Saturday, September 19, 2009

Will Obama Talk Like a Pirate at the UN? AARRRR!

Ari Shavit
David Waters
Stephen J Rosen

"A law is a law only when it applies to everyone and does not discriminate." - Ari Shavit

"All that fantastical thinking about the transformative power of diplomacy is now headed straight for the iceberg that is the Middle East." - Stephen J Rosen

"The dirtiest fighter sets the rules of a conflict." - Ed Luttwak

For I dream of the skull and the crossbones,
I dream of the great day to come,
When I dump the mundane for the Old Spanish Main
And trade my computer for rum! ARRR!

First, we make him walk the plank..
President Barack Obama will soon be facing the toughest challenges to his foreign policies on the Middle East. As Stephen Rosen illustrates: "Eight months into his presidency, Barack Obama is fast approaching his first real moment of truth on the Middle East. At the opening of the U.N. General Assembly session next week, the U.S. president will host a ceremonial summit between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in hopes of launching talks to achieve a final resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Then, a week later on Oct. 1, Undersecretary of State William Burns will join representatives of Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China for the first talks with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator to see whether an agreement can be reached to curtail President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's nuclear weapons program."

If he and Hillary and George can pull just these two things off and set the process in motion, then he could run for Prime Minister of Israel or President of Iran after his terms are up here in the US... But Obama's policy of engagement will be put to the test in dealing with Iran's happy scoundrel, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who: "... seems so eager to test the tolerances of this new policy than Ahmadinejad? Whether it is crushing democracy in his country, actively seeking nuclear weapons, threatening to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, seeking to extend his influence to the Western Hemisphere through his alliance with Hugo Chavez, continuing to sponsor Hezbollah or, as he did again today, calling the Holocaust a lie, he has done everything possible not only to raise tension with the United States but to serve as an affront to the most basic values and interests of the international community at large."

Or we could throw him overboard...
We haven't heard much about the outcome of the meeting between the North Korean diplomats and New Mexico's Bill Richardson other than the bland statement he made afterwards: "The delegation indicated that North Korea is ready for a new dialogue with the United States regarding the nuclear issue, the question is whether to proceed with face-to-face bilateral talks, as the North Koreans prefer, or to utilize the six-party framework that the United States has advocated. The North Koreans clearly want bilateral talks and not the six-party framework." North Korea has tried in its own way to make nice, like a fashion model who stumbles on the catwalk. It has asked for those bilateral talks, we just haven't made up our minds yet...

That's certainly not the case with Jim Webb, who has opened the can of worms of engagement with Burma: "Webb's five-nation tour of Southeast Asia last month made huge news; he was the highest-level U.S. official in years to meet with the leaders of Burma's reclusive military junta and he had a private meeting with Burmese democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi. The fallout from Webb's trip has reinvigorated the Washington debate over Burma policy, centered around Webb's controversial push to engage the brutal Burmese dictatorship, which he says should include consideration of easing sanctions.

The pushback against Webb's initiative has been severe, driven by a loose alliance of democracy advocates, former Bush administration officials, and a segment of the neoconservative intellectual brain trust." You don't mess with the Old Asian Hands or that intellectual weenie, William Kristol. yeah, I know his dad Irving Kristol just died, but that doesn't excuse Bill for being so wrong on so many issues so much of the time. His criticism of Jim is: "Webb -- who became the first American official ever to meet with General Than Shwe, the country's ultimate political authority -- has been sucking up to the junta by providing its leaders with the recognition they seek and by pushing the Obama administration to drop sanctions against the country. Worse yet, he seems to have enlisted Secretary Clinton into his cause. "

As you might have guessed, Bill is also responsible for enthusiastically supporting Bush's fiasco in Iraq, and takes a hawkish approach towards any foreign country, wanting to coerce governments to his will rather than the behaviorist approach.

The scurvy dog...
Barack Obama sat down with five newscast shows on Friday, with his detractors saying that he is overexposing himself.. They'll all air on Sunday, so if football looks boring, you can always channel surf. He responded to the question about race that, yeah, there are some folks who don't like him because he's a Black man, but there are more who don't like the government having a hand in every pot. As he put it to CBS: “I think that what’s driving passions tight now is that health care has become a proxy for a broader set of issues about how much government should be involved in the economy. Even though we’re having a passionate disagreement here, we can be civil to each other. And we can try to express ourselves acknowledging that we’re all patriots, we’re all Americans, and not assume the absolute worst in people’s motives,”

“I do think that part of what’s different today is the 24 hours news cycle. And cable television and blogs and all this – they focus on the most extreme elements on both sides. They can’t get enough of conflict. It’s catnip to the media right now. So the easiest way to get 15 minutes of fame is to be rude to somebody,”

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