THE BOSTON EFFECT AND THE AGE OF OBAMA
Some observers have claimed that terror won the day in Boston because it managed to shut down an entire modern city of the United States. This is a misreading of the entire episode from beginning to end, and a misreading of the age and legacy of President Barack Obama. Let me digress from Boston to what I am calling the Age of Obama and then return to the Boston terror episode.
Although President Obama has proven to be weak in confronting the worst corruptions of the war on terror, such as Guantanamo, and a slew of illiberal laws in place, the fact is that from the beginning of his aspiration to the presidency he made it clear that war reduction was his priority, and he has followed through on that in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The most important shift he has made, however, from the Age of Bush is to replace …
She Sits in a Room that is Dark
She sits in a room that is dark. There are no lights, there is no gas or oil. There is no heat, there is no electricity. Those were rare luxuries even before the bombs fell because she is in prison. A place of blockades cut off from the rest of the world for over a year. But now there is no heat at all, and it is freezing cold at night. And, more importantly, she must keep all the windows open for if not they will all shatter from the vibrations of buildings exploding nearby and the glass will explode onto her children.
So she huddles with her children under ten blankets. The children cannot drink milk nor find any meat because she cannot afford these luxuries. She was brought up by a Sufi sheikh, and she was taught so many…
McCain’s Temper and Global Conflict
I have been uneasy for eight years with the trend in American politics of anointing men with tempers. This is not safe in terms of global conflict. I think of the incredible pressures of the White House, and the reality of having the ability to destroy the earth many times over. I think of the Cuban Missile Crisis and how we might have all died when I was six years old if John and Bobby Kennedy had uncontrollable tempers. I opposed John Silber and Howard Dean, two Democrats, for president because of their tempers, which I personally witnessed. In conflict, character is everything, far more important than strategy, though strategy matters. More will emerge in the future about anger and George Bush, and about the conduct of the war, but in many ways that is history now. What matters now is whether Americans make a wise decision about their future.…
A Last Chance for Bush to be Relevant to Middle East Diplomacy
Sami Moubayed, one of the most important Syrian commentators, is proposing a last chance for the White House to come to the table of Syrian/Israeli peacemaking. Sami writes:
Everybody is worried about progress on the indirect Syrian-Israeli talks, currently underway in Turkey. According to Syria commentator, Joshua Landis, they have either reached a breakthrough, or a dead end.
Contrary to what some media sources are saying, however, the talks are going well. Already 85 per cent of critical issues had been solved since the 1990s. The talks are going too well in fact and there is worry on both sides that an agreement can be reached within what remains of 2008.
The radical contrast between Washington’s attitude, and that of Iran, is striking. The Americans still refuse to endorse these talks, writing them off as a hoax by the Syrians to end the US-imposed isolation that started in 2003.
EXCELLENT SUPPORT OF ISRAELI/SYRIAN PEACE FROM EX-AMBASSADORS
Note this extremely well-argued realist piece from Robert Pelletreau and Ed Walker in the Boston Globe. All of my experience in Syria suggests to me that most of their points are accurate and should be appealing to the more rational side of the Bush team in its last months. It can only help the reputation of the Republicans to aggressively pursue a new approach to Syria right now. It could be the foreign policy success that has eluded them for eight years. Here is an excerpt:
Dr. Sami Taki, a close associate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said in late July that Syria might change its alliance with Iran if Syria achieves peace with Israel.
The United States stands to gain a great deal from an Israeli-Syrian agreement. Having served as US ambassadors to five Middle East countries, we are convinced that a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace is essential to
WHAT DID WE EXPECT? FRIEDMAN ON SHARING THE BLAME FOR GEORGIA
Tom Friedman is worth reading on sharing the blame for Moscow’s aggression:
If the conflict in Georgia were an Olympic event, the gold medal for brutish stupidity would go to the Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin. The silver medal for bone-headed recklessness would go to Georgia’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili, and the bronze medal for rank short-sightedness would go to the Clinton and Bush foreign policy teams.
Let’s start with us. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, I was among the group – led by George Kennan, the father of “containment” theory, Senator Sam Nunn and the foreign policy expert Michael Mandelbaum – that argued against expanding NATO, at that time.
It seemed to us that since we had finally brought down Soviet communism and seen the birth of democracy in Russia the most important thing to do was to help Russian democracy take root and integrate Russia into Europe.
I have a friend, Bryan Hamlin, who has been an amazing citizen diplomat all his life, who helps entities in conflict understand each other, especially at critical hours. What I mean by ‘citizen diplomat’ is a person who takes it upon himself to build relationships between enemy groups, or between his own culture and a culture with which he or his country is in conflict. My next book, To Make the Earth Whole, will deal at great length with citizen diplomats because I believe they are the hope of the future, inching the globe toward greater integration, cooperation, and community.
Bryan had two great pre-occupations of his career as a citizen diplomat, the Palestinian/Jewish relationship, and the Russian/Western relationship. He chose wisely, for these remain the deepest challenges to the future of humanity. What we have seen in Georgia proves this.
One of the most exhilarating moments …
Mideast Peace Talks After Bush’s Visit: Analysis by Marc Gopin
Marc Gopin, Professor at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution and Director of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution addresses the likelihood of a mid-east peace deal by the end of this year. Gopin considers the legacy of the Bush administration and what could be done in its remaining time. Interview conducted on by Scott Laurie on May 18th, 2008. Video courtesy of CTV.