are real, the responses are generally rational and to be expected given the structures.
    “Overreaction” is a good deterrent. The wallbuilding stopped the suicide bombings. Gaza/Hamas is contained. Containment is deeply inhumane, of course. But the fact is that there is certainly short term success regarding the strategic goal of keeping the suicide bombers away and immiserating people enough that perhaps Hamas will lose the next election if there ever is one.
    Overreaction is also inhumane. It also works.
    So what do you do when the structure determines your behavior? You have to be irrational at some level, or you have to have sufficient bilateral assurance/coercion such that there’s a new rationality in place.
    Fayyad seems to be giving some room for a new structure such that Israel actually has a chance to offer a non-maximin response without huge risk and I would hope that Israel seizes on this. I would hope that Netanyahu’s ego can be stroked enough that he gets positively orgasmic about making peace with the WB. This stuff is f’ing golden! And he could really make a difference with a WB deal and put huge pressure on Gaza/Hamas.
    The question remains, though, that perhaps the stoking the base strategy endemic to both the Republicans in the US and the right in Israel went too far to be undone. If this is the case, we’ll have another generation of crazies.
    Remember, we have Constitutional “originalists” who want to dismantle the 14th Amendment because some idiot politicians are pushing the basest buttons of the base. Nothing good can come of redoing the Constitution in the name of “originalism.”
    ****
    As for POA, thanks for the constant contrarianism and anti-intellectualism and celebration of general ignorance, conspiracy theory and rectality. It’s an important addition to the dialogue. Your use of facts, deep analysis, and brilliant exposition to destroy an offhand remark I made about conciliation strategies is something to behold!
    And clearly gang membership upswings (if this is even true) are caused by gang counseling and not by the economy, the lure of drug money, the lack of family support, the broad set of incentives, the concentration of poverty, peer pressure, role modeling, the condition of the schools, and so on. I’m sure that counseling has done nothing at all ever to help even one guy avoid gangs. I’m sure that what we really need to do is to stop funding the cities and cut our taxes and strengthen the border and deport the Messicans so that we can at least say we don’t support gangs. So thanks for your trenchant commentary. It always helps move things along.
    I hope you’re celebrating the US’s fall in the college degrees granted rankings! Fewer people reading books is a thing of beauty for you, I’m guessing!
    (The irony that the College Board announced this when its testing program is probably part of the problem is hilarious!!!!)
    By the way, I’m not wearing socks because I couldn’t decide between the black ones and the black ones. How did you know I have that problem every morning?!

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  127. PissedOffAmerican says:

    It is truly surreal seeing Steve address a whole grab-bag of FP issues on this blog while acting as if Hillary Clinton, our Secretary Of State, didn’t exist.
    Wow, now THATS some fancy footwork!

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  128. philip smucker says:

    Brilliantly stated, Steve. The only name I would add would be Aaron David Miller. Efforts to deny “linkage” are — at this stage in history — strident or worse.
    The young Islamic generation we hope to influence with our deeds and good will is ready for American leadership, as I discovered while reporting my own book. (below)
    You wrote:
    “Ross and Makovsky think that this argument is wrong. Many do. But from my perspective, these thinkers are not recognizing the vital demands of ‘strategic leaps’ at historical pivot points. Nations rise or sink at times like this — and America can’t return to be the kind of benign global power it used to be, inspiring other nations to follow its lead, unless it demonstrates a capacity to shape the environment in a way that constructively confronts Iran’s ambitions and which reorders the security and political environment surrounding Israel, which is essentially a client state of the United States.”
    http://www.amazon.com/My-Brother-Enemy-America-Islamic/dp/1616141840/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_1

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  129. DCPundit says:

    Steve,
    This is a brilliant summation of the case for President Obama. It’s so well put together that one feels that this will make its way to the desks of the people you highlight in the White House and maybe to the President himself.
    Brilliant job.

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  130. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Inner city gangs are GROWING, not shrinking, and becoming more violent, and more powerful, as each year passes.
    Just what successful gang counselers are you suggesting mediate international conflict, questions???
    How do you dream this crap up? And why??

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  131. samuelburke says:

    Questions, can you give me your best critique of Israeli practices in the middle east and how you see it from your perspective?
    can you point to any mistakes Israel may have made in the recent past?
    curious as to how you might see things?
    just israels mistakes.

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  132. JohnH says:

    Though Obama flashed the rhetoric of a transformational leader during his run for the oval office, he has showed no sign of actually being one.
    There is only one way to become a transformational leader. That is to go over the heads of Washington’s petty backbiters and wary incrementalists and appeal directly to the American people.
    The biggest mystery of the Obama presidency is why he adamantly refuses to use his most powerful weapon, the bully pulpit. If he is a one term president, which is likely, it will not be the fault of the economy or the Republicans. Rather, it will be because he refused to use his brilliant rhetorical skills.
    Obama is like a brilliant three point shooter who refuses to take outside shots, preferring instead to get hammered inside.

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  133. questions says:

    Strategic leap A — West Bank deal in which further aid for construction and infrastructure (and google fiber optics high speed wiring for the whole area) is tied to a DEAL.
    Lower level leadership positions create a ladder for moving up the political hierarchy and a whole functional problem-solving recycle-bin providing pot hole filling bureaucracy with a human face and a few really great shopping strips open up. Low and medium level jobs appear. A waterfront entertainment complex. Faneuil Hall! Convention centers, theaters, music, poetry slams….
    Fayyad is crowned king of the ME.
    He’s the new Young Turk — east and west simultaneously. He avoids assassination somehow!
    Gazans vote again. They side with Fayyad and get a modified version of the same, or they side with Hamas and they stay in their not at all splendid isolation.
    ****
    Corruption, poor incentives, lack of trust, the balance of east-looking and west-looking elements all need to be dealt with. There are lots and lots of theorists who deal with these kinds of issues who help with city gang problems. Let those techniques be incorporated.
    There are levels of analysis to deal with here.
    There are the game-playing elites whose incentive system is very different from that of the “man in the street” masses.
    The masses need city services, education, health care, housing, clothing, schools, vacations, a cool breeze, clean air and water, pocket money, entertainment, hip hop music, skateboards, slides and swings and swimming pools and a good soccer team to root for.
    The elite need power guarantees, games to play, certitude that they won’t be assassinated by either Israelis or their own.
    Playing to one side seems to negate the other, hence the standoff.
    Tie them together and make the bargain worth the risk and guarantee a good result for the elites regardless and maybe someone will take a risk.
    Whichever Israeli pol it is who manages a deal that leads to real security, that pol will do well and go down in the history books. Play it up. Narcissism in politicians is the one feature they ALL have or they wouldn’t put up with the costs.
    At any rate, the incentives for taking risk have to shift or risk will not be taken.
    Fayyad first. Hamas later. Gang counselors should be brought in. If the Bloods and the Crips can do it…..

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  134. Dan Kervick says:

    I love the expression, “passively reckless”.
    Steve, from what you hear is there any chance that any kind of progress can be made on I/P before the November election? Right now, the administration seems to have entered a substantive holding pattern, and is more focused on getting the message out to key opinion makers, through private audiences with the upper echelons of media, that their hard line approach to Iran is working.

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  135. DonS says:

    A well tuned plea. And a necessary one of course, but the part that stands out to me is acknowledgment that the neocons may well have so much invested in confrontational strategies. One has to ask whether this mindset has so infected and influenced the American narrative to such an extent that for Obama to choose a major breakthrough approach will indeed meaning jettisoning these rigidified thinkers. Let’s ask for instance how a Rahm Emmanuel can be shoved aside? Or Hillary for that mater? Pelosi? Schumer?
    Of course the polar opposites to strategic movement of the sort Steve proposes, some of whose minions will no doubt chime in here, will be ready to offer Steve some Valium and a nice vacation, and the unsolicited advice that he has no idea what he is talking about. And they cite their silly polls; it’s what the American people actually want they sneer. Their nefarious leaders, unfortunately, pull levers of power both in Israel and the US. I would argue it’s not just regidified thinking, it’s identification with controlling all the apparatus of policy thinking and implementation; a zero sum game. Play around the edges, Mr. Obama, they might say. But don’t you dare think about getting serious.

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