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Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler

Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Wednesday, September 5.
1) On foreign policy WWRD (What would Romney do?)

In a nutshell Barry Rubin proposes a Middle East for President Romney:
The basic grand strategy for the Middle East should be to form and lead a very broad and very loose — not institutionalized — alignment of forces opposing Islamism. This means showing real leadership to the Europeans; in fact, many European countries are better on this issue than Obama. It also means supporting Israel, of course, but there is a long list of others: Governments: Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain (despite its faults), Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya (we hope Obama can claim credit for that one), Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia (despite its faults), and the United Arab Emirates. You can add some other former Soviet Muslim-majority republics. Opposition and democratic moderate movements: Iran, Lebanon, Syria (where the United States is supporting the Islamists!), Tunisia, and Turkey (see Syria, above). Let’s also keep in mind the Berbers, Christians, and Kurds in general as communities that overwhelmingly link their survival to fighting revolutionary Islamism. Such ethnic communities can also be found in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This cooperation to defeat radical Islamism, however it disguises itself, should be the backbone of U.S. policy. It can be implemented in a thousand different ways. Post-victory planning, which better start soon (at least among independent analysts), needs to define these.
There's a lot more to the article, but this is its central theme and the way in which Prof Rubin hopes that a President Romney would differ from President Obama.
Jackson Diehl lays out the differences between Obama's and Romney's foreign policies. Regarding the Middle East he writes:
In Syria, Obama has repeatedly rejected proposals that the United States help establish safe zones for civilians or supply weapons to the rebels. But Romney has come out for arming the opposition. And what of Iran? Both men have indicated they would use force as a last resort to stop Tehran’s nuclear program. But there is a significant difference: While Obama has said he has “a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” Romney said in Israel this summer that he would not tolerate an Iranian nuclear “capability.” In other words, Obama probably would use force only if Iran actually tried to build a bomb, while a Romney attack could be triggered if Iran were merely close to acquiring all the means for a weapon — which it is. Last but not least comes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Obama came to office with a burning ambition to broker Palestinian statehood; that and the reduction of nuclear arms seem to be the foreign policy issues that engage him emotionally. The statehood push was one of the administration’s biggest busts, largely because of Obama’s own missteps, and during the election year it has been on hold. Yet it seems likely that a reelected Obama will try again, notwithstanding his poor relations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Romney, in contrast, has made it clear that he, like George W. Bush in his first term, will put Palestinian statehood on a back burner.
2) Those who don't learn from history are doomed to write bad op-eds - Part 2

There have been a couple more retorts to the appalling op-ed, When it pays to talk to terrorists that appeared in yesterday's New York Times.
Jonathan Tobin writes:
Thus, the principle prop of Chamberlin’s thesis that “failing to strengthen moderates within the P.L.O. and effectively locking the Palestinians out of the Arab-Israeli peace process, American officials sidelined potential peacemakers,” is not merely incorrect. It is a blatant falsehood. If the use of Black September as a false front for Fatah seems familiar it is because it was not the last time Arafat tried that game. During the second intifada when his Hamas rivals were being seen by Palestinians as having more success at carrying out terrorist operations, the Palestinian Authority chief authorized the formation of new Fatah groups that could compete with the Islamists for the honor of killing the most Jews. The Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade was initially presented, like Black September, as a Fatah splinter not under Arafat’s control. But the world soon learned that not only had Arafat authorized it, but he was actually paying for the group’s activities with funds contributed by European donors to the PA. Indeed, all we have to do is look at Arafat’s record after Israel not only started talking to him but empowered the terrorist chieftain by handing the West Bank and Gaza over to Fatah via the 1993 Oslo Accords. Rather than seeking to bolster peace, he continued a policy of funding violence throughout the 1990s, a stance that culminated in his launching of a terrorist war of attrition known as the second intifada after he refused Israeli offers of an independent state including most of the West Bank, all of Gaza and a share of Jerusalem in 2000 and 2001.
You would think that the author, Paul Thomas Chamberlin, an assistant professor of history would know a little history.

The New York Jewish Week applies similar logic, but its conclusion is well worth emphasizing:
Surely The Times could have found a more worthy essay to publish on the 40th anniversary of the Olympic killings than a critique of those who sought to defeat the terrorists.
The Washington Post and the New York Times owned Boston Globe both featured editorials advocating for the moment of silence at the Olympics in memory of the Israeli athletes killed in 1972. According to my memory and research, the New York Times featured no comparable editorial or op-ed. So the only editorial acknowledgment at the New York Times of the Munich massacre, is Professor Chamberlin's disgraceful essay arguing that the massacre was a sign that it was necessary to talk to terrorists. By publishing the essay the New York Times showed its disregard for the eleven Israeli athletes and all victims of terror since.

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