The View from My Window: Chestertown

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Chestertown Dec 30 2010.jpg
Greetings from Chestertown, Maryland where I’m currently tallying up President Obama’s recent foreign policy achievements vs. failures and challenges left on the table. I spend a lot of time thinking about US-Cuba policy (in fact, today the Cuban Interests Section celebrates the anniversary of the Cuban Revolution), Israel/Palestine, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other parts of the world.
I do think that there are noticeable strengths on the Obama national security team, but the most important thing that the President himself has to remember and implement is his mantra from the campaign still often recounted by David Axelrod, “good policy is good politics.”
There is no way to look at the Middle East mess we still have before us — or our policy with Cuba — believing that the President is insisting on good policy trumping his political advisers.
More soon — but I wanted to wish everyone on whatever side of whatever line you may be in these policy debates a fantastic new year.
– Steve Clemons

Comments

59 comments on “The View from My Window: Chestertown

  1. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “If she had really been at the protest and gotten sick and died afterwards, there is no reason to have refused to let Israelis see the medical file”
    Actually, Nadine, the family gave the medical report to Haaretz, undoubtedly knowing that giving it to the jackboots was a waste of time, as they would only lie about it anyway.
    This is the 17th death of a protester, protesting a section of the wall that the Israeli courts, and the international community, have deemed to be illegal. And the list of injuries inflicted on protesters is extensive.
    But you have nothing to say about that, do you? In your mind, the illegality of Israel’s actions is irrelevent.
    You disgust me. You’re simply a despicable human being, and that would be true no matter what your ethnicity or religion.

    Reply

  2. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Sounds to me like the death is not related to the protest at all, they just had a dead woman in the vicinity and decided to make her into a martyr. Maybe one her relatives offed her. If she had really been at the protest and gotten sick and died afterwards, there is no reason to have refused to let Israelis see the medical file”
    ROFLMAO!!!! You mean like the fuckin’ jackbooted Israelis not bothering to question witnesses when they “investigated” what happened to Emily Henochowicz??? You seemed to think that was perfectly acceptable.
    Perhaps this person’s family just wants to bury their loved one without these piece of shit Israelis subjecting them to the usual insensitive, inhumane, and propagandized bullshit that they vomit up every time they murder a Palestinian.

    Reply

  3. Neo Controll says:

    “What has happened to the 60s and Kent State etc?”
    We have become a virtual caricature of a democracy, with emphasis on the virtual. Just what our corporate masters intend.

    Reply

  4. rc says:

    Not so fantastic for these Uni hopefuls …
    How can this be sustainable?
    http://english.aljazeera.net/video/americas/2011/01/20111252018281486.html
    UK students are out revolting while US students just ‘take another shift’?
    What has happened to the 60s and Kent State etc?

    Reply

  5. nadine says:

    BTW, about that Bil’in protester who supposedly died of Israeli teargas: there are about six different stories of the death floating around, including one from her cousin saying she was 500 meters away inside her house, not at the protest.
    What’s more, the PA is refusing a joint PA-Israeli investigation of the death (which is usually standard in such cases), instead proclaiming her a “martyr” instantly.
    http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=201821
    Sounds to me like the death is not related to the protest at all, they just had a dead woman in the vicinity and decided to make her into a martyr. Maybe one her relatives offed her. If she had really been at the protest and gotten sick and died afterwards, there is no reason to have refused to let Israelis see the medical file.
    You see, this is how Pallywood works: they know the Israel-haters will believe any story and won’t ask for evidence, so their claims become more and more audacious. Why should they bother making up evidence, when all the Leftist papers on the planet, and all the anti-Semites on the planet, will believe the story instantly?

    Reply

  6. rc says:

    PissedOffAmerican, Jan 02 2011, 11:38AM — they have a point. And it is not much different (except in veracity, so far) to this type of emerging event:
    —quote—
    The outrage of the young has erupted, sometimes violently, on the streets of Greece and Italy in recent weeks, as students and more radical anarchists protest not only specific austerity measures in flattened economies but a rising reality in Southern Europe: People like Ms. Esposito feel increasingly shut out of their own futures. Experts warn of volatility in state finances and the broader society as the most highly educated generation in the history of the Mediterranean hits one of its worst job markets.
    Politicians are slowly beginning to take notice. Italy

    Reply

  7. Neo Controll says:

    Now would this be an achievement or a failure (snark). I suppose, to a neocon . . . :
    “Report: U.S. Refused Request By UAE To Investigate Alleged Assassination by Mossad”
    “Newspapers are reporting that the United States State Department under Hillary Clinton made the extraordinary decision to refuse assistance requested by the United Arab Emirates into the assassination of a top Hamas commander. Israel

    Reply

  8. nadine says:

    These Gazan students, who don’t even dare to put their names to an op-ed piece in a London paper, are not protesting “corruption” but perpetual war.
    Say what you like, Hamas’ program of perpetual war until Israel is destroyed is not corrupt; it is Hamas’ core ideology. Nor are Israel’s counterstrikes against Hamas corrupt; they are Israel’s efforts to protect its civilian population from rockets and missiles, which is the duty of any government.

    Reply

  9. Neo Controll says:

    Did you ever consider, nadine, that proponents of a just peace are not afraid of exposing corruption all around, versus the myopic propaganda of Israel Firsters?

    Reply

  10. nadine says:

    “During the last years, Hamas has been doing all they can to control our thoughts, behaviour and aspirations. Here in Gaza we are scared of being incarcerated, interrogated, hit, tortured, bombed, killed. We cannot move as we want, say what we want, do what we want.”
    Speaking of non-democracies, these (anonymous) Gazan students certainly live in one.
    Did you even notice before you posted it, POA, that their main beef is with the Hamas dictatorship that ran on clean government but governs on perpetual war with Israel? That’s their immediate problem, one they can’t do anything about because Hamas won’t bother using tear gas if THEY demonstrate, just bullets and lots of them. If you doubt that, I suggest you google some of the videos of mass executions of Fatah operatives that Hamas themselves put out on the web.

    Reply

  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/02/free-gaza-youth-manifesto-palestinian
    The Manifesto
    “Fuck Hamas. Fuck Israel. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNWRA. Fuck USA! We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, the occupation, the violations of human rights and the indifference of the international community!
    “We want to scream and break this wall of silence, injustice and indifference like the Israeli F16s breaking the wall of sound; scream with all the power in our souls in order to release this immense frustration that consumes us because of this fucking situation we live in…
    “We are sick of being caught in this political struggle; sick of coal-dark nights with airplanes circling above our homes; sick of innocent farmers getting shot in the buffer zone because they are taking care of their lands; sick of bearded guys walking around with their guns abusing their power, beating up or incarcerating young people demonstrating for what they believe in; sick of the wall of shame that separates us from the rest of our country and keeps us imprisoned in a stamp-sized piece of land; sick of being portrayed as terrorists, home-made fanatics with explosives in our pockets and evil in our eyes; sick of the indifference we meet from the international community, the so-called experts in expressing concerns and drafting resolutions but cowards in enforcing anything they agree on; we are sick and tired of living a shitty life, being kept in jail by Israel, beaten up by Hamas and completely ignored by the rest of the world.
    “There is a revolution growing inside of us, an immense dissatisfaction and frustration that will destroy us unless we find a way of canalising this energy into something that can challenge the status quo and give us some kind of hope.
    “We barely survived the Operation Cast Lead, where Israel very effectively bombed the shit out of us, destroying thousands of homes and even more lives and dreams. During the war we got the unmistakable feeling that Israel wanted to erase us from the face of the Earth. During the last years, Hamas has been doing all they can to control our thoughts, behaviour and aspirations. Here in Gaza we are scared of being incarcerated, interrogated, hit, tortured, bombed, killed. We cannot move as we want, say what we want, do what we want.
    “ENOUGH! Enough pain, enough tears, enough suffering, enough control, limitations, unjust justifications, terror, torture, excuses, bombings, sleepless nights, dead civilians, black memories, bleak future, heart-aching present, disturbed politics, fanatic politicians, religious bullshit, enough incarceration! WE SAY STOP! This is not the future we want! We want to be free. We want to be able to live a normal life. We want peace. Is that too much to ask?”

    Reply

  12. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Bil’in protester dies after exposure to tear gas shot by IDF
    Palestinian PM Fayyad also present at the weekly West Bank anti-separation wall demonstration where Jawaher Abu Rahmah was critically injured.
    By Amira Hass and Anshel Pfeffer
    A resident of the West Bank village of Bil’in died on Saturday morning in a Ramallah hospital after she was exposed to tear gas that was shot by IDF soldiers to disperse the crowd of demonstrators against the separation wall in the village on Friday.
    Jawaher Abu Rahmah, 36 years old, was the sister of Bassem Abu Rahmah, who was killed by an extended-range tear gas projectile fired at his chest by IDF soldiers at a demonstration against the separation wall in Bil’in on April 17, 2009.
    Weekly demonstrations against the fence have been held in Bil’in for the past five years, where villagers say the barrier unjustly separates them from their lands. In 2007, the Supreme Court accepted these arguments and ruled that the route of the fence should be moved, and that some 170 acres of land be returned to the villagers. The IDF has yet to implement the court’s decision.
    continues….
    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/bil-in-protester-dies-after-exposure-to-tear-gas-shot-by-idf-1.334627
    Perhaps when “Drew” finds his voice again, he will explain to us how a “democracy” can exist when the police, or the army, can ignore the edicts of the courts. Most people would consider that fascism, not democracy.

    Reply

  13. rc says:

    “a restlessly dynamic and utterly ruthless group which, obsessed by the apocalyptic phantasy and filled with the conviction of its own infallibility, set itself above the rest of humanity and recognized no claims save that of its own supposed mission . . . A boundless, millenial promise made with boundless, prophet-like conviction to a number of rootless and desperate men in the midst of a society where traditional norms and relationships are disintegrating — here, it would seem, lay the source of that peculiar subterranean fanaticism.” (see http://www.notbored.org/cohn.html)
    Cohn on the Dark Ages can help put some perspective on media comments like this:
    “The outrage of the young has erupted, sometimes violently, on the streets of Greece and Italy in recent weeks, as students and more radical anarchists protest not only specific austerity measures in flattened economies but a rising reality in Southern Europe: People like Ms. Esposito feel increasingly shut out of their own futures. Experts warn of volatility in state finances and the broader society as the most highly educated generation in the history of the Mediterranean hits one of its worst job markets.
    Politicians are slowly beginning to take notice. Italy

    Reply

  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “….the million year old oil/gas deposits must have got there by ….?”
    Adam and Eve threw their pet dinosaur’s shit in a composter. I thought everyone knew that.

    Reply

  15. rc says:

    “.. Israel, a fraction of the size of Connecticut, just discovered gas reserves equal to half of what the USA will consume in the next 100 years. They are rich beyond measure. Perhaps this little bit of geology will be the tipping point…” (drew, Dec 31 2010, 1:50PM)
    How quickly the help is thrown back in the face.
    While on the subject of geology, I thought you were going to say that, given the earth was created 6,000 years ago in six days, the million year old oil/gas deposits must have got there by ….?
    The tipping point is on the fallacious narrative that Israel uses to justify the apartheid state.
    Try a dose of this. http://fora.tv/2009/10/07/Richard_Dawkins_The_Greatest_Show_on_Earth

    Reply

  16. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gee, Drew, whats a matter, cat got your tongue?
    Its a simple question, isn’t it? You can’t answer it?
    Then maybe you should take your lopsided and hypocritical indignation and stuff it.

    Reply

  17. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Why do you think that is, Drew???
    Why is it that the filthiest most despicably vulgar ad hominem on this blog has came from people identifying themselves as Jews supporting Israel?
    Care to comment?
    Drew??? Hello????
    Drew????

    Reply

  18. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Neither Iraq nor Israel needs US
    money or defense, any longer”
    Then I’m sure you’ll advocate cutting off Israel’s meal ticket and free ride, eh?
    Fat chance.
    “POA, it’s time for another of your rote vulgarities”
    My comments are far from “rote”.
    Where were you when “Wig-wag” was fixated on my penis, “Sweetness” was calling Carroll a “cunt”, another Israel firster jackass, “Marcus”, was claiming I “sucked Arafat’s dick”, and was telling Carroll that she was getting “fucked in the ass” by Arab men??
    Truth is, Drew, there is no match for the vulgarity and obscenities that have been posted here by those most supportive of Jewish radicalism and Israel. By far the most obscene and grossly vulgar posts I have seen here have been posted by self-identified Jews posting rabidly in support of Israel. Of course, your indignation was not on display in those instances, and the likes of Nadine had nothing but praise for the posters offering these gross obscenities.
    Your feigned sensibilities are absurd and irritating.
    And what “two Democracies” are you blathering about wishing for their “survival”? The one in Gaza, where Israel’s radicalism and racist policies greased the skids for the democratically elected Hamas to sieze the reins of power? And the one in Israel, where the term “democracy” is becoming less and less apropos as the policies become more theological and fascist in motive and direction, and laws are being proposed that spit in the face of democratic principles and tenets?
    Heeeee haw, Drew. Bray on.

    Reply

  19. Neo Controll says:

    “Neither Iraq (a democracy?)nor Israel needs US
    money or defense, any longer.” (drew)
    OK then, can we get a refund on all those “loan” guarantees the US advanced and advances to subsidize Israel while it becomes “rich beyond measure”? And how about a payback for all the funds used to destroy Iraq”? I’ll just settle for butting out and letting the neocon’s fulminate in their Israel First obsession.
    No, drew, you don’t get it and you never will as long as your head is stuffed with neocon garbage, or whatever it is that makes folks see Israel deserving of blind fealty and Iraq as the sine qua non of brilliant military-diplomatic synergy.

    Reply

  20. drew says:

    How radical, to wish for one of two middle eastern democracies, to
    survive. (Neither of which would exist without the USA, as people
    bemoan here.)
    Anyway, you guys don’t get it. Neither Iraq nor Israel needs US
    money or defense, any longer. Israel, a fraction of the size of
    Connecticut, just discovered gas reserves equal to half of what the
    USA will consume in the next 100 years. They are rich beyond
    measure. Perhaps this little bit of geology will be the tipping point,
    and the Arabs will tell the Palestinians to consolidate their wins and
    sit down. Because I don’t think the Arabs wish to confront militarily
    a wealthy Israel.
    POA, it’s time for another of your rote vulgarities.

    Reply

  21. PissedOffAmerican says:

    What gets me is how one track partisan these jackasses are. How can ANYONE argue with conviction or honesty when they so religiously adhere to such a carefully structured and scripted narrative??? To NEVER deviate from the talking points representing ONE side of an issue telegraphs a grave lack of conviction or character that allows one to argue points that cannot possibly be defended with conviction or deep personal belief. Nadine is nothing more than an emotionless human amplifier, a transmitter, that spits out a narrative by rote.
    The intriguing part of the hasbarist campaign here has been in watching Wiggie become exposed as far more radically disposed than as she originally presented herself here. Nadine has stripped away Wiggie’s mask, and brought her Jewish radicalism into the light of day for all of us to see.
    The two of them together represent the perfect storm, the exact kind of mindset and narrative that nurtures the radicalism of their opposites. Radical Jews like Nadine and Wiggie sow Islamic radicalism like a farmer planting corn. They, and those like them, are herding the Jews, and Israel, off a cliff.

    Reply

  22. Neo Controll says:

    “But I’m sure it describes the thinking of many of the posters on TWN, those who do blame America for all the world’s ills.” (nadine)
    “I’m not aware of any such TWN posters, never mind many of them. So this is yet another false unverifiable slanderous charge which seems to be characteristic of the devotees of Israel propagandists.” (Don Bacon)
    Nadine is not honest enough to acknowledge that American posters have a duty to be concerned about what the government does in their name, over all other governments in the world. It is nadine and the neocon cabal that wants the US to be ever more the patsy for Israel, just as Wig has no use for the UN because it is not an Israeli stooge (so the US should of course stop trying to work through this international organization, and should instead cement US hegemony by using US foreign aid only as a bribe for subservience).
    It’s only a matter of time before the newly puffed up Firsters again start attacking Steve openly and pushing their propaganda harder and more offensively. They are the true America haters and can hide their inconsistencies only with slander and lies, since their logic is based on underlying threats and political cowardice.

    Reply

  23. PissedOffAmerican says:

    http://uruknet.com/?p=m73421&hd=&size=1&l=e
    Elderly Palestinian women called

    Reply

  24. U noticed 2 says:

    Drew’s selective outrage:
    “Steve, I’m curious why people who write things like this are not
    banned: (Drew)
    “lleana Ros-Lehtinen is one of the most unabashed whores for
    Israel in …” (POA)
    Is it the purpose of this blog to encourage this sort of vulgarity?
    Why provide a forum for it, if not?” (Drew)
    ………………….
    “Obama is a sneaky bastard, ” (nadine)
    ………………………
    Drew ?????

    Reply

  25. Don Bacon says:

    In fact there may be objectional America-blamers for all the world’s ills on TWN.
    nadine:
    “. . the endless cascade of counter-productive stupidity emanating from the Obama State Department.”
    “This is what happens when you try to run a foreign policy based on faculty lounge moral preening and Beltway wishful thinking.”
    “Obama will bend only when he is absolutely forced to.” “Obama is a sneaky bastard, an Alinskyite who has spent most of his adult life flying under false colors.”
    Calling the US president “a sneaky bastard?” My, my. How anti-American.
    And an Alinskyite! Horrors. What does calling Obama an Alinskyite have to do with anything? William F. Buckley described Saul Alinsky, a community organizer, as being “very close to being an organizational genius.”
    This goes even beyond Barry Rubin, the Israeli extremist.

    Reply

  26. Don Bacon says:

    nadine: “But I’m sure it describes the thinking of many of the posters on TWN, those who do blame America for all the world’s ills.”
    I’m not aware of any such TWN posters, never mind many of them. So this is yet another false unverifiable slanderous charge which seems to be characteristic of the devotees of Israel propagandists.

    Reply

  27. nadine says:

    Don Bacon, how “fettered” is the freedom of action of Russia, China, India, the EU, anybody in the world, to pursue their national interests? Ans: it’s chiefly fettered by the limits on their wealth and power and the web of relations they have with other nations.
    In short, everybody is just as fettered or unfettered as they have always been in international relations. Except suddenly this natural state of affairs is a crime in your eyes — but for America alone.
    Everybody else can do just as their please, even more so than usual, because anything they do – up to and including war crimes and atrocities – is classed as a mere reaction to America for which they cannot be held responsible.
    While America, who unlike the other great powers does feel it has an ideological mission to spread democracy and freedom (does China feel like this?) — they alone bear the sins of whole world.
    Frankly, as a way of looking at the world geopolitical system, it’s cracked. It’s just insane. Not to mention self-hating when Americans do it.
    As for the mirage of the UN, how can any sensible person still believe in it, esp. now that it has long been an open sewer where Sudan sits on the Human Rights Council and Iran sits on the Women’s Rights Council? George Orwell had the UN’s number pegged in back 1946:
    “U.N.O. In order to have any efficacy whatever, a world organization must be able to override big states as well as small ones. It must have power to inspect and limit armaments, which means that its officials must have access to every square inch of every country. It must also have at its disposal an armed force bigger than any other armed force and responsible only to the organization itself. The two or three great states that really matter have never even pretended to agree to any of these conditions, and they have so arranged the constitution of U.N.O. that their own actions cannot even be discussed. In other words, U.N.O.’s usefulness as an instrument of world peace is nil. This was just as obvious before it began functioning as it is now. Yet only a few months ago millions of well-informed people believed that it was going to be a success.”
    http://orwell.ru/library/articles/nose/english/e_nose
    Orwell would have been awed (but not surprised) at people’s ability to STILL believe in the UN after seeing it function as a dictators’ talking shop that never did anything for world peace for over 60 years! As Orwell explained, it takes a lot of effort (and what we would now call “moral clarity”) to see what is in front of your nose.

    Reply

  28. Don Bacon says:

    The effect of the 112th congress on foreign policy, it appears, will unfortunately be a renewed obligation to American Exceptionalism, that the US government should have unfettered freedom of action in pursuing its national economic and political interests in other regions.
    This will result in a further erosion of support for the United Nations, which is has been increasingly ineffective in settling world disputes. There is a connection of course between UN ineffectiveness and US economic and military imperialism, with its accompanying use of the UN when convenient and a disdain for the UN when it doesn’t accommodate US policy.
    It will also bring the hammer down more forcefully on US Designated Enemies — North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Palestine, and possibly others to be announced, probably including China. The rationale for continuing the highest military expenditures since WWII must include consideration of a major enemy, as contrasted with the relatively minor nations the US has been sanctioning and invading, and China fills the bill.
    The idea that the US is a world leader and a global determinant doesn’t depend any longer on any alliances of the willing, or concert of democracies, it’s a DIY project. NATO will be useful in some matters, but in the heavy lifting projects (like Afghanistan) the US will be the decider.
    These would be the policies under present conditions — who knows what unexpected events might elevate American Exceptionalism to an even higher plateau.

    Reply

  29. nadine says:

    I never read “Hating America”. But I’m sure it describes the thinking of many of the posters on TWN, those who do blame America for all the world’s ills.

    Reply

  30. Don Bacon says:

    nadine: “Barry Rubin has been doing a good job”
    nadine was probably thinking of Rubin’s book “Hating America.”

    Reply

  31. nadine says:

    “It is almost hard to overstate how incompetent the Obama Middle East policy truly is.” (Wigwag)
    Very true, though Barry Rubin has been doing a good job of trying to keep up with the endless cascade of counter-productive stupidity emanating from the Obama State Department. If you don’t read his blog, I highly recommend it. He mentions the appointment of the ambassador to Syria under the headline, “Dope of the Day”. http://rubinreports.blogspot.com/
    I’ll be interested to see if Sen. Schumer takes on the fp influence you predict. In what direction will his thwarted ambitions for leadership flow? I fear that all he will be able to do is blunt the idiocy of the Obama White House; though as the Obama policies fail miserably one by one, they are being are forced to retreat into positions resembling Bush’s. But they hold the positions weakly, for lack of anything better to do, and they can neither defend them rationally nor support them with a strong will.
    For example, who would have thought, two years after Obama signed an executive order closing Gitmo, that the White House position on the al Qaeda terrorists still remaining in an unclosed Gitmo would be that they be held indefinitely with neither a civilian trial nor a military tribunal? Yet that is Obama’s current position which he must perforce own up to, somehow or other.
    This is what happens when you try to run a foreign policy based on faculty lounge moral preening and Beltway wishful thinking.

    Reply

  32. nadine says:

    “A whopping 44% of Israelis FAVOR a ban on renting or selling land and housing to Arabs.” (POA)
    Actually, the question in the poll concerned renting to Arabs in Safed, which has flared up into a current hotspot of trouble, not renting to Arabs generally. Your information is inaccurate and biased as usual.
    Poll data here: http://truman.huji.ac.il/poll-view.asp?id=368
    I never saw you comment on the official Palestinian law and custom of actually shooting Arabs who sell land to Jews. Should I conclude that you do not consider this racist, or have any problem with it?

    Reply

  33. nadine says:

    “Unfortunately for the [State] department, the system lacked features to detect the unauthorized downloading by Pentagon employees and others of massive amounts of data, according to State Department officials and information-security experts. The result was a disastrous setback for U.S. diplomatic efforts around the globe. ” (WaPo)
    IOW, the system lacked the safeguards possessed by every accounting package in existence, i.e. it didn’t provide an audit trail of activity. Why speak about such massive complacency/stupidity as a “structural problem”? Structural problems are inherent in the structure of a system. There was nothing structural about the defects in the State Departments’s software.

    Reply

  34. questions says:

    This isn’t a snipe, a triumphalist moment, an insult to anyone, but rather is a structural/behavioral problem with information sharing that we are going to have to grapple with, here’s a link to a fascinating WaPo article….
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/30/AR2010123004962.html?hpid=topnews
    One of these days maybe we will get together at a “table” and look at structures that seem to grant deitific powers to the opposition.
    We operate under structural pressures combined with a wide range of oddly irrational human preference schemes lived out individually, but felt systemically. And to explain these forces, we seem to create deitific intentionality and write up that deitistic intentional being in our text books.
    The economic train wreck (I’m half or more done with Zombie Economics– worth reading), the security train wreck, the Senate and House combined train wreck — all of these have a strong structural underpinning that we don’t seem to be grappling with very well.
    Zombie Economics is a long look at a range of “zombie” ideas that keep holding on despite their having been disproved by the housing bubble and meltdown of the financial sector. Krugman’s Lament ™ is related to ideas in this book.
    But it’s not just in economics that bad ideas live on and on and on despite their deaths. It’s actually in all explanatory mechanisms, and therefore in all responses to the situations that have been so explained.
    Unless and until we grapple with structures and the limits inherent in grasping the world, our policy will fall far short of what it needs to be. I don’t think one needs to be particularly utopian, or nihilistic for that matter, in response, but it might be nice to start with:
    a feeling for feelings (we do, indeed LOVE our causes more than our causes are “worth”),
    a clear look at what we do with what we know (we are never going to be able to process ‘information’ the way that full ‘security’ might demand
    and, in fact, ‘information’ is a problematic category on its own and should be dealt with as such
    a really careful read of entrenched interests and the forces they can bring to bear, and our general attachment to narratives — what are the causes, the effects, the direction of the pressure
    a better version of risk analysis — what are we really willing to pay in advance, or after the fact, whom are we willing to pay for and how much are we willing to send in after the fact for those who don’t pay before the disaster (this requires a more full reading of “moral hazard” — one that applies to the right/bankster/wealthy types!)
    a full discussion of the point of capital accumulation and information accumulation –who owns all this stuff, for what end is it accumulated, what are the limits if any for either category
    **
    As for specific issues related to these general points:
    SoSec funding — there are reasonable economists out there who seem to prefer not having a dedicated funding stream for SoSec — this is a risk assessment/capital accumulation/narrative-wedding issue that is not being discussed as such
    Af/Pak/Iraq/Yemen meet WikiLeaks — what are we doing, what are we collecting, what are we preventing, what are we causing, what are we wedded to, what zombie ideas are floating around that we’re caught up with. Do we have a silver stake through the hearts of any of these?
    I/P — again, why are we attached the way we are, what is the governing narrative, does it make sense, should we be thinking the way we are?
    The economy in general — the smartest economists are just as much caught up in narratives they are wedded to as are random bloggers. Picking out policy from amongst the passionately held positions might seem to be closer to a game of eenie-meenie-miney-mo — Houston, we have a problem here.
    ***
    In short, we have the labors of Hercules to clean up and cut up. We aren’t going to get very far without at least bracketing some of our more foolish intensity long enough to try to figure out why we think what we think.
    The question really seems to be if we can be dispassionate for the length of an essay before we fall back into habit, intensity, self-promotion, hubris, blindness, self-deception, fantasy, self-certainty, and basic stupidity.
    Further, do we have some new set of metaphors to help guide our thinking? Capital and information are entangled in very significant ways, and perhaps therefore, the way through the economy and the way through the security situation are the same Way.
    Happy New Year to all, may it be a year of problem solving, rather than a year of problem causing.

    Reply

  35. WigWag says:

    “So Obama won’t need to kowtow in this instance. Obama will bend only when he is absolutely forced to. Obama is a sneaky bastard, an Alinskyite who has spent most of his adult life flying under false colors. He’ll try to keep to his strategy of “talk center, govern left” by doing everything through the power of the Executive Branch, behind the back of Congress.” (Nadine)
    I am quite sure that you’re right about this, Nadine. In fact, just today, Obama did precisely what you suggest by using a Recess Appointment to appoint a new Ambassador to Syria. Congress had refused to endorse his candidate because many Senators correctly believed that the Assad regime should not be rewarded for its bad behavior.
    All Presidents use Recess Appointments to get their way, but this is just one more example of how clueless the Obama Administration truly is. The idea that by rewarding the Assad regime by returning a U.S. Ambassador to Damascus, Assad is going to temper his bad behavior is just pure idiocy.
    It is almost hard to overstate how incompetent the Obama Middle East policy truly is. While I think you’re right that he will do as much as he can by using his Executive Authority, when it comes to the Middle East I think Obama’s instincts will be held somewhat in check by Senator Schumer. A few months ago, Steve Clemons was peddling the line that because of his disagreements with the Obama Middle East policy, Schumer’s leadership status in the Democratic senatorial caucus was endangered. Of course that turned out to be wrong; Schumer is more powerful than ever.
    It has been widely reported that Senator Schumer thinks that Obama has it all wrong on the Middle East and that a better approach would be to play hardball with the Palestinians not the Israelis. Given how much Obama will be relying on Schumer in a Senate with a tiny Democratic majority and given how much the Democrats in the Senate will be depending on Schumer’s fundraising prowess at a time when they face daunting prospects in 2012, President Obama won’t be in a position to irritate the Senior Senator from New York very much.
    On the Middle East, at least, this will force Obama to take a somewhat more moderate course.
    At least, that’s my guess.

    Reply

  36. nadine says:

    “Of course, without assistance from both the UNRWA and direct American aid to the Palestinian Authority, the government of President Abbas would collapse in short order so it wouldn’t surprise me if the PA and the Netanyahu Government worked together to ask AIPAC to get Ros-Lehtinen to moderate her views about UNRWA.” (Wigwag)
    So Obama won’t need to kowtow in this instance. Obama will bend only when he is absolutely forced to. Obama is a sneaky bastard, an Alinskyite who has spent most of his adult life flying under false colors. He’ll try to keep to his strategy of “talk center, govern left” by doing everything through the power of the Executive Branch, behind the back of Congress.

    Reply

  37. WigWag says:

    I wouldn’t worry too much about Ros-Lehtinen, Drew. While her critics rant, she will be banging the gavel at the House Foreign Relations Committee. In this capacity she will have the ability to stymie a great deal of President Obama’s foreign policy priorities. She will be very influential in determining which nations get foreign assistance and which don’t and there has been some discussion that she might chose to reinvigorate a policy from the 1990s and cut-off, or at least reduce, funding for the United Nations. I can’t think of a better way to cut the deficit than to shrink the almost $600 million that the United States wastes on UN funding every year. The United States pays in excess of 25 percent of the dues to maintain the anachronistic institution; it seems to me that most of it is money down the drain.
    A few years back I had the pleasure of visiting with Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen in her Miami Office. I was participating in a joint delegation of AIPAC and CUFI (Christians United for Israel) members and we were visiting the entire South Florida congressional delegation. My recollection is that we visited six or seven House members including Congressmen Wexler, Hastings, Meek and Klein and also Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz.
    Anyway, during our visit with Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, she told us about a bill she authored designed to cut-off all American funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA); the major UN organization that provides funding to the Palestinians. Last year, the United States donated more money to the UNRWA than all other donor nations combined; a total of $267 million. Of course this doesn’t count direct U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority.
    Ros-Lehtinen told us that UNRWA is unabashed in its anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and bigotry and that it needed to be held accountable. She has introduced a bill to cut off funding to the UNRWA every year since 2006 but the Committee Chairman, Howard Berman, with whom she had an otherwise very good relationship, refused to allow the bill to come to a vote before the Committee. In 2010 she introduced the bill again, but once again HR 5065 was denied a vote by the Democratic Committee Chairman who was probably acting at the behest of Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama.
    Here’s a description of HR 5065 in case you’re interested,
    http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-5065&tab=summary
    Of course, in 2011, the gentle lady from Florida won’t need anyone’s permission to get a vote on the bill because as a result of the Democratic defeat in the November election, she’s now the Committee Chairwoman and she decides what bills get a Committee vote.
    My guess is that she will decide to bring up the bill that she’s proposed for the past several years and that it will pass the House Foreign Affairs Committee with a large bipartisan majority. I also am quite confident that the bill will be brought to the full House of Representatives which, of course, is now controlled by Republicans. HR 5065 cutting off American financial assistance to the UNRWA is almost sure to pass the full House. What happens in the Senate, where Senator Kerry is almost sure to refuse to allow a companion bill to be voted on by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is anybody’s guess. But of course authorizing legislation and actual appropriations bills have to be passed by both Houses of Congress so if the House of Representatives truly wants to defund the UNRWA it will almost surely be defunded.
    The scenarios this makes possible are all highly entertaining. The Obama Administration will be desperate to continue UNRWA funding. The Obama team will almost surely come to AIPAC on bended knee begging AIPAC to implore Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen not to cut-off funding to UNRWA. Nor would it surprise me to see Obama approach Prime Minister Netanyahu as a supplicant, begging him to ask Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen to relent on HR 5065. Of course it was just a few short months ago that Obama was sure he could steamroll Prime Minister Netanyahu; times sure have changed for our President-in training.
    Of course, without assistance from both the UNRWA and direct American aid to the Palestinian Authority, the government of President Abbas would collapse in short order so it wouldn’t surprise me if the PA and the Netanyahu Government worked together to ask AIPAC to get Ros-Lehtinen to moderate her views about UNRWA.
    All of this proves how much has changed with Republicans in charge of the House and how strongly the Republicans can constrain Obama’s foreign policy.
    As an American who finds President Obama’s foreign policy abominable, I do have to confess that there is something truly delicious about watching Obama now have to kowtow to an Israeli Prime Minister that he once thought he could defeat.

    Reply

  38. nadine says:

    Drew, the more salient question is why anyone still tries to have serious foreign policy discussions on a blog dominated by someone so mentally unbalanced that he actually believes only the ‘watching world’ is keeping Israel from committing genocide against 3 million Palestinians? or is that 7 million, or maybe he means all 300 million Arabs?
    As an amusing aside, I did manage to have a rational back-and-forth exchange of about four posts with a left-wing person posting under “dsc” on the Andrea Mitchell thread. Seeing that, POA promptly accused me of setting up ‘dsc’ as a sock puppet and charged I was debating with myself…

    Reply

  39. PissedOffAmerican says:

    According to the Hawaii Reporter, the bill for the trip included:
    $63,000 on an early flight bringing Mrs Obama and the children to Hawaii ahead of the president.
    $1,000,000 on Mr Obama

    Reply

  40. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Steve, I’m curious why people who write things like this are not
    banned:
    “lleana Ros-Lehtinen is one of the most unabashed whores for
    Israel in …”
    Well, self-capitalized drew, perhaps its because I have a right to my opinion, no matter how obscene you find my manner of expression. Or, maybe, its because its an astute observation on my part, albiet expressed in a manner that is objectionable to your oh-so sensitive feelings.
    I note you express no such indignation when some jackass gets on here and calls the Arabs “ignorant”, “docile”, “uneducated”, and “irrelevent”. Or when some sputtrering fool expresses the opinion that “Steve Clemons hates Israel”.
    “If Israel disarmed, would Israel exist?”
    If the world wasn’t watching, would there be a single Palestinian left alive?

    Reply

  41. DREW says:

    Steve, I’m curious why people who write things like this are not
    banned:
    “lleana Ros-Lehtinen is one of the most unabashed whores for
    Israel in …”
    Is it the purpose of this blog to encourage this sort of vulgarity?
    Why provide a forum for it, if not?
    Anyway, the entire fabric of the Mideast has been changed
    remarkably, as of yesterday’s gas reserve disclosure. Israel just
    became a rich country. They don’t need us or anyone else.
    Now everyone can focus on the real question:
    If Israel disarmed, would Israel exist?

    Reply

  42. nadine says:

    “Heres an interesting bit. An editorial in Haaretz, that is critical of Netanyahu….. ” (POA)
    That’s hysterical, POA. Do you not even realize that’s like saying “Here’s an interesting bit. An editorial in the New York Times, that is critical of George W. Bush…”
    Haarestz is The Guardian of the Israeli press. One of its own reporters pulled an Julian Assange/Wikileaks maneuver about a year ago, then fled to London rather than face arrest for publishing state secrets. Subscribers quit all over Israel.

    Reply

  43. Neo Controll says:

    Speaking of “compliant whores”,here’s a link via Greenwald to a CNN segment that he uses to illustrate the incredible coincidence between the views of the media and politicians — in total abdication of the role of real journalism in a democracy. Shockingly, the “journalist” in this case doesn’t even seem fazed or aware of the role of true journalism. Greenwald has several other posts up on this issues with regard to various media.
    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/12/28/cnnn/index.html
    Folks with megaphones and ethics need to be coming out in to expose the hypocrisy behind the government/media collaboration to silence those who would expose government’s excessive secrecy. Very few are. Greewald is a brilliant and important voice.

    Reply

  44. PissedOffAmerican says:

    See what I mean, Steve? Reread the email.

    Reply

  45. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Actually, Nadine, we are simply arriving at logical conclusions about the dearth of correspondence involving Israel. As more information becomes available, our observations become less obscure, containing less conjecture. Now that we know the media whores were loath to touch anything that might be embarrassing to Israel, the reason for the dearth of Israel related “leakage” is becoming clearer. Obviously, the content of the leakage IS being manipulated by the Israelis and their compliant whores in the media. Of course, you know this, having jumped on the Iranian aspect of the “leakage” like a fly on shit, reading your script perfectly.
    Heres an interesting bit. An editorial in Haaretz, that is critical of Netanyahu…..
    http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/netanyahu-can-blame-himself-for-decline-in-israel-s-world-standing-1.331933?
    The truly intriguing aspect of the editorial is to be found in the comment section. Check out the “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” survey of the reader’s opinions of each individual comment. The positive reactions to the comments critical of Netanyahu and Israel’s current policies are far far more prevalent than those that are negative. Acrost the board, the readership, in far superior numbers, are more in agreement with the criticism of this sack of shit Netanyahu than those that support him.
    It gives one hope that sanity might yet prevail in Israel, despite the poll that indicates that 44% of polled Israelis are nothing more than hate filled bigots along the lines of TWN’s resident hasbarists.

    Reply

  46. nadine says:

    POA, what’s clear is that you’ve always had all possible cases covered. Conclusions first, reasoning to follow…

    Reply

  47. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Now that there are Israeli-related Wikileaks cables…blahblahblah….”
    Actually, Nadine, it is increasingly appearing as though we were mistaken. Apparently Israel didn’t engineer the actual “leak”. Instead, they engineered the contents, and extent of the “leaks”.
    Prior to this purported release of Israel related “leakage”, there is really no way to gauge the import, or veracity, is there? Your comment reads as though this “information” has already been disseminated. Of course, we all know thats not the case.
    You should take pride, Nadine. With 44% of the Israeli Jews in support of a ban on renting or selling property to Arabs, it appears your despicable hatred and bigotry is becoming quite fashionable in Israel. Apparently, as is often the case when recording man’s history, evil prevails.
    The extreme Muslim radicals feed on the radicalism of Jews such as yourself. You give each other power and relevence. Evil begets evil.
    Congrats, Lucifer, on the success of your agenda.

    Reply

  48. nadine says:

    Hi JohnH,
    I thought the lack of Wikileaks cables relating to Israel was proof that Israelis engineered the leak?
    Now that there are Israeli-related Wikileaks cables, it’s proof how the MSM and the US are subservient to Israel.
    Good to know you’ve got all possible cases covered.

    Reply

  49. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Here is an extremely amusing chronological accounting of the veracity of our government’s long running assessments of Iran’s nuclear prowess. Apparently these warmongering pieces of shit in DC and Israel don’t make this stuff up as they go along. Instead, they have a file marked “Bullshit”, and they simply leaf through it to find their heaping pile d’jour…..
    http://desertpeace.wordpress.com/2010/12/30/iran-the-phantom-menace/
    Excerpt….
    Facts rarely get in the way of American and Israeli fear-mongering and jingoism, especially when it comes to anti-Iran propaganda. For nearly thirty years now, U.S. and Zionist politicians and analysts, along with some of their European allies, have warned that Iranian nuclear weapons capability is just around the corner and that such a possibility would not only be catastrophic for Israel with its 400 nuclear warheads and state-of-the-art killing power supplied by U.S. taxpayers, but that it would also endanger regional dictatorships, Europe, and even the United States.
    If these warnings are to be believed, Iran is only a few years away from unveiling a nuclear bomb

    Reply

  50. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gee, Hillary Clinton USED TO have a page on her Senate website where she announces her co-sponsorship of a bill to ban “Blackwater and other private mercenary firms in Iraq.”
    Suprise, suprise, the page doesn’t seem to exist now.
    But one can find this…..
    Despite Clinton Pledge, State Dept. to Pay Out Billions More to Mercs
    By Spencer Ackerman September 29, 2010
    Get ready to meet America

    Reply

  51. Neo Controll says:

    The corporate takeover off the American government continues apace, with the further dismantling of the the social safety network, and the rhetorical and fiscal demonization of the middle class, the unemployed, and the few remaining civil libertarians. But you can be sure there will be plenty of money around for war, which of course is essentially a corporate enterprise, as well as favored foreign policy earmarks, like anything and everything Israel might imagine. (Don’t hold your breath that the US will even abstain on a UN resolution against Israeli settlements)
    See Chris Hedges speech to veterans for a clear eyed view of the obscenity of American foreign policy:
    http://www.opednews.com/articles/Hope-from-now-on-will-lo-by-Chris-Hedges-101218-773.html
    And further, an Amy Goodman interview with Hedges, on the impact of American foreign policy, “now the longest war in U.S. history, ….. force that is draining the

    Reply

  52. JohnH says:

    Lot’s more Wikileaks to come out on Israel. Turns out that they have not emerged before, because The Guardian, NY Times, and Der Spiegel did not see it fitting to investigate any leaks involving Israel. The mainstream media’s subservience to Israel is obvious. Soon US subservience to Israel will be documented for the world to see.
    And Hillary? She seems to be in a pissing contest with the Incredibly Incompetent Condi for the honor of being recognized as the Most Incompetent SOS in memory. Both would have been better off forgetting about pissing contests, which are best left to men. Their energies could have been better used trying to serve the interests of the American people–avoiding pointless, expensive wars, etc.

    Reply

  53. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Wikileaks: State Department Lied, Denying Dubai Asked for Assistance in Tracking Mossad Assassins
    On February 25, 2010, State Department spokesperson Philip Crowley lied when he told a press conference that he wasn

    Reply

  54. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Its truly obscene seeing an American citizen gloating over our representatives placing the interests of a foreign nation over the security of the United States.
    Illeana Ros-Lehtinen is one of the most unabashed whores for Israel in Washington DC. Of course, this makes her a hero in Wiggie’s mind.
    A whopping 44% of Israelis FAVOR a ban on renting or selling land and housing to Arabs.
    27 wives of prominent Israeli Rabbis have signed a letter calling on Jewish women to avoid intermarriage with Arabs and even avoid working alongside Arab men.
    Palestinian detainees are systematically denied the right to meet a lawyer during interrogations.
    From the AIPAC website….
    “Over just six decades, Israel has grown from a country born into unrelenting adversity into a nation of limitless progress: a defender of free speech and minority rights, an outpost of women’s rights, a beacon of science and higher learning, an open door for immigrants – an outstretched hand to a world in need. Because of her unwavering commitment to democratic ideals, Israel is America’s indispensable ally in a sea of dictatorships”

    Reply

  55. WigWag says:

    Yes, Cuba policy and Middle East policy should be alot of fun to watch in 2011; especially now that Illeana Ros-Lehtinen will be chairing the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
    I’ve read that the first item on her agenda is to dramatically pair back American contributions to the United Nations; she wants to entirely eliminate American contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). I’ve also read that she plans to base foreign aid contributions on how supportive recipient nations are of the foreign policy positions adopted by the Congress. She

    Reply

  56. Don Bacon says:

    Good policy is good politics, and the current “politics” in the USA is the economy. The economy is not only the most important factor to Americans, but as the National Security Policy states: “Our national security begins at home. What takes place within our borders has always been the source of our strength.”
    The simple fact is that the US government currently spends about ten billion dollars per day, every day of the year, but it only takes in about six billion per day. You lose four billion per day and very soon you’re talking about real money — well over a thousand billion (a trillion) dollars per year.
    The US debt/GDP ratio is rising rapidly, from 40% in 2008 to 94% in September 2010. Greece was asked to cut its deficit to 7.8% of its GDP to receive a bailout, US deficit/GDP is at ten percent.
    Unemployment and housing are continuing and growing problems which have not been properly addressed. Unemployed workers can’t afford houses. US corporate overseas investing aided by the US government is boosting corporate profits while it depresses the American economy. American companies have created 1.4 million jobs overseas this year, compared with less than 1 million in the U.S. The additional 1.4 million jobs would have lowered the U.S. unemployment rate to 8.9 percent.
    Looking at foreign policy achievements vs. failures and challenges is important. I enjoy doing it. But we ought to keep these matters from becoming an undue distraction to the declining welfare of Americans due to poor corporate-based leadership in Washington.

    Reply

  57. PissedOffAmerican says:

    State Dept Slams UN Security Council Resolution Against Israeli Settlements
    The US State Department today condemned efforts by the Palestinian Authority to bring a resolution before the UN Security Council pointing out the illegality of the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, but declined to answer questions on whether the US would veto the resolution….
    continues…….
    http://news.antiwar.com/2010/12/29/state-dept-slams-un-security-council-resolution-against-israeli-settlements/

    Reply

  58. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I’m currently tallying up President Obama’s recent foreign policy achievements vs. failures and challenges left on the table”
    You gonna include Hillary Clinton in this bit of beltway wisdom, or are we all supposed to continue to pretend she is irrelevent and uninvolved in these “achievements vs. failures”???

    Reply

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