US Foreign Policy

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/15/world/middleeast/15nuke.html

What is missing from the endless debate about Iran, about sanctions, and about military action, is the role of global consensus, and the real facts of what it would take to find any nonviolent way for the global community to prevent the leaders of Iran from building a nuclear weapon. Consistently the United States argues for sanctions and Russia and China veto such sanctions. What is less stated is that Iran is a critical economic partner of Russia, whereas the United States has its sphere of influence as Saudi Arabia. Well, it seems simple to me. If the United States really wants the world to isolate Iran in terms of fossil fuel exports (the only truly effective boycott) then resource sharing and resource access must be completely re-negotiated between the great powers and the oil producing nations. How else can there be global consensus? And if there cannot be, …

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Read thoughtful commentary by Marc and others on President Obama’s speech in Cairo.…

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Full article here. Excerpts below from Shadi Hamid’s,

How Can the U.S. President Speak to Two Audiences at Once?

“The anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding.”

So declared President Barack Obama during his celebrated speech on race in March 2008. He was speaking, of course, about America’s history of slavery and segregation. But he might as well have been speaking about the anger felt by millions of Arabs and Muslims – and the tragic legacy of American involvement in the Middle East.

President Barack Obama will give his highly anticipated address to the Muslim world on June 4th. His choice of Egypt as the venue presents risks but also offers the opportunity for a potentially groundbreaking address – one that attempts not only to explain American policy but to

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I was concerned by a recent description in the New York Times of the inner workings of Fatah, and the questions facing the United States and Israel. The author writes as if he accepts everything that Israeli leaders tell him at face value.  Speaking about the question of a Fatah meeting in order to reform the movement and thus present a better challenge to Hamas at the polls, he writes:

For Israel and the United States, the problem is equally vexing. They have an interest in helping the nationalists to reform and hold their congress. But they also have to decide how much to help the new leaders, some of whom may end up becoming opponents if the peace negotiating process fails.

Oh really? Endless interviews with Fatah activists over the years come back to one theme: the leadership of Israel, in order to hold onto Judea and Samaria for …

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An important debate is raging on the future of the Western intervention in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Congressman Michael Honda has two important articles, here, and here. CRDC expert and ICAR student Neamat Nojumi, a former mujahaddin,  has an important piece here.

Central to these analyses is that military force alone will never solve the Afghanistan conflicts, nor will an intervention work that does not directly address the role that Pakistan has played in perpetuating this conflict for decades. Another more difficult question is the Taliban, how to compete with them more effectively,  how to defeat them, and whether to engage any of them.

All of the recommendations seem excellent. I also recommend reading The Kite Runner which has profoundly affected my life and my appreciation for what Afghanistan has gone through and who or what is responsible. I never cease to be amazed at how effectively …

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Reporting from Jerusalem this month:

An astonishing statement from Benjamin Netanyahu. Not only does he have a plan to topple Hamas in Gaza through assassinations (as if that was not already tried and aborted by warriors more talented and experienced than he), but he also plans to proceed with diplomacy in his region by making clear to President Assad that the Golan will stay in Jewish hands:

“It should be clear to the Syrians and to the world, the Golan Heights will stay in our hands,” Netanyahu said.

This is a fascinating position. Either Mr. Netanyahu is delusional in terms of his understanding of Syria and the political realities of the moment, or he holds the Israeli right-wing voting public in contempt. My hunch is the latter, and I felt the same way about McCain’s contempt for his right wing in the United States. Everyone knew that ‘time was up’ …

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Aaron Miller writes an extremely pessimistic piece of advice for President elect Obama on the impossibility of Israeli/Palestinian peace right now. I think that it is a very well written piece, and that anything Aaron writes should be studied carefully. But there are two responses that should soften his pessimism.

There is a myth out there driven by the Clinton parameters of December 2000, the Taba talks in 2001, the Geneva accord a year later, and the hundreds of hours of post Annapolis talks between Israelis and Palestinians that the two sides are “this close” (thumb and index finger a sixteenth of an inch apart) to an agreement. The gaps have now narrowed, perhaps impressively, but closing them, particularly on the identity issues such as Jerusalem and refugees, is still beyond the reach of negotiators and leaders.

The dysfunction and confusion in Palestine make a conflict-ending agreement almost impossible. The

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The recent U.S. report on Muslim engagement was crafted carefully by a very bipartisan group in which I played a role, but this article argues that it strongly favors Obama’s foreign policy.

U.S.: Bipartisan Group Urges Deeper Diplomacy with Muslim World

WASHINGTON, Sep 24 (IPS) – In an implicit indictment of President George W. Bush’s “global war on terror” and the hawkish pronouncements by Republican candidate John McCain, a bipartisan group of nearly three dozen U.S. leaders called here Wednesday for Bush’s successor to place much greater emphasis on high-level diplomacy — including direct engagement with Iran and Syria — in dealing with the Middle East and the Muslim world.

In a 152-page report, the group, which included former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Bush’s former Deputy Secretary of State and McCain adviser Richard Armitage, also called for any new administration to work “intensively for immediate de-escalation of the

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