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16 November 2008


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Col., what do you see as the policy goals in the Middle East in general and regarding the Israel/Palestine impasse in particular, the Obama administration should pursue, and what specific actions should they undertake at its outset to pursue them? If you have addressed all or part of these issues in previous posts by all means provide links.

This would be very useful input from someone as familiar with the area and its issue as you are, for citizens who seek to be informed.

Patrick Lang



The goal IMO should be a reduction in tensions in the region that allows ordinary people to live in relative safety and to develop their economies enough to live comfortably.

The accomplishment of such goals would enable us to remove our forces and abandon the neo-colonialism of the Bush Administration.

We should not entertain the idea of permanent involvement in the politics of the region. pl


Col. Lang wrote:

"Problem: The text says that when the Israelis and ALL the disputants to various issues with the Israelis resolve their differences, then the members of the League will CONSIDER recognition of Israel."

This puzzles me Colonel. If I recall correctly (and a quick Googling of the initial reception had by the "Abdullah Plan" doesn't disagree, though I didn't look up the actual text) the overwhelming problem that was had with the plan by those Israelis who were and are against it wasn't this at all. It was instead the Plan's essential call for a *complete* evacuation of *all* (or damn near all) the post-1967 settlements, and sharing Jerusalem.

And given there are something like 400,000 armed Israelis in those settlements who aren't likely to go gently into that good night, and given Israel's torment over merely getting some few hundred out of the Gaza strip, and given the Israeli devotion to Jerusalem, those make more sense to me.

But you say it's this game-playing clause here, huh? Are you sure that Abdullah hasn't indicated that in fact the Saudis would indeed categorically recognize Israel and throw their weight behind same with others if the Israeli's did indeed evacuate and divided J'salem?

Not saying I think the plan has any chance, but just that I thought Abdullah's offer was a genuine one and that the killers were the ones asking the Israelis to evacuate and divide J'salem. Those 400,000....



piecemeal, the negotiatians are already agreed. they just have to be sold and passed. you don't sell the steak b/ the sizzle.

The Taba Accords addressed the Israeli-Palestinian Issues including the Refugee Problems. The Geneva Accords are similar to those and are published many places.

The Golan, Jebel Druze, issue has been fleshed out in detail. The Golan as a park basically w/ access to the Israelis b/ w/ Syrian soveriegnity.

Olmeret has had the courage to announce the division of Jerusalem where Ehud Barak dared not utter it.

We just have to see now if Tsiopora, the tall drink of water, can win the election. She's got more guts than Barak ever had had.

The Persicos will not give up the technology b/ all sides will make up all kinds of accomodating noises.

The difference now is a POTUS that starts ME PEACE at the start of his first term instead of his demise after untold addition of Israeli West Bank settlements

Dave of Maryland

Big surprise. Obama's solution for most everything is a superficial slogan.

The best thing about Obama is the mob he has unwittingly unleashed. I was pleased to hear that last Wednesday, mob members unleashed 1.2 million copies of a fake NY Times special edition. Headline? IRAQ WAR ENDS.

And a fake NY Times webpage to go with it: NYT fake. Looks to me like there's money in that mob. And brains, too.

This is the best we have to hope for from Mr. Obama, and it ain't much.

Bill O'Reilly was on the Daily Show last Thursday. Said he was scared to death Obama would "do something". And then, for examples, cited the fact that as a US Senator, Obama had done nothing. As an Assemblyman from Illinois, Obama had done nothing. Stewart, still punch-drunk on Obama, failed to ask the obvious question, Why should anyone fear that Obama will "do something" as president?

Why, indeed. Slogans are enough. Aren't they?

Should Hillary be his Secretary of State? Wouldn't that risk her actually doing something & in the process, upstage a president mired in slogans?

But it's a happy thought. If Hillary won't replace Harry Reid as Majority Leader, what further use is she as a Senator? If she were the left's answer to Henry Kissinger, she could neatly position herself to be Obama's replacement. In the event, of course, that by 2012 slogans hadn't been enough. Or if, in the meanwhile, Obama got bored with his office, resigned & took his idiot VP with him.


The colonel's skepticism is well-founded but events of the past year may foretell events that defy rational explanation.

It was my long-held belief that a black man would never be elected to the presidency. Who would have thought that the packaging of simple US-based mortgage debt would unravel the world's financial financial network?

Were those event Providential or the results of perfect storms?

Maybe Middle East peace as suggested by the colonel will emerge from unknown forces.


I agree. It's pretty much more of the same, grand talks with no semblance of reality on the ground.

I give that declaration 2-3 weeks before everybody says "yeah whatever. Let's start shooting and snipping again." It's Annapolis with more puffy words.

I for one think we should create some sort of military equilibrium. In that everybody realizes what boundary and military power exist on each side.

That anybody cross the boundary will start a real war that will annihilate each other.

Israel is certainly more polite toward Syria after Russia arming them with advance missile and warning radar. Same with Lebanon. Israel now knows their ground limitation and readily accept UNIFIL authority.

Once we stop arming Isreal with more weapons, they pretty much realize they have to behave and start negotiating.

If Hamas is able to stop ground attack in Gaza, then they are credible power. Israel will then have to talk with them.

With global economy crashing and only arab oil country has money, Israel better smarten up quickly. Iran economic growth is projected at 6%+ still. They can afford escalation war. Israel can't once US pulls the plug on aid.


Sorry to see Obama placing so much importance in a ME Solution when we know it can only (start) be resolved locally by an Israeli willingness to compromise. As to the Iranian problem, only negotiations will resolve it, and if they fail so be it as we can live with another member of the nuclear club.

I had hoped he would place more importance in Southeast Asia, Africa and South America where the emergence of future problems will arise.

Our military will be extracted from the ME in his first term and hopefully it is done patiently. Then we need to re-build our military not gut them as we have done after past conflicts.

Duncan Kinder

In response to the credit crunch, the United States' need to borrow has expanded to such a degree that it no longer is clear from where the funds for the loans we need could be had.

One of the few such sources would be Arab sovereign wealth funds.

This will likely affect the tenor of future US MidEast policy whether Obama or other domestic interests like it or not.

Charles I

Your goals are humanely reasonable and attainable, even without the advent of democracy across the middle east. But they would require some "incentivization" Bush might call it, apart from a blockade of Gaza, invasion of oil state or or the demonization of Iran. If NOTHING changes, nothing will change.

"We should not entertain the idea of permanent involvement in the politics of the region. pl"

And yet this precisely what American politics, AIPAC, big oil and the birthright to consume 25% of the world's resources unto Armageddon demand.

You cannot be elected to the Presidency without obsequious protestations that amount to a vetting, that America stands unconditionally behind Israel come hell or high water, and without an extremely high tolerance for Arabs suffering from within or without.

While I do not believe America can really impose Arab/Israeli peace in our time, I'm certain America can prevent it simply by never sanctioning Israel, never calling out Arab monsters as naked emperors keeping the money, arms and technology flowing. I often wonder what the effect of closing the taps to Israel would be, or just spending all that defense money on buying the damn oil. Or, Hell, just cut a check for $700 bn to the citizens and see what that market would demand of American Mideast policy makers and oil suppliers but I don't think we'll ever see it.

Clifford Kiracofe

Ross, the agent of the Jewish Agency, has done enough damage to US national interests during his career. Why should President-Elect Obama have to bother with him? Obama has Rahmbo at his elbow anyways.

Here is an interesting take on US-Iran relations from John Brennan:


(click to download pdf)

There are not a few American specialists on Iran, inside and outside government, who have realistic and well-informed perspectives. This republic does not need the advice of Ross and his fellow Zionist travelers anent Iran.


Colonel, I agree with you, but we should be careful about this article.

1. might simply be a Bibi planted story or planted by Bibi supporters (NeoNutties).

2. A reach by the Gulf Staes to presssure Obama

3. or more likely, just wishful by the newspapper since Obama keeps secrets so well.



Although Obama didn't mention Jerusalem in his weekly YouTube address, he did talk about something that speaks to the heart of the larger Middle East conflict: he reiterated his pledge for a $150 billion green energy program.

Democrat controlled Congress + $150 billion in government handouts to non-petroleum resources + global warming + the total exhaustion of normal channels (both diplomatic and military) throughout the Middle East = peace in our time?

I know, I know. You continue holding your breath. But the avenue of realism you advocate contains an equal number of intangibles, patience, and hope for a generational and cultural change at the street level. Which political impossibility will lose first: the intransigence of American consumers' love affair with oil or the intransigence of the Arab street's love affair with its anti-Israeli cause?

They are linked. They must be. There is no way this country continues to support Israel with such zeal when their neighborhood isn't the primary source of American energy. And our schizophrenic colonial relationship with all their opponents can be renegotiated from the ground up.

Yes, yes. The green revolution will take time. All these avenues will take time. The desert and oasis peoples in civilization's cradle relish nothing more than a nice fat protracted dispute. But this is still all about oil, and our new man in charge is making the best case possible for why we should kick the habit. This is no longer an abstract consideration regarding the Middle East of the future. This proposal--or at least a watered-down compromise version of this proposal--may soon be official policy.


I'm not clear why you are objecting to this approach. Is it the pan-Arabic, macro, broad-brush nature of this "plan"?

Why can't we do "hard headed negotiations on a country by country basis" in addition to the feel good PR stuff? Why are they mutually exclusive? Why not attend to the "big picture" while simultaneously working through the nuts and bolts of individual agreements between countries?

From my layman's point of view, it seems like the hardest thing to achieve would be getting Israel to stop reacting militarily to every individual suicide bombing. Seems like 60 years of a failed strategy would be enough.


As I read, Lang's post, the whole post, word for word, I noted the red highlighted section. 'Before even considering any agreements with the Israelis, the Israelis must withdraw to the pre-1967 borders.' Colonel, I fully agree with your goal as stated to "Chuck 16 Nov 2008 10:36AM." To have some kind of normalcy, is a laudable goal.

Now comes that infamous word, "BUT". As the ME looks at this, they're many things to be considered FIRST. This is not just a political issue. It is a religious law, cultural and Security issue for the WHOLE World. For this type of an agreement to work, BOTH sides need to come to the table seeing each other as EQUALS IN PERPETUITY. Then and only then, should the Israelis begin the tough work of considering this "Land for Peace Deal." -Grumpy



such goals are unattainable as long as AIPAC money and blackmail run roughshod over our elected politicians and u.s. foreign policy in the region.

R Whitman

Perhaps Obamas real goal in the Middle East is to endorse a policy already endorsed by the Israeli foreign Minister and , although half-heartedly, by the Arab League. If it suceeds he gets a lot of credit, if it fails, as it probabably will, he can say "I tried, it failed, now don't bother me."


I would highly advise President Obama to avoid deep involvement in the ME peace process other than disengaging Iraq in a careful manner for his first year. The fiscal collapsar will need full attention.

different clue

One thing Obama could perhaps do is push for freezing ongoing aid to Israel in "mid-pipeline" and freezing any joint activity relating to the Reagan era Strategic Agreement in the "same mid-pipeline"; until Israel had demonstratably evacuated each and every Jewish Settler from each and every Settlement in the West Bank and in Golan Heights and in Occupied East Jerusalem. Then we could unfreeze the pipeline and aid and Strategic Agreement activities could resume and stay resumed just as long as
The Occupation remained a low-profile security occupation with zero material-economic benefit going to Israel and just as long as zero Jewish Settlers went back into the de-Settlerized Occupied areas. Then the Arab States
and peoples could contemplate peace with Israel at their leisure, and
if they all agreed on peace,
Israel could retreat from the Occupied Areas as part of that All Around Treaty.


I read psalms several times per day. If Jews are in most part convinced of the sacredness of those texts I cannot imagine that they will stop pushing for the realization of the promise that God through the psalms has made to them. The Jews would have to reject credit in their foundational myths in order to participate in a peace that does not offer Israel dominion from the River to the ends of the Earth.

Clifford Kiracofe

New foreign policy advocacy group anent Iran:

"U.S. efforts to manage Iran through isolation, threats and sanctions have been tried intermittently for more than two decades. In that time they have not solved any major problem in U.S.-Iran relations, and have made most of them worse. Faced with the manifest failure of past efforts to isolate or economically coerce Iran, some now advocate escalation of sanctions or even military attack. But dispassionate analysis shows that an attack would almost certainly backfire, wasting lives, fomenting extremism and damaging the long-term security interests of both the U.S and Israel. And long experience has shown that prospects for successfully coercing Iran through achievable economic sanctions are remote at best.

Fortunately, we are not forced to choose between a coercive strategy that has clearly failed and a military option that has very little chance of success. There is another way, one far more likely to succeed: Open the door to direct, unconditional and comprehensive negotiations at the senior diplomatic level where personal contacts can be developed, intentions tested, and possibilities explored on both sides. Adopt policies to facilitate unofficial contacts between scholars, professionals, religious leaders, lawmakers and ordinary citizens. Paradoxical as it may seem amid all the heated media rhetoric, sustained engagement is far more likely to strengthen United States national security at this stage than either escalation to war or continued efforts to threaten, intimidate or coerce Iran."



In addition to the problem TomB identifies of Israeli national will to remove 400k Israelis from the territories, there's a problem that's potentially just as vexing on the other side: Who speaks for the Palestinians? I don't see a leader with the standing to unite Palestinians, much less get them to collectively agree on any kind of deal.


Col: Won't Iran have to be "flipped" in order for us to have some type of foothold in the Caspian? Bombing the Iranians into humility and pro-Americanism does not seem like a workable solution.


jlcg, most Israelis do not read Psalms once a day, once a week or once a month. A fair portion of those that do think that an Israeli state/"dominion" is a hindrance to their approach to God.

James, Baker and Bush didn't have to go all the way to stopping aid, they just threatened to freeze loan guarantees. It's rarely either/or in the ME or anywhere. Cheers, Trent


Clarification : the Taba accords were negotiated with the PLO. Now there is a new kid on the block, HAMAS. There offer a truce instead of PEACE, a HUNDA, but for a very long time. This is what the Crusader States and the Saracens(Arabic for Easterners) engaged in.

INSIGHT. from reading Uri Avnery, Begin had no qualms about giving up the Sinia (Oprah), nor would he have had any problems likewise w/ giving up Golan b/c it was not included in his conception of Eretz Israel (land of Israel) handed down from the Irgun founder Jacokitnsky (sp?). Eretz Israel included the West Bank and indeed TransJordan if they could've gotten their hands on it.

Sadat felt betrayed b/c Begin didn't fulfill his promise toward the Palestinians as part of the Peace deal and indeed Dayan resigned in protest. But it was a failure to communicate. All the bullcrap about security was a smokescreen. The grab for the West Bank was part of the fullfillment of Eretz Israel. I don't think Gaza is part of Biblical Eretz.

This is what is so momentous about the statements of Olmeret now. As a former Likud member, his divorcing himself from his past and is willing to cede part of the the Eretz. (Arabic Ard)

Perhaps a reciprocal HUNDA. The Zealots wouldn't be ceding Samaria and Judea. They would be merely giving a Hunda for 99 years. Likewise Hamas would be cedeing the plain of Sharon and the coast for 99 years. In 99 years all the zealots would be long gone and a new generation would be in charge.

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