Mead takes on Walt & Mearsheimer on Why the US is pro-Israel

The New Israel and the Old: Why Gentile Americans Back the Jewish State
Walter Russell Mead
From Foreign Affairs, July/August 2008

Summary:  The real key to Washington's pro-Israel policy is long-lasting and broad-based support for the Jewish state among the American public at large.

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD is Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author, most recently, of God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World.


audio icon Listen to this essay on CFR.org

On May 12, 1948, Clark Clifford, the White House chief counsel, presented the case for U.S. recognition of the state of Israel to the divided cabinet of President Harry Truman. While a glowering George Marshall, the secretary of state, and a skeptical Robert Lovett, Marshall's undersecretary, looked on, Clifford argued that recognizing the Jewish state would be an act of humanity that comported with traditional American values. To substantiate the Jewish territorial claim, Clifford quoted the Book of Deuteronomy: "Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them."

Marshall was not convinced and told Truman that he would vote against him in the upcoming election if this was his policy. Eventually, Marshall agreed not to make his opposition public. Two days later, the United States granted the new Jewish state de facto recognition 11 minutes after Israel declared its existence as a state. Many observers, both foreign and domestic, attributed Truman's decision to the power of the Jewish community in the United States. They saw Jewish votes, media influence, and campaign contributions as crucial in the tight 1948 presidential contest.

Since then, this pattern has often been repeated. Respected U.S. foreign policy experts call for Washington to be cautious in the Middle East and warn presidents that too much support for Israel will carry serious international costs. When presidents overrule their expert advisers and take a pro-Israel position, observers attribute the move to the "Israel lobby" and credit (or blame) it for swaying the chief executive. But there is another factor to consider. As the Truman biographer David McCullough has written, Truman's support for the Jewish state was "wildly popular" throughout the United States. A Gallup poll in June 1948 showed that almost three times as many Americans "sympathized with the Jews" as "sympathized with the Arabs." …………. (Read the rest: New Israel)

A Cast of 300 Advises Obama on Foreign Policy (NYT): "Dennis Ross, the Middle East envoy for Mr. Clinton and the first President Bush and a member of the Obama campaign’s Middle East team, is frequently asked by Ms. Rice, Mr. Lake or Mr. McDonough for help on framing Mr. Obama’s comments on Iran’s nuclear program and its potential threat to Israel.

“They’ve asked for substantive help: ‘Can I take a look at language on Iran?’ ” Mr. Ross said. “Or sometimes I’ve been asked questions to explain the administration’s approach on Iran.” Mr. Ross participated in a conference call last week with Mr. Obama and other advisers to prepare for the senator’s foreign trip, and he will travel with Mr. Obama in Israel and the West Bank city of Ramallah and at other stops. Mr. Ross described Mr. Obama in the conference call as focused on “drilling down” into the issues on the trip."

Why John Bolton is Right on Iran, by Gary Sick at Rootless Cosmopolitan by Tony Karon

Sanctions Fail to Cripple Iran's Oil Industry
U.S. Tries Squeeze But Fears Tehran Is Buying Time
By CHIP CUMMINS in Dubai and ROSHANAK TAGHAVI in Tehran
July 18, 2008

Sanctions Fail to Cripple Iran's Oil Industry
U.S. Tries Squeeze But Fears Tehran Is Buying Time
By CHIP CUMMINS in Dubai and ROSHANAK TAGHAVI in Tehran
July 18, 2008

As Iran prepares to hold nuclear talks this weekend with Europe and the U.S., economic sanctions are crimping Tehran's oil industry — but they haven't
broken it.

War*Piece. Via FLC

"A colleague writes, "Everyone seems to have missed the obvious: The State Department's third man is going to [talk with] Iran to send oil prices down. I'm sure Paulson told Bush this was the only way to stop a panic." Almost certainly part of it. (And is it working?)

Indeed, a US official involved with Iran policy wrote me a couple weeks back that high oil prices had severely crimped their policy: "It’s clear that the two-track policy put in place a number of years ago (incentives vs. sanctions) has been overtaken somewhat by the unforeseeable and dramatic rise in oil prices. Iran’s GDP has doubled, and they are more isolated from the effects of economic sanctions. At the same time the Iranians have made significant progress on enrichment. There are many, many more economic sanctions in the quiver, but we have carefully resisted imposing economic sanctions, unilaterally or multilaterally, that would significantly affect the Iranian people. Our goal remains an Iran without nuclear weapons, and our strategy remains the two-track approach. In light of the rise in oil prices and Iran’s enrichment achievements, the interim objectives that the two-track strategy should be aiming to achieve is something everyone is looking at, and there is no question that there is a way forward. …"

Sham Holding wins contract to build a private electrical power plant that will sell its electricity to the government. Although this article (in Arabic: Syria-News) proposes that this new method of financing and building a power plant in Syria constitutes the mobilization of home-grown capital and talent to solve the nation's problems, some questions are left unanswered. No mention is made of how the contract was awarded. Syria needs an improved and steady supply of electricity, no doubt. The country is moving away from the strict state-controlled model of the socialist era. It has been reluctant to sell state assets; however, many new Syrian oil companies, electrical power plants, and other large infrastructural investments, such as road building, are being handed over to private investors. Because some of those investors have strong ties to the state, the transition is not to a strictly free market model.

Israel Advises Nasrallah to Stay in Hiding

Comments (15)


1. Atassi said:

News – International News
Syria’s first lady at ease in the spotlight
Jason Koutsoukis, Middle East correspondent
19 July 2008
© 2008 Copyright John Fairfax Holdings Limited. http://www.theage.com.au

Asma al-Assad’s poise among world leaders stands in striking contrast to her country’s outsider status.

WHAT would it take to distract the international paparazzi from France’s first lady Carla Bruni at an international leaders’ summit in Paris?

The answer: Asma al-Assad, the British-born wife of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose chic haute couture made quite an impression at this week’s Union for the Mediterranean conference.

The 32-year-old former investment banker seems to have settled easily into the role of Middle Eastern consort, while at the same time giving Syria’s Baathist regime a more friendly face.

The daughter of prominent Harley Street cardiologist Fawaz Akhras, who founded the British Syrian Society, Mrs Assad grew up in Acton, west London.

Enjoying a successful career as an analyst at financial houses Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan in London, Mrs Assad met her future husband when he was brought to London by her father to complete his training as an eye surgeon at the city’s Western Eye Hospital.

“It was actually her father’s idea to get Bashar al-Assad, then in line to succeed his father as the Syrian president, to come to London,” Eyal Zisser told The Age.

The author of the biography Commanding Syria: Bashar al-Assad and the First Years in Power, Professor Zisser believes the courtship had all the signs of a natural romance.

“Asma is Sunni Muslim, whereas Bashar is Alawite (a sect of Shiite Islam), and I think there were people in Syria who would have expected him to marry into the family of a prominent military commander, for example,” he says.

With their secretive December 2000 marriage taking place just months after Dr Assad had succeeded his father, Hafez al-Assad, as president, Mrs Assad has since emerged as a highly visible member of the ruling family.

She has had three children with her husband and involved herself in various Syrian charities and rural development organisations.

But with her above-the-knee skirts and often strapless evening gowns, Mrs Assad stands in contrast to her more conservative mother-in-law, Anisah Makhlouf.

“There are reported to be tensions between Asma and Anisah, and also between Asma and Bashar’s sister Bushra, who had a very strong influence on their father,” Professor Zisser says.

“I hear this has not yet been resolved fully and that it is related to the sort of first lady that Asma wants to be.”

Mrs Assad’s initial inclination to continue a business career in Syria was stymied, Professor Zisser says, and she has since settled down to associating herself more with charity work.

She is not the first wife of an Arab head of state to bridge the gap between East and West. The late King Hussein of Jordan’s fourth wife, Lisa Halaby, who took the name Queen Noor on marriage, also had Syrian ancestry and her father was a chief executive of the Pan Am airline and one-time US assistant secretary of defence. Keeping Mrs Assad company at the Union for the Mediterranean conference in Paris was Suzanne Mubarak, the wife of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the daughter of an Egyptian doctor and a Welsh nurse.

Arab leaders’ wives have become increasingly visible and influential even in countries associated with the veiling of women in public life. The Paris conference also brought Sheikha Mozah, the wife of the Emir of Qatar, into the spotlight. Like the late King Hussein’s daughter Princess Haya, who is married to the ruler of Dubai, Sheikha Mozah has her own website.

Mrs Assad has become a strong role model for women in Syria. In 2004, she attended a conference in Beirut on Arab women and war, and she remains the head of Mawred, a non-profit organisation established under her patronage to enhance the role of women in Syria’s economic development.

But is her status as first lady likely to help create a more open and even democratic Syria?

“Primarily I do not believe that Bashar is much interested in genuine reform,” Professor Zisser says. “We have seen some steps towards a more modern society, but on the whole I think he has shown that he does not want to make Syria a more open society.

“Syria has been for many years a country not dissimilar to North Korea. It is ideology, party, the leader, the dynasty and the state all wrapped into the figurehead of the ruling family.

“It is a more open society, but it is a long way from being an integrated country.”

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July 18th, 2008, 3:55 pm

 

2. Majhoool said:

Was Asma a financial analyst or an investment banker? Although I heard her once saying that she was an investment banker, it makes more sense that she was a financial analyst at an investment banking firm since it’s more of an entry level job.

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July 18th, 2008, 4:28 pm

 

3. ghat Albird said:

While W.R. Mead, “Takes on Walt & Mearshenimer on why the U.S. is pro-Israel”. Michael Sheuer takes ” On Turning the Tables on the Israel-Firsters

Now that the dust has settled in the spat between journalist Joe Klein and the ideologues at Commentary, it is time to regret the ink spilled over the non-issue of “dual loyalties.”

The idea that there are U.S. citizens who have equal loyalties to the United States and Israel is passé. American Israel-firsters have long since dropped any pretense of loyalty to the United States and its genuine national interests.

They have moved brazenly into the Israel first, last, and always camp. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Norman Podhoretz, Victor Davis Hanson, the Rev. Franklin Graham, Alan Dershowitz, Rudy Giuliani, Douglas Feith, the Rev. Rod Parsley, Paul Wolfowitz, James Woolsey, Bill Kristol, the Rev. John Hagee, and the thousands of wealthy supporters of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) appear to care about the United States only so far as Washington is willing to provide immense, unending funding and the lives of young U.S. service personnel to protect Israel.

These individuals and their all-for-Israel journals – Commentary, National Review, the Weekly Standard, and the Wall Street Journal – amount to nothing less than a fifth column intent on involving 300 million Americans in other peoples’ religious wars, making them pay and bleed to protect a nation in which the United States has no genuine national security interest at stake.

The Israel-firsters’ success is, of course, the stuff of which legends are made. Most recently, for example, we heard President Bush echo Sen. Lieberman’s insane and subversive contention that the United States has a “duty” to ensure the fulfilling of God’s millennia-old promise to Abraham regarding the creation and survival of Israel.

Bush told the Knesset all Americans are ready to endlessly bleed and pay to ensure Israel’s security. And where does the president derive authority to make such a commitment in the name of his countrymen? From the Constitution? On the basis of America’s dominant religion? From – heaven forbid – a thoughtful, hardheaded analysis of U.S. interests?

No, Bush’s pledge was based on none of these. Bush’s decision to more deeply involve America in the eternal Arab-Israeli war was based on nothing less than the corruption wrought on the American political system by the Israel-firsters, AIPAC’s enormous treasury, and the lamentable but growing influence of America’s leading evangelical Protestant preachers.

The Israel-firsters started the Iraq war and now have the United States locked into an occupation of that country that may not end in any of our lifetimes. Unless Americans ignore the likes of Hanson, Podhoretz, Lieberman, Woolsey, and Wolfowitz, the cost in blood and treasure will ultimately bankrupt America.

AIPAC is a perfectly legal organization, and the wealth of its members is channeled into reliable campaign contributions for any candidate from either party who will put Israel’s interests above America’s. From McCain to Obama, from Pelosi to Giuliani, from Hillary Clinton to Vice President Cheney, AIPAC pumps money to any and every American politician who is willing to adopt an Israel-first policy.

Leading American Protestant evangelical preachers – men like Hagee, Parsley, and Graham – are the newest and perhaps most anti-American members of this fifth column. They serve two purposes: (1) to reinforce in the minds of their flocks the Bush-Lieberman absurdity that the United States has a “duty” to ensure Israel’s survival; and (2) to use religious rhetoric to steadily convince the Muslim world that U.S. leaders are interested only in taming – and if need be, destroying – Islam.

The reality and power of this anti-American, pro-Israel triangle – Israel-first politicians, civil servants, and pundits; AIPAC’s corrupting influence; and the warmongering of major evangelical Protestant preachers – is so obvious and palpable that the only way its members can blur reality is to deny the triangle’s existence and identify their critics as anti-Semites.

Well, the time has come to simply ignore these folks’ knee-jerk hurling of that epithet. Indeed, the slur ought to be understood for what it is: a sure sign that the Israel-firsters know that their fifth column would be destroyed in a minute if their fellow Americans come to recognize that their sons and daughters are dying in Iraq and soon elsewhere to protect an Israeli state whose existence is just as important to U.S. interests as the creation of a Palestinian state

American voters must start using the democratic process to begin removing themselves from the religious war known as the Arab-Israeli conflict. Disengagement will take time, hard work, and a steadfast commitment to the rule of law. Three actions are well within the voters’ capability, and their use would bring pressure on federal officials to stop killing America’s children in wars between Arabs and Israelis.

Voters should press federal representatives to end taxpayer funding for the National Endowment for Democracy and other such organizations. These organizations’ main function is to promote the fallacy that U.S. interests are served by making sure that Israel – “the embattled island of democracy in the Middle East” – is protected, and that the lives of American children should be joyfully spent to bring democracy to foreigners in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

Voters should not vote for any candidate for federal office who accepts contributions from AIPAC or any other Israel-first organization. This decision would be an important step in beginning to sweep clean the Augean stable that is American politics.

Voters of all faiths must press their religious leaders to regularly, publicly, and specifically denounce the evangelical Protestant preachers whose fire-and-brimstone support for Israel involves Americans in religious wars in which U.S. interests are not threatened.

Neutralizing the Israel-first fifth column must be done, but it must be accomplished using legitimate democratic tools: voting, lobbying, free speech, and support for candidates pledged to keep America out of other peoples’ religious wars.

The invocation of the anti-Semite epithet by the Israel-firsters should be ignored. To be silenced by the slurs of the Israel-firsters is to ignominiously invite the end of American independence by subordinating U.S. interests to those of a foreign nation, as well as to forget the warning of the greatest American.

“If men are precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences that can invite the consideration of mankind,” George Washington said in March 1783, “reason is of no use to us; the freedom of speech may be taken away, and, dumb and silent, we may be led, like sheep, to the slaughter.” As long as the Israel-firsters can define the limits of acceptable public discourse, Americans are on their way to the slaughter.

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July 18th, 2008, 5:30 pm

 

4. Seeking the Truth said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy,

Let me ask you this:
Would you be in favour of the option that has the United States reestablishing full normal relations with the Iranian theocracy, if it could convince the Iranians to stop their uranium enrichment?
If you answer in the affirmative, wouldn’t that be in contrast to your position on negotiating and achieving peace with Asad’s Syria, in terms of conferring legitimacy on dictatorships?

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July 18th, 2008, 5:43 pm

 

5. norman said:

Hezbollah’s formidable weapons arsenal under fresh scrutiny
Lebanon’s new government is slated to review the militant Shiite party’s weapons as part of a national defense strategy once it takes office. The prisoner swap with Israel has given Hezbollah new leverage.
By Nicholas Blanford | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
from the July 18, 2008 edition

BEIRUT, Lebanon – The successful conclusion of a prisoner swap between Israel and Hezbollah has won the militant Lebanese Shiite party new leverage against its domestic opponents, even as fresh challenges over the fate of its formidable weapons arsenal loom.

With the Hezbollah-led opposition having recently secured a one-third, veto-wielding share of a new coalition government, the Shiite party is in its strongest domestic position since the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. His death presaged the collapse of what was then a pro-Syrian political order in favor of a new Western-backed regime.

“Hezbollah is in a much stronger position than it was after the Hariri assassination,” says Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a Lebanese political analyst and specialist on Hezbollah. “The political victory [gaining veto power in the new government] and the prisoner exchange has consolidated its position. But the challenges it faces remain the same and the struggle has not ended.”

The swap was touted as a moment of national unity in which even Hezbollah’s political opponents gritted their teeth to praise the party for securing the release of the five detainees. But once the acclaim is over and the new government takes office, Lebanon’s top political leaders are scheduled to discuss the future of Hezbollah’s weapons as part of a national defense strategy.

Supporters of the Western-backed March 14 parliamentary block, which forms the backbone of the new government, seek to disarm the Iran-backed Hezbollah or at least place restraints on the party’s ability to use its weapons. Although Hezbollah says its weapons are solely for the defense of Lebanon, its critics fear that they are intended to benefit Tehran’s regional ambitions at the expense of Lebanon’s stability.

Since its July-August 2006 war with Israel, Hezbollah has expanded its military assets in terms of weapons, communications, and recruits, and broadened its deployment over large swathes of southern and eastern Lebanon. Israel claimed this week that Hezbollah has tripled the number of rockets in its arsenal since the war, a figure Hezbollah has not bothered to dispute.

“The resistance managed, in spite of all [domestic] problems, to strengthen its political and military capacities. The resistance has become stronger than it was in July 2006,” Sheikh Nabil Qaouq, Hezbollah’s southern commander said this week.

Paradoxically, however, the return of the last Lebanese detainees in Israel has removed one of Hezbollah’s chief reasons for maintaining its formidable military wing in the first place.

Still, there are many other outstanding grievances cited by Hezbollah as reason to keep its weapons. Among them are Israel’s continuing occupations of the Shebaa Farms and Kfar Shuba hills, a 12-square-mile mountainside running along Lebanon’s southeast border and the northern end of Ghajar, a village which straddles the border at the foot of the farms. Israel’s near-daily overflights by jets and reconnaissance drones, in breach of UN resolutions, continue to rankle.

“There are many pretexts that they can use to evade this process [of disarmament],” says Joseph Alagha, an associate professor of Islamic studies at Radboud University in Nijmegen in the Netherlands. “What can be done is to discuss how Hezbollah can be merged into the Lebanese Army, but this will take a long time to achieve.”

Hezbollah says it is open to discussing its weapons, but insists that even if Israel withdraws from Lebanese territory and ends the overflights, the organization’s weapons will remain a key component of national defense against future threats from Israel.

“Our main and only concern is to defend our country, land, water, and sovereignty,” said Hezbollah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah at a speech to welcome the five freed Lebanese on Wednesday.

Hezbollah also has to contend with heightened sectarian tensions in Lebanon, particularly between Shiites and Sunnis, an outcome of the organization’s brief armed takeover of mainly Sunni-populated west Beirut in May, which triggered a week of deadly clashes.

Hezbollah’s leaders have long championed intra-Muslim unity, believing that the schism between Shiites and Sunnis only benefits the enemies of Islam. Yet, since May, Hezbollah has been slow to reconcile with moderate Sunni leaders, who were left looking weak and helpless before the Shiite party’s military machine. Angry, humiliated, and frightened by the May clashes, Sunnis are clamoring for weapons and training, a step that the moderate Sunni leadership is unwilling or unable to take. That leaves an opening, however, for Sunni extremists to move in. And there are mounting indications that Al Qaeda-inspired militants are mobilizing. A previously unknown group called the Sunni Resistance recently circulated a list of names of Sunnis cooperating with Hezbollah, calling for their assassination.

“It’s a very dangerous atmosphere. We see these tensions happening everywhere,” says Abdullah Tiryaki, leader of the Fajr Forces, a Sunni armed group allied to Hezbollah.

On a regional level, Syria is engaged in indirect peace talks with Israel, a move that threatens the durability of the so-called “resistance front” grouping Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas among other anti-Israel groups dedicated to confronting Western ambitions in the Middle East. Syria is the geostrategic linchpin connecting Tehran to Hezbollah and the main conduit for the flow of weapons to the Shiite group.

Hezbollah has not commented publicly on the Syria-Israel talks, but party officials have made it clear in off-the-record conversations that they see no imminent threat from the negotiations. They believe that it will take a long time before a peace treaty is reached, assuming that the talks do not collapse, as they did in 1996 and 2000.

Regardless of the outcome of the Syria-Israel negotiations, Hezbollah insists that its weapons are a source of strength for Lebanon and therefore must be retained, arguing that they will provide Lebanon greater negotiating leverage in any future peace talks with Israel.

“There is a long way to go before Lebanon can negotiate peace with Israel, but Lebanon is in a better position [to eventually negotiate] than any other [Arab] country because of the strength of the resistance,” says Ibrahim Mussawi, a political lecturer at the American University of Beirut and editor of Hezbollah’s Al-Intiqad newspaper.

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July 18th, 2008, 6:27 pm

 

6. offended said:

Majhool,
I think she was either at the JP Morgan or Goldman Sachs. But definitely in the Acquisitions and Mergers section. That I am sure of.

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July 18th, 2008, 7:06 pm

 

7. ghat Albird said:

Readers of SC might be interested in reading the following link:

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3342999,00.html

Its title is Stalin’s Jews and the over than 10 million people they murdered.

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July 18th, 2008, 7:52 pm

 

8. Akbar Palace said:

Ghat Albird,

Do you think there is an equally long list of “Israel Lasters”?;)

Aside from the “Israel Firsters” and the “Israel Lasters”, the bottom line is Americans are just plain pro-Israeli.

“How can we change that?”, you may ask. My suggestion is to get a handful of jews, preferrably some REAL RELIGIOUS jews, to hijack 4 commercial jet aircraft and plow them into some American skyscrapers.

I know that would make a lot of Irans and Palestinians REAL happy, it’s just that I don’t know how to pull it off. Can we get some jihadists to convert to Judaism?;)

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July 18th, 2008, 8:16 pm

 

9. Majhoool said:

The syrian embassy provided the information

“In 1998, she joined the investment banking division of JP Morgan, London. She specialized in Mergers and Acquisitions for Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical companies. During the three years she spent at JP Morgan, she was sent to their Paris office for 9 months and to the New York office for 18 months, where she advised and executed four large merger transactions for both European and American clients”

I believe it’s true. But I would caution her fans to the following

1) Working in an Investment Banking division does not make you an “investment banker”. Investment Banker is a big job that requires climbing the ladder for a good number of years.
2) Mergers are led and executed by high-ups and sometimes partners in financials firms. It’s likely she contributed to the effort but I would not go beyond that. Would you put a merger in the hand of a 20 year old fresh out of college?

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July 18th, 2008, 8:48 pm

 

10. JustOneAmerican said:

The broad US public support for Israel over Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular is very simple. Whatever Israel’s faults, most in the US see Israel’s enemies as worse, even with a neutral to pro-Palestinian slant in much of the US media. Any sympathy for Palestinians is more than counteracted for by the intentional targeting of civilians with suicide bombers and, to a lesser extent, rockets. Americans categorically reject such methods of “resistance” as morally reprehensible (except for a few naive leftists who actually believe suicide attacks are justified because there is no other choice – or so they claim).

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July 18th, 2008, 8:57 pm

 

11. Observer said:

I just returned from a trip to Europe and Syria with a short stay in Lebanon as well. Here are my observations
1. The Syrian regime never felt any significant pressure from being so called isolated. As long as the foundations of the regime remain stable and strong, they do not care one bit whether tourists come or stay home, investments flow in or out, and so on and so forth.
2. The state which I felt a mere three years ago was going towards a failed situation has recovered well. Infrastructure is being built and more importantly being maintained and repaired. It is by no means similar to what a first world country does, but it is a remarkable improvement.
3. The public is happy with stability and disgruntled with nepotism and corruption. If the last two items are tackled the populace will rally behind the regime even more
4. The ability to absorb and manage the near 2 million refugees from Iraq is a feat to be absolutely commended. Some are doing well having brought money and invested in local business, others are quite poor and destitute but still not hungry and all are sheltered.
5. The price of commodities has people unhappy but I saw much fewer begging than before and certainly a lot less than what I saw in Prague.
6. The alliance with Iran is unbreakable, the two countries have mutual investment and military and economic ties that will be near impossible to break short of a real threat of regime change.
7. The military is transformed into a more efficient force, although still in conventional terms no match for Israel, training is being conducted day and night. I happen to have stayed near an army shooting range and I could hear the firing both days and nights.
8. The KSA invested 1.5 billion dollars and with the Jordanian secret service trained the Hariri militia into a state that was completely destroyed in less than four hours by HA with the full awareness and even help from Syria as they poured 600 highly loyal and very well trained Druze into the Shouf mountains to put Walik Bek in his place while at the same time helping fully with the Alawite community near Tripoli.
9. In Paris, Assad got all he wanted, cooperation, recognition, while not committing to anything substantial and at the same time snubbing Olmert and more importantly Mubarak.
10. The Lebanese may opt for partition of the country if encouraged and helped by France and the US to avoid having the state de Jure that is non present, be controlled by the non state but active HA. This will be a disaster for the country, especially since the Foreign policy of France is being conducted by impulsive Sarko le premier.
11. The entire south and the Dahyia have been rebuilt fully with Iranian help. The transformation is absolutely remarkable.
12. In Iraq, the US have stabilized somewhat the situation by essentially doing what Saddam did all along. Fear, co opt some, bribe some, pay some, and divide some. Outside of the Green zone, there is really no true government but warlords, gangs, bandits, factions, and the like. Iran has essentially played a major role in stabilizing Iraq by having its hand in with every faction except the hard line Sunnis. Here Syria has been able to help due to the ties between the two Baath party factions.
13. Europe is tired of competing, and the population is fully frazzled at having to work harder, longer, and in a more frantic way than ever before. The elite have a vision of Europe equal to that of the US in all measures and the population see an incompetent parasitic bureaucracy that is out of touch with reality.
14. Returning to the US I see that the public here is so oblivious to what the rest of the world is doing that it is truly amazing. In terms of energy efficiency every toilet has a water sparing system and every lighting is motion activated to reduce energy costs in every place I went to even in Syria and here we are still refusing to see the train coming down the track full speed ahead at us. The deer in the headlight is an apt description.
15. Finally the consensus in the ME from the 2006 war is that the Israeli public and the Israeli society have moved into a stage of development that they no longer are willing to fight. 3000 HA fighters fought to a standstill 30 000 Israelis. I wish you could see the pictures of Nasrallah in the region to have an idea of the depth of popularity that he enjoys.

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July 18th, 2008, 9:09 pm

 

12. Jamal said:

Please, let’s lift the game here.

PART 1

You headline some highly partisan comment on “widespread American support for Israel”, with a maze of unuseable links (clue: the full text download is via the podcast).

I read it and saw no evidence that Mearsheimer and Walt have been put in their place. In fact it reinforced my impression that the “support for Israel” is a default position born of the American public’s staggering ignorance of the post-1948 history of Israel’s subsequent actions and impact on regional stability, and, more significantly, the overwhelming vacuum in knowledge of the $billions of their taxes propping up the place. (The support by evangelical Christians is given a lot of wordspace – yeah, yeah, we know.)

But Americans sure know how nasty and dangerous those Arabs are, oh yes. Ask any Americans anywhere.

Anyone who is familiar with Michael Oren’s “Power, Faith and Fantasy: America and the Middle East 1776 to the present” knows that the American perspective on the Arab world has been as his title suggests – and which Mead claims is still real and robust today.

I say the American public’s notion of Israel and the Middle East is frozen, reinforced and infantalized by media and public information gaps and distortions, the nervous voting habits of their Washington representatives (who wants AIPEC on your case!)and so on – which leads us back to the Walt and Mearsheimer line of thinking.

And look at the price of this today – with the meter and time bombs ticking furiously.

LIFT THE GAME PART 2

Meanwhile, we get more of the fatuous adulation of pretty little Mrs Assad “bridging the gap between East and West”.

Note this bit: “It was actually her father’s idea to get Bashar al-Assad, then in line to succeed his father as the Syrian president, to come to London,” Eyal Zisser told The Age.

That’s right, dad is a highly trusted family friend of her husband’s clan.

And I’m sure it’s oh so true that her dress is disapproved of by those high integrity dames her mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Oh dear, and after all those millions paid to the image makers and spin doctors creating the “Asma” political tool.

Can we please switch back to the massive looming grain shortage in Syria, the sordid truth about what’s happening at Sednaya prison, and the “sham” privatisation of core essential services.

Let’s leave Mrs Assad’s expensive couture and fabricated image (paid for with looted State funds)to the lightest part of lightweight western media which is where her highly paid spin doctors aimed it to be. They must be demanding a huge bonus after seeing their efforts pay dividends on SyriaComment!

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July 18th, 2008, 9:26 pm

 

13. ghat Albird said:

AKBAR PALACE;

Cannot speak for any one else but just conjecturing about the inumerable number of possibilities that one would think would make a lot of Iranians and Palestenians happy would be the creation of a compound/prison the size of Gaza and populate it with an equivalent number of Israelis as there are Palestenians in Gaza and cut their water off.

Maybe one or two of the posters might know how to pull a stunt like that off. How about a couple of Israeli/zionists converting into Islam?

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July 18th, 2008, 9:31 pm

 

14. Naji said:

What an excellent summary by Observer…! As someone who lives and dwells around these parts (Europe, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt) I testify in support of his observations… except that I don’t think he gave enough weight to how much is the current “skyrocketing” inflation is starting to stretch things on many levels…

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July 18th, 2008, 10:29 pm

 

15. CWW said:

Ghat Albird:

The assertion that Israel should provide anything to Gaza, a foreign entity which it no longer militarily occupies, as they are firing at Israeli cities is ridiculous. The Hamas leadership decided to take control of Gaza through force, not elections, and in doing so they assumed responsibility for Gaza. If they wish to obtain things, like food and energy, from Israel, they will have to stop firing at its cities. Their choice.

About the Mead piece:
The piece basically says that US support for Israel is cultural. A lot historical information that is found in Michael Oren’s book is noted by Mead. A hundred years before the birth of the state of Israel, there was an American movement for the restoration of the Jewish state (they were called Restorationists). From America’s founding days its view of itself was often conveyed in Jewish religious imagery. Both countries have a bit of a messianic and pioneering view of themselves. So, its only natural that America has sympathy for Israel.

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July 28th, 2008, 8:32 am

 

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