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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Philadelphia Bulletin interview with Obama advisers

As I'm sure everyone in the US is aware - and probably most people here in Israel too - today is the Pennsylvania primary, which may yet decide whether the Democratic nominee for the Presidency will be Hillary Rodham Clinton or Barack Hussein Obama. If any of you happen to be voting in Pennsylvania and to be in doubt how to vote, perhaps this will help you out. It's an interview conducted by the Philadelphia Bulletin with Obama's middle east advisers in Washington, Howard Guttman and former Californian Congressman Mel Levine, along with another Obama Middle East aide who spoke on condition of anonymity. Here are some excerpts:
1. How would a President Obama relate to the security threat posed by Saudi Arabia? [Declassified security reports confirm that Saudi Arabia continues to fund groups defined by the U.S. government as terrorist organizations, while Saudi Arabia maintains an active state of war against the state of Israel since 1948.]

None of Mr. Obama's advisers could answer this question.

2. Does Mr. Obama support President Bush's policy of arming the Saudis? [The Bush administration offers major arms sales to Saudi Arabia, despite its pro-terror posture]

Neither Guttman nor Levine could tell The Bulletin whether or not Mr. Obama supports the Bush arms sales to Saudi Arabia. They checked with Mr. Obama and could not get an answer.

3. Would a President Obama support the idea that Palestinian refugees should reside in UNRWA refugee camps, under the premise and promise of the "right of return," instead of being provided with decent living conditions?

While each of Mr. Obama's advisers emphasized that the candidate opposed the Palestinian "right of return," none of them could find out what Mr. Obama's position is concerning continuing American government funding for the UNRWA agency, which fuels the right of return.

4. Would a President Obama continue Mr. Bush's policy to arm the Fatah organization, since the armed forces of the Fatah are defined by American law as an illegal terrorist organization?

The Obama advisor who spoke on condition of anonymity answered that Mr. Obama wants to continue the policy of developing Fatah as a moderate entity.

5. Would a President Obama ask for a change in the proposed constitution of the Palestinian Fatah state, which is based on the Islamic sharia law, and not allow for juridical status for any religion other than Islam?

All three Obama advisers promised to check this out with the senator. None of them could provide an answer.


10. Would a President Obama ignore the plight of Christians who are persecuted in the PA, or would he champion the cause of the Christians to practice their religion freely in the PA, since the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem has refused to render assistance to Christians who are persecuted by the PA?

Mr. Obama's advisers promised an answer to The Bulletin with an answer to this question but did not do so.

11. What would the policy of a President Obama be to Syria in regard to Syria's continuing to host and support a plethora of terror groups?

All three of Obama's advisers indicated that they would review new directives to the Syrian government in this regard.

12. Would a President Obama support an effort to destroy the Syrian source of lethal narcotics in the Bekka Valley, since Syria continues to orchestrate the export of lethal narcotics to the world?

Mr. Obama's advisers could not answer this question.


14. Which Middle East road map would a President Obama endorse: the road map of April 30, 2003, or that of May 25, 2003? [The second road map contains the reservations of Israel, which include detailed Israeli directives to disband terror groups as a precondition to continued negotiations.]

Mr. Obama's three advisers referred this policy question to a top adviser to Mr. Obama. However, they would not give an answer to this question to The Bulletin.


18. Would a President Obama insist on future Israeli withdrawals, since the Gaza withdrawal indicates that Palestinians will use areas under their control to launch missile attacks against Israel?

The Obama adviser who spoke on condition of anonymity answered that the "Gaza and Lebanon precedent should be taken into consideration," considering the fact that Israel is ready for compromise.
The rest of the answers were more or less what you would expect. But how can a candidate for President who has been critical of what he calls Clinton's and Bush's 'lack of involvement' in our region not know the answers to so many questions? Read the whole thing. Here's one thing the Bulletin did not ask Obama but which came up in a debate:
Take, for example, the different responses from Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama on whether they would view an attack by Iran on Israel as an attack on the United States. (Mrs. Clinton said such an attack would result in “massive retaliation from the United States,” while Mr. Obama said such an attack would be “unacceptable” and would lead him to take “appropriate action.”)
I like Clinton's answer better. But then you all know already that I am not thrilled with Obama or the people he has chosen to have around him.


At 7:17 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Agreed. Then again, Bush also lacked experience in foreign policy before being elected President. Personnel though is policy. And even if you exclude the candidate, his advisors don't bring them the kind of national security credentials a President needs. Its going to be a definite issue in the fall election.


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