Monday, January 26, 2009




"Obama's first interview as president (Al-Arabiya TV exclusive)"
FuxSnooze filters disengaged.

Super-Envoy George Mitchell Starts Work In The Middle East

I can't say I'm happy with Barack Obama's choices for his staff and Cabinet, as they mostly represent the Clintonism we voted against in the Primaries. And he has made way too many concessions to the Republicans, whose *sses we kicked in the general election. But he has at least acknowledged some of the more substantive issues facing the world today: Economic stimulus and home-owner rescue, global warming and energy issues, world poverty and over-population, abortion and women's rights. And now the Middle East.

This could be Obama's downfall, of course. Our conservative "friends" are salivating at the prospect, and many are openly wishing him ill before he even gets started in the Middle East. It's a mess of long standing, and it only seems to keep getting worse every year. Everything the United States has done there since Dubya took over in 2001 has been an unmitigated disaster, from 9/11 to Guantanamo, from Gaza to Pakistan. I guess you could say that it's all uphill from here: We couldn't continue to sink much lower, but it will be hard work climbing out.


Former U.S. Senate Democratic Majority Leader George Mitchell may only be a guy who happened to be in the right place at the right time, fourteen years ago. After centuries of struggle, the situation in Northern Ireland had reached a point where nearly everyone was crying out for a solution. Attacks by the IRA on the financial center and major airports in London had suddenly brought round the intractable Tories, whose slim majority in the House of Commons was partially dependent upon the support of the Ulster Members of Parliament and their supporters. By talking surreptitiously with both sides in the Irish province, the ice began to break. At some point, it had to go public to succeed. To his credit, President Clinton stuck his neck out and sent Senator Mitchell to Belfast to broker a deal. Maybe he only got the credit for its' success by showing up at the final moment. But everyone concerned still credits Mitchell with closing the deal between arch-enemies like Republican Gerry Adams and Loyalist Ian Paisley. Despite many bumps in the road, the deal is still on track.

Mitchell of Maine is now 77 years old. His arrival in the Middle East comes at perhaps the worst moment in recent history. There has been no evidence of any back-room dealing between the Israeli's and the Palestinians, unless you count mutual bombardments and civilian carnage as a form of communication. After sixty years of unqualified diplomatic, military and economic support by the U.S., Israel is now more accustomed to requiring things of America than the other way around. Even after attacks on U.S. Navy ships and espionage right in Washington, Israel still has 110% support from nearly everyone in any position of power in the United States. Even the anti-Semites of the American right-wing have embraced the militant Zionists who now control the Jewish State, delighted with their hard and racist stand against any concession to the Palestinians, and their sabre-rattling at Iran. Bush has given the Israeli Right a blank check, and they've been spending it like there's no tomorrow.

But there's a new exchequer in town. After making obeissance to AIPAC, the Israeli lobby in New York, Obama is reaching out to the Arabs. Sending Special Envoy Mitchell may be only a gesture, but it is an important one. It's the first step in what could be a new path in the Middle East peace process, which is a phrase we haven't even heard in eight years. Whether Mitchell is up to it or not, he seems to have the respect of both Arab and Jew. Hopefully, he has some vigorous and capable younger aides who can do the heavy lifting, and all the endless groundwork that any deal will require. Given that the fate of the world may rest upon it, we can all only hope and pray that Mitchell is once again the right man in the right place at the right time.

"State monitoring Obama arab reaction "
What the people say, over there. State is checking the blogs! Now check mine!

' A State Department official read to NBC News a few of the emails coming in from posts abroad. The U.S. Embassy in Cairo reports: "We are getting overwhelmingly positive feedback from bloggers and contacts in country. Their main points are that they were highly impressed..." that he gave his first TV interview to an Arab satellite channel. In Saudi Arabia, a newspaper editor told the embassy, "The reader reaction that he's getting so far is astonishingly positive." In the United Arab Emirates, the embassy said, "Anecdotal public reaction has been highly positive." In Bahrain, one newspaper normally critical of U.S. policies commented favorably on the appointment of George Mitchell as special envoy. '

"Op-Ed: Mitchell is the honest broker the Mideast needs"
Even the Israeli's were impressed.
' Hopefully, George Mitchell’s tenure as special envoy to the Middle East will turn out to be a case of what Yogi Berra would call “deja vu all over again.” Specifically, we could use a repeat of May 9, 2007, which has been the highlight of Mitchell’s career. That was the day that the conflict over Northern Ireland ended. It was a conflict that began in the 12th century and saw 3,500 people killed since 1966. President Obama would not have appointed George Mitchell unless he intended to push the process to a successful conclusion. Nor would he have made the appointment in the presence of the vice president, secretary of state and the assembled staff of the State Department. As for Barack Obama, he promised to begin the serious pursuit of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement during his first year in office. He’s well ahead of schedule. He appointed and tasked George Mitchell as special envoy on his second full day in office. '

"America No Muslims' Enemy: Obama "
' Pledging a new "language of respect" in dealing with the Muslim world, US President Barack Obama affirmed that under his rule, the United States will send a message to Muslims worldwide that America is not their enemy. "My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy," Obama told the Arabic-language Al-Arabiya television in an interview on Monday, January 27. In his first formal interview as president, Obama vowed a conciliatory approach to the Muslim world, where anti-American sentiments reached record high during the presidency of his predecessor George Bush. A recent poll by the Washington-based Pew Research Center found that the US image had plummeted deeply across the world, especially in the Muslim world, with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan topping a long list of disappointing factors."We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect," Obama admitted. '

"Short on substance but Obama’s tone to Muslim world was striking – Ian Black "
Ian's not happy, though.
' Obama’s main message to al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based, Saudi-owned rival to the more popular but far more strident al-Jazeera, was that Americans are not the “enemy” of the Muslim world – a perception that has taken hold in the years since the 9/11 attacks and George Bush’s declaration of a “war on terror”. No matter that this was a reprise of a much-discussed theme in his inaugural address last week. It certainly bears repeating as a high-profile exercise in public diplomacy. But there was no news at all about changes to specific policies that would demonstrate the dawn of a genuinely new approach. The president’s call for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks will be welcomed as another signal of his determination to play an active role from the start – in stark contrast to Bush. That has already been underlined by the dispatch of the Northern Ireland veteran George Mitchell, his special Middle East envoy, for his first talks in the region. '

"Obama offers open hand to Muslims - Times Online"
Maybe we won't lose Turkey after all.
' Obama offers open hand to MuslimsTimes Online - 30 minutes agoPresident Obama has offered to extend a hand of friendship to the entire Muslim world, including Iran, in a clear shift from the confrontational and divisive tone that has characterised American diplomacy in the Middle East over recent years. '

"Obama and the Jews "
Hard to please an Iranian.
' So, no matter what is Obama's personal thoughts and feelings on the Arab-Israeli issue, he has to take care of the homies who helped put him in office; he has to be especially "kind" to them during his first term. Have no misunderstandings; Obama will side with the Jews 9 times out of 10. Not that the Jews are on the side of right, but because they know how to work within the system. In 20-50 years, Arabs, Iranians and actually I better say Muslims will learn how to do this. I know I am being optimistic...... '

(Cross-posted at blog me no blogs.)