As Egypt burns: has the administration picked a side? And some on the left are still in “moon pony” land about the Muslim Brotherhood and the potential for a Muslim state emerging
I’m not sure how you might interpret this, but it seems to me, given what Secretary Hillary Clinton has been saying, that we’ve picked a side in Egypt.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on Sunday for “an orderly transition” to a more politically open Egypt, stopping short of telling its embattled president, Hosni Mubarak, to step down but clearly laying the groundwork for his departure.
Granted it doesn’t tell Mubarak to give it up, it certainly doesn’t openly support the protesters, but make no mistake, in diplo-speak, this is pretty close to doing both. I’m not judging it one way or the other, I’m just sayin’.
Stipulating that, who does the administration think will lead the transition to that country having more “economic and political freedom?”
Well, she doesn’t say, but my guess is the administration would find Mohammad ElBaradei to be an acceptable choice. The question is does he really have the support to actually take power or, as many worry, if Mubarak flies off to Saudi Arabia – the country of choice for ousted dictators – will ElBaradei suddenly find himself on the outside looking in as more powerful factions compete for control?
Of course, there are those on the left here who are pretty sure that the Muslim Brotherhood running some sort of anti-American Muslim state is just a myth and nothing to worry about. Meanwhile, in the real world, Haarretz reports:
The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest opposition group,is in talks with other anti-government figures to form a national unity government without President Hosni Mubarak, a group official told DPA on Sunday.
Gamal Nasser, a spokesman for the Brotherhood, told DPA that his group was in talks with Mohammed ElBaradei – the former UN nuclear watchdog chief – to form a national unity government without the National Democratic Party of Mubarak.
The group is also demanding an end to the draconian Emergency Laws, which grant police wide-ranging powers The laws have been used often to arrest and harass the Islamist group.
Nasser said his group would not accept any new government with Mubarak. On Saturday the Brotherhood called on President Mubarak to relinquish power in a peaceful manner following the resignation of the Egyptian cabinet.
So the moves within the opposition are beginning to become visible. Meanwhile useful idiots like ElBaradei are necessary to calm the rest of the world to give the “revolution” an acceptable face until power can be consolidated. And leave it to ElBaradei to cooperate fully, given the hubris of the man:
Speaking to CNN later Sunday, ElBaradei said he had a popular and political mandate to negotiate the creation of a national unity government.
"I have been authorized — mandated — by the people who organized these demonstrations and many other parties to agree on a national unity government," he told CNN.
A couple of things to remember – the Muslim Brotherhood has been the opposition in Egypt, not ElBaradei. The MB is closely identified with the revolutionary nationalism that is now evident, ElBaradei has been in “exile”. The Muslim Brotherhood has been banned from having seats in the Egyptian Parliament, yet they’ve still successfully run candidates as “independents” to capture a portion of seats.
Also remember that Egyptian prisons have been the incubators of Islamic jihad and that the MB has been well represented in those prisons.
Or, to put it more succinctly, look for the MB to make its moves when Mubarak is safely out of the country and the consolidation of power is near complete (and one way they will do that is by refusing Mubarak’s party any part in a new government). At that point, Mr. Useful, ElBaradei, may not be useful enough to keep around as the MB will be powerful enough to control Egypt without caring much how acceptable they seem to the rest of the world.
A blurb from the Washington Post that I find somewhat ironic:
Obama’s return to Washington from 10 days in Martha’s Vineyard and a quick stop in New Orleans to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina will begin with an address to the nation marking the end of combat operations in Iraq. Days later, he will preside over the start of a new round of Middle East peace talks in Washington.
Both events offer Obama some political opportunities to help end a frustrating summer on a more positive note. But each is fraught with expectations that could prove difficult to meet in the long run, especially as the White House begins planning a reelection campaign next year.
And a week-long focus on foreign policy — timing driven largely by events outside of the president’s control — could seem oddly out of step during an election season that has been dominated by concerns over the national economy.
I guess “political opportunities” is in the eye of the beholder. The Post goes on to say that the timing of the foreign policy events is mostly “outside of the president’s control” meaning, obviously with the elections in November rapidly approaching, one would normally not look to foreign policy as a place he would gather “political momentum” as the Post’s title says.
There are a couple of reasons for that in Obama’s case. First he’s probably the least qualified president we’ve ever had in the foreign policy arena. Certainly the most inexperienced. And to this point, it’s rather difficult to point to any achievements in that area. So it seems to me to be a good deal of wishing and hoping by the Post’s Michael Shear if he thinks this is the arena in which lay Obama’s best chance for gathering “political momentum” again.
Secondly, Iraq can hardly be considered an accomplishment of his administration. The drawdown has been accomplished there in accordance with a timeline negotiated and agreed to (the SOFA agreement) by the Bush administration, before Obama ever took office. Ironically, we never hear Obama saying he inherited that.
As for the peace talks in the Middle East, it will most likely be the usual political theater with little accomplished. Turkey’s entrance into the ME debate on the side of the Arabs has had, I would think, a very profound effect on the possibility of such negotiations succeeding. I don’t think that impact is yet fully understood, but I suspect we’ll get an inkling of that when these talks begin.
If foreign policy is Obama’s best hope for regaining political momentum, then he’s in real political trouble.
Speaking of irony, this also caught my eye:
Forty-eight percent (48%) of U.S. voters now regard President Obama’s political views as extreme. Forty-two percent (42%) place his views in the mainstream, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.
By comparison, 51% see the views of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as mainstream. Thirty-five percent (35%) think Clinton’s views are extreme. Fourteen percent (14%) are undecided.
Incredible to think that the person who first tried to nationalize health care is seen as less extreme than the guy who did. The poll speaks to a possibility though. If Obama’s job approval numbers continue to decline (now at 43%) and if the numbers that consider him extreme continue to climb, I can see a possible challenge from the left in 2012 from Hillary Clinton.
And, btw, if there are any “successes” in foreign policy, you can bet that Ms. Clinton will be sure that she gets her share of the credit.
But you have to chuckle a bit about the noted poll numbers – Hillary Clinton, who was certainly regarded by at least a plurality and possibly a majority of being an extreme leftist is now considered by the majority as being “mainstream”? I guess that’s relatively true in the context of Mr. Obama, but I doubt that it is true in reality. She’s hidden herself well – ideologically speaking – these last few years, you have to give her that.
Oh, and speaking of extremist views, the Rasmussen poll didn’t just concentrate on Democrats:
Among five top contenders for the White House in 2012, only former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is viewed as more extreme than the president. Just 38% say Palin’s views are mainstream, while 55% regard them as extreme.
Mitt Romney, the ex-Massachusetts governor who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, is considered mainstream by 45% and extreme by 33%. Twenty-two percent (22%), however, are not sure about his views.
Forty-four percent (44%) say the views of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, another unsuccessful 2008 GOP hopeful, are in the mainstream. Thirty-eight percent (38%) think Huckabee is extreme, and another 18% are not sure.
It’s important to note that the questions did not define “mainstream” or “extreme.”
Love the last line – yup, I guess “extreme” is something only an individual can define based on his personal ideology (and we all have them). It is like pornography – you know extreme when you see extreme.
Anyway, back to Obama and foreign policy. If I were him, I certainly wouldn’t bank on foreign policy being the area that pulls his political fortunes out of the ditch. He’s certainly, to this point, shown us nothing that would indicate he has a grasp on the situations around the globe and much to demonstrate he hasn’t. I can’t imagine how his political momentum is going to be restarted in an area in which he spends so little time and effort.
An odd set of circumstances and an ill timed Israeli announcement has evoked a very high profile and seemingly bitter denunciation of Israel by the US. And, instead of stepping it down, after the initial condemnation, the US seems to be continuing to step it up.
It all comes after a visit to Israel by VP Joe Biden coincided with an Israeli announcment that it had approved the construction of 1600 housing units in Jerusalem. The US chose to take that personally – literally. Variously described as an “insult”, a “slap in the face” and “affront” to the Vice President and the administration, the problem was escalated by a phone call by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to PM Benjamin Netanyahu. This weekend David Axelrod kept the controvery alive on the Sunday talk shows.
So what’s up with all of this? Certainly its fair to say that Biden was embarrassed by the announcement, something he had no idea was going to be made, much less coincide with his visit. And it is certainly clear, after you read about the announcment and how it was made, that no one was more embarrassed and surprised than Netanyahu. As he’s admitted subsequently, that it was ill timed and shouldn’t have been made while Biden was there.
End of problem? Hardly. It continues to grow, fester and escalate. But the announcement, other than its timing, isn’t something which should surprise anyone. We’re not talking about the West Bank here – where Israel has promised not to build. We’re talking about East Jerusalem in an ultra-orthodox Jewish neighborhood. It is an area over which Israel has adamently refused to negotiate. This is not something of which the US is unaware:
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon on Thursday defended Israel’s decision to approve construction of 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem, saying sovereignty over the capital has never been negotiable and that Israel would not make any more concessions for peace.
Again, if true that “sovereignty over the capital has never been neotiable” why, other than the diplomatic embarrassment, has the decision suddenly become a matter of concern soliciting demands from Clinton to include one that reverses the housing decision?
Jennifer Rubin at Commentary thinks that part of the reaction is simply indicative of the personality of this administration. Its temperment, if you will:
It’s attack, attack, attack — just as they do any domestic critic (even the Supreme Court Chief Justice). It’s about bullying and discrediting, trying to force the opponent into a corner. And in this case, their opponent is plainly the Israeli government. For that is the party the Obami is now demanding make further concessions to… well, to what end is not clear. Perhaps we are back to regime change — an effort to topple the duly elected government of Israel to obtain a negotiating partner more willing to yield to American bullying.
The language the Obami employ – ”personal,” “insulting,” and “affront” – suggests an unusual degree of personal peevishness and hostility toward an ally. That, I suppose, is the mentality of Chicago pols and of those who regard Israel not as a valued friend but as an irritant. And it is the language not of negotiators but of intimidators.
I certainly think that’s part of it. But it still doesn’t explain it all. That’s more about style – and while I think it is a fair description of this administration’s style, I’m still not convinced that answers the mail in this regard. As Rubin goes on to remind us, 15 years ago the official US policy declared that Jerusalem should be the “undivided capital of Israel”. It seems a little odd to get this excited about the internal zoning decisions concerning that city if that’s our policy.
So what else is it? How does an embarrassing situation become escalated into a diplomatic confrontation with an ally? Well, there’s an interesting article in Foreign Policy magazine that says it is much more than just a matter of embarrassment. And, if I read it correctly, the US was, most likely, looking for the diplomatic equivalent of a fight with Israel if this is true:
On Jan. 16, two days after a killer earthquake hit Haiti, a team of senior military officers from the U.S. Central Command (responsible for overseeing American security interests in the Middle East), arrived at the Pentagon to brief Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The team had been dispatched by CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus to underline his growing worries at the lack of progress in resolving the issue. The 33-slide, 45-minute PowerPoint briefing stunned Mullen. The briefers reported that there was a growing perception among Arab leaders that the U.S. was incapable of standing up to Israel, that CENTCOM’s mostly Arab constituency was losing faith in American promises, that Israeli intransigence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was jeopardizing U.S. standing in the region, and that Mitchell himself was (as a senior Pentagon officer later bluntly described it) “too old, too slow … and too late.”
The January Mullen briefing was unprecedented. No previous CENTCOM commander had ever expressed himself on what is essentially a political issue; which is why the briefers were careful to tell Mullen that their conclusions followed from a December 2009 tour of the region where, on Petraeus’s instructions, they spoke to senior Arab leaders. “Everywhere they went, the message was pretty humbling,” a Pentagon officer familiar with the briefing says. “America was not only viewed as weak, but its military posture in the region was eroding.“
You connect the dots. Was this rather minor problem the perfect excuse to try and recover our image of strength? As many of us have been saying, 2009 was a year of assessment when other world leaders took stock of the new administration. It looks like the Arab world’s verdict is in.
The briefing went further to say that the weakness and Israeli “intransigence” (as described by the various Arab leaders) was actually putting the lives of our soldiers in the CENTCOM theater at further risk.
This briefing and its revelations has been mostly unreported, although Jake Tapper did hint at it when questioning David Axelrod on ABC’s “This Week”:
TAPPER: All right, last question. Vice President Biden went to Israel this week and he was greeted by a slap in the face, the announcement by the Israeli government of the approval of new housing units in an Arab section of Jerusalem. President Obama was said to be very upset about it. Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Clinton made very strong comments about it. Will there be any consequences, tangible consequences beyond the tough talk? And does Israel’s intransigence on the housing issue put the lives of U.S. troops at risk?
AXELROD: Well, look, what happened there was an affront. It was an insult, but that’s not the most important thing. What it did was it made more difficult a very difficult process. We’ve just gotten proximity, so-called proximity talks going between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and this seemed calculated to undermine that, and that was — that was distressing to everyone who is promoting the idea of peace — and security in the region.
Israel is a strong and special ally. The bonds run deep. But for just that very reason, this was not the right way to behave. That was expressed by the secretary of state, as well as the vice president. I am not going to discuss what diplomatic talks we’ve had underneath that, but I think the Israelis understand clearly why we were upset and what, you know, what we want moving forward.
TAPPER: I hate to say this, but yes or no, David, does the intransigence of the Israeli government on the housing issue, yes or no, does it put U.S. troops lives at risk?
AXELROD: I believe that that region and that issue is a flare point throughout the region, and so I’m not going to put it in those terms. But I do believe that it is absolutely imperative, not just for the security of Israel and the Palestinian people, who were, remember, at war just a year ago, but it is important for our own security that we move forward and resolve this very difficult issue.
Tapper raised the issue brought up by the CENTCOM briefing and Axelrod simply avoided it.
Meanwhile, the Palestinians have taken the escalated diplomatic row as an excuse to bail on the peace talks again much to no one’s surprise.
Is this row all about posturing for the Arabs in reaction to the findings of the CENTCOM briefing? Is it an attempt to strengthen our image in those circles? If so this is a pretty poor way of doing that. It accepts the premise that Israel is the only problem and therefore it is only Israel that must concede to solve the problem. Read Clinton’s demands if you doubt that’s not the case. It also identifies as a problem something that has previously never been considered one.
In the meantime, much like the people of the US, Arab leaders are not going to be impressed by only talk – something the administration is long on. It is going to demand action – something which puts the administration in a very awkward position given what they’re now demanding vs. what Israel may be willing to do. And even if Israel capitulates, it will simply mean more demands – all to the detriment of our strongest ally in the region.
A very interesting situation brought on by perceived weakness and a diplomatic style akin to a pit bull at a cat show. It will be interesting to monitor the situation and see what comes of it, but, as one Israeli envoy noted, US/Israel relations are at their lowest ebb in 35 years. And I doubt this has substantially increased our image among the Arabs.
So far this South American swing has been a real tour de force for Hillary Clinton – first she manages to anger one of our more stalwart allies by giving false Argentine claims legitimacy and now Ms. Clinton has managed to get Brazil to publicly refuse our attempt to increase sanctions on Iran.
We can’t even get Brazil to go along with us:
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva pre-empted Clinton even before she could make the case for new United Nations Security Council penalties. Silva is an outspoken opponent of sanctions, and his country currently sits on the Security Council, which will be asked to approve its toughest-ever penalties on Iran later this year.
“It is not prudent to push Iran against a wall,” Silva told reporters hours before meeting with Clinton. “The prudent thing is to establish negotiations.”
Clinton told a news conference she respects Brazil’s position but thinks if there is any possibility of negotiating with Iran, it would happen only after a new round of sanctions.
So that’s at least one no vote on the UN’s Security Council. China and Russia are no fans of the idea. That could mean up to 3 no votes. Yup, this sanctions thing is really taking off.
The U.S. officials said that despite clear differences at the moment, the Brazilians assured Clinton their current position was not “etched in stone.”
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private diplomatic exchange.
That’s diplo speech for “yeah, had a great time and I promise I’ll call you tomorrow”.
Surely there’s one of the famous self-help series by that name. If so, could someone do us all a favor and send copies to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton?
Argentina was celebrating a diplomatic coup yesterday in its attempt to force Britain to accept talks on the future of the Falkland Islands, after a two-hour meeting in Buenos Aires between Hillary Clinton and President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
Responding to a request from Mrs Kirchner for “friendly mediation” between Britain and Argentina, Mrs Clinton, the US Secretary of State, said she agreed that talks were a sensible way forward and offered “to encourage both countries to sit down”.
Uh, sit down for what? Britain claimed the Falklands in 1833 after British settlers settled there during the decade. The islands lay 300 miles off the Argentine coast. In 1982, it had to fend off an attack by Argentina in a bid to take them over. Now 3 British oil companies plan to put an offshore oil rig 100 miles north of the islands.
Somehow Argentina, who should have gotten the message in 1982, is still under the mistaken impression it has some say over what goes on there:
“What they are doing is illegitimate,” said Jorge Taiana, the foreign minister. “It’s a violation of our sovereignty. We will do everything possible to defend and preserve our rights.”
Riiiight. Like they did in ’82. Look, internationally, this is pretty much settled business. Other than Argentina, no one questions which country has sovereign control in the Falklands. And certainly not those who lives there. The 3,000 island dwellers all consider themselves, and have always considered themselves, a part of the British Commonwealth.
Territorial waters, as defined by 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea extend 12 miles. Then there is a 12 mile “contiguous zone” in which a state has limited powers. A state also enjoys a 200 mile “exclusive economic zone” which includes “control of all economic resources within its exclusive economic zone, including fishing, mining, oil exploration, and any pollution of those resources.” That zone includes the territorial and contiguous zone as well.
As the cite points out:
Before 1982, coastal nations arbitrarily extended their territorial waters in an effort to control activities which are now regulated by the exclusive economic zone, such as offshore oil exploration or fishing rights (see Cod Wars). Indeed, the exclusive economic zone is still popularly, though erroneously, called a coastal nation’s territorial waters.
With the Falklands being 300 miles off the coast and the rig a 100 miles north of the islands, there is obviously nothing to the dubious claim of Argentine sovereignty (again remember, other than claim the islands, Argentina never settled them or has occupied them).
Enter Hillary Clinton – someone whose job it is to know all of this.
Her intervention defied Britain’s longstanding position that there should be no negotiations unless the islands’ 3,000 inhabitants asked for them. It was hailed in Buenos Aires as a major diplomatic victory, but condemned in the Falklands.
Britain insisted there was no need for mediation as long as the islanders wanted to remain British. “We don’t think that’s necessary,” a Downing Street spokesman said.
She gave no sign of backing the British position on negotiations, saying instead: “We would like to see Argentina and the UK sit down and resolve the issues between them in a peaceful and productive way. We want very much to encourage both countries to sit down. We cannot make either one do so. We think it is the right way to proceed, so we will be saying this publicly.”
Simply amazing. Our longest standing ally thrown under the bus to solicit warm fuzzies in South America that, as have been proven with others like Hugo Chavez, have the half-life of a Mayfly.
There will be a price to pay in the future for this as anyone who has watched international relations for any time knows. Britain will extract a pound of flesh. In the meantime, other than empty words meant to please those who will remain deeply skeptical of the US, all that’s been accomplished is the abandonment of an ally. Essentially all Clinton has done is give false hope to Argentina and royally pissed off a solid ally.
Too bad the book in question isn’t available for Ms. Clinton. And apparently she’s also forgotten the old saying about “remaining silent and being thought a fool rather than speaking out and removing all doubt.”
UPDATE: Ralph Peters provides the back story.
Talk about whatever strikes your fancy.
Some things that have caught my eye:
Is the Obama administration trying to unionize the government procurement process?
Speaking of unions, what is SEIU’s president, Andy Stern, doing on a Obama’s “deficit reduction” panel. Does that say “I’m serious about this” to you?
Anyone else see the irony in the Hillary Clinton claim that domestic political infighting is hurting America’s image abroad?
Brits aren’t buying the “January was the warmest month ever” nonsense.
Speaking of the Brits, is there a reason we won’t back their claim to the Falklands in a drilling-rights dispute?
Apparently some Dems are calling for Charles Rangel to step down from his House committee chairmanship because of ethics violations. Why isn’t Nancy “the most ethical Congress in history” Pelosi doing the same?
Paul Ryan was the rock star in the health care summit. To date no one has refuted his fiscal points.
The Obama administration has consistently talked about the Bush administration not counting the cost of war in its deficits. Well, it isn’t a war, but the Obama administration continues to nrefuse to cout the hundreds of billions going to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae – primarily because it would bump this year’s 1.4 trillion deficit by another 300 billion.
And finally there’s some relatively good news. Jeremy Lott says there have been quite a few “quiet libertarian victories” here lately.
UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband has spoken out about the violence in Iran and the repression of the protesters, calling the violence against them by the state “disturbing” and hailing the “great courage” the protesters have demonstrated.
“The tragic deaths of protesters in Iran are yet another reminder of how the Iranian regime deals with protest,” he said.
“Ordinary Iranian citizens are determined to exercise their right to have their voices heard. They are showing great courage.
“I call on the Iranian government to respect the human rights of its own citizens – rights which Iran has promised to respect.”
Of course speaking out like this in support of freedom and democracy – something US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently said would remain the policy of the United States – has drawn an expected reaction from Iran’s Manouchehr Mottaki:
Mr Mottaki said the protesters “should not be encouraged by a few… statements by certain countries”.
He added: “They should not pin their hopes on them. Britain will get slapped in the mouth if it does not stop its nonsense.”
Mr Mottaki’s speech was broadcast on Iranian television with an English translation on screen.
“The lowly and downgrading remarks by some foreign officials show the black stain on their record in their… contradictory interactions.”
Oh, my. A “stern rebuke”. How ghastly. I’m sure Miliband is forever scarred.
Obviously, it is this horrific toll that is keeping our brave Secretary of State from speaking out on the violence and injustice now occurring in Iran. Instead it is left up to an NSA spokesman to make the denunciation.
NSA? So they’re now conducting our foreign affairs.
Where in the world is Carmen … er, Hillary Clinton?
What do I mean by that? Well, the first time this happened when the elections were disputed during the summer, the administration was anything but supportive of the dissenters. In fact, while it engaged in a full-up diplomatic attack on Honduras for doing what its Constitution demands, the administration all but ignored the turmoil in Iran.
Of course the excuse given by apologists for the administration claim that the administration felt there was more to be gained by “engaging” the rogue regime vs. backing a movement that may actually see that regime toppled. Obviously, given what has happened this week in Iran, those dissenting there haven’t been waiting on Obama’s blessing or support. The movement has been simmering since the election and again violence against the regime has broken out in the streets of the country in a battle against the oppressive mullocracy.
At least eight anti-government protesters, including a nephew of Mir Hossein Mousavi, Iran’s opposition leader, were shot dead yesterday as the smouldering confrontation between the regime and the so-called Green Movement finally erupted.
Early reports put the number of dead at five, but as clashes continued late into the night, Iranian state television reported that the number of dead had risen. A report on the website of state television put the number of dead as high as 15 and quoted the Ministry of Intelligence that more than 10 were members of “anti-revolutionary terrorist” groups.
The other five who reportedly died during the bitter clashes in the Iranian capital were killed by “terrorist groups,” Iranian TV claimed.
Analysts heralded the start of what could be a bloody endgame as hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters poured on to the streets of Tehran and other cities and fought running battles with the security forces. Opposition websites claimed that some policemen had refused to fire on demonstrators.
This isn’t something which is happening in some isolated city in Iran, or just Tehran for that matter – this is a movement that has gone national and is gaining support.
Question: Wouldn’t it be in our best interest and the best interest of the region and world if the current regime fell? Obviously there’s some “what if” to be done here, like “what if the replacement regime is worse”? Hard to imagine given the supposed agenda of those now rioting in the street, but it is certainly remotely possible. But it would seem to me to be a risk well worth taking given the present regime.
So, of all people, that brings us to Hillary Clinton, a speech she recently gave in Georgetown and a “put your money where your mouth is” moment.
Ms. Clinton said that the administration, “like others before us, will promote, support and defend democracy.” She pledged that it would publicly denounce abuses by other governments and support dissidents and civil society groups.
Really? Well, here’s your chance, Ms. Clinton. Here’s a chance to positively effect the lives of an oppressed people. Here’s a chance to help bring down an oppressive regime and actually “promote, support and defend democracy”. Here’s a chance to “publicly denounce” the abuses of the Iranian regime.
Imagine if you will, the effect of that regime actually falling. It would immediately have an effect in both Iraq and Afghanistan where our soldiers battle insurgents backed by the country. It would also have an effect on the greater middle east, removing one of the mainstays of support for both Hamas and Hezbollah. And it would kick one of the supports out from under other dictators, such as Hugo Chavez, who continues to make noises about acquiring “nuclear capabilities”.
In fact, enabling and supporting the dissident movement in Iran would be one of the smartest things we could do right now. Any distraction that puts Iran off its gain is a good distraction in terms of the rest of the world and specifically the US. Shouldn’t that be the overriding reason for our foreign policy – what is good for us? Isn’t it the job of our government to pursue that aim?
So what are these words from Clinton and the Obama administration? Empty platitudes or policy?
Over the next few weeks we should be able to make that determination as they react (or don’t) to the situation in Iran.
National Review Online does a little review of the run up to the announcement by President Obama at the G20 summit concerning Iran and wonders what is going on. For instance, NRO points to Joe Biden 8 days ago. This was in answer to why the US was pulling its missile defense shield from Poland and the Czech Republic:
“[Biden said] Iran — a key concern for the United States — was not a threat.
“I think we are fully capable and secure dealing with any present or future potential Iranian threat,” he told CNN’s Chris Lawrence in Baghdad, where he is on a brief trip.
“The whole purpose of this exercise we are undertaking is to diminish the prospect of the Iranians destabilizing that region in the world. I am less concerned — much less concerned — about the Iranian potential. They have no potential at this moment, they have no capacity to launch a missile at the United States of America,” he said.
So 8 days ago, Iran was a diminished threat that was much less of a concern than previously.
President Obama and the leaders of France and Britain blasted Iran’s construction of a previously unacknowledged uranium enrichment facility and demanded Friday that Tehran immediately fulfill its obligations under international law or risk the imposition of harsh new sanctions.
The new Iranian plant, the country’s second uranium enrichment facility, is believed by U.S. officials to be part of a broad effort by Iran’s leadership to pursue the ability to build nuclear weapons. Iran has repeatedly denied having any such goal, insisting that its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity. U.S. officials said they believe the Qom plant is not yet operational but is intended to produce highly enriched uranium — suitable for nuclear weapons — and will be capable within months of producing enough material for at least one bomb per year.
Boy, the Obama administration must have just been profoundly misguided and dangerously misinformed about Iran’s capabilities and intentions. Right?
Right – because, as pointed out 8 days ago, the reason the missile defense shield was pulled, per the VP of the US, was because the US considered Iran a much diminished threat. So obviously this is “new” information which has profoundly changed the game and required the US to completely rethink its policy since it has emerged.
@markknoller US officials say Obama first told of Iran secret nuclear plant during the transition — as President-elect. 9/25 10:28 A.M.
WTF? Mark Knoller of CBS says this was something the administration has known for almost a year? So what was all this nonsense about a diminished Iranian threat as a reason to pull the promised missile shield that the administration had promised the Poles and Czechs a mere 6 months before?
Astonishingly incompetent, perilously naive, or deliberately dishonest? Which is it?
I’d suggest all three. And I think that will become alarmingly apparent as this crisis continues to unfold.
I’ll also toss this out there as well – it was saved for a forum in which the President would have the attention of the world focus on him (a much tighter focus than the UN) and staged to maximize that. All politics all the time. He wanted the non-binding non-proliferation resolution from the security council before he took on Iran. Meanwhile Joe Biden’s (and the DoD’s) credibility is left twisting in the wind.
So now the staging has been accomplished and the spotlight turned on the President. That’s the easy part. The usual talking the talk, something at which he’s quite good. Now comes the hard part – walking the walk – something he’s yet to demonstrate he’s capable of doing.
Oh – and where in the world is Hillary Clinton?
I think we know the answer to the question “what in the world are Constitutions for if not to be followed” as we address it to those named in the headline, but we now have the Congressional Research Service weighing in on Honduras and it isn’t good news for the US’s policy toward that country.
David Freddoso reports that the CRS’s Senior Foreign Law Specialist Norma Gutierrez has completed a study of the Honduran actions as they relate to former president Mel Zelaya and they don’t reflect well on the US. Freddoso has distilled them to the following:
* The Honduran Congress appears to have acted properly in deposing President Manuel Zelaya. Unlike in the United States, the Honduran Congress has the last word when it comes to interpreting the Constitution. Although there is no provision in Honduras’s Constitution for impeachment as such, the body does have powers to disapprove of the president’s official acts, and to replace him in the event that he is incapable of performing his duties. Most importantly, the Congress also has the authority to interpret exactly what that means.
* The Supreme Court was legally entitled to ask the military to arrest Zelaya. The high court, which is the constitutional venue for trials of the president and other high-ranking officials, also recognized the Congress’s ouster of Zelaya when it referred his case back down to a lower court afterward, on the grounds that he was “no longer a high-ranking government official.”
* The military did not act properly in forcibly expatriating Zelaya. According to the CRS report and other news stories, Honduran authorities are investigating their decision, which the military justified at the time as a means of preventing bloodshed. In fact, Zelaya should have been given a trial, and if convicted of seeking reelection, he would have lost his citizenship. But he is still a citizen now, and the Constitution forbids the expatriation of Honduran citizens by their government.
* The proper line of succession was followed after Zelaya’s ouster. Because there was no Vice President in office when Zelaya was removed (he had resigned to run for president), Micheletti was the proper successor, as he had been president of the Congress.
So the only unlawful or improper act, according the the CRS, was the forceful expatriation of Zelaya. Despite the desire to avoid bloodshed, the military should merely have removed and arrested him. Other than that, everything appears to go precisely as it should according to their constitution and their legal interpretation of it.
For a man who just stood up in the UN and claimed the right of people for self-determination (except in Iran, of course), he sure is working awful hard to ensure Honduras’s citizens don’t enjoy that right.
He’s wrong. Secretary of State Clinton is wrong. The State Department’s actions against Honduras are wrong. No equivocation here – the US is on the wrong side of this issue. This needs to be rethought and readdressed quickly and Mel Zelaya ought to be treated like he deserves – as someone who broke the law of the land.