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16 November 2008


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Since the Arab Israeli problem is to FU'ed to get my head around, (I believe both sides have valid claims from their point of view without there being a real middle ground.) I want to ask the colonel if he could clarify why the Russians are not as afraid of Iran having nukes than the west is.
As I see it, Iran shares a border with Russia, and in the south there are a lot of Muslims who in the future might decide that the want independence. Some of those must be Shiite and would get at a minimum the tacit help of Iran.
So I don't see why Moscow doesn't think it's in their interest of Iran being nuclear free.


Looking at a map, it seems Iran and Russia don't share a border. My bad, but still the question stands I think.


Any plan for ME peace would appear to be doomed as long as Iran and a number of minor power brokers look to project or collect power though destablizing the region. There are so many surrogates with munitions and nothing to lose.

I dont think POTUS has a chance at real peace in that region. That will take a lot of the folks who live there deciding to stop and accept the real world reality they live in and start working to improve the business and political climate for the future.

In the case of the new POTUS, his experince is in rhetoric, not actual results. His lukewarm (at best)regard for the Jewish nation will be more likely to encourge trouble than solve it. Just being (or voting) "present" is not a hallmark of action or having a plan.


Colonel, perhaps I misunderstand your misgivings, but this plan is the only thing that will remotely bring peace to the region. Israels issues with various members of the Arab league will mostly dissipate if they were to return to the '67 borders. That would end issues with Syria and Lebanon. If they were to also sign a deal with the Palestinians (and on the Palestinian side its the deal that matters not who signs it) that would end the Iranian threat. What other nations have "issues" with Israel? Libya? Hardly a player. The rest of the North Africans that haven't already (as well as the Gulf nations) would be only too eager to sign.

However, as others have already pointed out the problem with this plan is all on the Israeli side. If they truly believed it was just a stunt they would have accepted it and called the Arab bluff. But they know the league is easily malleable. So they wont do it.

Evacuating what are ostensibly Jewish extremists from Judea and Samaria has a very high risk of imploding, even leading to extreme civil strife if not civil war.

Giving up the West bank also means giving up water, something Israel is in crisis over right now even with control over West bank water.

And giving up half of Jerusalem? Whatever Israeli leader tries that had better have a pretty big electoral mandate.


"as long as Iran and a number of minor power brokers look to project or collect power though destablizing the region. There are so many surrogates with munitions and nothing to lose."

RickH, don't believe the hype.


There is one thing that always confused me: too many people like to talk about some sort of peace between Israel and "the Arab World," or even the "Muslim World," but most of the Arab World, let alone the Muslim World, is not really in any shooting conflict with Israel. They are in a state of a cold war, or cold peace, one might say. The principal "conflict" lies in the realm of public sentiments--many Arabs and Muslims hate Israel, but nothing could really be done about it, even some diplomatic recognition might be achieved.

The actual "shooting" conflict exists between Israel and its immediate neighbors, especially the Palestinian entity that technically does recognize Israel diplomatically. I don't see how the situation involving Israel and its neighbors would be any different whether or not the "Arab World" recognizes Israel or not. Syria might be bought out--but only with American, rather than Israeli, money--ensuring even further entanglement in the region on our part. I don't see any kind of bribe that would settle the Palestinian issue--not even a return to the 1967 borders, which will still leave the Palestinian "state" bissected and nonviable, without further concessions (like transit rights and access to various services, like electricity) by the Israelis--which will not be forthcoming, especially if they actually wind up retrreating to the Green Line. The Lebanese price, I suspect, will be acceptance of (and more or less non-interferences with) Hizbullah as the dominant political force in the country--even as it might muscle aside its opponents, who happen to be our (and Israel's) allies in that country's political scene...which will be, at minimum, difficult--if at all possible.

Just my two cents...


Bush was the best friend AIPAC ever had.

Clinton (generic Clinton) was the second-best friend that AIPAC ever had.

Obama faces some pretty stiff headwinds...including Murdoch's shilling in the Times.

Looking at the future is tough.

Looking at the past, I see a man who managed probably the most effective political campaign in American history. He's a "mutt". He has foreign policy experience comparable to Sarah Palin's. And yet...

I am hopeful for the post Inauguration world.


What is the HAMAS plan? South Africa Redux

Palestinian State per Arafat or holdout until entropy creates a BiNational State?

Is so, then NetanYahu is their man!

From Haaretz
"Hamas is waiting for Netanyahu"
By Akiva Eldar

"On the contrary, the more Jews there are in the West Bank, the lesser the danger that Greater Israel will remain a Jewish state, and the stronger the chances that it will become a binational state, and eventually Greater Palestine."


Olmeret and Kadima (forward in Hebrew) have seen the danger in Bantustans and South Africa. Once Israel-Palestine becomes a civil rights issue and not a security fight, then the Israel as a jewish state is doomed.

By the way, Dennis Ross is quoted in Haaretz as saying he was was in the same room as Abu Hussein (as Obama is called in the Arab World) and the statement in question was not made.


It's official,

Obama's foreign policy will be neocon city. Exact same thing as Bush-Clinton era.

Big mistake. We are going to continue all feuds and clashes. but at very weakened economic position.

China and Russia now have all the chips.


U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has called Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to assure Moscow's outspoken foe of Washington's continued support, the Georgian leader's press service said Tuesday.

Russia's chilly ties with the West cooled further after its war with Georgia in August, when Russian troops launched a massive counter-attack in support of rebels following Tbilisi's attempt to retake one of its breakaway regions by force.


Dear Sir, I am rarely disapointed by the comments section. However, this particular one is not much more than a jumble of jigsaw pieces from three or four different sets. This must mean that a. there is no peaceful solution: b. there are multiple solutions: c. the level of complexity is not based in rational thought but in emotional reaction by the observers.

Keone Michaels

When Obama started to run for office I expressed the dour and intemperate thought elsewhere that a black man could not take the presidency in "peckerwood" America. Obama played it differently, not really acknowledging racism as an issue. Reality it appears is often shaped by expectations.

This tactic (or is it a strategy, I always get them confused) which worked in the election I think might work in the Middle East?

William R. Cumming

I would argue that the Israel-Palestine issue could consume the Presidency of Obama at almost anytime. He must pay close attention as George W. Bush did not. But what does this mean at a practical level? His Secretary of State and representatives must be truly unbiased on the past or else the saying "history is prologue" will control. Personally, I believe the dual citizenship policy of the US should be ended and of course this would dramatically impact Israel. But if we truly are going to have tradeoffs, perhaps in return we could guarantee the original 1948 borders flat out, and water rights negotiated and which are very complicated. Then of course, the implicit nuclear blackmail and guarantee of Israel must be ended and official recognition given. Unfortuantely, I believe that the ejected Arab residents of the area formed by the creation of the STATE OF ISRAEL in 1948, are no more worthy of official irrendentum guarantees (if that is correct terminology) than the say the 285 million people who speak German have rights to German citizen (to cite from a past international tragedy.)
Hey, although I am for a kind of dual citizenship for Mexicans based on the shared history and evolution of both countries everyone else much choose the US for his/her citizenship or another country. I have never been able to get a readable history of how the US got to dual citizenship anyhow. I certainly never voted for it. The Constitutional guarantee that anyone born here is a citizen creates enough anomalies as it is.


Come on, come on... there should be enough information. Now that Hillary is SoS to predict possible scenario...

I'll start:

1. 2009 will be recessionary economy.

2. No change in Iraq on the ground.

3. Hillary selection is taken by Israel as a signal of free reign. So they start complete re-occupation attempt of Gaza and west bank.

4. Palestine and Israel is in total war. Iran and Syria inject weapons.

5. West bank turns into Lebanon style occupation war. Section of Fatah join Hamas.

6. Tension with Iran escalate, therefore Russia. Iran will declare nuclear probably summer if no progress is made. Otherwise they will seek to prove that their conventional power is strong enough to deter US/Israel in Iraq.

7. Oil price increases to $70 once the tension escalate. (Crashing the very mild recovery)

8. China and Russia recover first and consolidate entire europe and pacific.


Let us who Obama's Secy. of State is before speculating on Obama's ME policy.


To add another piece to the picture presented by Col. Lang: The Oxford Research Group hosted a meeting recently--I believe in London--attended by Prince Turki, as well as a number of Israelis, participants from other Arab countries, and some people from the U.S.A., including Henry Siegman. The meeting was touted as an important step towards advancing the Abdullah Plan, etc. But according to reports from the meeting itself, the Oxford Research Group sponsors pitched the idea that an Israeli-Saudi "separate peace" could be reached, with no linkage to the Palestinian issue. In other words, the so-called peace discussion was really an attempt to sound out whether both Israel and Saudi Arabia could reach an agreement--to screw the Palestinians. These days, the flavor of the day excuse for avoiding the Palestinian issue is the internal split between Hamas and Fatah. A few years back the issue was the Arafat was a tyrant and no one can deal with the Palestinian issue until he is dead. The beat goes on. I also hope that the new Administration surprises us all. What I would like to see is a revival of good old fashion diplomacy. Col. Lang should repost his own modest proposal for a mutual self-interest deal among the regional parties, which was posted about a year ago, if I recall. Timely to put it up front again on the site.


My own "recipe" is for USA to require (not request) Israel to comply with international humanitarian law (how can US Jews or Christians object to that?) to the extent of REMOVING all SETTLERS and the WALL from all occupied territories beginning soon and getting done quickly.

After all, the ICJ (9 July 2004 advisory opinion) stated that the wall had to be removed, that all countries had to make sure it happened, and that the settlements were also illegal (which is why Israel has no legitimate stake in a wall which protects illegal settlements. The wall can of course be re-built within the "green line" of 1966).

The settlers and wall are part of the Israeli "rubber hose" used as an instrument of "diplomacy" in the "negotiations" for "peace". As they are illegal, they must no longer be used.

(The closures and check-points, house demolitions, assassinations, arrest w/o trial, torture, etc., etc., are other elements of the "rubber hose" which may be considered after the settlers and wall are removed.)

The Israelis should quietly be given an option voluntarily to publish a schedule for the removal of settlers and wall, and to keep to the schedule, but if they do NOT do so, then an "order" will have to be given, an "order" to be given in the interest of LAW and HUMAN RIGHTS.

Once the "order" is given, Israel will either refuse or comply. Refusal would offer the USA and EU and others the justification for imposition of sanctions (such as used against Iraq, Cuba). If they've actually and publicly given the "order", agreeing to sanctions should not be so hard.

Compliance will place both Israel and the PA (or the PLO) in a tight time-frame for negotiation. The "peace process" might, in that case, become a peace process.

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