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By Wall Street Journal
May 17, 2008
If nothing else, we now know what it takes to make a Democrat go nuts. One word: "appeasement."
Notwithstanding that President Bush named no names in his speech to Israel's Knesset on Thursday, Barack Obama instantly called it a "false political attack." On him, of course.
To House Speaker Nancy Pelosi it was "beneath the dignity of the office of the President."
"Offensive and outrageous," thundered Hillary Clinton from somewhere in South Dakota, followed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: "reckless and irresponsible."
When the party's top four Democrats come roaring out of the blocks in unison, something has hit a nerve.
Forget the complaint that Mr. Bush used a Hitler analogy. It's the here and now that has these Democrats upset. The fuse that set them off is any suggestion inside the context of a live presidential campaign that the Democrats are soft on national security.
This has been a particular Democratic vulnerability since at least the George McGovern campaign in 1972. The most famous and destructive image from a Democratic presidential campaign the past 25 years was the helmeted Governor Michael Dukakis in a tank. In 2004, John Kerry tried to run on his biography as a Vietnam vet. Didn't work.
If Barack Obama has an Achilles' heel, this is it. He first exposed it last July in a Democratic debate when he replied, "I would," to a question of whether he'd meet as President with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "without precondition." Even Mrs. Clinton took a shot at that one, calling the Senator's comment "irresponsible and frankly naive."
own April 2007 sojourn to Syria is remembered mainly for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert feeling obliged to correct Ms. Pelosi's announcement that Mr. Olmert had told her he was ready to start peace talks with Syria. Untrue.
Meanwhile, Speaker Pelosi announced in Damascus: "We came in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace." There must be a word for this somewhere. Just last month, former met with leaders of Hamas to promote, among other things, "human rights."
But Barack Obama is the party's presumptive standard-bearer for 2008. Thus, let's try to bring this dispute into sharper focus.
Mr. Obama asserted again yesterday that he will not meet with terrorists. He is, however, willing to meet with Iran or Syria. Virtually no serious person disputes that Iran has shipped weaponry to terrorists in Iraq and that Syria has provided safe haven to these terrorists and let them cross from Syria into Iraq. In turn, these jihadists have killed U.S. soldiers. At a minimum, one might expect that ceasing this lethal activity would be a "precondition" before committing the office of the presidency to meet with either.
These columns have regularly criticized the current President and Secretary of State for failing to execute any discernible policy to stop the participation of these two state sponsors of terror in causing U.S. casualties in Iraq. This is the real mismatch between Mr. Bush's rhetoric and record, and where Senator Obama, if he chose, could hit hard. We doubt he will.
The Bush Administration has finessed the Iran nuclear problem by handing it to the E3/EU "process" - taken nowhere by the world's top diplomatic talkers from France, Germany and the U.K. For two years, Condoleezza Rice's State Department has played footsie with whomever speaks for Iran, to no effect. For either Barack Obama or Nancy Pelosi to suggest that they know better how to talk Iran's mullahs into an acceptable deal is, to put it gently, grandstanding.
Leaving no argument unturned, Democrats have reached back to Richard Nixon's trip to China and Ronald Reagan's negotiations with the Soviet Union as evidence that Republican Presidents "talk to the enemy." Put it this way: The day Iran brings forth a Chou Enlai and Syria a Mikhail Gorbachev, sure, give them a call.
Mr. Bush is right about one thing: At bottom this dispute is about understanding the nature of the enemy in Iran, Syria and other sponsors and practitioners of Islamic terror. If the tempest over his indelicate words causes the Democratic presidential nominee to think twice about the political cost of trafficking with Tehran or Damascus, uttering "appeasement" will have been worth it.
By Mark Steyn
May 17, 2008
"That's enough. That that's a show of disrespect to me."
That was Barack Obama, a couple of weeks back, explaining why he was casting the Rev. Jeremiah Wright into outer darkness. It's one thing to wallow in "adolescent grandiosity" (as Scott Johnson of the Powerline Web site called it) when it's a family dispute between you and your pastor of 20 years. It's quite another to do so when it's the 60th anniversary celebrations of one of America's closest allies.
President Bush was in Israel the other day and gave a speech to the Knesset. Its perspective was summed up by his closing anecdote a departing British officer in May 1948 handing the iron bar to the Zion Gate to a trembling rabbi and telling him it was the first time in 18 centuries that a key to the gates of the Jerusalem was in the hands of a Jew. In other words, it was a big-picture speech, referencing the Holocaust, the pogroms, Masada and the challenges that lie ahead. Sen. Obama was not mentioned in the text. No Democrat was mentioned, save for President Truman, in the context of his recognition of the new state of Israel when it was a mere 11 minutes old.
Nonetheless, Barack Obama decided that the president's speech was really about him, and he didn't care for it. He didn't put it quite as bluntly as he did with the Rev. Wright, but the message was the same: "That's enough. That's a show of disrespect to me." And, taking their cue from the soon-to-be nominee's weirdly petty narcissism, Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, Joe Biden and Co. piled on to deplore Bush's outrageous, unacceptable, unpresidential, outrageously unacceptable and unacceptably unpresidential behavior.
Honestly. What a bunch of self-absorbed ninnies. Here's what the president said:
"Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."
It says something for Democrat touchiness that the minute a guy makes a generalized observation about folks who appease terrorists and dictators the Dems assume: Hey, they're talking about me. Actually, he wasn't or, to be more precise, he wasn't talking onlyabout you.
Yes, there are plenty of Democrats who are in favor of negotiating with our enemies, and a few Republicans, too President Bush's pal James Baker, whose Iraq Study Group was full of proposals to barter with Iran and Syria and everybody else. But that general line is also taken by at least three of Tony Blair's former Cabinet ministers and his senior policy adviser, and by the leader of Canada's New Democratic Party and by a whole bunch of bigshot Europeans. It's not a Democrat election policy, it's an entire worldview. Even Barack Obama can't be so vain as to think his fly-me-to-[insert name of enemy here]concept is an original idea.
Increasingly, the Western world has attitudes rather than policies. It's one thing to talk as a means to an end. But these days, for most midlevel powers, talks arethe end, talks without end. Because that's what civilized nations like doing chit-chatting, shooting the breeze, having tea and crumpets, talking talking talking. Uncivilized nations like torturing dissidents, killing civilians, bombing villages, doing doing doing. It's easier to get the doers to pass themselves off as talkers then to get the talkers to rouse themselves to do anything.
And, as the Iranians understand, talks provide a splendid cover for getting on with anything you want to do. If, say, you want to get on with your nuclear program relatively undisturbed, the easiest way to do it is to enter years of endless talks with the Europeans over said nuclear program. That's why that Hamas honcho endorsed Obama: They know he's their best shot at getting a European foreign minister installed as president of the United States.
Mo Mowlam was Britain's Northern Ireland secretary and oversaw the process by which the IRA's Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness became ministers of a Crown they decline to recognize. By 2004, she was calling for Osama bin Laden to be invited to "the negotiating table," having concluded he was no different from Adams: Stern fellow, lots of blood on his hands, but no sense getting on your high horse about all that; let's find out what he wants and give him part of it.
In his 2002 letter to the United States, bin Laden has a lot of grievances, from America's refusal to implement Sharia law to Jew-controlled usury to the lack of punishment for "President Clinton's immoral acts." Like Barack Obama's pastor, bin Laden shares the view that AIDS is a "Satanic American invention." Obviously, there are items on the agenda that the free world can never concede on "President Clinton's immoral acts" but who's to say most of the rest isn't worth chewing over?
This will be the fault line in the post-Bush war debate over the next few years. Are the political ambitions of the broader jihad totalitarian, genocidal, millenarian in a word, nuts? Or are they negotiable? President Bush knows where he stands. Just before the words that Barack Obama took umbrage at, he said:
"There are good and decent people who cannot fathom the darkness in these men and try to explain away their words. It's natural, but it is deadly wrong. As witnesses to evil in the past, we carry a solemn responsibility to take these words seriously."
Here are some words of Hussein Massawi, the former leader of Hezbollah:
"We are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you."
Are his actions consistent with those words? Amazingly so. So, too, are those of Hezbollah's patrons in Tehran.
President Reagan talked with the Soviets while pushing ahead with the deployment of Cruise and Pershing missiles in Europe. He spoke softly after getting himself a bigger stick. Sen. Obama is proposing to reward a man who pledges to wipe Israel off the map with a presidential photo-op to which he will bring not even a twig. No wonder he's so twitchy about it.
By Ed Laskey
Barack Obama and Israel
Barack Obama's real thinking about Israel and the Middle East continues to be an enigma. The words he chose in an address to AIPAC create a different impression than the composition of his foreign policy advisory team. Several advisors have evidenced a history of suspicion and worse toward Israel. One of his advisors in particular, Robert Malley, clearly warrants attention, as does the reasoning that led him to being chosen by Barack Obama.
A little family history may be in order to understand the genesis of Robert Malley's views. Normally, one should be reluctant in exploring a person's family background -- after all, who would want to be held responsible for the sins of one's father? However, when close relatives share a strong current of ideological affinity, and when a father has a commanding persona, it behooves a researcher to inquire a bit into the role of family in forming views. That said, Robert Malley has a very interesting father.
His father Simon Malley was born to a Syrian family in Cairo and at an early age found his mιtier in political journalism. He participated in the wave of anti-imperialist and nationalist ideology that was sweeping the Third World. He wrote thousands of words in support of struggle against Western nations. In Paris, he founded the journal Afrique Asie; he and his magazine became advocates for "liberation" struggles throughout the world, particularly for the Palestinians.
Simon Malley loathed Israel and anti-Israel activism became a crusade for him-as an internet search would easily show. He spent countless hours with Yasser Arafat and became a close friend of Arafat. He was, according to Daniel Pipes, a sympathizer of the Palestinian Liberation Organization --- and this was when it was at the height of its terrorism wave against the West . His efforts were so damaging to France that President Valerie d'Estaing expelled him from the country.
Malley has seemingly followed in his father's footsteps: he represents the next generation of anti-Israel activism. Through his writings he has served as a willing propagandist, bending the truth (and more) to serve an agenda that is marked by anti-Israel bias; he heads a group of Middle East policy advisers for a think-tank funded (in part) by anti-Israel billionaire activist George Soros; and now is on the foreign policy staff of a leading Presidential contender. Each step up the ladder seems to be a step closer towards his goal of empowering radicals and weakening the ties between American and our ally Israel.
Robert Malley's writings strike me as being akin to propaganda. One notable example is an op-ed that was published in the New York Times (Fictions About the Failure at Camp David). The column indicted Israel for not being generous enough at Camp David and blamed the failure of the talks on the Israelis.
Malley has repeated this line of attack in numerous op-eds over the years, often co-writing with Hussein Agha, a former adviser to Yasser Arafat (see, for example, Camp David: The Tragedy of Errors ). He was also believed to be the chief source for an article by Deborah Sontag that whitewashed Arafat's role in the collapse of the peace process, an article that has been widely criticized as riddled with errors and bias.
Malley is a revisionist and his views are sharply at odds with the views of others who participated at Camp David, including Ambassador Dennis Ross and President Bill Clinton. Malley's myth-making has been peddled in the notably anti-Israel magazine, Counterpunch and by Norman Finkelstein, the failed academic recently denied tenure at DePaul University . Malley's Camp David propaganda has also become fodder for Palestinians, Arab rejectionists, and anti-Israel activists across the world.
His story of the talks is also plain wrong.
Dennis Ross had this to say regarding the failure of Camp David when he laid the blame on Yasser Arafat and Palestinian leadership:
....Fundamentally I do not believe he can end the conflict. We had one critical clause in this agreement, and that clause was, this is the end of the conflict. Arafat's whole life has been governed by struggle and a cause... for him to end the conflict is to end himself.
...Barak was able to reposition Israel internationally. Israel was seen as having demonstrated unmistakably it wanted peace, and the reason it wasn't ... achievable was because Arafat wouldn't accept it.http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,50830,00.html
President Clinton echoed these remarks, elsewhere:
So a couple of days before I leave office, Arafat says, calls to tell me what a great man I am. And I just said, "No, I'm not. On this I'm a failure, and you made me a failure."
At the conclusion of Camp David, Clinton made these points, stressing that Israeli leader Ehud Barak had gone the extra mile to reach peace with the Palestinians:
Was Malley so central to the peace process that he knew something that escaped the attention of our Middle East Envoy and our President? When one reads Dennis Ross's account of his years of trying to bring peace to the region, The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace, one can question just how central Malley was to the Camp David negotiations.*
- Prime Minister Barak showed particular courage, vision, and an understanding of the historical importance of this moment. Chairman Arafat made it clear that he too remains committed to the path of peace.
- Prime Minister Barak took some very bold decisions...
- I will say again, we made progress on all the core issues; we made really significant progress on many of them. The Palestinian teams worked hard on a lot of these areas. But I think it is fair to say that at this moment in time, maybe because they had been preparing for it longer, maybe because they had thought through it more, that the prime minister moved forward more from his initial position than Chairman Arafat on -- particularly surrounding the questions of Jerusalem...
- ... not so much as a criticism of Chairman Arafat, because this is really hard and had never been done before, but in praise of Barak. He came in knowing that he was going to have to take bold steps and he did it, and I think you should look at it more as a positive toward him than as a condemnation of the Palestinian side...
- I would be making a mistake not to praise Barak, because I think he took a big risk, and I think it's sparked already in Israel a real debate, which is moving Israeli public opinion toward the conditions that will make peace. And so I thought that was important, and I think it deserves to be acknowledged. (Clinton press conference, July 25, 2000)
Malley has written a range of pieces over the years that reveal an agenda at work that should give pause to those Obama supporters who truly care about peace in the Middle Peace and the fate of our ally Israel.
Playing Into Sharon's Hands: which absolves Arafat of the responsibility to restrain terrorists and blames Israel for terrorism. He defends Arafat and hails him as
..the first Palestinian leader to recognize Israel, relinquish the objective of regaining all of historic Palestine and negotiate for a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 boundaries. And he remains for now the only Palestinian with the legitimacy to sell future concessions to his people.
Rebuilding a Damaged Palestine: which blames Israel's security operations for weakening Palestinian security forces (absurd on its face: terrorists filled the ranks of so-called Palestinian security forces-which, in any case, never tried to prevent terrorism) and calls for international forces to restrain the Israelis
Making the Best of Hamas's Victory: which called for international aid to be showered upon a Hamas-led government and for international engagement with Hamas (a group that makes clear in its Charter, its schools, and its violence its intent to destroy Israel). Malley also makes an absurd assertion: that Hamas' policies and Israeli policies are mirror images of each other.
Avoiding Failure with Hamas: which again calls for aid to flow to a Hamas-led government and even goes so far as to suggest that failure to extend aid could cause an environmental or health catastrophe-such as a human strain of the avian flu virus!
How to Curb the Tension in Gaza: which criticizes Israel's for its actions to recover Gilad Shalit who was kidnapped and is being held hostage in the Gaza Strip. He and co-writer Gareth Evans call Israel's actions 'collective punishment" in "violation of international law".
Forget Pelosi: What About Syria?: where Malley calls for outreach to Syria, despite its ties to Hezbollah, Hamas, and the terrorists committing murder in Iraq; believes it is unreasonable to call for Syria to cut ties with Hezbollah, break with Hamas, or alienate Iran before negotiations; he believes a return of the Golan Heights and engagement with the West will somehow miraculously lead the Syrian regime to take these steps -- after they get all they want.
Containing a Shiite Symbol of Hope: that advocated engagement with the fiercely anti-American Iraqi Moqtada al-Sadr, who has been responsible for the murder of many Americans and Iraqis as the leader of the terrorist group, the Mahdi Army. He also has very close ties to Iran.
Middle East Triangle: (co-written with former Arafat advisor Hussein Agha) calls for Hamas and Fatah to reconcile, join forces, and to frustrate, in their words, Israel's attempts to "perpetuate Palestinian geographic and political division". Then Hamas will grant Abbas power to make a political deal with Israel that will bring peace. Noah Pollack of Commentary Magazine noting, as Malley habitually fails to do, Hamas intends to destroy Israel, eviscerated this op-ed.
The U.S. Must Look to its Own Mideast Interests: (co-written with Aaron David Miller) which advocates a radically different approach towards the Middle East which, in their words, does not "follow Israel's lead" and encompasses engagement with Syria (despite problems with Lebanon and their support for Hezbollah) and Hamas (regardless of its failure to recognize Israel or renounce violence).
A New Middle East: which asserted Hezbollah's attacks on Israel and the kidnapping of Israelis, which sparked the Israel-Hezbollah war in 2006, were motivated by Hezbollah's desire to retrieve Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails and were a response to pressure being exerted on its allies-Syria and Iran.
Robert Malley also testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in February, 2004. In that appearance he called for the Road Map to be cast aside because incremental measures intended to build trust were unworkable. He advocated that a comprehensive settlement plan be imposed on the parties with the backing of the international community, including Arab and Moslem states. He anticipated that Israel would object with "cries of unfair treatment" but counseled the plan be put in place regardless of such objections; he also suggested that waiting for a "reliable Palestinian partner' was unnecessary.
This is merely a sample of Malley's views -- which are focused on disengaging from our ally Israel (whose lead America should not "follow") and engaging with and, in some cases financially supporting, the likes of Syria, Moqtada al-Sadr, Hezbollah and Hamas. His ideology is radically at odds with American foreign policy as it has been practiced by two generations of Presidents -- both Democrats and Republicans -- over the years. This is the type of advocacy Robert Malley has been pursuing in the years since the end of the Clinton Administration and from his perch at the International Crisis Group -- an organization that may share his agenda.
The International Crisis Group
Robert Malley is the Director of the Middle East/North Africa Program at the International Crisis Group (ICG). Given the impressive title of the group, one might expect it to have along and impressive pedigree -- say long the lines of the well-regarded Council of Foreign Relations. In fact, the group is rather small and it has a short pedigree. More importantly, it has ties to George Soros. Soros is a man who has supported a wide variety of groups that have shown a propensity to criticize America and Israel; a man who has made clear his goal is to break the close bonds between America and Israel ; supported the views of Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer whose work on the issue of the "Israel Lobby" has been widely criticized for factual inaccuracies, shoddy research, and has been called "anti-Semitic" in the Washington Post; a man who has taken steps to counter the supposed political influence of the pro-Israel community in America; a man who has also been a key financial backer of Senator Obama's; and a man who can activate a wide variety of 527 (c) and other activist groups for any politician he supports.
Soros is a funder of the ICG through his Open Society Institute ; he serves on its Board and on its Executive Committee. Other members of the Board include Zbigniew Brzezinski (whose anti-Israel credentials are impeccable) and Wesley Clark (who called US support for Israel during the Hezbollah War a "serious mistake"; who has flirted with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories; and who has been the direct beneficiary of donations made by Soros ; Wesley Clark has defended the actions of George Soros.
But let's return to George Soros.
While it is true that the ICG receives funding from other sources, none of these donors are on the board; and a billionaire on the Executive Committee of the Board can wield a great deal of influence. Soros is a man who is legendary for his investment prowess. In this case, he again seems to have invested well -- as he is proud to trumpet. When the ICG gave him a Founders Award, he spoke of how pleased he was with the work the group does ("my money is very well spent"), and he took particular pride in the work done "on the Palestinian question".
As he should be, given his goals. Malley, as the Director of the Middle East/ North African program at the ICG, has assembled a group of "analysts" who reflect his (and Soros's) views and who share their goals: a radical reshaping of decades of American foreign policy and a shredding of the role of morality in the formulation of American policy. These policies would strengthen our enemies, empower dictatorships, and harm our allies.
This small cast of characters at the ICG:
Issandr el Amrani has accused the Bush Administration of fanning the flames of sectarian strife by rallying support against Iran. He absurdly claims that the goal of this alliance is to create,
"a new regional security arrangement with the Jewish state firmly as its center-the holy grail of the neo-conservatives who, despite reports to the contrary, continue to craft U.S. Middle East policy. (Otherwise, why would Elliott Abrams still have his job?"
Peter Harling: who has co-written numerous op-eds with Malley that advocate outreach toward Iraqi extremist leader Moqtada al-Sadr; talks with Iran and Syria ; and numerous op-eds critical of American actions in Iraq.
Nicholas Pelham who advocates outreach toward Hamas.
Other analysts and their opinions can be found here.
They are uniformly passive on dealing with terrorism and terrorists; critical of US efforts in Iraq and American-led efforts to constrain Iran; advocate aid be given to Hamas despite its record of terrorism; endorse engagement with Syria despite its links with Hezbollah, its role in oppressing Lebanon and its involvement in the assassinations that have helped to destroy Lebanon. They also seemingly have no qualms about advocating outreach to Iran, regardless of its role in the killing of American and Iraqis in Iraq and its proclaimed goal of destroying Israel.
No wonder Soros is happy with his investment in the International Crisis Group and in Robert Malley.
Why would Barack Obama have on his foreign policy staff a man who has been widely criticized for a revisionist history of the Middle East peace process sharply at odds with all other accounts of the proceedings?
Why would Barack Obama give credibility to a man who seems to have an agenda that includes empowering our enemies and weakening our friends and allies?
How did Robert Malley, with a record of writing that reveals a willingness to twist facts to serve a political agenda, come to be appointed by Obama to his foreign staff?
Was it a recommendation of Zbigniew Brzezinski to bring on board another anti-Israel foreign policy expert?
What role did the left-wing anti-Israel activist George Soros play in placing Robert Malley (or for that matter, Brzezinski himself) in a position to influence the future foreign policy of America?
What does it say about Senator Obama's judgment that he appointed a man like Malley to be a top foreign policy advisor?
Or does it speak more to his true beliefs?
*A digression, if I may, regarding Malley and impressive sounding titles. A Washington Post article on Senator Obama's foreign policy advisors described him as having been President Clinton's Middle East envoy. Now this would come as a surprise to Ambassador Dennis Ross who actually was Clinton's Middle East envoy. Indeed, there is a paucity of mentions of Malley in Ross's exhaustive history of the Middle East peace process during the Clinton years, The Missing Peace, where more often than not he is described as a note-taker-once serving as Yasser Arafat's stenographer.