Bush “light” in the ME?

Washingtonpost The Washington Post editorial page here declares President Obama's "outreach" to the Syrians and Iranians dead before arrival, and clearly the newspaper rejoices in that self-fulfilling prophecy.

On the same page one of the Kagans is given space in which to join in the rejoicing. The Obama Administration is Bush "light"" would be the message.  This is nicely "balanced" on the page by an oped from an obscure Iranian professor's plea for "understanding" and accomodation.

The Post editorial page has been a leading neocon propaganda organ for several years so these "statements" are to be expected.

The real question is the actual nature of Obama foreign policy in the Middle East.  Looking at what has happened so far it would be possible to believe that Kagan is correct in his underlying assumption of the basic continuities.  Alternatively, one might think that an exceedingly sophisticated game is being played in which a policy of peace making is followed while the appearance of special interest politics is allowed to persist.

I am a pessimist by nature, so I am inclined to think that nothing much has changed.  pl

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18 Responses to Bush “light” in the ME?

  1. J says:

    And with WINEP calling the shots through their front-man Dennis Ross who is a ‘major player’ in Clinton’s Mideast team.

  2. The only real change in place on foreign policy is OBAMA himself. My guess will take until Labor Day to find out whether any real change in US Foreign policy is underway.Right now the Federal Reserve is conducting the major foreign policy role in providing funds to other central banks and foreign banks, including huge amounts to UBS which continues to allow US Citizens to dodge US tax payments. In reality, with little change in foreign policy by the Executive Branch, military policy, or economic policy wonder how long the OBAMA honeymoon will last. The administration is clearly not up and running as all those who beleived they were responsible for helping OBAMA continue to act only for themselves. Oh!
    By the way! Health Reform is dead dead dead. At this point a wasted effort until second term, if there is one. Your fuzzy headed liberal commenter.

  3. Muzaffar says:

    “When nothing changes, nothing changes”
    America needs a strong,wise leadership. I dont see it from Obama. (By strong I dont mean militarily strong. In today’s world, that kind of strong is called a “bully”.)

  4. batondor says:

    Well, Pat, I guess I am the opposite: an optimist by desire if still always drawn back to realism by the dialectic forces that drive all reflection…
    … so here are a few bits on the ‘positive’ side:
    1) This OpEd by Roger Cohen in today’s NYT…
    2) The tail end of a defense of Chas Freeman as compiled by James Fallows…
    Now I grant you that neither of these arguments reflects directly on policy as it is being formulated in the Obama WH… and I am concerned that he and his inner circle are so preoccupied by the domestic economy that these ‘outside factors’ will be given short shrift and, as such, will be subject to greater manipulation…
    … but I remain confident that the connection between the needed and substantive changes in American foreign policy and urgent economic objectives is not lost any more than the connection between healthcare reform and the stimulus.

  5. Patrick Lang says:

    I am not so sure that Ross is a “major player” anymore except in WINEP and JPPPI.
    Was he taken on the trip? pl

  6. jr786 says:

    From what I gather, the real power is with Holbrooke, and to a lesser extent Mitchell. Since I hear little from either, I presume they’re working.
    The Kagans have always suffered from being too sanguine, they “imagine a thing and think it is done”. Witness Iraq.

  7. Jose says:

    Regrettably, I have to agree Colonel…
    Appointing Hillary was a huge mistake, because she brings no new perspective on the Middle East issues and problems.
    Dennis Ross is just the failed Clinton-Bush policies part two, plus all these “Envoys” are just cosmetic cover for the failure to change the Bush (special interest based) policies.
    Just look at our demands for the Palestinian’s Prime Minister that completly disregards the elections or political conditions of Palestine.
    We really needed another approach to the Middle East, but for now the NeoCons remain the only game in town.
    Also, Timothy Geitner is another debacle to our dependence on China which is now challenging us on the high seas.
    Still better than McCain’s bomb Iran mantra…

  8. jonst says:

    If nothing else happened (and other things have happened)it is not sign of the same ole, same ole when the UK announces it is going to alter its policy about having contacts with Hezbollah. On the heels, no less, of Gordon Brown’s trip to DC.

  9. castellio says:

    I agree with Jose on the appointment of Clinton as Secretary of State. She still has her eye on the prize… the first woman President of the US. To get there, she wants to be a “tough” Sec of State who “wins” against Arab militants (defined as everybody not pro-Israeli).
    Realistic re-alignment of policy isn’t her ultimate goal.
    She has the time and opportunity to prove me wrong, but she would have to put her country ahead of her ambitions. They are not identical.
    We’ll see.

  10. Marcus says:

    Bush light in the ME is Obama trying to get up to speed with your previous post–CDS exposure–a much more threatening “financial weapon of mass destruction” on the horizon.
    I imagine there are not enough hours in the day to study, analyze, and make sound decisions concerning all the various quagmires Obama inherited.

  11. curious says:

    From Joshua Landis (best syrian blog)
    (from interview)
    Israel Negotiations
    Assad insisted on the conditions for direct negotiations with Israel. The first of which is to give back the land, which is non-negotiable. Assad doubts how trustworthy the Israeli leaders are.
    He said if Israel provided all the conditions that Syria asks for, of course Syria will agree to sign an agreement. He distinguished between a peace agreement which
    “There is a difference between a peace agreement and peace itself. A peace agreement is a piece of paper you sign. This does not mean trade and normal relations, or borders, or otherwise,” he said.
    “Our people will not accept that, especially since there are half a million Palestinians in our country whose position remains unresolved. It is impossible under these terms to have peace in the natural sense.”
    The initial signs of this administration are positive and it demonstrates greater acceptance of engagement comparing to the previous administration concerning his pronouncements about Syria and Iraq. “But we want specific, clear words.” (For more on his statement about peace with Israel and the possibility of a resumption of negotiations see this reuters article
    ….[Israelis], it seems, like the Palestinians, know just when the time is right to miss an opportunity. When America has finally matured, we are using Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman as a defensive shield against any initiative.
    As Israel continues to dig in, the region is carrying on with its regular agenda. A new strategic alliance is emerging right in front of us. It comprises Iran, Syria, Turkey and Iraq. In this alliance, Russia holds the cards and the United States, which stood by watching under George W. Bush, is trying to find room at the table.
    (btw, the contries mentioned. It’s what the Ottoman/persian empire approximately were)

  12. Redhand says:

    The Post editorial page has been a leading neocon propaganda organ for several years”.
    Being old enough to remember WaPo’s reputation as a cornerstone of the “liberal” media during the Nixon years, I never cease to be amazed at some of the neocon drivel we now see in its pages. Need I say more than the words “Charles Krauthamer?”

  13. Rider says:

    I believe your alternative suggestion is the correct one, namely that “a policy of peace making is followed while the appearance of special interest politics is allowed to persist.” That hits the nail on the head.
    It is a given in ME diplomacy that public statements may be light years apart from what is said back channel, moreso than in diplomacy in general. One has to read between the lines (in Haaretz and Ma’an; not NYT or WPost) and make inferences.
    Three examples. The IDF abruptly withdrew from Gaza unilaterally, twelve hours in advance of a Hamas ceasefire. I am told that this was in response to a warning from the incoming administration that any UN censure for war crimes would not be protected by US veto in the Security Council after Jan 20. Secondly, there have been reports in Haaretz of “angry” messages from the State Dept. to Israel regarding impediments to the flow of humanitarian and reconstructive supply convoys. After Mitchell and Clinton’s visits, the flow suddenly improved, some crossings are opening. The third piece of evidence is the apparent failure of Netanyahu to form a functional coalition. The Israelis are in disarray essentially because the voters have shifted right but the leaders have seen what’s coming from Obama and know there’s a train wreck around the bend.
    Anyway, you’re right. Admittedly, history does not inspire optimism.

  14. Hypatia says:

    Well, one very big thing has changed: no Kagans are currently involved in formulating US foreign policy. IMO that’s a big step in the right direction.

  15. steve says:

    Posted by: castellio:
    “She has the time and opportunity to prove me wrong, but she would have to put her country ahead of her ambitions. They are not identical.
    We’ll see.”
    If Hillary is as intelligent as she is made out to be, she should recognize that the I/P status-quo is a loser, and not just in the ME, but increasingly, I think, in domestic politics as well.
    Her career could only be enhanced by her leading a breakthrough.
    Will she? Who knows. Like you say, we’ll see.

  16. castellio says:

    Steve, what might that “breakthrough” look like, given that she will want to maintain her access to pro-Zionist funding and media outlets to run her future campaigns?
    How, realistically, would she offset the potential loss of that money and media support? How could she secure those benefits?

  17. Rebecca says:

    Well, the neocons have succeeded in hounding Chas Freeman out of consideration for head of the National Intelligence Council.
    Does not bode particularly well for foreign policy “change”. The Lobby is still in control.

  18. steve says:

    Well, catellio, seems that the Freeman debacle of yesterday proves your point.

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