Thursday, July 22, 2010

Soccer Dad

Soccer Dad

Have the administration's israel and iran strategies changed?

Posted: 22 Jul 2010 04:36 AM PDT

Yesterday Meryl observed that once again:

Mahmoud Abbas has said the Palestinians will not resume direct talks until... and now you get to fill in the blank, because he keeps on changing the rules.

Rabbi Kaufman wondered if the administration has taken note:

That said, the Obama administration seems to have taken a different track lately, one less conducive to this Palestinian goal and at a distance from J Street's lobbying position. ...Yet, one cannot infer too much from the reports of the recent meeting between Netanyahu and Obama because they could be motivated by a desire by both men to hide problems that are occurring behind closed doors. On the other hand, the change in public is important in and of itself.

What is clear from this meeting is that the administration's position of publicly pressuring Israel to make concessions, as if primarily their lack is preventing the advancement of peace, is no longer American policy. In fact, the Obama administration seems to have abandoned the entire tactic of pressuring Israel in the hope of eliciting movement from the Palestinians and Arab League toward concessions on either the peace process or on Iran sanctions. If anything, the Obama administration's aim seems to be to promote direct talks which the Palestinians do not desire and unilateral actions against Iran which Israel has sought.

Quoting from Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel and Aluf Benn in Ha'aretz, Yaacov Lozowick reaches a similar conclusion.

What is the lesson of all this? As some readers may recollect, I have been saying all along that it takes two years to learn the job of American president. As Obama passes his 18th month in office, he may finally be learning. (Here's hoping). The second comment is that after being a disastrous prime minister first time around (1996-99), Netanyahu seems to have learned his job, too. He understood better than Obama how things might go, and he mostly stood his ground until reality trumped vacuous idealism.

There's one other thing that Netanyahu has done that's probably helped him. When Clinton was President, Netanyahu went to speak before a group organized by Jerry Falwell, a very vocal political opponent of President Clinton. To be sure Netanyahu was treated unfairly by Clinton, but some of his actions clearly antagonized the President. In retrospect, Netanyahu indulged his pique against the President and that hurt him politically.

Then there's this from Ehud Yaari (via Daily Alert Blog)

They have reached the conclusion that keeping a distance from Israel, picking unnecessary fights with Israel, was not going to advance the peace process. They are not getting anything in return from the Arab world. This is why Rahm Emanuel, chief of staff to Obama, when he came to Israel recently on a private visit, a bar mitzvah for his son, said in so many words, "We screwed up".

There has also been a change of heart in Washington concerning Iran. I have solid information indicating that the top echelons of the administration -- National Security Council, Pentagon, State Department -- have reached the conclusion that the US cannot adopt the option of containing a nuclear Iran.

So what's going on?

The option of accepting a nuclear Iran, unwillingly of course, and then trying to contain it, was advocated by many important players on the American foreign policy scene. This option is now apparently off the table.

There is a change of policy not only in terms of sanctions, both at the UN Security Council and those unilateral sanctions now imposed by both the US, the EU and others; but also an understanding by the administration that in no way can Iran be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon.

And most surprising:

How do we know this? Among other things, because this is what the Americans have been telling Arab leaders over recent weeks.

And Walter Russell Mead has provided a context for understanding the President's apparent shift:

The dream that the great powers of the world will ever form a kind of universal European Union also strikes many observers of world politics as naive.

The cynics may be right (and in fact I fear they are) but that isn't the point just now. Henry Kissinger may not believe in the creation of a post-Westphalian order, but President Obama does -- at least he believes that without these noble hopes as guiding lights we will lose our way amidst the countless pitfalls of the world's long night. And he believes this deeply enough to continue to do his best to set American foreign policy in the service of these two transcendent goals. The President of the United States is a serious and strong-willed man; these values are the rocks on which he stands.

The problem is that Iran's success means the complete, utter and historic destruction of everything President Obama wants to build.

Make no mistake about it. If Iran gets nuclear weapons on his watch, the dream of non-proliferation comes to an end and Barack Obama will go down in history as the president who lost the fight to stop nukes.

It won't just be Iran: if Iran defies western pressure to get nukes, every self-respecting country in the Middle East will want and need nukes. Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and even some of the smaller fry will have to make their moves. They won't all get the bomb but enough of them will. This will have a disastrous impact on America's ability to carry out one of its principle global tasks and ensure the steady and uninterrupted flow of oil to the great industrial and commercial centers of the world -- but that isn't all. The decisive failure of the nonproliferation agenda in the Middle East undermine nonproliferation everywhere, not only because the Bomb will become even more of a coveted symbol of first class international status than it already is, but because with all those proliferating states buying and selling the technology, it will be harder to stop countries from moving ahead. The global black market in nuclear tech will spread like kudzu; there will be so many sources and so many destinations that the traffic will be harder than ever to stop.

I do believe that the President is the most ideological driven man in the job in a long time, so I'm not entirely convinced that he's changed his views towards Israel and that the warm feelings he displayed with Netanyahu were not part of a cynical political charade. But if he's shifted his strategy from containing Iran to preventing Iran and realizes that he'll need to work with Israel towards that end, that's something to be thankful for.

The coming months will tell of Ya'ari and Mead are correct.

Crossposted on Yourish.

If ... you must 072210

Posted: 22 Jul 2010 04:27 AM PDT

If you haven't read More Brainy Billboards at Not PC ; you must.
The placement is amazing isn't it?

If you haven't read Travis Banton vs. Claudette Colbert, Costume Design as Blood Sport at Seraphic Secret; you must.
I find Robert's inside stories about Hollywood fascinating.

If you haven't read Protecting Israeli Democracy at The Muqata ; you must.
Folks who seem to wish to save Israel from itself, don't consider this "protecting democracy," but why not? If an action taken by the government is that important, shouldn't the government have to get a super-majority of the population behind it?

If you haven't read UN Moves Forward to Implement Goldstone Report at the Weekly Standard blog ; you must.
In the meantime 10 years after the fact, most of the world still doesn't know the truth about the al-Dura affair. Is that about to change? (h/t ETBuzz) I wouldn't count on it, but I can hope.

If you haven't read Gush Katif: five years on at Jerusalem Diaries ; you must.
Forgetting about the military cost, there was a human cost and you can see it in their faces.

If you haven't read Turn off the AC, turn on the bad times at Yourish ; you must.
Did you know that modern air conditioning was invented by Dr. John Gorrie in order to help treat patients with yellow fever and malaria in the 1830's?

If you haven't read Trust the Palestinian Authority? at Daniel Pipes ; you must.
Related see this and this.

If you haven't read The ultimate P.C. administration at The Colossus of Rhodey ; you must.
What's worse being a terrorist ... or a racist?

Blog friendly periodicals

Posted: 22 Jul 2010 04:27 AM PDT

A little more than a month ago, Legal Insurrection said "goodbye" to the Times of London because of it's paywall.

A columnist at rival The Guardian estimates that The Times could lose 95% of its "browsers" and still do okay.

Which is good, because about 5 weeks later Editor and Publisher reports (via memeorandum)

According to data from Experian Hitwise, which charts Internet traffic, visits to The Times of London and The Sunday Times' Websites have dropped by 66% since parent company News International put those sites behind paywalls on July 2.

Apparently the Times of London is sitll doing "okay," as it still has 1/3 of its pre-paywall audience.

Not all publications are becoming less blog-friendly. Though I don't link to them as often as some others, the New York Daily News, New York Post and Time Magazine have all done something to make themselves more blog friendly. When you cut and paste from an article on those websites, you also paste the URL (i.e. the http address). This means that a blogger doesn't need to go back to the source to get the URL. It's a blogger friendly time saver.

Now Lebanon, added something else that I like.
In addition to the URL it comes with terms of usage:

Only 25% of a given NOW Lebanon article can be republished.

So there's no guesswork about what the publication considers fair use, it let's the blogger know it's terms.

I figure that the periodicals that encourage bloggers, will be rewarded with greater traffic. Whether the revenues the traffic generates will be significant, I have no idea.

Council speak 07/22/10

Posted: 22 Jul 2010 03:38 AM PDT

The council has spoken.

Council Winners

Non Council Submissions

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