Is Israel’s Grip on America’s Middle East Policy Slipping Away?

Posted March 23, 2015 on 1:52 pm | In the category Iran, Israel, Middle East, U.S. Foreign Policy, Uncategorized | by Jeff

“Netanyahu’s shrill public statements during the last two or three days before the vote may account in part for Likud’s startling margin of victory. For the first time since his Bar Ilan speech in 2009, he explicitly renounced a two-state solution and swore that no Palestinian state would come into existence on his watch. He promised vast new building projects in the Palestinian territorial concessions, anywhere, since any land that would be relinquished would, in his view, immediately be taken over by Muslim terrorists.”   from,

“Israel The Stark Truth” by David Shulman, New York Review Blog, March 21, 2015

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s thinly veiled attacks on President Obama – and indeed on the office of the American Presidency – have opened the door to a long overdue reassessment of American policy in the Middle East, where we have invested a lot and gained little.

U.S. foreign policy is – or should be – based on analysis of what serves the strategic national interest of the United States. Most of the time that national interest is consistent with that of its allies — but not always. The United States has historically played a major role in the ongoing security of Israel and, in fact, Israel’s security has been a linchpin of American foreign policy since the post WWII years. It has included billions of dollars of military aid to Israel, and a Middle East foreign policy built on America’s commitment to Israel’s security. It has also been a forgiving policy. When Israel bombed the America ship U.S. Liberty in 1967, killing some 34 Americans, domestic politics led to the U.S. government joining in a pretension that it was simply a mistake by Israeli pilots, later proved to be false, and therefore arguably, a killing of Americans by Israeli pilots flying planes paid for by American taxpayers. Also, Israel’s nuclear force is at least partly a result of Israeli spies stealing secrets from the U.S. This is also largely winked at by the U.S. although one man remains in jail for that crime in spite of annual public relations efforts by the Israelis to get him released. While there have been other minor blips in the U.S.-Israel relationship over the years it has been largely collaborative until recently.

Domestic political pressure supporting Israeli interest in America is strong. Currently the U.S. provides annually ca. $3.1 Billion to Israel – a country of just over 8 million people. Israel supporters such as Sheldon Adelson have been willing to commit significant financial resources to politicians willing to support Israeli interests even when those interests are in conflict with U. S. interests. While America’s foreign policy has always been influenced by national or ethnic diaspora in the U.S., it is hard to imagine a more intrusive and negative influence on American foreign policy than what we have seen over the last several years with Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel’s Prime Minister. He joined forces with American extreme conservatives to help push American foreign policy towards the absurdly counter-productive 2003 invasion of Iraq and continues his attempt to destroy any hope of detente with Iran. And never mind peace with the Palestinians – both by 8 years of action and now open speech – Netanyahu has declared that a dead issue, while waffling slightly – and unbelievably – after he won reelection earlier last week. Netanyahu’s campaign was characterized by a not so subtle attack on Israeli Arabs and his spoken commitment to walk away from the possibility of a Palestinian state, the latter an open disagreement with long agreed Israeli-American Middle East policy.

Netanyahu meddled in American politics when he worked openly for Mitt Romney in the 2012 election – a foolish act mostly ignored by the American press some of whom now wonder why President Obama hasn’t been friendlier to Netanyahu. More recently Netanyahu worked with John Boehner in an attempt to join forces with the anti-Obama right wingers in the Congress to destroy a multinational negotiation with Iran. These negotiations involve France, Germany, the UK, U.S., Russia and China and represent the only realistic possibility to reduce the likelihood of an Iranian nuclear military capability. At this point Netanyahu’s arrogant bumbling has increased Israel’s isolation and raised the possibility of the U.S. – for the first time – supporting the concept of a Palestinian state in the UN. It puts at risk America’s historic relationship with Israel.

The U.S. has expended billions of dollars in the Middle East and has little to show for it other than a nuclear armed Israel that has managed to isolate itself from much of the Western world. The memory of the Holocaust and Israel’s strong democratic traditions have argued for almost unconditional love of Americans for Israelis but Netanyahu has managed to put that relationship at great risk to satisfy his narrow, personal political agenda. For many Americans this is now seen as an opportunity to loosen the ties that bind.

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Speak loudly and carry a tiny little stick

Posted September 2, 2013 on 3:31 pm | In the category Europe, Germany, Middle East, Obama, Uncategorized | by Mackenzie Brothers

Now let’s get this straight. Ten years ago, the neatly attired Secretary of State of the United States told the UN Security Council that his security experts had definite proof that the nasty Arab dictator of Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that council should therefore  approve a military action that would remove them from his control. Okay that turned out to be a fib – there were no such weapons and it may even be that the poor secretary didn’t know it – and the results are very much central to the problems of the middle east today. Iraq is a dangerous place, its minorities have fled or are hidden in holes and the once legendary city of Bagdad is a disaster zone.  The nasty dictator was executed, but chaos rules in his absence and for the normal Iraquis, if they managed to survive the ensuing war, life is no better or worse than before.   My brother was at the Baltimore Ravens football game when that attack was announced by then President George Bush and explains  that the president waited until half time to announce the news on  the giant jumbo screen that the invasion had begun.  Didn’t want to interrupt the game when it was on.  The 80,000 spectators cheered.

Now we have the next president announcing in best sports lingo that he was drawing a line in some kind of sand (beach volleyball?) and if anyone dared venture  over that  he would take out his big stick and thump them, just like the Ravens’ defense did that afternoon a decade ago.  Now it seems clear that somebody did  that recently by throwing poison gas across the line, and the current Secretary of State, very nattily attired,  is haunting the talk shows to announce that the security aces of the United States, who know everything about you, also know who is guilty of crossing the red line, namely the nasty dictator of Syria this time.  He denies it, though it may well be the case, but it is not yet proven and the Iraqui past haunts this present like a ghost.  The powerful president of Russia says he doesn’t believe it ,  and then the British parliament cut down their prime minister at the knees by voting against his decision to join the attack with the US, apparently forgetting that in the UK the Parliament has to approve such an action.  The Prime Minister of Canada, which did not join the attack on Iraq,  says he is a”reluctant convert” to this one (whatever that means), and won’t contribute any military help.  Germany says it will never join a military action not sanctioned by an international body like the UN (as they well know,this one doesn’t have a chance there).  Even Israel is not taking sides on this one, afraid of the results of any such invasion, no matter who wins.  The only real military power answering the call to use the big stick is France, which, according to Secretary of State Kerry, is the longest-standing ally of the US.  (He said that with a straight face, but many thought he remembered the French contributions in the Second World War,  Vietnam, NATO, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. and meant it ironically).

And now the wielder of the big stick has run for cover and suddenly announced he will wait for approval from a Congress which won’t be able to deal with that for some weeks.  Obama will be meeting with Putin in a couple of days at a G-20 conference in St. Petersburg. As  a warm-up to the reception he will receive in St. Petersburg, he will spend his first European night in Stockholm where the frosty fall nights are already  well underway. Needless to say Sweden will not be supporting an attack on Syria.  When he sits down with  Putin, he must be prepared for the following difficult questions.  1. What will he do if the US congress does  not support him, as happened in the UK to the now lame duck PM Cameron?  It is clear that there is substantial bipartison opposition to the Obama attack proposal, though it seems  likely to pass.  2. Just how does he imagine  the attack?  Most observers think it can only be a brief attack on military targets, airfields , strategy centres,barracks, etc. The Syrian government now will have ample time to remove much of value from such targets in the next weeks.   Cruise missles are very accurate but not 100%, and any variance will inevitably land on civilians.  Is the US prepared for the reaction of the Moslem world if that happens?  3. Worst of all, has the US considered what the  consequences would be if the security information, much of it apparently gathered by tapped telephone calls, turns out to be planted information by the other side, a standard spy-ploy. Many suspect that’s what the Russians suspect – they are no novices at that – and it is not inconceivable.  What if it turns out the US with unmanned drones bombed the wrong targets in another legendary Middle-Eastern city out there in the cradle of civilization.  4. And finally, how does the US imagine the reaction  in the Arab world after an attack.

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Bush’s Foreign Policy: The Perfect Storm

Posted November 8, 2007 on 11:41 am | In the category Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Pakistan, Turkey, U.S. Foreign Policy | by Jeff

President Bush continues to wallow in the consequences of his own arrogant miscalculations. The situation America finds itself in can be traced to his and Cheney’s so-called tough guy approach to the world, as evidenced in the insane war in Iraq. Among what “Shock and Awe” and “Mission Accomplished” missed were the ripple effect consequences that followed and that continue to arrive.

Turkey asked that the U.S. avoid invading Iraq for reasons of its own security and their recognition of the likely bloodbath to follow, but agreed to work with the U.S. in providing staging areas for U.S. troops. At the same time it warned of the potential difficulties with the Kurds, a warning of which the U.S. apparently took no note. So having considerable responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis AND the increased power and influence of Iran in the region (incl. Iraq) the U.S. now has the problem of a possible micro war between two of its allies – the Iraqi Kurds and the Turks. Bush is saying that he will help Turkey flush out the PKK (Kurdish rebels) but that is clearly an empty promise given our incompetence and unwillingness to put the thumbs to the Iraqi Kurds, who will at least passively support the PKK. It is a dog’s breakfast.

Pakistan has been presented as the bulwark of our “war on terrorism” which is beginning to sound a bit like the help that our friends in Saudi Arabia have given us leading up to and following 9/11. Pakistan is a nuclear power led by a dictator who views himself as the country’s savior while the majority of his citizens seek the democracy that Bush has presented as his foreign policy’s grandest wish. We continue to provide massive defense aid to Pakistan while it allows al Quada to operate more or less unfettered within its borders, the Taliban to operate out of its borders into Afghanistan and its peoples’ dream for democracy to wither and die. It is impossible to know what would happen in Pakistan without Musharraf but the best long-term hope is for a true democracy to develop while finding a way to ensure that Pakistan’s nuclear arms remain out of the hands of extremists. So, does the U.S. continue to support Musharaf or pull the plug and risk democracy? There are echoes of what the U.S. did in Iran by shoring up the Shah, providing massive military aid, turning our eyes from the Shah’s human rights abuses and getting pretty much what we deserved – a belligerent Iran with whom we continue to squander diplomatic possibilities to a point where it might be too late. Another dog’s breakfast cooked up by this administration.

Afghanistan is the place that might have been a success for the administration but that too is being pissed away largely because of our Iraq folly. Pakistan passively provides cover for the Taliban which continues to operate at considerable strength in the South and increased strength elsewhere in Afghanistan while most of the U.S.’s troops are spinning their wheels helping to build a stronger Iraq which will probably eventually ally politically with Iran. Were it not for the Canadians, the British and the Dutch, Afghanistan might very well be lost already (no thanks to the Germans, French, Spaniards and Italians who hide their troops in the relative safety of the North). Defense Secretary Gates commented on this as recently as 25 October speaking to a group of unimpressed European generals:

”A handful of allies are paying the price and bearing the burdens,” he said in remarks that were notably critical of European governments. He spoke hours after leaving a two-day meeting of NATO defense ministers in the Netherlands, where he pressed for more troops for Afghanistan. There were no promises. ”If an alliance of the world’s greatest democracies cannot summon the will to get the job done in a mission that we agree is morally just and vital to our security,” he told the European generals, ”then our citizens may begin to question both the worth of the mission and the utility of the 60-year-old trans-Atlantic security project itself,” meaning NATO, which was created in 1949. His remarks drew little reaction from the generals, who applauded politely when he finished.” – AP

Clearly the U.S. will need to step up its commitment to Afghanistan but cannot do so as long as it is mired in an endless war in Iraq – that is, as long as G. Bush is president and no one with Rudy Giuliani’s views is elected in his place.

That leaves every president’s greatest challenge – the Middle East. Bush has all but ignored the Middle East for seven years – barring the talk of a “roadmap to peace” (remember that one?), his refusal to accept that the democratic election in Palestine was valid because the people elected the wrong guys, and of course his support for Israel’s disastrous bombing of Lebanon. Secretary Rice is now spending more time in the Middle East than in Washington and according to David Brooks in the NY Times – not exactly an objective observer – she is putting together an anti-Iran alliance, which would include Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Palestinians and the U.S. He goes on to say that:

“It’s slightly unfortunate that the peace process itself is hollow. …But that void can be filled in later. The main point is to organize the anti-Iranians around some vehicle and then reshape the strategic correlation of forces in the region.”

This alliance will then face off against the alliance that will include Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah, and – in all probability – Iraq. This is a hope and a wish but certainly not a foreign policy based on reality.

1/20/09 – that is the key date – the time when sophisticated, intelligent people can begin to dig us out of Bush’s Perfect Storm created from a rare combination of American incompetence, arrogance, ignorance, and naiveté.

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Arms to the Poor: From Krupp to Bush

Posted August 1, 2007 on 2:46 pm | In the category Economy, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, U.S. Foreign Policy | by Jeff

The military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned against is alive and well – even if their products are sometimes shoddy and ineffective. The arms business has become one of America’s great exports as it arms countries like India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. These days it is reminiscent of the Krupp family business which discovered that it was possible to sell arms to just about anyone in the 19th century, leading to their selling arms and defenses to both sides during World War I. And of course the company was instrumental in arming the German armies during WW II, making huge amounts of profit and paying little in labor since the government kindly supplied them with slave labor. I suppose it is something of a come down for the family now to be selling coffee grinders and espresso machines.

But not to worry, there are plenty of companies willing and able to take on the challenge of arming the world. And while it can be argued that everyone does it, the United States remains in first place in maintaining its post WW-II leadership in finding ways to arm countries or selected rebels around the world. The rationale for doing this is not always clear and is usually done for transitory reasons, and not infrequently with mixed consequences.

The U.S. government and arms manufacturers armed Iran under the Shah and of course saw those armaments fall into the hands of the revolution. Adding insult to injury, the Reagan administration provided arms to Iran as part of its Iran-Contra policy/scandal. (The income from these sales of weapons to Iran under Reagan were then used to provide arms to the Contras in Nicaragua). At around the same time the U.S. provided arms to Saddam Hussein in an effort to support its war against Iran. More recently the U.S. provided arms support to the forces of Osama bin Laden to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. The list goes on and the positive consequences have mostly fallen to the American companies that are heirs to the Krupp value system – and the politicians whose campaigns are funded by the arms manufacturers. In any case the arms provided to Iran, Saddam Hussein, and bin Laden have all been used against our national interest at one time or another.

Now we have the latest proposed handout to the arms companies. Having totally screwed up Iraq and most of the Gulf region with Bush’s fiasco, we are searching for ways to cut our losses and one way is to bribe Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain with upwards of $20 billion in sales to this group of gulf states and some $30B of new sales to Israel. All of this is in addition to whatever arms remain in Iraq after a war that is now estimated to cost over a trillion dollars. The hope and the wish seem to be that all these new weapons in the region will keep our Iraq adventure from becoming the beginning of a monstrous disaster in the region. Also that these countries will all work to keep Iran at bay.

One of the clever strategies of the family Krupp was to sell defensive armor to one side and then stronger weapons to the other and then the first side would need even stronger defensive armor, and the cycle would continue. With all of the new weapons around the world it is clear that the U.S. will need to improve its weaponry and defenses and so the Krupp strategy is alive and well and the cycle can continue.

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Al Hurra: Fair and Balanced News?

Posted June 7, 2007 on 10:12 pm | In the category International Broadcasting, Middle East, Public Diplomacy, U.S. Foreign Policy | by Jeff

Al Hurra is America’s Arabic language TV station and it is performing with typical Bush administration competence. Intended to bring trustworthy news to the Arab world as an antidote to anti-American media in the region and by so doing, to serve as a tool of American foreign policy, the station has managed to turn itself into a propaganda conduit for the other side.

In an incredibly naïve strategy to build credibility among potential viewers the station has – on several occasions – broadcast speeches, rants, and statements from leaders of Hezbollah and Hamas, many of which have been rabidly anti-American and all intended to present reality through the prism of terrorist rationales.

Al Hurra has been a disaster since its inception and bringing in Larry Register last fall from – of all places, CNN – to run the operation has proven to be a major mistake. CNN is – like most of the major broadcast news media – committed to pretending to be objective by giving time to even the most ridiculous points of view on major issues.  It fills time and God knows we would not want a news organization to accept facts as they are and simply report them. So we have endless programs with all sorts of weird views presented because – well, someone believes them and we need to give them a chance to peddle their snake oil.

Apparently Register thought it important to provide a soapbox for some of the most destructive characters in the Middle East as proof of our “objectivity”.  This is reminiscent of the decision VOA made after the attacks of 9/11 to broadcast – in its entirely and without challenge – a mind-bending speech by Mullah Omar, the head of the Taliban.

Should American international broadcasting ignore the statements of leaders of groups like Hezbollah, Hamas and the Taliban? Of course not, but the way to do that is to invite them on to either be interviewed by a tough, knowledgeable interviewer or invite them to participate in a round table with a variety of points of view represented. They would in all likelihood decline the invitation but then that refusal can be reported.

Finally, for those moderate voices in the Arab world – those seeking peaceful change in the region – the broadcast of unchallenged speeches from leaders of terrorist groups for them simply destroys the credibility that Al Hurra needs to be effective. Imagine Radio Liberty broadcasting Stalin’s speeches during the Cold War. Their audience would no longer trust them and no longer listen to them.

The Arab world’s moderates and reformers are the ones that we most need to support and Al Hurra, if managed well, could provide some of that support by broadcasting honest news without pandering to the fringe elements. The expected resignation of Larry Register in the next week or so is a good first step.

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And, Another Miracle

Posted March 30, 2007 on 4:03 pm | In the category Iraq, Middle East, U.S. Foreign Policy | by Jeff

Followng the news that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has cancelled out of his scheduled April state dinner with President Bush, we read now that King Abdullah of Jordan – another old  friend of the United States  has decided he cannot possibly make a planned trip to Washington – and a state dinner – in September.

It seems the chicken-hawks have come home to roost. Bush’s Iraq adventure is continuing to offend old friends while creating new enemies.

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Bush’s Newest Miracle

Posted March 29, 2007 on 4:41 pm | In the category Iraq, Middle East, U.S. Foreign Policy | by Jeff

Having changed major parts of the constitution into near-meaningless paragraphs, turned the U.S. military into a shadow of its former self, reduced the Iraqi population in Iraq by an estimated 20 percent, turned a budget surplus into a record-breaking deficit, Bush had at least one more miracle left in his bag of tricks.

In 2000, the Washington Times published a glowing report on the strength of the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the U.S.  It began:

“For more than 60 years, Saudi Arabia and the United States have enjoyed a strong relationship based upon mutual respect and common interests….
This special relationship dates to the early 1900s, when King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al-Saud, the founder of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, was impressed by President Woodrow Wilson’s call for the self-determination of nations. Over time, the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States has reflected President Wilson’s ideals of independence, justice and peace.”

The strong relationship between the Saudi royal family and the Bush family has been well documented and the mutuality of the U.S. Saudi relationship has been clear.  The Saudis have kept the oil coming, maintained a moderate stance in the Middle East and Persian Gulf, and allowed – until recently – large U.S. military bases on their soil. In return the U.S. has provided for the defense of Saudi Arabia, assisted in the development of their oil fields and, perhaps most important, provided a huge market thirsty for Saudi oil. The friendship endured in spite of the extreme fundamentalism of the Saudi brand of Islam and the fact that the majority of the 9/11 attackers were Saudi born and bred.

The second President Bush has apparently destroyed a 65-year-old relationship in just the four years from 2003 to the present. A miracle. Who would have thought that it could be done and would be done by a Bush.  Yesterday at the meeting of the Arab League, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia said that the U.S. occupation in Iraq was “illegal” and called for the end of the international boycott of the Palestinian government, Earlier this year, the Saudis helped negotiate agreement between the two major Palestinian factions and met with the President of Iran; two actions apparently designed to announce their independence from American hegemony.

So our relationship with Saudi Arabia is moving toward becoming one more casualty of the Bush Fiasco.  Ironically, the Bush foreign policy, pushed so hard by neocon supporters of Israel, could add to the threat to Israel – a stronger Iran, a more unified Arab world, a weakened America, a less supportive Western Europe. It is also apparently increasing the power of al Queda by increasing hatred of America in the Arab world, and providing a recruiting and training ground for jihadists.

Since blood is thicker than patriotism, old man Bush has kept his silence but he must wonder how the hell he could have sired this guy.

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Bush, Iran, Diplomacy and War

Posted January 13, 2007 on 4:50 pm | In the category Iran, Iraq, Middle East, North Korea, U.S. Foreign Policy | by Jeff

Last April in an exchange with a friend I wrote about the possible role of diplomacy in the Bush Universe. I post it now as Bush appears to be embarking on a widening of his Iraq fiasco; much of what was said in April seems worth considering nine months later:

“In general I think diplomacy trumps war almost every time. There are no guarantees in diplomacy but neither are there any in war that I am aware of, but the search for common ground – or at least a modus vivendi – is to me worth a better effort than this administration (and I suppose earlier ones) has put forth. But this administration has a special place in the Land of Oz, crippled by its blind arrogance of (illusionary) power. And yes I would say the same about N. Korea. I think we have refused to talk to either country directly because they are “evil” and we are “good” – and we have therefore a self-induced consequence. And it is the consequence that the administration wants so it can change the world to fit its picture of what reality should be. Iraq is the current best example of the results of this kind of thinking.

I think the N. Korean situation is in some ways more complicated. We did a deal with them in which we and the S. Koreans and the Japanese would build nuclear energy plants in return for their not building nuclear weapons. It was, according to the diplomat who was given the unenviable task of managing that agreement – an “orphan” from the start. The U.S. (particularly the Congress – not the smartest lamps in the light store) never really made a serious effort to fulfill their part of the deal and when The Glorious Leader wanted to talk directly to the U.S. there was simply no way anyone could do that and retain domestic political support.

I don’t know whether direct negotiations would have or could have led to different scenarios – but then neither does anyone since it was never tried. I trust Iran and N. Korea about as much as I would trust Cheney/Bush if I were an Iranian given our Iraq adventure….

Would the world be a better place if Iran and N. Korea did not ever have nuclear weapons? Of course. But is it worth going to what amounts to war to stop it without attempting to negotiate? In my view, “no”. We could kiss S. Korea goodbye and we could kiss any hopes for peace on any level in the Middle East goodbye.

Also – I am not sure that the IAEA is as guilty of incompetence on the Iran issue as some say – they were aware as far back as 1996 that Iran was screwing around with nuclear stuff and Blix reported that concern. And it does not help IAEA with policing the nonproliferation pact when Bush plays it fast and loose with India, Brazil etc. We discussed this earlier and I remain concerned on the existential issue – if we give permission to India then we give it to others (in the existential sense – we lose the moral edge).
Of course we cannot blame Bush for every bad thing that happens – but I blame him for the mess in Iraq – we were better off with Saddam in power in a secular country with no WMD than we are now – it has cost us billions of dollars and thousands of lives (many thousands if we want to include Iraqis), has diverted our attention from the important work at hand and has made it easier for the likes of Iran to screw around with us.

I think this is a disaster that has no foreseeable end. It is a mess and the U.S. has played the major role in making it worse than it needed to be. As to whether anything else would have worked better – we will never know.”

April 18, 2006

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Watching the oil gauge

Posted January 11, 2007 on 9:33 pm | In the category Economy, Iran, Iraq, Middle East | by Kiwi

Crude prices dropped 4% in the hours after Bush announced that US ground forces would counter the Shiite militias and the US Navy would be stationing an additional carrier battle group off Iran (Surging total force numbers way beyond 20K or don’t sailors count?).

Given that the war premium in the oil price could be expected to escalate with the war’s escalation, a price REDUCTION might seem puzzling. Or not. It looks as if the Saudis are flooding the market to limit Tehran’s revenues. Saudi Sunnis want to contain Persian Shiites and destabilize Iran’s domestic politics. Or did the Saudis opened the oil spigot merely as a thank-you gesture for Bush’s tilt towards the Iraqi Sunnis?

Are we hearing the opening economic shots in a regional sectarian war? A war we are supposedly “surging” to forestall?

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Posted January 11, 2007 on 6:13 pm | In the category Iran, Iraq, Middle East, U.S. Foreign Policy, Uncategorized | by Jeff

There is so much that could be said about the latest Bush “plan” for Iraq but it is almost impossible to consider wasting time expounding so much on the obvious. Below are some excerpts from emails sent among some of the politicsandpress regulars. While these are random and somewhat disconnected it is just not worthwhile to develop a coherent response to the pile of nonsense served up by Bush last night.

1. This one showed up from New Zealand several hours before the speech but after the details had been reported:
GENTS : I say cut and run and quit arguing about surges. I am not being partisan. Strategically it makes sense to me to get out, let the region descend into the fratricide it needs to get out of its system. As long as we are there we are supporting the perception that it is a clash of West vs Islam which is bullshit. The West is way over being about religion. Let the region see that their problems are of their own making and that they can’t rely on selling their resources to feed their religious habit; they have to work and make a life. Anyway,if we’re not there they can attend to their own homemade hell. PLUS oil will go to $100 and we will then HAVE to cut consumption and find better, safer fuels. Cut and run. That’s the ticket.

2. From after the speech also from kiwiland: Watched Bush and the responses. Sick. There is so much differentiated push-back that there is no effective opposition. Obama got’s his plan coming but it isn’t Teddy’s; Edwards has his; Durbin gives the reaction speech but then Pelosi and Reid even nuance that.
… O’Maliki won’t be able to resist sodder-man’s militia; Saudis etc will be tempted to help the Sunnis b4 long….. The presidential race virtually assures there will be no meaningful w/drawal b4 elections.

3. From Washington DC: Listened to the Man myself last night too. He said absolutely nothing to convince any reasonable person that his SURGE was going to accomplish anything other than kill more troops. Caught David Brooks prior to the wizard’s appearance [well, not the wizard actually – the guy in front of the curtain – the wizard is behind the curtain] saying that we don’t have any choice but to add the troops and give it six months. Six months – Brooks is an idiot too. And who should the idiot name for praise in his speech last night, alone of the 535 members of Congress, but one Joe Lieberman. And Reid is saying, well, we’ll have to see. …

4. From Massachusetts: Ken Adelman was on NPR this morning while I was driving to the dump and I felt like ripping out my radio and chucking in with the trash.

The message is partly: “If we leave, the Middle East will become unstable” . What planet are they living on? The middle East and Gulf region MIGHT become UNSATABLE?? Maintaining some semblance of stability in the region was historically our strategic policy – until Dubya invaded. We now have a war in which we are fulfilling the interests of Iran and Syria – our actual “enemies”. Creating a Shiite state leaves the Saudis with no choice but to fund the Sunnis. Al Queda had no operational ability in Iraq pre-invasion; they are now using it as a terrific recruiting and training ground. Iraq used to be a secular state; it will now become a fundamentalist Muslim state. Turkey now also has interests which we have screwed with, and apparently throwing our support to the Shiites screws the Kurds – again. I don’t even think that Israel gains from this mess – even though it is likely that the neocons who masterminded this did it for Israeli reasons. As long as we send troops there we have no hope of getting serious negotiations going within the region and instability – which we have mightily increased will be the rule for a long long time.

It is hard to think of a more disastrous administration than this one In the history of America. Two more years is too long a time to wait for the Congress to find its backbone.

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