Saturday, May 21, 2011

Discordant Notes

From Obama’s big Mideast policy speech last Thursday:

“After years of war in Iraq, we have removed 100,000 American troops and ended our combat mission there.” He doesn’t mention that we are negotiating to renege on removing the rest of them by the end of this year in accordance with our current agreement.

“In Afghanistan, we have broken the Taliban’s momentum,” which is why the Taliban are making a record number of attacks on us in pretty much every part of the country.

“…this July we will begin to bring our troops home and continue transition to Afghan lead.” Yes indeed. Current projection is we will bring 2.5% of them home this July, and another 2.5% at the end of this year.

“In too many countries, power has been concentrated in the hands of the few.” But not in America, of course, and not wealth either. Power and wealth in America are distributed with equality and impartiality to everyone.

“The West was blamed as the source of all ills, a half century after the end of colonialism.” As opposed to the current status, which is occupation without colonialism.

“And through the moral force of non-violence, the people of the region have achieved more change in six months than terrorists have accomplished in decades.” That’s why we are still using all of those Hellfire missiles, because they have such moral force and are so non-violent.

“…people expect the transformation of the region to be resolved in a matter of weeks.” Like America transformed Iraq perhaps. “Shock and Awe” is quicker than “moral force and non-violence.”

“The question before us is what role America will play as this story unfolds.” Which he then proceeds not to answer in the next several hundred words.

“For decades, the United States has pursued a set of core interests in the region:” he doesn’t say whose core interests, but he doesn’t really need to, “countering terrorism,” actually, bringing Al Queda to a region where it had not previously existed, “and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons;” the ever present delusion of Iran’s nuclear weapons persists forever, “securing the free flow of commerce,” of oil to the United States, “and safe-guarding the security of the region;” by invading and destroying part of it, “standing up for Israel’s security,” thereby endangering the security of the rest of the world, “and pursuing Arab-Israeli peace” sort of like Wiley Coyote after the Roadrunner.

“We believe that no one benefits from a nuclear arms race in the region,” Other than Israel, who is winning the current, ongoing nuclear arms race. Assuming you believe that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon, which no one other than the US does.

“we will not tolerate aggression across borders,” This is my favorite line. We will not tolerate anyone using drones with Hellfire missiles against their neighbors. Or F-18s, F-15s or Tomahawk missiles either. Not to mention SEAL teams in helicopters.

Note, too, that this statement of what we will not tolerate, along with all of those about what other nations and their leaders “must” do, are not accompanied by any consequences. What will happen to any nation who does something that we will not tolerate, or fails to do what we say they must, is unclear.

“We have embraced the chance to show that America values the dignity of the street vendor in Tunisia more than the raw power of the dictator.” By condemning the Saudis for assisting in the crackdown in Bahrain, perhaps? By saying that Mubarek must “must step down” immediately when the Egyptian protests began? By taking action to “preserve human life” in Syria and Yemen rather than merely issuing softballs about what those leaders "must do" to reform?

“In Libya…when the United States joined an international coalition to intervene…acted along with our NATO allies and regional coalition partners…” We started a war to kill Moammar Gaddafi, using the UN as justification, sucked our NATO allies into the futile exercise of supporting one side in a civil war, and then ran like a rabbit, leaving our allies holding the bag.

“Thus far, Syria has followed its Iranian ally, seeking assistance from Tehran in the tactics of suppression….the Bahraini government has a legitimate interest in the rule of law.” And he's not going to mention that the Bahraini government sought assistance from the government of Saudi Arabia in the “tactics of suppression” of its protestors. In fact, he's not going to mention Saudi Arabia at all in this speech, or Jordan, or Amman, all of whom wanted the “no fly zone” in Libya, and all of whom quit the coalition the minute they realized we actually intended to support the rebels.

“In Iraq, we see the promise of a multi-ethnic, multi-sectarian democracy.” We also see an increasing number of bombs, death and bloodshed as the beginnings of that democracy begin to become unraveled.

“But Iraq is poised to play a key role in the region if it continues its peaceful progress.” Very big “if” there, and getting bigger.

“Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state.” Because he's not willing to even dignify your goal of having your own state by calling your move what it is, a request to have the UN declare a Palestinian State whether Israel wants one or not, and he doesn't want you to put the US on the spot by making us vote against it.

“And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist.” But Israel and the US will continue to have our independence by denying the popularly and properly elected government of Hamas the right to exist.

“And we will stand against attempts to single it out for criticism in international forums.” Because friends don’t let people criticize friends. Friends don’t acknowledge that friends are anything other than perfection personified. He then proceeds to criticize Israel by saying that, “The international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome. The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation.”

“The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps,” And he’s hoping nobody notices the part about swaps, because what that means is that all of the arable land goes to Israel and all of the uninhabitable desert goes to the Palestinians.

“the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state.” There is nothing sovereign about a “non-militarized” state, and he does not explain how the Palestinians are going to “assume security responsibility” without any military.

“how can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist.” I’m sure Hamas is asking the same question, since both Israel and the US are unwilling to recognize its right to exist, notwithstanding that it was properly elected in a completely legitimate election.

Benjamin Netanyahu promptly panned Obama, saying that “the 1967 borders are indefensible.” That’s why they lost the 1967 war in seven days, no doubt.

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