I already wrote about this irrational and cruel demand imposed on Israel by the Obama administration, reneging on the previous agreements. The more facts get denied, the more evidence gets exposed – including by those who directly participated in the talks, from both sides and from different political perspectives.
There was a Bush Agreement on Settlements by Steve Rosen (ME Forum)
Secretary of State Clinton denied on Friday (June 5) that the George W. Bush Administration left to its successors a set of understandings with the government of Israel about limited growth of settlements.
Elliot Abrams, who represented the Bush White House in those agreements, confirmed their existence to the Washington Post on May 24: “There was something of an understanding realized on these questions, but it was never a written agreement… At the time of the Gaza withdrawal, there were lengthy discussions about how settlement activity might be constrained, and in fact it was constrained in the later part of the Sharon years and the Olmert years in accordance with the ideas that were discussed.” Abrams wrote in an op ed piece in the Post on April 8, “For the past five years, Israel’s government has largely adhered to guidelines that were discussed with the United States but never formally adopted: that there would be …no new construction except in already built-up areas. The clear purpose of the guidelines? To allow for settlement growth in ways that minimized the impact on Palestinians. Israel has largely, but not fully, kept to those rules.”
And Dov Weissglass, who represented Sharon in the negotiations, has provided a detailed account of the negotiations and the agreements. He wrote in Yediot Ahronot on June 2, that in a “‘separate forum’ convened on May 1, 2003 in Jerusalem. Senior administration officials Steven Hadley and Elliott Abrams met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and me, and, over the next two days succeeded in working out an exact definition of the term “settlement freeze” in the Road Map. According to this definition, …(3) construction within the settlements would be confined to ‘the existing construction line.’ …On a further meeting held with Ms. Rice on May 14, 2003, the agreement on the definition of the term ‘freeze’ was confirmed…The drawing of the existing construction line- the area in which construction is permitted- encountered technical difficulties. It was therefore decided to establish a joint American-Israeli team that would examine, mark, and delineate the construction line around each of the existing settlements. The team, however, was never created, though not because of any fundamental disagreement….On April 13, 2004 [these understandings were included in] a letter that I wrote with the full consent and in the name of Prime Minister Sharon, and sent to National Security Advisor Rice. Among other things the letter said ‘in the framework of the agreed principles on settlement activity, we will shortly make an effort to better delineate the settlement construction line in Judea and Samaria…’ There was no doubt, therefore, that on April 14, 2004- the day that President Bush sent his letter to Prime Minister Sharon- the administration recognized Israel’s right under the Road Map to development from within the existing construction line in the Israeli settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.”
Below is additional evidence of the agreements from the article I posted on January 28, “Obama and a Settlements Freeze.”
On April 18, 2004, Sharon’s aide Dov Weissglas asserted, in a letter to Rice, “the following understanding, which had been reached between us: 1. Restrictions on settlement growth: within the agreed principles of settlement activities, an effort will be made in the next few days to have a better definition of the construction line of settlements in Judea & Samaria. An Israeli team, in conjunction with Ambassador Kurtzer, will review aerial photos of settlements and will jointly define the construction line of each of the settlements.”
The Government of Israel quickly acted to enforce the distinction. On August 5, 2004, a settler newspaper reported that, “The Defense Ministry has completed a large-scale project to mark the existing built-up borders of all the Jewish communities and towns in Judea and Samaria – and no further construction will be allowed beyond them. Yediot Aharonot reports today that aerial photos will be sent to the United States, which will monitor every building aberration. Though the towns will be allowed to appeal the decision, every building beyond the marked borders could be subject to immediate demolition. The above program is in accordance with the commitment Prime Minister Sharon gave U.S. President George Bush three months ago.”
The Bush Administration was reluctant to acknowledge publicly that it had arrived at such an understanding with the Government of Israel, but there were several public indications that it had. The New York Times’ Steve Weisman reported on August 21, 2004, “The Bush administration…has modified its policy and signaled approval of growth in at least some Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, American and Israeli officials say…The administration now supports construction of new apartments in areas already built up in some settlements, as long as the expansion does not extend outward…according to the officials.” The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler reported on October 30, 2004 that, “during an interview with Egyptian television [in September 2004], Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage mused openly about a definition of natural growth. ‘If you have settlements that already exist and you put more people into them but don’t expand the physical, sort of, the area — that might be one thing,’ he said. ‘But if the physical area expands and encroaches, and it takes more of Palestinian land, well, this is another.'” The Post added that “a senior administration official told reporters at a briefing that the purpose of a settlement freeze is to make sure additional settlers would not impede Palestinian life or prevent the formation of a viable Palestinian state. It makes no difference, he said, if the Israelis add another house within a block of existing homes.” And the Post added that Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said the administration was negotiating with Israel over whether its settlements in the West Bank can grow within existing settlement boundaries.
While the Administration’s background statements and the absence of denials implied that the Israeli assertions that there was an agreement were accurate, the Administration never quite said so in a clear way. But no denial was issued after August 21, 2004, when a front page story in the New York Times story appeared under the headline “U.S. Now Said to Support Growth for Some West Bank Settlements”, claiming loudly that such an agreement existed. Nor was there any correction after the Guardian published an article headlined, “Secret US Deal Wrecks Road Map for Peace” on August 27, 2004, reporting that “The United States was accused this week by Palestinian leaders of …giving its covert support to Israel’s expansion of controversial settlements in the West Bank. American officials are privately admitting they have…given Jerusalem tacit permission to build thousands of new homes on the disputed land…A European diplomat said this week, ‘The US has tacitly agreed that [Israel’s] position has validity and has shown that limited building is permissible.'”
There were some carefully parsed partial denials nearly four years later, when Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post revisited the issue on April 24, 2008. But Kessler also reported an on-the-record confirmation from Daniel Kurtzer, then the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, who said he had argued at the time against accepting the April 2004 Weissglas letter that asserted there was a U.S.-Israel understanding on the construction line concept. Kurtzer told the Post, “I thought it was a really bad idea. It would legitimize the settlements.” Kurtzer said that, in the end, the White House did not send the team to define the construction lines, “when it became clear it would not be easy to do.” It appears that, as an alternative, the Israeli Ministry of Defense provided the United States with aerial photographs marking the construction line of each settlement (reported by Yediot Aharonot on August 5, 2004.)
Abrams: Israel is right that there were settlement agreements by Steve Rosen (ME Forum)
Former President Jimmy Carter will urge the Obama administration to remove Hamas from the terrorist list, FOX News has learned.
In order to show their usefulness, Hamas thugs performed a theatrical ploy, defusing a couple of roadside bombs on a path Carter’s convoy:
The boy told FOX News he saw three Palestinian men planting bombs, four of which were later found near a mound less than a mile from the Israel-Gaza border. The boy said he notified Hamas police, who detonated the bombs and took the three men into custody.
In addition to his infamous antisemitic book, Carter has the best credentials for a peacemaker: from Hamas.
“Nobody in Gaza will touch this man,” Hamas adviser Ahmed Yousef said. “He is on a noble mission. Everyone here respects him.”
Eldad on Carter: With Such Friends, Who Needs Enemies? (IsraelNN.com)
National Union MK Aryeh Eldad quipped about former U.S. President Jimmy Carter Monday, “With peacemakers like this, who needs enemies?” Eldad claimed Carter acts as an agent for Arab interests.
“Maybe we could understand why this is so if we remember the large amounts of money former President Carter receives from Arab sources,” Eldad said. He pointed out that Carter considers Hamas to be a legitimately elected governing power.
Ken Blackwell, an advisor to the JINSA, writes in Townhall:
Jimmy Carter, perhaps panting for another Nobel peace prize, is in the Mid-East, planning to meet with others who want to de-stabilize Israel. Hamas—the terrorist gang that controls the Gaza Strip—will roll out the red carpet for the former U.S. President.
Carter calls all Jewish settlement on the West Bank “illegal and [an] obstacle to peace. The Israelis took Carter’s advice on Gaza. They dismantled all their settlements there. They handed over the land to the Palestinians. They followed Carter’s formula of land for peace. And what did they get? Hamas control of Gaza and 6,000 Hamas missiles raining down on Israel. Some deal. Some peace. It might better be called Carter’s “Piece Plan”—handing over territory to Israel’s sworn enemies—piece by piece.
Jimmy Carter has published books and articles likening Israel’s position in the West Bank to that of the apartheid regime in South Africa. He use of apartheid is intended to de-legitimize Israel and bring its downfall—just like the anti-apartheid campaign in the `90s brought an end to the white supremacist regime in South Africa.
Yet what is Carter advocating by freezing the natural growth of Jewish settlement on the West Bank? What Carter is saying, in effect, is that Arabs should be able to continue to live in peace in Tel Aviv, but Jews—and Christians—cannot live in Jericho and Bethlehem. Who’s the real supporter of apartheid?
Carter predicts that President Obama will take the next logical step after he succeeds in freezing Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria: “In the future, I am sure, [Obama] will call for the dismantling of the settlements that exist.”
Question: If Jews cannot live in Judea and Samaria—where Jews have lived since before the Roman Empire—why should they be allowed to live in Tel Aviv? Tel Aviv was founded only in the early 1900s.
The plan to create a Judenrein—a Jew-free zone on the West Bank of the Jordan—is ultimately a plan to de-stabilize and then dismantle the Jewish state. This is not just a change from George W. Bush; it’s a change from Harry Truman!
That’s how far back U.S. support for Israel goes—right to the beginning of the Jewish state in 1948. But no more. The Obama administration will press and push, prod and peck away at Israel’s basic security needs. If Obama succeeds, Israel may not be destroyed, but she will be much weaker, much more vulnerable, much more in danger from enemies pledged to destroy her. Is that the change America wants? Is that the kind of change Americans voted for?
So maybe not all is lost with the Dems?
US: Democratic Party’s Jewish Council denounces Carter
The National Jewish Democratic Council … issued an official censure of former US President Jimmy Carter, after Fox News reported he urged US President Barack Obama to remove Hamas from the US terror-group list.
Carter’s shameless tears (YNetNews)
Jimmy Carter – The Prince of Peace? by Sherri Mandell (JPost.com BlogCentral Heart-Earned Wisdom)
The “big” speech was indeed so long-winded and multi-faceted that, before it is too late, I decided to post a few good links and a single quote, instead of my random thoughts. It’s a bit too much for me to chew right now.
- The End of America’s Strategic Alliance with Israel? by Caroline Glick
In 1922 the League of Nations mandated Great Britain to facilitate the
reconstitution of the Jewish commonwealth in the Land of Israel on both
sides of the Jordan River. The international community’s decision to work
towards the reestablishment of Jewish sovereignty in Israel owed to its
recognition of the Jewish people’s legal, historic, and moral rights to our
Arab propaganda finds this basic and fundamental truth inconvenient. So for
the past 60 years, the Arabs have been advancing the fiction that Israel’s
existence owes solely to European guilt over the Holocaust. As far as the
Arabs are concerned, the Jews have no legal, historic, or moral right to
what the Arabs see as Islamic land.
In his address, while Obama admonished the Arabs for their pervasive Jew hatred and Holocaust denial, he effectively accepted and legitimized their view that Israel owes its existence to the Holocaust when he said, “the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied,” and then went on to talk about the Holocaust.
Just as abominably, Obama compared Israel to Southern slave owners and Palestinians to black slaves in the antebellum south. He used the Arab euphemism “resistance” to discuss Palestinian terrorism, and generally ignored the fact that every Palestinian political faction is also a terrorist organization.
In addition to his morally outrageous characterization of Israel and factually inaccurate account of its foundations, Obama struck out at the Jewish state through the two policies he outlined in his address. His first policy involves coercing Israel into barring all Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria (otherwise known as the West Bank), and Jerusalem.
Even more strategically devastating than his castigation of Israel as the villain in the Arab-Israel conflict is Obama’s stated policy towards Iran.
- Assessing Obama’s Cairo Speech by Daniel Pipes
- Obama’s Cairo Speech and the Israel-Palestinian Conflict: Good Intentions Plus Misunderstanding Equals Failure by Barry Rubin
- Also by Barry Rubin: longish (as good analysis should be) but highly recommended: U.S. MIDDLE EAST POLICY: TOO MANY CHALLENGES AND YET A SINGLE THEME
- Diplomacy of Wishful Thinking. Obama in Cairo by Mona Charen
- Re: The Cairo Speech: A slap in the face to the Jewish people by Anne Bayefsky
- A Courageous, But Sad, Speech in Cairo by Dennis Prager
- Salaam Aleikum, Dudes! What Can Be Learned from Obama’s Cairo Speech (Mostly quoting Ralph Peters in NY Post) by Sammy Benoit, AKA Yid with Lid.
Criticism and Conciliation by Raymond Ibrahim
West Bank Settlements and the Future of U.S.-Israeli Relations by George Friedman (STRATFOR)
The Exodus Obama Forgot to Mention by Andre Aciman
Israel and the US: What Special Relationship? by Ami Isseroff
Why Israelis Are Cool on the Obama Speech by Judea Pearl
Our Historically Challenged President. A list of distortions by Victor Davis Hanson
Obama to Jews: I’m Just Not That Into You by Stuart Schwartz
A new magazine Tablet has a Liberal response to Conservative criticism:
Purple Prose of Cairo. The trouble with conservative critiques of Obama’s Cairo speech by Michael Weiss
How representative is this selection? It depends on the metrics. This is what caught my eye and I thought is worth attention.
For ideologues, if reality contradicts their theory, the theory always wins.
Today, one must be blind to deny tensions between the US and Israel. Facts be damned, this is the second week the NPR reruns its old multi-part Cambridge Forum program The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy with pseudo-scientists John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt insinuating “America’s unconditional support” of Israel.
More on the backwardness of the strategy of befriending enemies while antagonizing allies. Wash Post has a great piece by Charles Krauthammer, The Settlements Myth (the emph. is mine):
President Obama repeatedly insists that American foreign policy be conducted with modesty and humility. Above all, there will be no more "dictating" to other countries. We should "forge partnerships as opposed to simply dictating solutions," he told the G-20 summit. In Middle East negotiations, he told al-Arabiya, America will henceforth "start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating."
An admirable sentiment. It applies to everyone — Iran, Russia, Cuba, Syria, even Venezuela. Except Israel. Israel is ordered to freeze all settlement activity. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton imperiously explained the diktat: "a stop to settlements — not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions."
What’s the issue? No "natural growth" means strangling to death the thriving towns close to the 1949 armistice line, many of them suburbs of Jerusalem, that every negotiation over the past decade has envisioned Israel retaining. It means no increase in population. Which means no babies. Or if you have babies, no housing for them — not even within the existing town boundaries. Which means for every child born, someone has to move out. No community can survive like that. The obvious objective is to undermine and destroy these towns — even before negotiations.
To what end? Over the past decade, the U.S. government has understood that any final peace treaty would involve Israel retaining some of the close-in settlements — and compensating the Palestinians accordingly with land from within Israel itself.
That was envisioned in the Clinton plan in the Camp David negotiations in 2000, and again at Taba in 2001. … This idea is not only logical, not only accepted by both Democratic and Republican administrations for the past decade, but was agreed to in writing in the letters of understanding exchanged between Israel and the United States in 2004 — and subsequently overwhelmingly endorsed by a concurrent resolution of Congress.
Yet the Obama State Department has repeatedly refused to endorse these agreements or even say it will honor them. This from a president who piously insists that all parties to the conflict honor previous obligations. And who now expects Israel to accept new American assurances in return for concrete and irreversible Israeli concessions, when he himself has just cynically discarded past American assurances.
The entire "natural growth" issue is a concoction. Is the peace process moribund because a teacher in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem is making an addition to her house to accommodate new grandchildren? It is perverse to make this the center point of the peace process at a time when Gaza is run by Hamas terrorists dedicated to permanent war with Israel and when Mahmoud Abbas, having turned down every one of Ehud Olmert’s peace offers, brazenly declares that he is in a waiting mode — waiting for Hamas to become moderate and for Israel to cave — before he’ll do anything to advance peace.
In his much-heralded "Muslim world" address in Cairo yesterday, Obama declared that the Palestinian people’s "situation" is "intolerable." Indeed it is, the result of 60 years of Palestinian leadership that gave its people corruption, tyranny, religious intolerance and forced militarization; leadership that for three generations rejected every offer of independence and dignity, choosing destitution and despair rather than accept any settlement not accompanied by the extinction of Israel.
That’s why Haj Amin al-Husseini chose war rather than a two-state solution in 1947. Why Yasser Arafat turned down a Palestinian state in 2000. And why Abbas rejected Olmert’s even more generous December 2008 offer.
In the 16 years since the Oslo accords turned the West Bank and Gaza over to the Palestinians, their leaders built no roads, no courthouses, no hospitals, none of the fundamental state institutions that would relieve their people’s suffering. Instead they poured everything into an infrastructure of war and terror, all the while depositing billions (from gullible Western donors) into their Swiss bank accounts.
Obama says he came to Cairo to tell the truth. But he uttered not a word of that. Instead, among all the bromides and lofty sentiments, he issued but one concrete declaration of new American policy: "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements," thus reinforcing the myth that Palestinian misery and statelessness are the fault of Israel and the settlements.
Blaming Israel and picking a fight over "natural growth" may curry favor with the Muslim "street." But it will only induce the Arab states to do like Abbas: sit and wait for America to deliver Israel on a platter. Which makes the Obama strategy not just dishonorable but self-defeating.
Whenever Jews (and Jews alone) are singled out for one-sided restrictions, I am wondering: why does it feel so quiet and lonely all of the sudden? Where all those self-righteous "anti-racists" have gone?
I feel ashamed that Obama administration chose to make demands of a total “freeze” of Jewish communities in historical Jewish homelands of Judea and Samaria – that, if implemented, would affect even the “natural growth,” i.e. without expanding their boundaries.
Historical record of those who imposed demographic/territorial restrictions on Jews (and Jews alone) is abysmal: from medieval expulsions & ghettos to German policies of Schutzjuden, to the Russian Pale of Settlement, to the horrors of the 20th century, to 2005 Israel’s expulsion of Jews from Gaza, which resulted in Hamas’ putsch.
I see the following problems with the new Obama/Clinton stance:
1. It violates the understandings negotiated between the previous US administrations and the govt of Israel. A dangerous precedent.
2. To prohibit even the natural growth within already established communities is an illogical and cruel restriction. Even left-wing Ehud Barak agrees that it is wrong.
3 & 4. I agree with Herb Keinon and Elliott Abrams: it won’t bring peace any closer and will only increase tensions between Israel and the US: Analysis: Is Obama looking for a fight over ‘natural growth’?:
“A ‘settlement freeze’ would not help Palestinians face today’s problems or prepare for tomorrow’s challenges,” Elliott Abrams, the deputy national security adviser under former US president George Bush, wrote in April in The Washington Post.
“The demand for a freeze would have only one quick effect: to create immediate tension between the United States and Israel’s new government,” he wrote. “That may be precisely why some propose it, but it is also why the Obama administration should reject it.”
Abrams proved prophetic: the issue has indeed created immediate tension with the US, not over illegal outposts – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has made it clear he will remove them – but over “natural growth” in the settlements. …
Even if Israel succumbs to ever-increasing and ever-ridiculous demands, Gaza will be still under uncompromisingly genocidal Hamas jihadis, the Palestinian Authority-run schools, mass media and mosques will be still full of incitement against Jews and Israel, Hezbollah will not go away, etc.
5. Finally, and most importantly, it pushes public attention away from the real threat in the region: Iran.
So far Obama’s policies of befriending enemies and antagonizing allies are a big flop. BTW, Bibi deserves credit for standing up against huge pressure.
How many times we hear that the PA is “too weak” to act decisively against terrorism? No amount of money, equipment and training seems to make any difference. And so, apologists of PA’s inaction come up with never-ending demands of concessions and “gestures” from Israel (not that these make any difference, either).
Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (of Palestinian Media Watch) ask in JPost: Will the US follow its laws and suspend funding to Abbas? The article proves that Palestinian leadership consistently makes incitement of violence against Jews and Israel their first choice. The full article has more evidence.
As US President Barack Obama prepares to welcome Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to Washington this week, and US lawmakers debate the proposed $900 million aid package to the PA, it is once again using its money to proclaim that killing Israeli woman and children is heroic.
The PA chose to name its latest computer center “after the martyr Dalal Mughrabi,” who led the most deadly terror attack in the country’s history. Her 1978 bus hijacking killed 37 civilians, 12 of them children, including American photographer Gail Rubin. The new center is funded by Abbas’s office, which is bolstered by Western aid money. (Al-Ayyam, May 5).
US law prohibits the funding of Palestinian structures that use any portion of their budget to promote terror or honor terrorists. But $200 million of the US’s proposed $900m. aid package is earmarked to go directly to the Abbas government, which regularly uses its budget to honor terrorists. In fact, this latest veneration of Mughrabi is not an isolated case, but part of a continuing pattern of honoring terrorists that targets children in particular.
Last summer the PA sponsored “the Dalal Mughrabi football championship” for kids, and a “summer camp named for martyr Dalal Mughrabi… out of honor and admiration for the martyr.” It also held a party to honor exemplary students, also named “for the martyr Dalal Mughrabi,” under the auspices of Abbas and at which Abbas’s representative “reviewed the heroic life of the martyr [Mughrabi] (Al-Hayat al-Jadida, July 23, 24 and August 8, 2008). All these PA-funded activities were to teach kids that a killer of women and children is a role model.
TWO MONTHS AGO, 31 years to the day after the Mughrabi murders, PA TV broadcast a special program celebrating the terror attack, calling the killing of 37 civilians “one of the most important and most prominent special operations… carried out by a team of heroes and led by the heroic fighter Dalal Mughrabi” (PA TV March 11).
In 2002, US money funded renovations of the “Dalal Mughrabi school for girls.” After PMW alerted the US State Department to Mughrabi’s terrorist past, the funding was cancelled. Within 24 hours, the PA said the name would be changed, and the American money was reinstated. Once the work was completed, however, the school was renamed for the terrorist. It bears Mughrabi’s name to this day.
AT A RECENT hearing of the House Appropriations Committee, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged: “We will work only with a Palestinian Authority government that unambiguously and explicitly accepts the Quartet’s principles, [including] a commitment to nonviolence.” And it’s not just Clinton’s pledge. US law interprets nonviolence to include not honoring terrorists: “None of the [US]… assistance under the West Bank and Gaza program may be made available for the purpose of recognizing or otherwise honoring individuals who commit, or have committed acts of terrorism” (2008 Foreign Operations Bill Sec. 657.B – C.1). This latest glorification of the terrorist Mughrabi, coming as Congress considers the administration’s latest request to fund Abbas, imposes a profound responsibility on Congress. But it also creates a unique opportunity.
Will the US follow its own laws, and insist that the PA stop turning killers of women and children into heroes and role models before it receives another cent of US money? Congress and Obama can send a message to the PA that the US will not fund the PA, or any part of its budget, until it proves that it has ceased promoting terrorist murderers as heroes and role models. It can demand a statement from Abbas – in public, in Arabic and in the PA media – that murdering Israelis is terror, that terrorists are neither heroes nor holy martyrs and that they will no longer be honored.
Or they can send a different message to Abbas: that raising another generation of Palestinian children to the values of hate, murder and martyrdom is acceptable to the US – so acceptable that the US is even willing to fund it.
WINEP published Will Russia Help the United States with Iran? by Mark N. Katz
To me, this reminds Russia I know (expletives omitted here, emphasis added below).
Russia’s recent decision not to sell the S-300 antiaircraft missile system to Iran (at least for now) raised hopes that Moscow would cooperate more fully in the effort to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons. Recent statements from Russian leaders indicating that they were on board with the U.S. strategy further buoyed optimism. Despite these promising signs, however, there is strong reason to doubt that Moscow’s cooperation will continue.
Like Europe, Israel, the United States, and most Arab governments, Russia does not want Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. The expectation that this will lead to joint Russian-American cooperation, however, is seriously mistaken. Moscow does not want Iran to either voluntarily renounce or be forcefully prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons if — as Moscow fears — this results in a diminution of Russia’s value to Iran as a protector or partner. Even a nuclear-armed Iran would be preferable to Moscow than this prospect.
Moscow has little interest in working with Washington to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons for two important reasons:
First, Moscow has reasonably good — though not untroubled — relations with Tehran. Russian firms profit from selling arms and nuclear technology to Iran, and Russian petroleum firms are actively seeking to invest in the Iranian oil and gas sectors. Moscow is also deeply appreciative that Tehran has not supported Chechen or other Muslim rebels in Russia, or challenged Moscow’s influence in Central Asia and the Caucasus.
Moscow does not want to jeopardize any of this by seriously cooperating with Washington against Tehran. What Moscow would prefer instead is that others — the United States, Europe, Israel, or some combination — take the lead in confronting Tehran on the nuclear issue. If they succeed in getting Iran to halt its efforts, then Russia gains by avoiding the strategic challenge of having another nuclear power in its neighborhood. But if they fail to halt this activity, Moscow prefers that these actors — and not Russia — be the focus of Iran’s ire. This is especially true if Iran actually acquires nuclear weapons.
I guess the American financial system and the economy are doing just peachy if the U.S. can afford to throw so much money away – although financing terrorists is even worse than throwing money away.
WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Obama administration’s request for $865 million in assistance for the Palestinians.
The funds approved May 14 include $300 million in humanitarian assistance for the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas, a terrorist group, and more than $100 million for training a security service answering to the more moderate leadership of the Palestinian Authority.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton pledged to Congress that the Gaza funds would be subject to strict restrictions and would not reach Hamas.
Did you expect her to say otherwise? The real question is: just how is this going to be enforced?
Nicholas Guariglia’s great post in Hundon NY: Iran: Myths and Facts Here’s an excerpt:
Myth #1: The United States should change its policy of not engaging Iran diplomatically.
Fact: This is the biggest myth of all. As Michael Ledeen reminds us time and again, “Every administration since Ayatollah Khomeini’s seizure of power in 1979 has negotiated with the Iranians. Nothing positive has ever come of it.”
We have offered “rapprochement,” “grand bargains,” and “full normalization” — we even sold them weapons. In response, the mullahs blew up our embassies, destroyed our barracks, kidnapped, tortured, and murdered our citizens, soldiers, and diplomats, and sponsored multiple proxy wars against our countrymen and allies. All of this continues to this day.
Myth #2: The Islamic Republic of Iran is the most democratic country the Middle East.
Fact: Theocracy is never democratic. Iran has a political process that is micromanaged by unelected clerical bodies, primarily the Orwellian-sounding “Assembly of Experts” and the “Council of Guardians” — namely, men who pre-approve political candidates, restrict the freedom and liberty of women, and publicly hang children for “sins” like homosexuality (amongst other things). This is all supervised and approved by the “Supreme Leader,” the honorable Ayatollah Khamenei.
Myth #3: Iran needs a reformer.
Fact: Unfortunately, there is no such thing. President Ahmadinejad’s predecessor, Khatami, was billed as the “Gorbachev of Iran,” and yet he ended up throwing more dissidents in jail than any Iranian president, past or present. Even Ahmadinejad’s possible successor, the “reformist” Mir-Hossein Mousavi, has long been a part of the regime’s torture-apparatus. The “moderate” Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president and perhaps future Supreme Leader, is currently wanted in Argentina for knocking down a large office building.
Looking for reformers and moderates within the existing regime is like deciphering between Khrushchev and Brezhnev, or Himmler and Eichmann: there might be some minor tactical changes to the method of oppression, but the framework of dictatorship remains.
Myth #4: Iran has a rich Persian history, and therefore deserves a place among the family of nations.
Fact: Yes, Iran has a rich history. But the mullahs themselves disdain Iran’s pre-Islamic Persian history. President Obama’s “Happy New Year” olive branch message to the regime last month failed for this very reason: the “ancient ritual” Obama commended (Nowrooz) is a Zoroastrian custom, one brutally repressed by the regime (which the mullahs scornfully reminded him the very next day).
While nobody should deny Iran its rightful place on the world stage, we should deny this regime any iota of international legitimacy. To associate the regime with its citizens is an insult to millions of dissident Iranians. According to the Iranian government’s own opinion polls, most Iranian people oppose the regime and view the clerics as ideological hijackers of their proud history — an interim hiccup of their national trajectory, in other words.
They have good cause for this belief: upon assuming power in 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini said, “We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah. For patriotism is another name for paganism… let this land [Iran] burn… let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world.” Iranians reject such theological extremism and national fatalism, and do not consider it patriotic.