• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

SPRING FUNDRAISER

Is it time for our Spring fundraiser already? If you enjoy what we offer, and have the means, please consider donating. The sooner we reach our modest goal, the faster we can get back to business as (un)usual. Please, stay safe and we’ll see you down the road.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

A Stifling Embrace

The normally sure-footed Barack Obama made a misstep during his press conference with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. He declared: “I want to publicly commend President Abbas” for steadfastly insisting that a Palestinian unity government would have to recognize the Quartet conditions for dealing with Hamas.

In providing this seal of approval, the American president tripped over one of the oldest maxims of the modern Middle East: The closer the United States appears to side with a leader, the further away that drives the people from the leader.

By contrast, vice president Joe Biden, who is often accused of being a “gaffe machine,” was more nuanced in enveloping Lebanon’s president Michel Sleiman in the American embrace earlier this month, saying he had “not come to back any particular party or any particular person.”

Nevertheless, Biden’s visit to Lebanon, hard on the heels of secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s, was widely seen as an attempt to shore up the pro-Western March 14 Alliance. As for Obama’s plaudits for Abbas, they sent a signal to the region, intentional or not, that the United States is the reason the Egyptian-sponsored unity talks between Palestinian parties have yet to bear fruit.

To say that Lebanon and Palestine are both volatile situations is an understatement. The Lebanese will need all their political skill and maturity to handle the election — and post-election — period without renewed conflict. In the occupied Palestinian territories, this week’s clashes between Palestinian Authority forces and Hamas in the West Bank will keep tensions high there and in Gaza, where suffering is as yet unrelieved after the Israeli assault earlier this year.

America would do well to keep a low public profile when it comes to the internal dynamics of Lebanon and the Palestinians. Otherwise it will continue to be blamed for everything that goes on — and ridiculed. There is something comic about a foreign power with a heavy footprint in the region, including a substantial proportion of its military, sending two top officials to insist that Lebanon’s elections must be free of “outside interference.”

Besides, the United States’ professed support of democracy took a big hit when it refused to recognise the outcome of the free and fair elections that brought Hamas to power in 2006, and did everything possible to subvert the results.

Inveterate optimists will spot a couple of signs that Obama’s rhetoric may be for public consumption rather than policy. For example, one of the ways Palestinian politicians have considered to get around the Quartet conditions is to form a unity government with members of Hamas that, as individuals, recognize those conditions. That is, Hamas could maintain its positions and still participate in government.

Asked by journalists whether the United States would work with such a government, the State Department spokesman took the question back for consultation, and then issued a formal response: The United States would “expect any Palestinian Government and all of its members” to accept the Quartet conditions. In other words, if such Hamas members can be found, there might no longer be an American bar to dealing with a Palestinian unity government.

That would be an act of realism. According to Clinton, the American administration plans to put forward specific proposals to the Israelis and Palestinians. Without a Palestinian government that represents the majority who live in the occupied territories (Palestinian refugees and exiles remain without representation), it would be hard to forge an agreement.

In Lebanon, the United States knows full well that the British and other Europeans are meeting with Hizbullah. A seasoned British analyst affirmed that there was no way the United Kingdom would have done so without clearing it with the Americans. “Right now, nobody would dare cross Obama; everyone wants to ingratiate themselves with him.”

As for the Clinton-Biden visits, they might have been for domestic consumption. The Administration has said it will review military aid to Lebanon depending on the outcome of the elections. By spotlighting Sleiman and Lebanon’s military, the Administration might, in the event of a Hizbullah victory, be able to convince Congress to keep the military aid flowing on the grounds that the president and the army are the real partners. Particularly if a new government and “all of its members” uphold United Nations resolutions dealing with Lebanon.

Obama is investing considerable capital in the speech he plans to deliver to the Muslim world this week in Cairo. If he wants to be taken seriously, then embracing democratic outcomes, even if the United States doesn’t like them, would be a good place to start. And calling a moratorium on the American embrace.

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
May 29, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Nick Pemberton
White Supremacy is the Virus; Police are the Vector
T.J. Coles
What’s NATO Up to These Days? Provoking Russia, Draining Healthcare Budgets and Protecting Its Own from COVID
Benjamin Dangl
Bibles at the Barricades: How the Right Seized Power in Bolivia
Kevin Alexander Gray - Jeffrey St. Clair - JoAnn Wypijewski
There is No Peace: an Incitement to Justice
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Few Good Sadists
David Schultz
Trump isn’t the Pope and This Ain’t the Middle Ages
Joshua Frank
In Search of a Lost Socialism
Charles Pierson
Who are the “Wrong Hands” in Yemen?
Andrew Levine
Trump Is Unbeatable in the Race to the Bottom and So Is the GOP
Ramzy Baroud
Political Ambiguity or a Doomsday Weapon: Why Abbas Abandoned Oslo
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
A Growing Wave of Bankruptcies Threatens U.S. Recovery
Joseph Natoli
Conditions Close at Hand
N.D. Jayaprakash
No Lessons Learned From Bhopal: the Toxic Chemical Leak at LG Polymers India 
Ron Jacobs
The Odyssey of Elias Demetracopoulos
J.P. Linstroth
Arundhati Roy on Indian Migrant-Worker Oppression and India’s Fateful COVID Crisis
Melvin Goodman
Goodness Gracious, David Ignatius!!
Roger Harris
Blaming the COVID-19 Pandemic on Too Many Humans:  a Critique of Overpopulation Ideology
Sonali Kolhatkar
For America’s Wealthiest, the Pandemic is a Time to Profit
Prabir Purkayastha
U.S. Declares a Vaccine War on the World
David Rosen
Coronavirus and the Telecom Crisis
Paul Buhle
Why Does W.E.B. Du Bois Matter Today?
Mike Bader
The Only Way to Save Grizzlies: Connect Their Habitats
Dave Lindorff
Pandemic Crisis and Recession Can Spark a Fight for Real Change in the US
Nyla Ali Khan
The Sociopolitical and Historical Context That Shaped Kashmiri Women Like My Grandmother in the 1940s
Louis Proyect
Does Neo-Feudalism Define Our Current Epoch?
Ralph Nader
S. David Freeman: Seven Decades of Participating in Power for All of Us
Norman Solomon
Amy Klobuchar, Minneapolis Police and Her VP Quest
Maria Paez Victor
Venezuela in the 2020 Pandemic
Ron Mitchell
Defending Our Public Lands: One Man’s Legacy
Nomi Prins 
The Great Depression, Coronavirus Style: Crashes, Then and Now
Richard C. Gross
About That City on A Hill
Kathleen Wallace
An Oath for Hypocrites
Eve Ottenberg
Common Preservation or Extinction?
Graham Peebles
Air Pollution Mental Illness and Covid-19
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Unearned Income for All
Evan Jones
The Machine Stops
Nicky Reid
Proudhon v. Facebook: A Mutualist Solution to Cyber Tyranny
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
What is a “Native” Plant in a Changing World?
Shailly Gupta Barnes
Why are Our Leaders Still Putting Their Faith in the Rich?
John Kendall Hawkins
In Search of the Chosŏn People of Lost Korea
Nick Licata
How Hydroxychloroquine Could Help Trump…Politically
Jill Richardson
Tens of Millions of Are Out of Work, Why on Earth is Trump Trying to Cut Food Aid?
Susan Block
Incel Terrorism
Mitchel Cohen
Masks and COVID-19: an Open Letter to Robert Kennedy Jr and Children’s Health Defense
May 28, 2020
Melvin Goodman
Trump’s War on Arms Control and Disarmament
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail