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September 19, 2007


Joe M.

Did you get the chance to ask Obama why he doesn't have the backbone to openly support Palestinian rights, when we all know that he personally does? About the article by Ali AbuNeimah:
And Obama's distancing of himself from his own "spiritual mentor" because of his pro-Arab positions:

He might not have been pandering you about the Packers, but he certainly is pandering Jews over his support for Israel. Why doesn't he have the guts to be honest about his own views.


I am beginning to understand some of what the media mindset is like.
what their ultimate narrative is, I don't know. Could be they think of our election as a baseball game and want a 'subway' series.
And/or they have this single minded idea of making Obama the vp to Hillary. nevermind the two cannot stand each other and Obama is superior to Hillary.
But, they have an agenda. They don't like his not walking the line on cw and paying homage to the establishment and the insider games.
His dangerous ideas of actually letting the people participate in their democracy is feared.
They like their cozy Georgetown cocktail life with the insiders like Hillary gossiping and being totally out of touch.
So, they are going to punish him. Besides, if Hillary tells them to misrepresent what he is really saying to play up the naive theme they are happy to.
I saw Jonathan Alter on one day who ripped his own profession for their preplanned storyline of the boy king who everyone wanted to have a beer with. They were obsessed with this and so set out to destory, actually destroy Al Gore.
We always suspected but, this was coming out the mouth of one of their own who I gather is sick of the culture there.

Guardian reading liberal

Obama's been loathesome in his attempt to slur Mearsheimer and Walt. Besides Joe M's point about his U-turn on Palestinian rights, you might also have asked him why he's been at the forefront of criticism of 'The Israel Lobby' (although this isn't exactly a mystery).

Reading this post its got a slightly depressing feel about it - it reads like a love in between the Washington politician and the Washington academic.

Non-Arab Arab

Yeah, I have to partially agree here. I mean, Obama strikes me as a personally decent guy (so does Romney, but his policy prescriptions are something darn close to pure evil in my view), but I'm not quite sure what's got you so enamored of Barack. I mean, the foreign policy speech of his which struck you as so innovative - while certainly far better than anything Bush could ever offer and ignoring the Pakistan stuff - remained in my view deeply patronizing of the Muslim world. The tone that came through to me was "they need to see us as their loving fathers in the Blackhawks instead of their occupiers". Ironically for a person of color, in my view it harkened back to a century ago and the talk of civilizing our "little brown brothers" in the Philippines far more than it struck me as anything innovative or new. While that certainly implies a far more gentle approach, it hardly approaches the issue from a basis of mutual respect and equality with the Muslim world or the global south generally. I'd personally rank Obama as a least bad option (and as such likely to get my vote if he gets the nomination), but far from ideal.


Obama impresses me because he seems to have the right instincts on foreign policy (as well as the charisma which has become something of a cliche so that people look past it now... but it's real). I thought his big terrorism speech was extremely good, and his recent Iraq speech was probably the best I've seen from any candidate on the topic. Doesn't mean I agree with everything he says, but compared to the rest of the candidates he looks pretty good. As to why he's taking the line he's taking on Israel/Palestine (whatever his real views, which I don't know), that's obvious - he wants to win. Do you see any other candidates taking remotely different positions?

No Preference

he wants to win.

Sure he does. And when he wins he'll find himself bound by his rhetoric, not to mention his self-interest. Knee-jerk support of Israel will continue, sadly.


As to why he's taking the line he's taking on Israel/Palestine (whatever his real views, which I don't know), that's obvious - he wants to win. Do you see any other candidates taking remotely different positions?

Sounds as if you don't particularly care what his "real views" are, either.

Can you be specific about what in his terrorism speech impressed you?

Joe M.

I don't think there is much doubt that Obama has a very deep understanding of the Palestinian cause. I have been told that he was very close to Rashid Khalidi when they were both at the University of Chicago. As such, I think it is very clear that Obama recognizes that the occupation is the problem and the Palestinians are not at fault overall. That's to say it mildly, I think. But publicly, unfortunately, Obama has been as spineless and cowardly as anyone. He has put his public image above his personal beliefs.

The problem with this is, in fact, that he is probably doing it because "he wants to win." It is either undemocratic or a sign he is unprincipled. both are pretty damning. Maybe it would not be so bad if it were a less important issue, but this is a central issues in world politics. And it is an issue that it's pretty clear Obama has established views which he is denying publicly.

One of the greatest disappointments with this, too, is that Obama was totally unknown last year. He became popular absolutely independently of any of his positions. He could easily have taken a stand and become the first major candidate to push for a moderate policy on the Zionist problem. But he didn't. So maybe it is that he just wants to win and will sell out the most oppressed people in the world for his shot at power, but that's a pretty big problem in my eyes, and reason enough not to vote for him.

Oh, and it is true that no "major" candidates are taking a better position. But Kucinich and Gravel and Ron Paul are better. I am sure the Green candidate, the Liberaterian and probably all other "3rd party" candidates will be better. It's not saying much, but we are debating a serious issue, not just asking which you prefer between crunchy or smooth peanut butter.


Obama definitely exceeds the rest of the pack in intelligence, charisma, and communications skills. He seems to be, from what I can see, a far better human being as well.

His Pakistan comments can be seen from multiple angles, but I think what's important is that they came in a context in which he was trying to appear more hawkish. Hillary and others criticized him for his willingness to visit certain 'notorious' foreign capitals early into his presidency, if elected. He fell into a trap that was set for him.

Moreover, the reaction in Pakistan was quite severe, and is an important factor for multiple reasons. Pakistan is an independent country, and Pakistanis, like people of other countries, would like to maintain their sovereignty. Obama could have given a similar answer in more guarded terms.

His staff should look at the recent Terror Free Tomorrow poll conducted in Pakistan. It reveals that a plurality or more of Pakistanis support the government's military actions against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and even more oppose U.S. military actions inside Pakistan. Anti-American sentiment is high. China and Saudi Arabia are immensely popular there. One major reason is because those two countries have a visible presence in the country. China is developing a new deep sea water port, has built major highways, and the Saudis have a variety of interests in the country, including major banks. In the poll, Pakistanis would appreciate greater U.S. trade, investment, and development aid. This, they say, will improve their views of the U.S.

Perhaps it would've been better if Obama complemented more guarded, hawkish statements with a proposal for more comprehensive relations with Pakistan, featuring aid and investment that goes as close to Pakistan's people as much as possible.

Btw, for regular analysis of Pakistani affairs, you can visit my site at: www.pakistanpolicy.org

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