Free Markets, Free People

Israel


Well, this is sure to help: Turkey calls Israel a “terrorist state”

I know, like me, you’ve been watching with some wonder as Israel gets called everything but a child of God for defending itself from hundreds of rockets being fired into its country and then having the unmitigated temerity to strike back. Now we have a member of NATO upping the tensions just a bit more:

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan described Israel on Monday as a “terrorist state” in carrying out its bombardment of Gaza, underlining hostility for Ankara’s former ally since relations between them collapsed in 2010.

His comments came after nearly a week of Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel and Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip. An Israeli missile killed at least 11 Palestinian civilians including four children in Gaza on Sunday.

“Those who associate Islam with terrorism close their eyes in the face of mass killing of Muslims, turn their heads from the massacre of children in Gaza,” Erdogan told a conference of the Eurasian Islamic Council in Istanbul.

I’d go through the litany of the whys and wherefores that detail why there are “civilian” casualties when Israel strikes back (hint: because that’s part of the plan when Hamas does these sorts of things as a means of swaying the ignorant and those who tend buy into the “poor, wronged victims” they love to portray themselves as), but you know them as well as I do.

We’ve talked about Turkey’s inexorable slide toward radical Islam for quite some time, so in reality, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise.  Turkey, which once looked west has turned its view to the east and is eyeing regional power.  Turkey knows that there’s one requirement to admission to power in that region, and that’s embracing and touting Islam.  In fact, it is about embracing a radical form of Islam that refuses to recognize Israel or it’s right to exist.  This is just another shot among many that Turkey has taken.  The NATO reference just reminds us of the possible difficulties their membership could pose in a situation like this.

And speaking of the present situation, as soon as Israel strikes back we begin to hear the false arguments about “proportionality” begin to surface.  No one mentions that 750 to 1,000 unanswered rockets and mortars have flown disproportionally into Israel, it’s always about those 100 air strikes the Israelis put into Gaza that are condemned as violating this new law of proportionality.  Yes, proportionality is only a concern when Israel acts, not when the terrorists attack.

The real reason that it comes up at all is because Hamas surrounds its launchers with civilians and are lousy shots and Israel isn’t.

It’s just not fair.

~McQ


Spin this–White House tries to spin NY-9 loss

We really saw this trend start with Scott Browns Senate win in MA when he took the seat of Ted Kennedy after Kennedy passed away.  Many saw that election as the first repudiation of Obama and his agenda.  And, of course,  it took place in a very blue state.  The trend continued with the 2010 election when the GOP took a number of seats in blue districts.  Yesterday the trend continued with upstart Republican Bob Turner took NY-9 in a special election to replace the disgraced Anthony Wiener.

But as usual, the White House is sure it’s a special case that has little to do with the President or the President’s popularity (or lack there of).

Obama won the district, which spans southern Brooklyn and Queens, by 11 percentage points in 2008. His approval rating there is now 33 percent.

The president’s top political aides concede that if his numbers had been “sturdier,” it might have had a slightly positive effect for Weprin. That means no Obama-voiced robocalls to most Democrats in the district—just text messages targeted at younger voters. More-popular Democrats, like Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Bill Clinton, are lending their voices to the get-out-the-vote effort.

Democratic strategists studying the district say Turner’s strength comes from independents and traditionally Democratic voters in Orthodox Jewish communities, a demographic displaying an enormous amount of interest in voting.

So, what about those cross-over “traditionally Democratic voters”?   This is a seat that has been held by Democrats for 88 years.

88 years, folks.  How is it that any GOP candidate has a chance in a district that handed Obama an 11 % win?   And what does it say about the state of the Democrats if Bill Clinton can’t even rally the troops?  And that’s the real problem:

In contrast, secular Democrats in the district, including secular Jews, display the sort of apathy associated with a demoralized political party. Weprin has been hemorrhaging support from all traditional Democratic constituencies.

So is that because of Weprin, Obama or both?

The Republican Jewish Committee and independent Democratic allies like former New York Mayor Ed Koch have called the race a referendum on President Obama’s policies in general, and specifically his orientation toward Israel.  They say a Turner victory would send a message that they don’t want to be the president’s rubber stamp. But Congress, controlled by Republicans, is no more popular in the district than Obama. And when polled, conservative Jews don’t list Israel among their top concerns. But of all voters who do say Israel is at the forefront of their minds, a mega-majority supports Turner.

Still, Obama always has had trouble with Orthodox Jews, and two Obama advisers said they understand that at least some of the frustration may be exercised in the form of a vote against the Democratic candidate. They concede that the election might bring to the fore how difficult it will be for Obama to win back the trust of independents—no matter what their faith. This New York contest would seem to have implications beyond Brooklyn and Queens.

Last two sentences are key.  Obama lost independents with his health care debacle, er, law.  With a supermajority against the bill, he and Congress rammed it through anyway.  And then Scott Brown won his election as the first indication of independent ire.  And so on.  NY-9 is an indicator of a serious problem for Democrats and the president.  Weprin may not have been the strongest candidate, but then for 88 years that’s really not mattered in NY-9.  It has, until now, reliably “rubber stamped” the Democrat in every election.

Why is now different? 

Mostly because of Obama – no matter how the White House tries to spin it.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Palestinian state vote in the UN? Powder keg, match–some assembly required.

President Obama has one job area where he gets good marks, relatively speaking.  Not particularly high marks but the positive side is higher than the negative.   For the life of me, I’m not sure why, but that’s the way it is.   That area is foreign policy.

But that could take a but of a hit soon if what is afoot in the UN comes to pass:

The Obama administration has initiated a last-ditch diplomatic campaign to avert a confrontation this month over a plan by Palestinians to seek recognition as a state at the United Nations, but it may already be too late, according to senior American officials and foreign diplomats.

The Palestinians apparently see the Third World Debating Club, also known as the UN, as a venue to increase their power within the UN and use it to leverage their fight against Israel.

A General Assembly vote (the US has said it would veto a Security Council vote) would change the dynamic of the relationship the Palestinians now have with the UN.  The US does not have the votes to block a General Assembly okay, which means:

…a vote by the General Assembly to elevate the status of the Palestinians’ nonvoting observer “entity” to that of a nonvoting observer state. The change would pave the way for the Palestinians to join dozens of United Nations bodies and conventions, and it could strengthen their ability to pursue cases against Israel at the International Criminal Court.

Oh happy days.  That would certainly make the region more stable, no?

Of course, the Obama administration’s efforts at peace talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis is, as the New York Times charitably describes them, are “moribund”.   In fact, they’ve been an abject failure, partially because of the treatment Obama has meted out to Israel during his tenure.  Relations have been strained at times to say the least.  And this latest move by the Palestinians makes the situation even more difficult:

Senior officials said the administration wanted to avoid not only a veto but also the more symbolic and potent General Assembly vote that would leave the United States and only a handful of other nations in the opposition. The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss diplomatic maneuverings, said they feared that in either case a wave of anger could sweep the Palestinian territories and the wider Arab world at a time when the region is already in tumult. President Obama would be put in the position of threatening to veto recognition of the aspirations of most Palestinians or risk alienating Israel and its political supporters in the United States.

The solution?  Well, apparently the administration is trying to revive talks between the two because they seem to believe that Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has said he’d forego the vote for substantive talks.

But the key here is to be found in the last sentence of the cited paragraph above.   And it all has to do with politics.   Either way, it seems Obama is screwed.  Unless he can find an alternative both sides accept (talks) he is going to definitely alienate one side or the other and their supporters as well.   In the US that means the Jewish voting bloc that provides him much funding or the left who’ve been Palestinian state supporters for years.   In the Middle East, the veto would be seen as the US again interfering and Obama would become just as “loved” as George Bush was.

The chances of getting talks moving again?  Probably not so good:

“If you put the alternative out there, then you’ve suddenly just changed the circumstances and changed the dynamic,” a senior administration official involved in the flurry of diplomacy said Thursday. “And that’s what we’re trying very much to do.”

Efforts to head off the Palestinian diplomatic drive have percolated all summer but have taken on urgency as the vote looms in the coming weeks. “It’s not clear to me how it can be avoided at the moment,” said Ghaith al-Omari, a former Palestinian negotiator who is now executive director of the American Task Force on Palestine in Washington. “An American veto could inflame emotions and bring anti-American sentiment to the forefront across the region.”

While some officials remain optimistic that a compromise can be found, the administration has simultaneously begun planning to limit the fallout of a statehood vote.

And fallout there will be regardless of what the US does.

It could also come to haunt Obama domestically as his action (or inaction) will indeed rebound on him negatively in one or the other parts of his base.  The one area in which he gets decent marks may soon be in the cellar with all the rest.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Hamas calls Greek stop of US blockade runner “inhumane”– Israel on “Specially Designated Country” list for first time

In the world of overwrought spin and propaganda we find a premiere example of the genre from Hamas:

The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas on Friday denounced Greece after its coastguard intercepted a US vessel which tried to sail to Gaza to break Israel blockade of the coastal strip.

In a statement issued by its political leadership in Damascus, the militant group described the action as "inhumane" and said Greece had played into Israeli hands.

"This is inhumane action, is contrary to international regulations and norms," said the statement by Hamas, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.

"Barring this aid from reaching the Gaza Strip is done as a result of pressure imposed by the Zionist occupiers," referring to Israel.

Of course the US ship, the “Audacity of Hope” has no aid.  It is sailing with nothing but letters of support.  Secondly, even if it was, there’s a very well-established route to deliver aid to Gaza.   The blockade runners simply want to further demonize the Israelis by attempting to provoke an incident like that which happened the last time this was tried.

Finally:

The Israeli-imposed blockade of Gaza "is unjust… and a mark of disgrace on the forehead of humanity," [Hamas] said.

Translation: “The blockade prevents us from smuggling in more weapons than we have now. “

Of course with the overthrow of Mubarak, the Egyptian portion of the border is quite porous now so even that objection is largely invalid.

Nope – just another example of a long line of examples of Hamas calling the right of a nation to defend itself “inhumane”, mostly because it doesn’t recognize that nation’s right to exist.  Given all the other ways to get aid to Gaza – real aid – it is clear this has nothing to do with any of that.

It is simply another in a long line of attempts to provoke that nation into acts of self-defense so it can condemn it further.   It is the equivalent of firing rockets into Israel and then condemning Israel when it reacts.

And for some reason, much of the rest of the world takes its condemnations seriously.

Meanwhile, CNS news reports that for the first time, Israel has landed on the “Special Designated Country” list.  What does that mean?

[T]he Obama administration is currently listing Israel among 36 “specially designated countries” it believes “have shown a tendency to promote, produce, or protect terrorist organizations or their members.”

Also on the list are countries like Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza.

This is the first time Israel has shown up as an SDC. 

Of course, no one seems to know how that happened, but ICE is the agency tasked to carry out the enforcement of what SDC means:

Even though the administration includes Israel among “specially designated countries” that it believes "have shown a tendency to promote, produce, or protect terrorist organizations or their members,” ICE Spokeswoman Gillian Christensen told CNSNews.com that the U.S. also considers Israel, as well as some other countries on the “specially designated countries” list, as partners in the struggle against terrorism.

“The U.S. does not and never has considered Israel to have links to terrorism, but rather they are a partner in our efforts to combat global terrorism,” Christensen said in a written statement. “Countries may have been included on the list because of the backgrounds of arrestees, not because of the country’s government itself.”

“The United States maintains close intelligence-sharing relationships with many of these countries in order to address security issues within their own borders and in our mutual pursuit of safety and security around the globe,” said Christensen.

ICE declined to say who put Israel on the list or when Israel was put there. However, in her written statement, ICE spokeswoman Christensen said the “specially designated country” list had been created "at least" seven years ago–which would have been during the presidency of George W. Bush–and that ICE was not responsible for creating it.

Yes, friends, it’s Bush’s fault.  Bottom line though, given how SDC is defined, it is hardly the appropriate list for Israel to be on.

Oh, and who didn’t make the list this time but was on the last one?

North Korea.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Israel’s bottom line

If President Obama is actually serious about an Israeli/Palestinian accord, he better review the speech Benjamin Netanyahu gave before a joint session of Congress today.

He said that to reach a deal, Palestinians must agree to live with a Jewish state that would include areas in the suburbs of Jerusalem and around Tel Aviv.

Jerusalem, he said, “will never be divided,” and Israel’s army would remain along the Jordan River.

While some land where Israelis have settled would lie outside its final borders, he said, the borders would not be identical to those of 1967 and before, which he once again called indefensible. Palestinian refugees and their descendants, he said, would have to find their homes outside these borders, limiting their right of return to old homelands — long a sticking point.

That’s the Israeli bottom line and it isn’t going to change much even if Netanyahu is no longer the Prime Minister.  This is it – this is what that state, after years of fighting for its life, has determined is the minimum conditions it must insist on for its self-defense.  Essentially, these particular positions aren’t negotiable.

Obama claims his policy and position isn’t new.  Obviously the Israelis disagree.  There, laid out for everyone to see is Israel’s position.  In the meantime, I’d also add, were I Netanyahu, that until Hamas and the Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist and renounce violence against Israel, that Israel has no interest in any process.  That’s such a basic requirement I’m surprised it has to repeated endlessly.

Netanyahu says he is willing to make painful concessions on behalf of Israel – including some settlements in occupied lands.  But he’s not willing to concede any of the above – and it it time for this administration to get a clue if it is serious about the peace process.  I simply don’t think it is, and the new conditions laid out by Obama are a way of putting the onus and blame on Israel for being “intransigent” in the face of decades of Palestinian intransigence.  This is Obama’s way of saying “not my fault that the peace process I so highly touted fell apart”.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


About Egypt’s “Arab Spring”

It’s not much to look forward too.   Tony Blankley makes the pointthat many of us have been making as we’ve watched this little drama unfold in Egypt – it ain’t about “democracy”:

That "democratic revolution," as the administration persistently called it, seems to have settled down into an ugly accord between the Army-run government, the Muslim Brotherhood and the fanatical salafists — which the new regime has been releasing from the prisons into which Mubarak very usefully had sent those dreadful men. Killing Coptic Christians, attacking women on the street for non-Muslim garb and other pre-Mubarak attitudes are thus now back in vogue in "democratic" Egypt.

Whether the administration will admit it or not, the fact remains that democracy isn’t set up to succeed in Egypt.  By “democracy” I mean institutions that are structured to both support a democratic nation and ensure the success of such a system.  It is simply another in a long line of swapping one oppressor for the other.  While Mubarak may not have been anyone’s ideal, what may follow, given the indications, may be worse.

Two weeks ago, the administration was "surprised" at the Egyptian-brokered accord between the terrorist Hamas and the West Bank Fatah Palestinian factions — ending even a theoretical chance of Israeli/Palestinian negotiations.

Indeed.  And now with Egypt firmly moving to the “other side” after years of peace with Israel, the future looks even more bleak and any peace accord becomes even more unlikely.

And with Obama yesterday essentially demanding the ‘67 borders as a peace concession by Israel any settlement became virtually impossible.  No wonder Middle East peace envoy, George Mitchell is resigning.  He recognizes a dead end when he see’s one.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Egypt woos US foes

Egypt continues to make more and more moves indicating that it desires to distance itself from the US and that more instability in the region will probably result from its diplomatic moves.

After decades of no relations with certain countries in the region, with the full approval of the US (and one would assume the lack of such relations would be in the best interest of the US and peace in the region), Egypt has now decided to change that course.  They tie to moves to regaining their regional prestige:

Iran and Egypt’s new government signaled Monday they were moving quickly to thaw decades of frosty relations, worrying the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia that the overtures could upset the Mideast’s fragile balance of power.

Iran said it appointed an ambassador to Egypt for the first time since the two sides froze diplomatic relations more than three decades ago, the website of the Iranian government’s official English-language channel, Press TV, reported late Monday.

Also Monday, officials at Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that new foreign minister Nabil Elaraby is considering a visit to the Gaza Strip—an area controlled by Hamas, a militant Palestinian Islamist group backed by Tehran and until now shunned by Cairo.

It would be pretty hard not to see where this could lead. 

Additionally, Egypt is reaching out to Syria:

Egypt’s outreach has also extended to Syria, a close ally of Iran. In early March, Egypt’s new intelligence chief, Murad Muwafi, chose Syria for his first foreign trip.

The result of our “hey, Hosni, get out of town” policy?

Amr Moussa, the former Secretary General of the Arab league, owes his front-runner status in Egyptian presidential elections later this year to his forceful statements against Israel when he was Egypt’s foreign minister during the 1990s. Islamist groups in particular have been empowered by Egypt’s abrupt shift to democracy, and analysts expect that Egypt’s next government will have to answer to growing calls that it break with U.S. foreign-policy objectives.

Some Islamist political voices within Egypt have already begun their own sort of diplomacy. Magdi Hussein, the chairman of the Islamist Al Amal (Labor) Party, met with Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi earlier this week in Tehran. Both sides encouraged a quickening of the diplomatic thaw between the two countries.

Egypt appears to be following a foreign relations pattern set by Turkey in the past decade—a strong American ally whose foreign policy has nevertheless decoupled from American interests. Regardless of its final position on Iran, the country is likely to be significantly less beholden to U.S. interests, American officials said, if only because Egypt was such a reliable ally under Mr. Mubarak.

"It’s hard to imagine a change that would improve on what we had" with the previous Egyptian regime, one U.S. official said.

If there’s a “Doomsday clock” for Middle East war, it is quickly moving toward 1 minute to midnight.

Meanwhile in Libya, the “days, not weeks” war enters its 2nd month with no resolution in sight.

~McQ


Egypt, predictably, begins to go the way of radical Islam

Damien McElroy in Cairo, reporting for the UK Telegraph, has the following observations:

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest Islamic movement and the founder of Hamas, has set up a network of political parties around the country that eclipse the following of the middle class activists that overthrew the regime. On the extreme fringe of the Brotherhood, Islamic groups linked to al-Qeada are organising from the mosques to fill the vacuum left by the collapse of the dictatorship.

The military-led government already faces accusations that it is bowing to the surge in support for the Muslim movements, something that David Cameron warned of in February when he said Egyptian democracy would be strongly Islamic.

{feigned surprise} Oh, my, who’d have thought that could happen?  Only the terminally naïve or those with no understanding of the area or human nature would have figured otherwise. 

Power vacuums produce opportunities for others to fill them.  The US helped create that vacuum by insisting Hosni Mubarak must step down. 

Usually, as we’ve mentioned here any number of times, the most organized and ruthless succeed in filling such power vacuums.  And that’s precisely the case in Egypt where Islam in general is as pervasive as the air breathed there and the Muslim Brotherhood, while never allowed to be in power previously, was the most organized of the groups with the potential to fill the power vacuum.

And that is coming to fruition.  Not just in an Islamic sense, but in an Islamist sense as well.  The Muslim factions are poised to take over and control any government voted in by the public and do it in a big way:

Mohammed Badie, the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader, last week predicted the group’s candidates would win 75 per cent of the seats it contested.

Fundamentalist factions have also emerged as parties. Gamaa al-Islamiya, an al-Qaeda linked group that promotes Salafist traditions has used its mosques as a political base for the first time since the 1970s.

Egypt attempted in the past – however oppressive that effort was – to keep a largely secular government, at least by Middle Eastern standards.  And that was to our benefit and certainly to the benefit of the region.  It produced the peace treaty with Israel and ushered in a few decades of relatively peaceful times in the Middle East.  That’s pretty much likely to go by the wayside soon.  This next government will be steeped in Islam if not a good measure of Islamism.  That has been ordained by the first “democratic” vote in Egypt:

A scare campaign that a No vote in last months referendum would eliminate Islamic law from the Egyptian constitution ensured a 77 per cent Yes result.

As for those who participated in the April 6th movement and want a more secular and democratic Egypt?  Well, again, the best organized is the most likely to succeed, right?  And they have little or no organization:

But the April 6th movement that spearheaded protests has no clear plan for party politics. Diplomats have warned the demonstrators are not well prepared for elections.

"The leadership of the protests was so focused on the street-by-street detail of the revolution, they have no clue what to do in a national election," said a US official involved in the demonstrations. "Now at dinner the protesters can tell me every Cairo street that was important in the revolution but not how they will take power in Egypt."

Entirely predictable and clearly not in the best interest of the US – which calls into question the administration’s decision not to back Mubarak but call for his ouster.  The result is an unintended consequence one assumes – we backed a faction that we knew little about, which has had little impact since and now we’re going to see results that we don’t want and are not in the best interests of the US or peace in the region.  The same could be said about Libya.

Finally, don’t be fooled by the “independent” status of Egyptian political candidates for the Presidency there.  Their independence is in name only as they must court the factions that are likely to hold power in any legislature that forms.

Although the leading contenders for Egypt’s presidency are independents, many have begun wooing the Muslim blocs. Front-runner Amr Moussa, the Arab League president, has conceded that its inevitable that Islamic factions will be the bedrock of the political system.

Of course they will and that means, inevitably, that Egypt will eventually revoke its treaty with Israel thereby setting the peace process back to square one.

Yes, this has been beautifully played by the President and the State Department.  If naiveté in foreign affairs was ever more  evident than now, I’m having difficulty remembering it (Jimmy Carter is as close as it comes, and they’re making even him look competent).

~McQ


You knew it was coming–Arab League wants UN enforced No Fly Zone over Gaza

It was only a matter of time for the real reason behind the “right to protect” (R2P) principle the UN has adopted to become apparent.

The Arab League provides it in its appeal to the UN:

The Arab League (AL) said on Sunday it would ask the United Nations to consider imposing a no-fly zone over the Gaza Strip to protect the civilians against Israeli air strikes.

In a statement issued after an emergency meeting of the pan- Arab organization at the permanent delegates’ level in its Cairo headquarter, the AL said it would ask the United Nation Security Council to convene an emergency meeting to discuss the Israeli aggression over Gaza to lift the siege and impose a no-fly zone against the Israeli military to protect civilians.

The statement rejected the double standard policies towards the Palestinian case, urging the UN Security Council and the Quartet committee to bear all responsibilities for halting the subsequent massacres and provide an international protection for the unarmed citizens.

Now, this shouldn’t have a chance since it takes a vote of the Security Council to pass something like this and the US, with a permanent seat, has the right to veto any resolution calling for such a measure.

And a few years ago I’d have had no worries about there even being a ghost of a chance of such a measure being agreed too by the US.  I have no such assurance now with this administration.  And don’t forget, they got the cooperation of the Security Council recently for the imposition of the Libyan NFZ, so they’ll be asked for cooperation on this – it’s the trap that may have been set from the outset.

Of course, unaddressed by the AL is the provocation for the latest round of air attacks from Israel by the terrorist group Hamas:

Violence in Gaza started when Hamas, which holds sway there, fired a rocket at an Israeli school bus, critically wounding a 16- year-old student. Hamas later said it did not know the bus was carrying students.

Hamas more than “holds sway there” – Hamas “governs” there.   What it continues to do is execute acts of war against Israel and then whines when Israel reacts.  What the AL is doing is attempting to get the US to level the playing field and create better opportunities for Hamas to continue firing rockets into Israel.  And, of course, brave Hamas always ensures it does its provocations from areas with high densities of civilians.  And Hamas could give a rip whether there were students on the bus.  Read the description again – it was a freakin’ school bus.  What else did they expect to be on it?

Note too that the AL uses precisely the argument that I and others who wrote about the application of R2P said would happen.  The citing of a “double-standard” (you’ll do Libya but not Gaza?).  It’s nonsense on a stick, of course, because supposedly R2P is there to protect civilians from their own government, not another government retaliating against deadly attacks by their own government.

This again illustrates the danger of such “principles” as the UN’s R2P.  It is now being considered a tool by the weak but tyrannical in an effort to downgrade the defensive abilities of Israel to protect itself. 

I say give them the go-ahead and let the AL enforce the NFZ.  It will be good for fighter jet sales as the IAF will scatter pieces and parts of the various AL air forces over the Gaza strip as a result.

~McQ


Carter: Obama has given up on Middle East peace

Former President Jimmy Carter is not at all impressed with Barack Obama’s efforts toward Middle East peace.  Speaking Tuesday at the LBJ library’s annual Harry Middleton Lectureship series, Carter said that in terms of the peace process in the Middle East, "nothing is going on."

Answering a question about Egypt, the former president praised President Obama’s handling of the situation there saying he’s "done quite well" and that Obama has handled it "about the same way I’d have handled it if I’d been in office."

However, on the broader question of the Middle East peace process, Carter was much less complimentary saying, "President Obama has basically given up on peace in the Middle East."

Pointing out that Obama had started out well, Carter blasted Obama by claiming that he’d now become "more accommodating to Netanyahu and Israel than George W. Bush was."  Trying to dampen his critique of the Obama administration, Carter said he really wasn’t there to criticize, but he’d been asked a question and that was the answer.  "I don’t have any feeling of success for what President Obama had done in the Middle East", Carter concluded.

The session was an hour long question and answer period on a wide range of topics including Carter’s run for the presidency, his term in office and his work after he left office.  In it Carter’s most pointed remarks came during the discussion of the Middle East peace process.

Often cited as someone who cozies up to dictators, Carter admitted to having "lunch or dinner" each time he went to Egypt with Omar Suleiman, the intelligence chief, because he knew "more about the Middle East than anyone", and he described Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad as a "young, fairly progressive president" who had "inherited" the presidency from his father.

But it seems that even the likes of Jimmy Carter knows an empty suit when he see’s one and a person from whom you would expect to see fairly significant support can’t find it in himself to say anything positive about the Obama Middle East peace initiative – or lack thereof.

~McQ

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