Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler
Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Monday, November 26.
1) For me not for thee
The New York Times reports, U.S. Election Speeded Move to Codify Policy on Drones:
Partly because United Nations officials know that the United States
is setting a legal and ethical precedent for other countries developing
armed drones, the U.N. plans to open a unit in Geneva early next year to
investigate American drone strikes.
I don't have a problem with drone strikes against enemies, but does the
Obama administration feel that it is uniquely qualified to define
targeting criteria? Never mind, as the article noted, the even the
United States isn't comfortable with Israel's targeted killings of
The attempt to write a formal rule book for targeted killing began last
summer after news reports on the drone program, started under President
George W. Bush and expanded by Mr. Obama, revealed some details of the
president’s role in the shifting procedures for compiling “kill lists”
and approving strikes. Though national security officials insist that
the process is meticulous and lawful, the president and top aides
believe it should be institutionalized, a course of action that seemed
particularly urgent when it appeared that Mitt Romney might win the
“There was concern that the levers might no longer be in our hands,”
said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity. With a continuing
debate about the proper limits of drone strikes, Mr. Obama did not want
to leave an “amorphous” program to his successor, the official said.
The effort, which would have been rushed to completion by January had
Mr. Romney won, will now be finished at a more leisurely pace, the
There is an irony. If the United States was more forceful in its defense
of Israel's right to self-defense, it might not find itself be
questioned as severely when it pursued the same strategy.
According to the article the New York Times is a party along with the
ACLU seeking more information about the drone program. The Times also
cited Gregory D. Johnsen, who recently wrote an op-ed
for the paper criticizing the policy. It would seem that
administration's strategy of killing terrorists is one area where it
cannot expect the unquestioning support of the New York Times.
According to the Long War Journal, since 2006 American drones have killed 2431 terrorists and only 139 civilians. (h/t Jim Roberts)
2) Money supply, sex and the peace process
“Everything reminds Milton Friedman of the money supply. Everything
reminds me of sex, but I try to keep it out of my papers.” (Robert
In Morsi's Moment Thomas Friedman got some things right.
In other words, is Egypt ready to sacrifice the Camp David peace,
U.S. aid and economic development to support Hamas’s radical,
pro-Iranian agenda, or not?
The answer from Cairo was no. President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim
Brotherhood’s party did not want to get dragged into a total breach with
Israel on behalf of Hamas, and instead threw Egypt’s weight into
mediating a cease-fire.
This is just about right for now.
But Friedman can't leave well enough alone.
It is impossible not to be tantalized by how much leverage Morsi
could wield in the peace process, if he ever chose to engage Israel.
Precisely because he represents the Muslim Brotherhood, the vanguard of
Arab Islam, and precisely because he was democratically elected, if
Morsi threw his weight behind an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, it
would be so much more valuable to Israel than the cold peace that Sadat
delivered and Hosni Mubarak maintained. Sadat offered Israelis peace
with the Egyptian state. Morsi could offer Israel peace with the
Egyptian people and, through them, with the Muslim world beyond.
Ironically, though, all of this would depend on Morsi not becoming a
dictator like Mubarak, but on him remaining a legitimately elected
president, truly representing the Egyptian people. That is now in doubt
given Morsi’s very troubling power grab last week and the violent
response from the Egyptian street. President Obama has to be careful not
to sell out Egyptian democracy for quiet between Israel and Egypt and
Hamas. We tried that under Mubarak. It didn’t end well.
Friedman's is one trick pony who believes that all problems of the
Middle East can be solved by solving the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
Well, no things did not end well for Mubarak, but the peace lasted for
more than 30 years. It's interesting too, that Friedman now is so
concerned for Egyptian democracy, ten months ago he was cheering on
the Muslim Brotherhood. Have Morsi's power grabs actually surprised
him? (He compared the Muslim Brotherhood's coming to power in Egypt as
following the AKP's ascendancy in Turkey. Why is he surprised now? Oh
that's right, he was a cheerleader for the AKP too.)
No doubt Morsi’s price for engaging with Israel would be the Arab
Peace Initiative — full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Arab
East Jerusalem, save for mutually agreed-upon land swaps, and some
return of refugees, in return for full normalized relations. If Morsi
advanced such a proposal in direct talks with Israelis, he could
single-handedly revive the Israeli peace camp.
It's important to remember what the Arab Peace Initiative is. It was the
brainchild of Thomas Friedman and then Crown Prince Abdullah of the
Arab League. It was a public relations stunt designed to undermine
international support for Israel's efforts to defeat the "Aqsa Intifada"
and shore up support for Saddam Hussein. Who represented the Arab
League in those day? Ben Ali of Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt Muamar
Qadaffi of Libya. Also Bashar Assad of Syria. In other words the leaders
who represent the pre-"Arab spring" were the ones who signed on to the
initiative. And of course, one reason any of these despots supported the
Palestinians was to misdirect attention away from their own misrule.
Cheerleaders like Friedman were more than happy to give them cover.
Do I expect that? No more than I expect to win the lottery. The
Muslim Brotherhood has long hated the Jewish state, as well as political
and religious pluralism and feminism. Therefore, here’s what I do
expect: More trouble between Israel and Hamas that will constantly
threaten to drag in Egypt. Hamas is a shameful organization. It
subordinates the interests of the Palestinian people to Iran (and
earlier to Syria), which wants Hamas to do everything it can to make a
two-state solution impossible, because that will lock Israel into a
permanent death grip on the West Bank, which will be the undoing of the
Jewish democracy and will distract the world from Iran’s and Syria’s
Is Friedman for real? Hamas is "shameful?" Really. Murderous is a more
apt description. But notice Friedman can't even fault Hamas for
terrorism, but for "undoing Jewish democracy." Friedman's perspective is
completely skewed by his blind worship of the peace process. Is Israel
about to cease being a democracy? No. Are the Palestinians about to have
a state of their own? No. These are two separate issues. No matter how
many times Friedman equates the two doesn't make his perspective any
Israel left all of Gaza in 2005, and Hamas had a choice: It could
recognize Israel, have an open border and import computers, or it could
continue to deny Israel’s existence, keep the border sealed, and smuggle
in rockets. It chose rockets over computers. With each rocket that
lands near Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, another Israeli says, “How can we
possibly let go of the West Bank and risk our airport being shut down?”
That is just what Hamas and Iran want — a permanent, grinding,
democracy-eroding, legitimacy-destroying, globally isolating Israeli
occupation of the West Bank — and they are very happy to use the
Palestinian people as a human sacrifice for that goal.
The best way for Israel to undercut Hamas is by empowering the secular
Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, in the West Bank to gain
greater independence and build a thriving economy, so every Palestinian
can compare which strategy works best: working with Israel or against
Israel. This Israeli government has failed to do that. It is so
shortsighted. But Hamas makes it easy for Israel to get away with that
by ignoring what we know from history: that whoever makes the Israeli
silent majority feel morally insecure about occupation, but
strategically secure in Israel, wins. After Sadat flew to Jerusalem,
Israelis knew there was no way morally that they could hold onto the
Sinai and strategically they no longer felt the need. When King Hussein
of Jordan and Yasir Arafat did the same, they each got land back. Today,
nothing makes Israelis feel more strategically insecure and morally
secure with occupation than Hamas’s stupid rocket attacks, even after
Israel has withdrawn.
Ten years earlier Israel withdrew from most of the West Bank, shedding
responsibility for 90% of the Palestinians. What happened? Did Arafat
create the institutions of a functioning state? Or did he take the
territory he was handed and use it to encourage terror against Israel?
The dysfunction of the Palestinian Authority under Arafat continues to
this day. Israel can't empower Abbas; they have no real constituency to
make peace. The culture Arafat and later Abbas presided over places a
premium on resistance and denying legitimacy to Israel. Friedman argues
that the perfectly reasonable Israeli fear of terror is "democracy
eroding." Somehow, though, the ideology that advocates terror as long as
one's demands are not met is not illegitimate.
Labels: Barack Hussein Obama, drone, Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, Hamas, Middle East Media Sampler, Mitt Romney, Mohammed Morsy, Muslim Brotherhood, Soccer Dad, targeted killings