If I am not mistaken, conservative darling, candidate, Mitt Romney was roundly defeated. Unless nobody bothered to tell me. Mitt not only was not foreign policy expert but he almost, if not totally agreed with Barack Obama in his last chance to show his true grit, in the third and final public debate, supposedly to show whose foreign policy, people trusted.
Mitt Romney tried hard, what with his three nation, grandiose, well planned and researched trip. The fella couldn’t even stick to his rehearsed script. Britts were so angry that apart from their stiff upper lip, professional diplomatic tradition, some very nasty comments landed on Mitt Romney’s pitiful and jingoist face.
Time to wake up folks, Barack is in charge, like or not. Show some respect, he is gonna stay till yon conservative faces turn black and blue.
…and I am Sid Harth@elcidharth.com
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Foreign Policy: No Apology for American Greatness
November 18, 2012 at 8:00 am
While conservatives might be in a bit of a post-election funk, this is no time to compromise our principles—especially on foreign policy and national security, where Team Obama’s record has been less than stellar to say the least.
Rather, now is the time to dig deep and fight for the conservative principles that made this country the great and benevolent power it has been and should continue to be.
Surrender to the misguided efforts of this Administration on international affairs is by no means an option.
Instead, we should be insisting—indeed, demanding—that the following ideas become the bedrock of our foreign and national security policy:
- Maintain a strong national defense. With the possibility of sequestration looming, we can’t take this principle for granted. The best military in the world needs to be equipped with the finest weapons systems in sufficient numbers. Military might is an essential pillar of American power, alongside deft diplomacy and economic energy, which support our influence and protect our interests abroad. Diplomacy is always more effective when backed by the credible threat of the use of force. Weakness—even the perception of weakness—is a gateway to provocations from those who oppose us and seek to do us harm. Deterrence and dissuasion, based on military power, is critical to fending off those challenges to our well-being.
- Rely on American power. The Obama Administration touts multilateralism and international organizations as the foundation of our international engagement. However, insisting upon this may be the exact reason that the Administration’s policies have been so ineffective. Outsourcing our foreign policy on tough issues to the likes of the United Nations is a big mistake. As has been said before, a lack of consensus is no excuse for a lack of leadership. America should act multilaterally when it can and unilaterally when it must in support of its national interests. Period.
- Assert American exceptionalism. This country is unique in the history of humankind. And never has one nation done so much for so many, for so little thanks as the United States of America. We are, without question, “exceptional.” As such, we shouldn’t be afraid of promoting across the globe the principles that made us great and will keep us great. We should never apologize for that.
American foreign policy really comes down to this question: Are this country’s best days behind us, or are they yet to come?
The answer to that question is not pre-ordained—unless we refuse to speak out in the public square in the aftermath of the election for the conservative principles that made this country both great and exceptional.
- Logged in as elcidharth
An Outgunned Hamas Tries to Tap Islamists’ Growing Clout
Smoke rose over Gaza City on Sunday, as Israel widened its range of targets to include buildings used by the news media.
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and MAYY EL SHEIKH
Published: November 18, 2012
CAIRO — Emboldened by the rising power of Islamists around the region, the Palestinian militant group Hamas demanded new Israeli concessions to its security and autonomy before it halts its rocket attacks on Israel, even as the conflict took an increasing toll on Sunday.
Brigades Firing on Israel Show Deadly New Discipline (November 19, 2012)
Israeli Iron Dome Stops a Rocket With a Rocket (November 19, 2012)
Israeli Airstrike Kills Three Generations of a Palestinian Family (November 19, 2012)
Pavel Wolberg for The New York Times
A woman and her child took cover in the southern Israeli town of Ashod, which was the target of several missiles on Sunday.
After five days of punishing Israeli airstrikes on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and no letup in the rocket fire in return, representatives of Israel and Hamas met separately with Egyptian officials in Cairo on Sunday for indirect talks about a truce.
The talks came as an Israeli bomb struck a house in Gaza on Sunday afternoon, killing 11 people, in the deadliest single strike since the conflict between Israel and Hamas escalated on Wednesday. The strike, along with several others that killed civilians across the Gaza Strip, signaled that Israel was broadening its range of targets on the fifth day of the campaign.
By the end of the day, Gaza health officials reported that 70 Palestinians had been killed in airstrikes since Wednesday, including 20 children, and that 600 had been wounded. Three Israelis have been killed and at least 79 wounded by unrelenting rocket fire out of Gaza into southern Israel and as far north as Tel Aviv.
Hamas, badly outgunned on the battlefield, appeared to be trying to exploit its increased political clout with its ideological allies in Egypt’s new Islamist-led government. The group’s leaders, rejecting Israel’s call for an immediate end to the rocket attacks, have instead laid down sweeping demands that would put Hamas in a stronger position than when the conflict began: an end to Israel’s five-year-old embargo of the Gaza Strip, a pledge by Israel not to attack again and multinational guarantees that Israel would abide by its commitments.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel stuck to his demand that all rocket fire cease before the air campaign lets up, and Israeli tanks and troops remained lined up outside Gaza on Sunday. Tens of thousands of reserve troops had been called up. “The army is prepared to significantly expand the operation,” Mr. Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting.
Reda Fahmy, a member of Egypt’s upper house of Parliament and of the nation’s dominant Islamist party, who is following the talks, said Hamas’s position was just as unequivocal. “Hamas has one clear and specific demand: for the siege to be completely lifted from Gaza,” he said. “It’s not reasonable that every now and then Israel decides to level Gaza to the ground, and then we decide to sit down and talk about it after it is done. On the Israeli part, they want to stop the missiles from one side. How is that?”
He added: “If they stop the aircraft from shooting, Hamas will then stop its missiles. But violence couldn’t be stopped from one side.”
Hamas’s aggressive stance in the cease-fire talks is the first test of the group’s belief that the Arab Spring and the rise in Islamist influence around the region have strengthened its political hand, both against Israel and against Hamas’s Palestinian rivals, who now control the West Bank with Western backing.
It also puts intense new pressure on President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who was known for his fiery speeches defending Hamas and denouncing Israel. Mr. Morsi must now balance the conflicting demands of an Egyptian public that is deeply sympathetic to Hamas and the Palestinian cause against Western pleadings to help broker a peace and Egypt’s need for regional stability to help revive its moribund economy.
Indeed, the Egyptian-led cease-fire talks illustrate the diverging paths of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, a Palestinian offshoot of the original Egyptian Islamist group. Hamas has evolved into a more militant insurgency and is labeled a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel, while the Brotherhood has effectively become Egypt’s ruling party. Mr. Fahmy said in an interview in March that the Brotherhood’s new responsibilities required a step back from its ideological cousins in Hamas, and even a new push to persuade the group to compromise.
But Moussa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas official who was allowed to settle in Cairo after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, predicted a different outcome. In an interview at the same time, he said that if another conflict broke out with Israel, the moderate Islamist politicians around the region like the Egyptian Brotherhood would have to line up with the militants in Gaza.
“The position of all Islamists in the region will be that of Hamas,” Mr. Abu Marzouk said, “not the other way around.”
Israeli officials are conducting their side of the cease-fire talks through the contacts in Egyptian intelligence with whom they worked during Mr. Mubarak’s rule. Officials said their main focus was on ending the threat of rocket fire from Gaza, whether by diplomatic or military means.
Dan Meridor, the Israeli intelligence minister, said on Israeli television that the government would wait for Hamas “to stop firing” before it would negotiate a long-term cease-fire. In the meantime, he said, Israel would do “whatever it takes” to eliminate Hamas’s ability to fire rockets, potentially including an incursion into Gaza.
In his first public comments on Gaza since the latest violence broke out, President Obama said in Bangkok early Monday that he supported Israel’s right to take action in Gaza but that he was trying to defuse the conflict.
“We are actively working with all the parties in the region to see if we can end those missiles being fired without further escalation of violence in the region,” Mr. Obama said, noting that he had spoken with Mr. Netanyahu several times, as well as with Mr. Morsi and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. “We’re going to have to see what kind of progress we can make in the next 24, 36, 48 hours,” Mr. Obama added.
As the conflict has intensified, so has diplomatic pressure on Israel to restrain its military campaign. William Hague, the British foreign minister, said in a television appearance on Sunday that he and Prime Minister David Cameron “stressed to our Israeli counterparts that a ground invasion of Gaza would lose Israel a lot of the international support and sympathy that they have in this situation,” The Associated Press reported.
While the Israelis talked to their longtime contacts in Egyptian intelligence, Mr. Morsi’s office worked through its own channels of communication with Hamas, and Mr. Morsi himself met on Sunday with Hamas’s top leader, Khaled Mashaal.
Mr. Fahmy, of Mr. Morsi’s Freedom and Justice Party, insisted Sunday that Israel was to blame for starting the current round of violence by killing Hamas’s top military leader, and that Israel would have to act to end it. “Now we’re exerting pressure to stop the fighting on both sides, but we can’t pressure the victim while the perpetrator isn’t even ready to settle,” he said.
Mr. Morsi, speaking Saturday night at a joint news conference with Mr. Erdogan, accused Israel of failing to abide by an earlier cease-fire with Hamas that Egypt had negotiated just a week earlier.
“There is a power imbalance,” Mr. Morsi said, noting the death tolls on each side: three Israelis killed by Hamas attacks during the five days of fighting, compared with more than 40 Palestinians killed by Israel, a figure that rose to 70 on Sunday.
“Israel is an occupying country, and international laws oblige occupiers with many things that Israel doesn’t abide by,” Mr. Morsi said. “If the situation was further escalated, or if a land invasion took place as Israelis have said, this would mean dire consequences in the region, and we could never accept that, and the free world could never accept that.”
Still, Mr. Morsi may not have a free hand. He is a new president of a country in a fragile political transition away from military-dominated rule. He must maintain good relations with Egypt’s still-powerful army and intelligence services, which are deeply wary of Hamas.
He has already shown a willingness to snub Hamas in the interest of Egyptian security, by leading a campaign to shut down the tunnels used to smuggle goods and occasionally weapons into Gaza under the Egyptian border. “We are closing them every day,” he said with evident passion in a recent interview.
Others in the Egyptian government argued that President Morsi was gaining a new perspective on Hamas, and on what officials of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry have long said was the group’s pattern of sacrificing the lives of Gazans to Israeli military campaigns for little reason other than to burnish its claim to be the champion of resistance to the Israeli occupation. That status is a key to its hold on power, and an asset in its rivalry with Fatah, the Western-backed faction that controls the West Bank.
Still, in his appearance on Saturday, Mr. Morsi publicly blamed only Israel for the violence, and warned its government that the Arab Spring had changed the Middle East. “Everyone should remember, the peoples of the region are different than before,” he said. “The leadership in the region is different.”
Reporting was contributed by Ethan Bronner, Irit Pazner Garshowitz and Isabel Kershner from Jerusalem, and Peter Baker from Bangkok.
Monday, November 19, 2012
From Print Edition
This favours a new social coalition of non-white minorities, over 70 percent of whom voted for Obama. They were supported by women and pro-Democrat sentiment among a majority of university-educated people.
Hopefully, all this sets a long-term social-political trend which will potentially make for a less pro-rich, pro-corporate domestic policy and a less militarist foreign policy. This trend is of course welcome. But it won’t translate into major shifts immediately. Obama is likely to continue with his earlier policies, with minor changes and nuances.
The biggest change will be a further shift in the policy pivot towards Asia, in line with the shift in global power away from the North Atlantic. Early in his first term, Obama wooed China, and tried to coax Pakistan into a more cooperative relationship, while keeping India out of the core of his security architecture. However, he soon raised India’s profile. He visited India, hosted Manmohan Singh as the first foreign leader at the White House, and advocated a permanent seat for India on the UN Security Council.
Obama has since tried to rope in India, along with Japan and smaller Asian countries, to form a hedge against China, and encouraged it to play a major role in Afghanistan where a drawdown of US forces is under way. India has been cautious in not being seen as part of a “China containment” strategy. But India hasn’t really thought through its position, as it must.
India is under pressure to “cooperate” with the US to reduce tensions in the South China Sea, keep vital Asian sealanes peaceful, and isolate and coerce Iran into giving up her nuclear programme, although she has the right to pursue peaceful nuclear activities.
India must resist such pressure, while maintaining her foreign policy independence and strategic autonomy. India must not underestimate its leverage vis-a-vis the US. For instance, even as it pursues the imposition of heavy sanctions against Iran, Washington has had to accept that India will continue to import oil from Iran, albeit in reduced quantities. India can and should adopt positions that don’t tail the west on Syria, Palestine and Venezuela.
India can translate both its strategic weight and the tremendous goodwill it enjoys in Afghanistan to see that the US does not withdraw precipitously to leave behind a vacuum in which violent jihadi forces flourish. India should help build and train the Afghanistan National Army and police autonomously of the western powers, without getting into rivalry with Pakistan.
India is critically poised to repair its frayed relations with Pakistan and reach a historic rapprochement. Singh ought to visit Pakistan very soon to bring about a real breakthrough. That’s a high priority. Nothing, including short-term gains that might accrue through glitches in Washington’s relations with Islamabad, should be allowed to interfere with this agenda.
On the international canvas, India can play an important mediatory or facilitating role in resolving the crisis over Iran’s nuclear activities. Iran is probably still many months, if not a couple of years, away from producing enough enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb. According to US intelligence agencies, Iran hasn’t yet decided whether to acquire nuclear bombs.
India must take a firm stand against a military strike against Iran’s nuclear installations, which will be dangerously counterproductive. The futility or limited utility and extremely high risks of such an attack have become apparent even to hard-nosed hawks in the US and Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans for an attack have been strongly opposed by many of his cabinet colleagues, and also by Israel’s security establishment, including serving army chief Benny Gantz, former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin, and former Mossad head Meir Dagan, who called it “the stupidest idea” he had ever heard.
More than 30 former top US foreign policy-makers, experts and military officers have warned against an attack. They argue that an Israeli strike would delay Iran’s nuclear programme at best by two years. A much bigger US “military action involving aerial strikes, cyber-attacks, covert operations, and special operations forces would destroy or severely damage many of Iran’s physical facilities”. But their “complete destruction” is unlikely; and “Iran would still retain the scientific capacity and the experience to start its nuclear programme again …”
A strike on Iran would produce a conflagration in the Middle East, which threatens US bases and Israel. It will create resentment greater than the American-engineered overthrow of elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953. Worse, it would guarantee that Iran rapidly becomes a nuclear weapons-state.
Obama could be receptive to a diplomatic approach. After all, he refused to cave in to Netanyahu’s strident demands, risking the US Zionist lobby’s hostility. India should push Obama to translate the call he made in his acceptance speech for moving “beyond this time of war” into a major diplomatic initiative, including bilateral talks with Iran for the first time since 1979, which the White House says are “under consideration”. Iranian leaders are likely to respond to a non-coercive diplomatic initiative, and have indicated their willingness to mend relations with the US.
India should propose a compromise along the lines that Turkey and Brazil worked out in 2010: transferring Iran’s low-enriched uranium for further enrichment overseas, but capping domestic enrichment to non-weapons-grade levels. This was rejected then by the US, but has a better chance of being accepted now. India can thus reverse the damage it caused by repeatedly voting against Iran since 2005 at the International Atomic Energy Agency under Washington’s pressure.
This will help India rebuild its relations with Iran, with which it has traditionally had friendly ties, besides close relations in Afghanistan. India can then re-launch the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, which was abandoned under Washington’s pressure.
Many bilateral issues also need attention. India must reject the US demand for diluting the nuclear liability act to exempt equipment suppliers. The US is trying to pry open India’s defence production sector through joint ventures. There’s no justification for this. It’s one thing to have normal relations with a difficult power like the US; it’s quite another to get close to it.
The News International – Copyright @ 2010-2012
U.S. Africa policy to remain imperialistic
With Barack Obama’s reelection as president of the leading imperialist state in the world, the Obama administration will continue along the same foreign policy trajectory as in its first term: exploitation of the labor and resources of oppressed peoples and the intensification of militarism in Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and other geopolitical regions. The Obama administration enhanced the role of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), started under the Bush presidency, and led a war of regime change against the oil-rich nation of Libya, resulting in the brutal assassination of martyred leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi.
The upsurges in Egypt and Tunisia in 2011 shook up the U.S. and its allies in the region. However, the governments that have come to power in these countries have not fundamentally changed their relationships with imperialism. Palestine is still under Israeli siege despite a new government in Egypt, and the regime in Tunisia was compelled to turn over the former prime minister of Libya to the CIA-installed junta in Libya.
The economic damage done to the world capitalist system as a result of imperialist war has been enormous. The economies of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan and Haiti have all been devastated.
Imperialist militarism will escalate
Under the Obama administration the Horn of Africa nation of Somalia has become an outpost of U.S. imperialism. With a military base in neighboring Djibouti at Camp Lemonier, the Somalia nation is a staging ground for military operations against the Islamist resistance movement Al-Shabab.
At present more than 17,000 U.S.-backed troops from the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) are stationed in Somalia. These troops are trained and financed by the Pentagon with full political support of the White House.
Somalia is a source of growing oil exploration. In the breakaway northern region of Puntland, oil is already being extracted by Canadian and British firms.
In fact, throughout the entire regions of East and Central Africa, new findings of oil, natural gas and various strategic minerals are fueling the increased presence of transnational corporations and military forces from the U.S., Britain, Israel and the European Union. Drones and fighter aircraft are flooding into the area under the guise of fighting “terrorism” and “piracy.”
The presence of the U.S. and other imperialist states in Central and East Africa has not stabilized the political situation at all. The plight of the people has actually worsened under the Obama administration, with widespread dislocation in Somalia and Ethiopia as well as the spread of war into Kenya.
Kenya has deployed several thousand of its defense forces in southern Somalia at the behest of the U.S. administration. The southern Somalia port city of Kismayo has been seized by the Kenya Defense Forces and AMISOM.
The Israeli Air Force bombed the country of Sudan in late October. A military factory was targeted at the same time that Sudan and Iran were engaged in joint military exercises around Port Sudan.
This was not the first time that Israel has bombed Sudan. These provocations are also designed to send a clear message to Iran that Israel can strike there, too.
Sudan is still under sanctions imposed by the U.S. and other imperialist states. Formerly the largest geographic nation-state in Africa, Sudan has been partitioned between the North and the South, and other efforts are ongoing to break away the Darfur region in the west of the country.
Last October, at the height of the Occupy Movement across the U.S., the Obama administration announced the deployment of at least 100 Special Forces and military trainers to Uganda, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. These U.S. military forces were purportedly dispatched to hunt down Joseph Kony of the Lord’s Resistance Army. The campaign known as “Invisible Children” was launched through social media on the internet.
The entire operation was designed to deflect attention away from mass demonstrations taking place, throughout the U.S. and the world, against Wall Street financiers and the impact of their policies of exploitation and oppression. It was also aimed at creating confusion about the role of the U.S. military within Africa and other parts of the world.
In West Africa, the imperialists are planning an intervention in Mali to put down a rebellion in the north of the country by the Tuareg people. The Mali crisis is partly related to the Pentagon-NATO destabilization of Libya, as thousands of Tuaregs were displaced as a result of the 2011 war.
Malian armed forces staged a coup against President Amadou Toumani Touré in March, despite the fact that the U.S. has maintained close ties with the Malian army through AFRICOM training and joint maneuver projects. The coup leaders said that the military takeover was related to the government’s failure to quell the Tuareg rebellion. Nevertheless, the situation in the north worsened after the coup, leading to a declaration of independence by the Movement for the Liberation of Azawad and other regional Islamist groups.
In November, the U.N. Security Council announced that some 3,300 troops provided by the member-states of the Economic Community of West African States will be sent to Mali to put down the Tuareg rebellion. However, Pentagon and E.U. military forces will provide the logistics and funding for this operation, which will inevitably benefit imperialism in its drive for resources and profits.
In South Africa the rising tide of the labor movement is challenging the transnational mining industry. An outbreak of wildcat strikes is weakening the neoliberal policies of the ruling African National Congress and their allies within the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party.
A broad-based debate within the national liberation movement in South Africa is taking place over the future of the struggle, which after 18 years has still not reached the objectives outlined by the Freedom Charter of 1955. The South African revolution must move toward socialism, or it will face even greater contradictions and internal strife.
In Zimbabwe, the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front party has consolidated the comprehensive land redistribution program, and is moving toward greater control of the mining industry, which is linked with the same sectors in neighboring South Africa. Throughout the Southern Africa region, the former liberation movements are once again enhancing their dialogue and political coordination.
The anti-war and anti-imperialist movements in the U.S. must follow the situation in Africa very closely. These movements must be prepared to politically defend the various movements and states that are under threat by imperialism.
Unemployment in the Western industrialized states has not been as high since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Poverty and social misery are increasing even within the advanced capitalist countries.
As economic conditions of the workers and the oppressed inside the U.S. and the imperialist countries grow more desperate every day, the aggressive military actions against the peoples of the so-called developing states will intensify. Consequently, the workers and oppressed of the West must form closer alliances in order to coordinate political actions with their counterparts in the developing and oppressed nations.
- South Africa labor union declares: ‘Enough is enough! We want change!’
- Libya becomes focus of U.S. election
- Anti-U.S. protests spread worldwide
- Conditions that led to South Africa massacre
- Clinton’s Africa tour advances U.S. militarism, attacks on China
Israel and Hamas are battling it out in the Gaza Strip in a conflict no one can win.
BY HUSSEIN IBISH | NOVEMBER 14, 2012
Israel’s assassination of Hamas military commander Ahmed al-Jaabari in a missile attack has shattered the short-lived and fragile calm in the Gaza Strip, and could be another step in the transformation of the basic balance of power within Hamas — and even the broader Palestinian national movement. The attack is the most significant escalation since Operation Cast Lead, the offensive Israel launched in Gaza in December 2008, and which cost an estimated 1,400 Palestinian and 13 Israeli lives.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced that Jaabari’s killing was the first strike in “a widespread campaign” to “protect Israeli civilians and to cripple the terrorist infrastructure” — and indeed, the IDF hit a number of targets across Gaza in the hours that followed, killing at least eight Palestinians. It’s possible that these developments are laying prelude to another Israeli ground intervention in Gaza. On Nov. 11, Israel’s Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter declared, “Israel must perform a reformatting of Gaza, and rearrange it” — but gave no indication of what that dire-sounding phrase might mean in practice.
It is impossible to know how the conflict will unfold in the days ahead, but what is clear is that the outbreak of violence is the result of a swirl of events that are reshaping power structures within Hamas and its relationships with regional forces, including with Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
During most of the period since Cast Lead, the Hamas rulers in Gaza have refrained from attacks against Israel and tried to prevent other militant groups from launching attacks as well. But as 2012 has progressed, that policy has changed — largely due to internal transformations within the group itself.
The internal dynamic of Hamas has traditionally been that leaders in its Politburo, which is based almost entirely in neighboring Arab countries, were more militant than their compatriots inside Gaza. It was the leaders in exile who maintained close relations with the radical regimes in Iran and Syria, while the Hamas government in Gaza was more restrained because it had more to lose from violence with Israel.
That calculation has been inverted in recent months as Hamas’s foreign alliances have undergone a dramatic transformation and its domestic wing has made a bold attempt to assert its primacy. Hamas’s relationship with Damascus completely collapsed when the group came out in opposition to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The Politburo had to abandon its Damascus headquarters, and is now scattered in capitals throughout the Arab world. This has also created enormous strains with Iran, which is apparently supplying much less funding and material to Hamas than before.
Hamas leaders in Gaza, meanwhile, have increasingly been making the case that the Politburo does not represent the organization’s paramount leadership — but rather its diplomatic wing, whose main role is to secure aid and support from foreign governments. It is the Hamas government and paramilitary force in Gaza, they argue, that are in the driver’s seat, because they are actually involved in fighting Israel.
The desire to be the tip of the spear against Israel explains why Hamas involved itself in rocket attacks against Israel earlier this year, and has done much less to prevent other groups from launching attacks in recent weeks. The attacks are part of the case for the transfer of paramount leadership away from the exiles and to the Hamas political and military leadership in Gaza, which portrays itself as doing the ruling and the fighting.
This internal struggle has been given renewed urgency by theSeptember announcement from the group’s current head, Khaled Meshaal, that he would step down. The two contenders for the top spot are Hamas’s de facto leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, and the present Politburo number two, the Cairo-based Musa Abu Marzook. A Haniyeh victory would cement the transfer of power within Hamas to Gaza, while Abu Marzook represents continued hopes that Hamas’s fortunes hinge on benefiting from the region-wide “Islamic Awakening” — the group’s interpretation of what others call the Arab Spring.
These rocket attacks don’t just come at a time of intense internal wrangling within Hamas, but also Israel’s upcoming election in January. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government have been under enormous pressure to forcefully respond to the continued rocket fire — more than 800 rockets so far this year, according to Israeli officials – and Jaabari’s assassination sends the most powerful of messages. Netanyahu has made his political career on security issues, but even if he hopes to limit the conflagration, it could spiral out of everyone’s control.
The third vital context for Wednesday’s offensive is the upcoming initiative by the Palestine Liberation Organization to formally request an upgrade at the U.N. General Assembly to “non-member observer state status.” Israel is vehemently opposed to this resolution, which is certain to win a majority if it is submitted. Jerusalem has reacted with a series of dire threats — including cutting off the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, declaring the Oslo Agreements “null and void,” overthrowing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, greatly expanding settlement activity, or even unilaterally annexing parts of the occupied West Bank.
Israel has also been marshaling U.S. and European opposition to the PLO’s statehood bid, apparently with a great deal of success. Together, they have been able to paint the move as “unilateral” and provocative, setting the stage for retaliatory measures. But the Israelis must be aware that any further financial, diplomatic, or political blows to the badly ailing Palestinian Authority — which is currently unable to meet the public employee payroll, on which the majority of Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza depend — can only strengthen Hamas.
During last year’s PLO initiative at the United Nations, Hamas was in such disarray from its growing crisis with Syria and Iran that it was in no condition to exploit Israeli “punishment” of the PLO. This time, however, Hamas is in an entirely different position: It appears to be on the brink of achieving considerable regional and international legitimacy. The emir of Qatar recently visited Gaza, becoming the first head of state to do so,and promised $400 million in reconstruction aid to the de facto Hamas government there. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is also reportedly considering a formal visit to Gaza. Egypt, too, is vying for Hamas’s affections, although President Mohammed Morsy’s government has done little to practically help the group.
Hamas can claim, for the first time in many years, to have a vision for the future, reliable patrons, and regional momentum as the primary beneficiaries of a wave of Islamist political victories across the Middle East. The PLO, Hamas can argue, has no money, no friends, no vision, and no future.
If the PLO goes forward with its initiative at the United Nations and Israel and the West react with significant punitive measures, Hamas is better positioned than ever to be the direct political beneficiary. Indeed, it will never have been closer to its cherished aim of seizing control of the Palestinian national movement — and possibly even the PLO itself — from its secular nationalist rivals.
The people of Israel will not find peace and security through endless wars with an ever-evolving array of Palestinian militants — the inevitable consequence of the lack of a peace agreement. For all its death and destruction, Operation Cast Lead failed to solve any of Israel’s security issues and did nothing to weaken Hamas’s grip on power in Gaza. But it did expose Israel to unprecedented international condemnation regarding its targeting of civilian and non-military targets, alleged war crimes, and excessive use of force. Those who fire rockets from Gaza, or countenance such attacks must also be held responsible for what they know full well will be the Israeli response — the price of which will, as always, be primarily paid by ordinary, innocent Palestinians.
Make no mistake: Jaabari’s assassination is a major blow to Hamas’s military wing, which lost its long-standing leader. And even if this is the beginning of a “reformatting” of Gaza, Israel could once again end up winning the battle but losing the war: If it is not careful, developments on the Gaza battlefield could end up strengthening rather than weakening Hamas. Worse still, it could empower extreme, new Palestinian jihadist organizations that have begun to crop up in Gaza. The potential for miscalculation on all sides — bringing another round of mayhem that only makes matters worse for everyone — is grave.
HOSAM SALEM/AFP/Getty Images
Hussein Ibish is a senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine.
Posted By Josh Rogin Thursday, November 15, 2012 – 10:37 AM
This week, a number of Republican senators have strongly criticized the administration for failing to properly explain the circumstances surrounding the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi. Some of those senators failed to show up for a briefing on the attack Wednesday.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has been the leading congressional critic of the administration’s handling of the Benghazi attack and what he sees as the administration’s lack of candor with Congress on the matter. On Wednesday, he pledged to block the potential nomination of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton due to Rice’s statements on the attack. That drew a sharp rebuke from President Barack Obama at Wednesday’s press conference.
But although McCain had time to speak on the Senate floor and on television about the lack of information provided to Congress about the attack, he didn’t attend the classified briefing for senators Wednesday given to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, of which he is a member.
Committee ranking Republican Susan Collins (R-ME) called out McCain for skipping the briefing and said his call for a special committee to investigate the Benghazi attack was not necessary because the Homeland Security committee could handle it.
Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), “who was there at briefing, and Senator McCain, who was not, are members of our committee, and I know they would play very important roles,” Collins told Politico.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), another Homeland Security committee member who was on television complaining about the lack of Benghazi information, also did not show up for the Wednesday hearing. Paul did a CNN interview from the Capitol building Wednesday in which said he had questions about the anti-Islam video, the lack of Marines in Libya, and diplomatic security. At one point he says, “I don’t know enough of the details.”
The closed and classified briefing included representatives from the State Department, the Defense Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the National Counterterrorism Center, and the FBI, an administration official said. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a classified hearing on Benghazi on Tuesday and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will hold one Thursday, but McCain and Paul are not members of either of those committees.
“If you want answers, a good first step is to show up and ask a question,” an administration official told The Cable. ”That’s what a senator does.”
UPDATE: According to his spokesman Brian Rogers, “Senator McCain was absent from the hearing due to a scheduling error.”
UPDATE #2: Paul spokeswoman Moira Bagley tells The Cable: “Sen. Paul didn’t need to attend yet another Administration press conference disguised as a classified briefing to know there should have been Marines defending our personnel in Libya, to hear the Administration make the same excuses in private they will make in public. Sen. Paul is focused on demanding answers, demanding those who made these fatal mistake be fired, and fixing the mess this Administration has made. All of that needs to be done in public, for Americans to see and hear.”
Your humble blogger was all set to talk about the nail-biter of an election for China’s Standing Politburo Committee, but gosh, it seems like there wasn’t much surprise in how it played out (with the admitted exception of Xi Jinping managing to sweep Hu Jintao off the Central Military Commission). So instead I’d like to talk about the clusterf**k that is the current debate in the United States on the Benghazi attack.
Yesterday at his press conference, Barack Obama defended Ambassador/possible future Secretary of State Susan Rice from Republican critiques of her Sunday news show appearances on Benghazi:
President Obama strongly defended U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice against attacks Wednesday by a trio of Republican senators who said she is ill-qualified to serve as secretary of state because of how she explained the roots of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Bristling with evident indignation during a news conference, Obama said Rice has “done exemplary work” with “skill, professionalism and toughness and grace.”
He then made a pointedly and almost personal challenge to Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.),Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) who earlier Wednesday said Rice is unqualified to lead the State Department because she appeared either misinformed or ill-prepared to discuss the attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, on national political talk shows a few days after the attack.
“If Sen. McCain and Sen. Graham and others want to go after somebody they should go after me,” Obama said. “For them to go after the UN ambassador who had nothing to do with Benghazi…to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.”
Apparently the troika weren’t pleased, taking to the Senate to blast Rice, Obama and everything else within range.
Slate’s David Weigel has already blogged about the ways in which McCain has already distorted what Susan Rice actually said in those Sunday appearances. Rather than repeat his points, I’d note a few things:
1) It’s fascinating to me how critics seem to think that Susan Rice flat-out lied in those Sunday shows. “Lied” is different from “saying things that are wrong.” Lied implies that Rice knew exactly why that attack occurred but for political reasons said something else. Being wrong would have been a much simpler task — simply echoing intelligence talking points that were given to her. It’s to Marco Rubio’s credit, for example, that he nails the distinction. As quoted by Weigel:
“We have a process for nominations, and we want to give her a full hearing,” said Sen. Marco Rubio yesterday when asked about Rice. “I’m concerned with the fact she went on Sunday shows and said this was the product of a spontaneous uprising and not a terrorist attack. Obviously she based those comments on directives or information that she had, and it’s important to know where those directives came from and what that information was.” (emphasis added)
Everything that I have read about Benghazi suggests that this was a bureaucratic nigtmare — but Rice didn’t lie. And anyone who says differently better have something better than the assertion of “it’s obvious!!”
2) Tying Rice to Benghazi seems…. odd, since her only role in what happened appears to be those Sunday morning talk shows. The better questions to ask would be about Rice’s performance at the United Nations. Richard Grenell has a piece over at Fox News that gets at this issue. Grennell is the embodiment of a pure partisan — but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong in this case. These are the questions that should form the basis of any confirmation hearing — if it happens.
3) Do Republicans really want to make their new standard for bouncing cabinet nominations to be “says inaccurate things on television”? By that standard, an awful lot of the GOP’s foreign affairs machine that served or defended the Bush administration would be blackballed from any foreign policy office for the future.
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Can terrorists be deterred?
Preventing the recurrence of rocket attacks on Israel’s towns and villages in the coming months requires the cooperation of the Egyptian government.
Where did this seemingly inexhaustible number of rockets in the hands of the terrorists in the Gaza Strip come from? The answer is that they were stockpiled while Israelis thought Operation Cast Lead had deterred the launching of rockets.
True, the terrorists were not completely deterred. There had been intermittent rocket attacks on the south since Cast Lead, but the number had decreased. Many people lulled themselves into believing that deterrence works on terrorists – Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees, the whole bunch. Now it is said that deterrence needs to be refreshed. Will the current operation do that? Can terrorists be deterred?
The fact that a conflagration is followed by a period of relative quiet may not mean that the terrorists, remembering the blows they received last time, are being deterred, but rather that they are using the time to resupply their armory with more and longer-range rockets in preparation for the next round.
That’s what happened in Gaza, and that’s what’s happening with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Nation-states can be deterred when faced by overwhelming force, but it is damn difficult to deter terrorists.
Their goals are unlimited and their planning horizons stretch into infinity. Deterring them is not an aim likely to be achieved. If the terrorists cannot be deterred, and the population in the southern half of Israel is not to face recurrent rocket attacks, each time increasing in intensity, the terrorists have to be disarmed, their rockets destroyed and rocket supply lines blocked.
That has to be the ultimate aim of a military operation or diplomatic initiative, but it’s easier said than done. Even if an Israeli ground operation reached Gaza’s rocket arsenals and rocket manufacturing facilities and destroyed them, that would still leave open future rocket supplies to the terrorists from outside the Strip. The supply line of weapons to the Gaza terrorists runs through Egyptian territory, and the current Egyptian regime does not seem likely to cooperate in an effort to block this supply line, or to look kindly on an Israeli operation to do so.
How foolish was the Olmert government that stopped Operation Cast Lead before the job had been finished? How naive were they to believe that the slightest infringement of the cease-fire would bring on another military operation in Gaza and that this threat would deter the Gaza terrorists from renewing their activities against Israel? As if such operations can be carried out every other week.
They missed the opportunity to disarm the Gaza terrorists and block their supply lines while there was a government in Cairo that saw in Hamas a common enemy. Now that Hosni Mubarak is gone it’s an entirely different story. Even if a ground operation destroyed the terrorist rocket arsenal in Gaza, the question of rocket resupply to the terrorists, not to mention the increasingly frequent rocket attacks on Israel from Egyptian territory in Sinai, would remain to trouble the government and people of Israel.
It’s therefore clear that preventing the recurrence of rocket attacks on Israel’s towns and villages in the coming months requires the cooperation of the Egyptian government. It must reestablish control over Sinai and block all attempts to supply weapons to Hamas and its affiliates in the Gaza Strip from Sinai.
If at all possible, only American diplomacy can bring this about. Egypt badly needs American (and European ) financial assistance. If that lever is used to obtain an Egyptian commitment to prevent the rearmament of the terrorists in the Gaza Strip and the activities of terrorists in Sinai, the beneficiaries will be the population in Gaza, the people of Egypt and the people of Israel.
By IAN DEITCH, Associated Press – 11 hours ago
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel shelled Syrian fighters after gunfire from their civil war spilled over to the Israel-controlled Golan Heights, the military said Sunday, as the conflict appeared to inch closer to the Jewish state.
The civil war in Syria has renewed tensions in the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau that Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 war. Despite constant hostility between the two countries, Syria has been careful to keep the border quiet since the 1973 Mideast war.
In recent days, Israeli troops have fired into Syria twice before, responding to what appeared to be stray mortar shells exploding in Israel-held territory. On Sunday, an Israeli military spokesman said soldiers fired artillery toward the source of gunfire late Saturday night.
Speaking on condition of anonymity according to protocol, the spokesman said the military identified a hit. He did not know if the targets were Syrian rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad or forces loyal to him.
Syrian shells have exploded inside the Israel-held Golan Heights several times in recent weeks, damaging apple orchards, sparking fires and spreading some panic but causing no injuries.
Though the two nations have been bitter enemies, Israel is concerned that if the Assad regime is toppled, Syria could fall into the hands of Islamic extremists.
While it is widely believed that Assad does not want to pick a fight with Israel, some in Israel warn that if his situation becomes desperate, the embattled Syrian leader might try to draw Israel into the fighting as a distraction.
More than 36,000 people have been killed since the Syrian uprising began in March 2011.
Fighting has raged nationwide over the weekend, killing at least 108 people on Saturday alone, according to activists.
The Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights said opposition fighters clashed with troops around rebellious Damascus suburbs. The military repeatedly shelled them with artillery.
Heavy fighting was also reported in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and a major front in the civil war since the summer. Clashes have been particularly fierce around an army base known as Base 46 in Aleppo province, according to Rami Abdul-Rahman, the Observatory’s head. He said rebel units ousted regime troops from parts of the installation on Sunday.
Clashes were also in progress in the eastern oil-rich province of Deir el-Zour, where the rebels took control of the Hamdan airport on Saturday.
The airport, near the town of al-Boukamal along the border with Iraq, has been turned into a military base. Rebels have been making advances in the town for weeks, seizing control of the military security building and a checkpoint at the edge of al-Boukamal earlier this week.
The rebels have captured swaths of land and several strategic installations, particularly along the border with Turkey, but they are outgunned by the regime in battles to hold on to them. The Syrian military has relied on air power to reverse the rebel gains.
In Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi warned that providing opposition groups with heavy arms could put the entire region at risk of “organized terrorism.” He was responding to a move in Europe to cancel an arms embargo.
He said that arming Assad’s opponents, as Damascus accuses Qatar and Saudi Arabia of doing, violates international law and principles of nonintervention in domestic affairs.
“Unfortunately, now some reports have been published saying some sides are intending to send semi-heavy and heavy arms for the opposition groups openly,” Salehi said at a conference to reconcile Syria’s government with some Syria-based opposition factions which are tolerated by the regime.
Iran has backed Assad in the conflict. Iran, Russia and China are Syria’s main allies.
The conference is seen as a response to last week’s meeting in Qatar, where opposition groups formed an umbrella coalition against Assad.
So far, France is the only Western country to recognize the Doha-formed Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces. Other EU nations and the United States and have said they prefer to wait to see whether the coalition represents the variety of people in Syria before they recognize it.
Associated Press writers Barbara Surk in Beirut and Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Iran Nuclear Conundrum Can Be Solved by Law
What is worse: Iran getting the bomb, or Israel (and perhaps the U.S.) attacking Iran?
This is shaping up as the crunch question for 2013. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is almost certain to be re-elected in January, has threatened an attack in spring or early summer, when he thinks Iran will have achieved weapons- level enrichment. Then U.S. President Barack Obama will come under pressure to make good on his promise to stop Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon.
The answer, regrettably, is that each outcome is worse than the other. But there is a legal pathway to pick through this dilemma.
The U.S. and Europe have pinned their faith on the carrot of diplomacy and the stick of sanctions to bring Iran to heel, but neither will work. Sanctions are causing harm, but mainly to the middle class that tried to rebel against the ruling mullahs in the 2009 Green Revolution and was brutally suppressed. Economic pain just makes the regime more determined to press ahead, and to string along the naive Western diplomats, who don’t seem to realize that while they talk, Iran continues to enrich uranium.
Iran is a member and beneficiary of the Treaty on the Non- Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which guarantees signatories the “inalienable right” to a full nuclear-fuel cycle. Once achieved, all that Iran has to do is follow North Korea’s example by pulling out of the treaty. At that point, Iran can build as many bombs as it likes (North Korea, perhaps the world’s most irresponsible government, has about 10, according to the Federation of American Scientists).
The prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran is truly alarming. Not because it intends to attack Israel — it doesn’t — but because it will empower a criminal regime and incite proliferation. Saudi Arabia has announced that it will buy nuclear arms from Pakistan, which has as many as 110 bombs. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is demanding that its government acquire them as well. The supreme leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, is guilty of at least three crimes against humanity: the massacre of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, the global assassination campaign that murdered 162 dissidents through to the 1990s, and the killing and torturing of Green Movement protesters in 2009. The regime has given itself impunity for mass murder, and if armed with the bomb it may mass-murder again.
Israel is unlikely to be the target. For all of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s vicious rhetoric, Iran has no quarrel with its own Jewish population, and any attack on Israel, which has submarines ready to fire nuclear missiles on Tehran in response, would be suicidal. Because Iran hasn’t yet built a bomb, let alone a delivery system (that’s likely to take several more years), it poses no imminent threat to Israel and won’t do so in 2013. For that reason, an Israeli attack on Iran next year would not only be irresponsible, but also unlawful.
International law is clear. Israel and its allies have a right to attack another country in self-defense, under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, but only to prevent an attack from the enemy, which must be “imminent,” meaning, about to happen. George W. Bush’s doctrine of pre-emptive self-defense, under which the U.S. attacked Iraq, has been decisively rejected. It was in any event based on the assumption that Saddam Hussein already had nuclear weapons — which we know that Iran has not.
Any attack next year by what Obama has described as a coalition — which suggests the U.K. has already signed up — would be a more blatant breach of international law than the invasion of Iraq.
The consequences of an attack on Iran’s nuclear sites are bound to be disproportionate. Everyone seems to assume it will be a surgical strike, such as the one on Osirak, the Iraqi facility that Israel bombed in 1981, or al-Kibar, the Syrian reactor it flattened in 2007. Few people were killed in those attacks. But Natanz — a prime target for any strike on Iran — employs 5,000 workers, and Bushehr, Iran’s only operational nuclear-power reactor, has an eponymous township with about 200,000 people in line for the potential fallout. Furthermore, the main potential targets store 371 tons of uranium hexafluoride, so bombing would trigger a toxic cloud that could asphyxiate tens of thousands, if the wind were to blow in the wrong direction.
The attack would also prompt reprisals, such as rockets on Israel from the north (Hezbollah) and the south (Hamas), and perhaps from Syria if President Bashar al-Assad is still standing. Iran might also close or mine the Strait of Hormuz and attack U.S. naval vessels. A wider war may follow. For these reasons, attacking Iran next year would be far worse than its gradual progress toward acquiring a bomb.
An attack on Iran in 2013 would be unlawful and disproportionate, but the alternative of allowing the mullahs to eventually get their hands on nuclear triggers is almost as frightening. They aren’t mad enough to attack Israel — indeed they are rational. As rational as a gang of serial killers. Can international law offer any way out of the dilemma?
Under human-rights law, the acquisition and use of a nuclear weapon, releasing ionizing radiation uncontainable within space or time, plainly breaches the right not to have life taken arbitrarily. Any use of atomic weapons is a breach of the law of war: Their deathly radiation cannot distinguish between soldier and civilian, military target and hospital or school. They cause unnecessary and disproportionate suffering and they pose an existential threat to the environment. Even a limited war, between India and Pakistan, or North Korea and the U.S., would probably change the climate before climate change does.
Unfortunately, back in 1996, the UN’s World Court, while acknowledging that international law was moving toward a ban on the bomb, illogically accepted that it might be lawful to use nuclear weapons on troops in a desert or on warships mid-ocean. Recent discoveries, about the cancers induced in people and the malformation in fish that were caused by atmospheric nuclear- weapons tests in the 1950s and by the French underwater tests in the Pacific, show how wrong this court decision was. International human-rights law has developed since then, to a point where I believe it now condemns further acquisition of nuclear weapons as a crime against humanity. This would justify the Security Council to authorize an attack on Iran, at the moment when it had all the components of a bomb and an intention to assemble them.
The law is not retrospective, however, and doesn’t make illegitimate the existing 20,000 nuclear weapons that are now in the possession of the eight states that have acknowledged owning nuclear weapons, plus Israel, which has not. According to the World Court — correctly this time — nuclear-armed countries have a legal obligation under Article VI of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty to negotiate a gradual disarmament, to zero. This might be done on a “first in, last out” basis, with North Korea being first to lose its bombs and a final ceremony to destroy simultaneously what is left in the Russian and U.S. arsenals — perhaps attended by the aging former U.S. and Russian leaders, Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, circa 2045.
As Syria shows, there may be major hurdles to getting Security Council approval for an attack on Iran, even when it is ready to assemble a bomb. Regrettably, great powers are also very reluctant to give up powerful weapons. To bring about this happy ending, it may take a nuclear accident, incident or war, which are likely consequences of the current climate of proliferation.
(Geoffrey Robertson is a human-rights lawyer and author of “Mullahs Without Mercy: Human Rights and Nuclear Weapons,” published this month by Biteback (U.K.) and Random House (Australia). The opinions expressed are his own.)
Today’s highlights: the editors on Obama in Southeast Asia and on what to do with the Federal Housing Administration; William D. Cohan on prosecuting the small fish of Wall Street; Albert Hunt on how immigration reform affected the election; Pankaj Mishra on the future of the Persian Gulf’s autocracies; Amity Shlaes on whether 2013 will be like 1937.
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To contact the editor responsible for this article: Marc Champion at email@example.com.
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Tel Aviv is not Israel’s largest city – Jerusalem is nearly twice the size — but Tel Aviv is much more than the 400,000 people who reside within its municipal boundaries. Both in Israel and the Palestinian territories, the name is shorthand both for what Israelis call “the center” — the matrix of freeways and palm trees where half of the country’s population resides – and for a lifestyle enjoyed beyond the tensions that define “the conflict.” It’s a sangfroid that galls more religious and ideological Israelis, and utterly enrages Palestinians who sense the despair of their own situation deepened by the lives being richly enjoyed in the center.
So the sickening wail of air raid sirens across the tree-lined grid of the Mediterranean city on Thursday night was a significant development in the Gaza conflict, now a couple of days old. So were the reports of residents seeking cover under the tables of the cafes where they had gathered to begin the Israeli weekend, not that Tel Avivans gather anywhere else during the week. The conflict had finally come to Tel Aviv.
“Some of the places were empty last night,” Nadav Shoshan says in a café that, on a Friday morning at 10, usually requires a wait for a table. There was no waiting now. Not half dozen customers sipped cappuccinos and browsed menus, weighing the merits of muesli versus shakshuka, an Israeli dish of eggs poached in tomato sauce. “It’s not a typical Friday morning,” the waiter says. The streets, while not empty, were far from crowded, and even farther from carefee. In the Jaffa section, an older man escorting his wife into a mid-block crosswalk screamed at a driver who slowed to a stop a bit too slowly for his frayed nerves. The driver rolled down the passenger side window to scream back. “Maybe we will die today,” a lawyer told her cleaning lady. The cleaner, a Third World national imported to fill the jobs done by Palestinians before Gaza and the West Bank were sealed off, laughed. Everything is relative. But nothing is more contagious than fear, or less rational.
At the U.S. Embassy, which overlooks the Mediterranean Sea that has swallowed at least two incoming missiles, including one of two fired Friday afternoon, a woman stood at the window reserved for American Citizen Services and urged the Foreign Service officer to hurry up. “Where are you coming from?” the officer asked.
“Modi’in,” the woman said, naming a planned city midway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. “But I don’t want to be in Tel Aviv now.”
“Here, you are safe,” the officer said.
“No,” the woman insisted. “Not safe in Tel Aviv now.”
On the television mounted on the wall behind her, the co-hosts were seated glumly around the table of the Channel 2 morning show. As a guest offered tips on keeping the children calm, the male host reached under the table and produced yellow balls with smiles painted on. The daily Ma’ariv wrote that by reaching Tel Aviv from Gaza, the militants “put another 1.5 million civilians into siren anxiety.” That no one was killed, or even hurt, did not seem to matter. In military terms, the conflict is so lopsided that the most meaningful competition is for perception and psychology. Hamas and its more extreme cohabitants in Gaza, including Islamic Jihad, scored by extending siren anxiety to Tel Aviv, especially after the Israeli military made a point of targeting their known inventory of the missiles capable of reaching the city, the Iranian-made Fajr-5s. Hamas further irked the Israelis on Friday afternoon by aiming for Jerusalem – something few expected. Jerusalem may be the the Jewish state’s disputed capital, but it is also home to several hundred thousand Arabs, as well as the Al Aqsa mosque, the third-most sacred site in Isalm. The militants’ medium range rockets ended up falling on the West Bank, though in a region thick with Jewish settlements, and the detonations were audible in southern Jerusalem.
Israeli forces play an intimidation game as well. On Thursday, according to a report in the Hebrew press, an Israeli gunboat fired a salvo near enough to the refugee camp home of Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh to make a point. The Israel Defense Forces also continued to publicize its preparation of ground forces, even naming the units that would participate: the Givanti Brigade, paratroopers, and an elite tank unit.
But for both sides, the main focus is on missiles, and their power to affect Israeli public opinion. Gaza militants have perhaps 10,000 of them, and though Israeli jets and drones target missile launch sites relentlessly – “dozens” on Friday, according to the Israeli military – Gaza militants launched nearly 170 rockets between midnight and sunset. Fewer than half reached Israel, while 99 were knocked out of the air by projectiles fired from Israel’s four Iron Dome anti-missile batteries.
The Iron Dome batteries calculate when a missile’s trajectory threatens a populated area, and leaves alone those headed for open space. They work so well that the only three Israeli deaths were people who, instead of huddling in an interior stairwell with their downstairs neighbors, were killed on the balcony where they wanted to see the missile work. But countless lives have been saved. While Israeli intelligence redoubled efforts to locate the Fajr 5 missiles that could reach Tel Aviv, cities closer to Gaza continued to face barrages of smaller missiles that remain plentiful, like the Grad. In the last two days more than 70 have been aimed at Be’er Sheva, a city of 200,000 that in the past has produced many of the fatalities that inflame public opinion. This round, scores of rockets had produced not even a critical injury.
“I’m from Be’er Sheva,” says Shashan, the Tel Aviv café waiter. “People there are really used to it. People know how to respond.” They seek cover when sirens sound, and take the fear in stride. Literally, it seems: “I’m going there today,” Shashan says.
For the Israeli leadership, the additional public resilience provided by Iron Dome means its military has more time to prosecute the assault in Gaza, and punish militants for expanding the battlefield to Israel’s two largest cities.There were continuing concerns about Palestinian casualties, however. The fears Israelis face paled to those gripping the 1.6 million residents of Gaza, where explosions thundered around the clock. Yet relatively low civilian casualties have helped assure that international opinion has broadly supported Israel’s assault so far. That could turn quickly if a Gaza school or hospital crumbled under an Israeli bomb.
“If we don’t make a mistake,”a senior Israeli officer tells TIME, “we have a lot of time to operate.”
With reporting by Aaron J. Klein/Tel Aviv
The only way to fix this is to go in there with an un biased superior military force and bash a few heads together.. On both sides you have extreme nut cases that think God is on there side and in the meantime the average Joe get its. The Israelis own the largest camp ever called the west bank and provoke the situation. There will never be a end to this while the situation persists as it is there now. It will be stamped on and rise again and again and again.
As far as the US is concerned stay out of it, we cant afford it, dont want to be there let them sort themselves out.
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) issued a statement condemning “the ongoing Israeli attacks on Gaza, an expression of ongoing suppression of a people’s right to self-determination and of pacification, not of self-defense. Although Israeli spokespeople never mention the word ‘occupation’ (in fact, Israel officially denies there even is an occupation), this is the context within which the events taking place must be understood. Israel presents its attacks as mere self-defense, as if it is an innocent, peace-loving country undergoing attacks from hostile forces; it often uses the example of missiles being fired at the US from Canada. “In fact it is Israel that has held the Palestinians under violent occupation these past 45 years, including the inhabitants of Gaza, who have been systematically impoverished, imprisoned, blockaded, excluded from their agricultural lands, assassinated from the air and killed on the ground – an entire civilian population terrorized by a powerful state with the most advanced military weaponry.” Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire asked, “‘When is the Israel government going to stop this bombing and continual wars and threat of war, against the Palestinians, and its neighbours, admit that there will be no military solution to the Palestinian Occupation, and begin to talk seriously with their enemies, in order to solve the problems for the sake of the Palestinians, Israelis, and indeed the whole of the middle east and world!’?”"Many Israeli/Palestinians know there is a non-military solution, which can break, the continuing vicious cycle of violence. What is missing is the serious ‘political will’ of the Israeli government, to be brave, have courage, move away from militarism and war, and for the western powers to insist that Israel does so and upholds international law. The Israeli/Palestinian people can lead the way, by their own nonviolent movements, including the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns, to bring about real political change, and give peace a chance. We can all do something For peace in the Middle East.-MAIREAD MAGUIRE, NOBEL PEACE LAUREATE, 16TH NOVEMBER, 2012
Israel, as the infinitely stronger party which has maintained control of every aspect of life in Gaza, [ever since its 2005 'disengagement' which was nothing more than a redeployment] can end the conflict and achieve peace and security only by ending the occupation of Gaza Palestine and honoring equal human rights for all.http://www.eileenfleming.org/index.php?option=com_easyblog&view=entry&id=2&Itemid=168
People are so misinformed about this topic.. It’s a shame. What Israel is doing in Gaza and the West Bank is atrocious. The world never changes, people think it does, it never changes it just adapts. Read about what is going on and about what HAS been going on. Dont repeat what other people tell you, do your own research and come up with your conclusions.
So lets say Mexico takes over Texas does not let Texas even have a police force or import material just to build a toilet seat! and for itself gets nuclear weapons and a huge army……………and people in Texas fight the Mexicans to get Texas back……….are Texans who are fighting to get back Texas jihadist and terrorist? or are they freedom fighters?
The one thing we all have to ask ourselves is where is the UN? Why are they not intervening? The very purpose of the body was to prevent escalations like this. Israel is not going anywhere. Accept it. We can argue forever on whether they have a rightful claim to the land or not. But in all of this, the future generations lose out. Look at where Afganistan is! God must be holding his head in dispair. Jerusalem could have been the focal point of unity and agreement for the three most followed religions in the world. Instead it is the centre of conflict. And the three religions are engaged in a holy war against each other just like the middle ages. We can certainly do better than that.
Be fair to the Palestanians. Recognise them. And work this out like civilised people. Prove to the next generation that war is not the answer. It’s our responsibility. Otherwise UN is just another League of Nations – and we all know what happend when it failed.
This is B.S., it’s a DISTRACTION, Netenyahu is up for Re-Election in Jan. 2013. This is a bid to start-a-war TO GET HIM RE-ELECTED. The Israeli people and IDF should wake up and FIRE his Butt. Israel was negotiating a Perm Peace settlement with Hamas, just as it Assassinated one Hamas leaders.
@StanleyHutchins – actually the last prime ministers that went into war lost the next election, so before claiming such things, do a little research. And as for a peace settlement, man, what peace settlement? There have been rockets fired constantly over the last 2 months, and in fact over the last 12 years. Just to put some numbers on it – 12,000 rockets in the last 12 years. But hey you dont hear about that now do u? And its ok, we’re not looking for anybody’s pity, which is exactly what the other side would like u to feel when they put on a full display of propaganda pics, to try and connect with your “humane” side. If they knew the meaning of humane they wouldn’t build their rocket launchers in hospitals and schools. The only reason all of this is now in the news is because yes, we finally retaliated and killed in a pinpoint mission a dude that’s been carrying these attacks for years. The violence has to stop from both sides, absolutely, but not before Hamas, the Palis, and the rest of the Arab world understand that the situation cannot go back to what it was.
Jeremiah 30:3……For behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘that I will bring back from captivity My people Israel and Judah,’ says the LORD. ‘And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.’”2 Chronicles 6:6……Yet I have chosen Jerusalem, that My name may be there………….
@PlumbLine We’ll ignore the fact that Israel is in violation of over 80 UN resolutions insofar as their treatment of the Palestinians and the confiscation of their land. I SUGGEST YOU READ THE FOLLOWING FROM THE KING JAMES BIBLE
….. Acting on God’s instructions, the Jews “annihilated everyone who lived in” Makkedah. At Libnah, they again “left no survivors.” At Lachish, “they put the sword to all who lived there, just as they had done to Libnah.” At Eglon, “they annihilated it just as they had done to Lachish.” At Hebron, “they annihilated it and all who lived there.” Again at Debir, “they annihilated everyone who lived there; they left no survivors.” “Joshua defeated the whole land, including the hill country, the Negev, the lowlands, the slopes, and all their kings. He left no survivors. He annihilated everything that breathed, just as the Lord God of Israel had commanded.” (Joshua, Chapter 10.)
Someone needs a TIMEOUT!
Are you people kidding? Have you forgotten the old testament, the Jews are god chosen people. Secondly, Isreal became an independent country in 1948. And Germany was defeated in May of 1945. Where is the coralation? Not only did Hitler try to exterminate jews, he also killed gypsies , homosexuals, mentally and physically disabled people and any and all others who were against his policies, even though he was Jewish by birth. Oh did I mention that Hitler took his own life.They have been fighting over the holy land for thousands of years. You don’t hear the Jews screaming to exterminate all the non-jews in the world. They are backed into a corner and fighting for what they belive is rightfully theirs. I can tell you with absolute certainity if someone dropped a bomb in my state or even in my town, it would be war. I would like to beleive that all avenues of a peaceful resolution haven’t been blocked or blown up…but I think that is a foolish fantasy.The bottom line is, anyone one of us would proterct our own from whatever enemy threatened our family. How can anyone decide who is right or who is wrong? But I will say this, I am one of God’s chosed people and I live in a small redneck town with our fair share of uneducated people. But even the most ignorant people here can’t hold a candle to what some of you have posted.
@HebrewHammer Would you like to talk about the zionists who collaborated with the nazis to sell out their own kind? These same zionists went on to found modern Israel…
Or perhaps we should discuss the 100,000 Jews who served in Hitler’s military? Look it up for yourself if you don’t believe me.
You don’t understand history half as much as you think you do.
@HebrewHammer God has had a history of punishing “his people” when they dont live up to his rules. The Jews in Israel have treated their neighbors in a most wicked fashion and like it or not, as Gods people they are bound by ALL of his rules. Namely You shall love the Lord more then even yourself and you shall love your neighbor as you love yourself.
Here is an in-depth look at the manufacturing and firing process of the Palestinian Qassam rocket and how Hamas is increasing its ability to strike deeply into Israeli territory:
@ViableOp Why don’t you mention REAL weapons like the ones the IDF uses in Gaza.
Let me refresh your memory. From operation Cast Lead, http://gazanews.wordpress.com/photos/
There’s a pretty big difference between homemade rockets and state of the art missles launched from jet fighters.Equaipment Israel gets from the US.
I imagine the world in which Israelis don’t exist. How extraordinarily peaceful it will be. There are many people even in Korea who think Israel is good and Arab is bad because they don’t know HISTORY. If you look at the cause of conflict, it is undoubtedly Israel’s fault. I really hate Hitler. But one of the best things he did was to kill the Jews. If Jews hadn’t existed, Osama Binladen wouldn’t have done a terror on the trade center. The reason Binladen attacked the building was America supported Israel. all the world shouldn’t support Israel and there won’t be no terrorism( I can bet my life on this. It is very logical)
If you honestly believe that there would be peace in the Middle East if Israel ceased to exist, you are showing now only a poor grasp of history but also a poor grasp of current events.
While I truly believe the majority of Muslims want peace, the sad reality is that the biggest threat to Muslims has always been other Muslims – and not just those we lazily call “Muslim extremists.” Shia and Sunni slaughter each other on a fairly regular basis, assuming they’re not both slaughtering other Muslim ethnic groups such as Sufi, Kurds, Berbers and Bedouin, or fighting other minority groups, such as Baha’i…. or anyone who might be homosexual….. or those who don’t necessarily follow a ruling group’s narrow interpretation of Islam. Remember, when Hamas took control of Gaza, among their first actions was to threaten male Muslim hairdressers who took women as clients. Then they tried to impose strict dress codes for female attorneys and school girls. When Muslim journalists or writers are threatened, it’s generally done by other Muslims. When Muslim feminists are tortured and killed, it’s done by other Muslims. Ditto for girls in certain areas who want an education. Much if this pales in comparison to what is done to suspected gays, always by religious Muslims with the blessing of their government. For that matter, weapons that are bought for Muslims to use against Israel are often used against other Muslims, in Libya or other areas of conflict.
Remember, there are Muslims in Israel who fight alongside the IDF, pretty much due to the fact that they know they would be violently oppressed if not systematically slaughtered if Israel fell to its enemies. Druze, Circassian and Bedouin are all groups which often have members in the IDF. These groups, along with ethnic Kurds and Berbers, all support Israel’s right to exist. Generally speaking, Muslim groups that have traditionally faced oppression or worse by other Muslims are rather vocal in their support if Israel. (Google “Muslim”, “Zionists” for a better understanding of this.)
A 2004 survey found that 84.9% of Israeli Arabs believe Israel has the right to exist as an independent state, whereas 70% feel that it has the right to exist as an independent Jewish state. Why do you think this is, wheaty? (Anyone reading this can easily check these figures and I hope will take the time to do so.)Israel is also home to the Baha’i headquarters, again allowing a group that has traditionally faced oppression or worse in many Muslim countries to thrive within its borders. In addition, Israel has not only the most freedom for gays in the Middle East, Tel Aviv is ranked as one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world. The majority of Israeli’s support gay marriage. Israel was allowing gay members to serve well over a decade before we ended DADT.
Do these things matter? I’d like to think so. I believe every group, including Jews and Muslims, has the right to self-determination – though I do not believe that includes the right to oppress, torture and kill ethnic minorities, religious minorities, gays or feminists, even if that is what the majority in an area specifically desires.
On a final note, I’ve noticed that those who think Israel has no right to exist have never ever demanded that Pakistan be given back to India and reparations made to the Hindus, even though Muslim groups are thriving and growing at a rate several times faster than the Hindus or other Indians in India – and in spite of the fact that Pakistan has oppressed and slaughtered Hindus and other religious minorities within its own country. The only conclusion I can draw is that there is a specific, bigoted desire to keep Jews from having any rights of self-determination, even when these Jews are bending over backwards to help other persecuted minorities, including those Muslims who have been persecuted by other Muslims. I suppose, if we can say that Jews are violent and terrible, it means they somehow deserved centuries of persecution, pogroms, inquisitions and eventually, the Holocaust.
In a world in which the majority is made by idiotic leftists, dictatorships theocracies, and Israel is seen as the villain state. They deny Israel the right of self-defense. It is insane, they always turn a blind eye to the violence created by these terrorists and blame Israel for all the ills in the Middle-East
Hamas, and their Islamist followers are nothing more than human garbage. Israel must prevail. Israel is the only true democracy in that god forsaken corner of the world!
don’t you see the crux of the problem? Israel invaded middle east after World War 2. Imagine Arabs invade New York and say ‘it is our country from now on’. Then evict, rape and kill all the people living in NY. This is exactly the same things Israelis have done so far. If Israelis didn’t exist, there is NO REASON to fight or war. JEWS invaded and attacked FIRST! Ipso facto, Israelis should retreat from where they live or be exterminated.
@wheaty Wow. There it is, out in the open. A naked call for mass murder.
@wheaty How easily you forget that almost half of all Jews living in Israel are ethnically from the Middle East. I imagine they’d like nothing more than to be able to live in some of these other Middle Eastern countries without threat of torture and violent death. Whereas Israel takes in persecuted Muslims (including Berber, Bedouin, Druze) and these persecuted Muslims often fight alongside the IDF, its neighbors aren’t quite as welcoming and tolerant to religious or ethnic minorities…. or feminists….. or gays. Perhaps this is why the overwhelming majority of Arabs living in Israel think not only that Israel has the right to exist, it has the right to exist as a democratic Jewish state.
This is reality.
@wheaty by saying what you said above … “or be exterminated” … is exactly the kind of mentality that will forever get us nowhere. Educate yourself.
@Martian_14 Israel is as democratic as 1962 Alabama was. It worked if you were white. Everybody else had to live in fear.
I know, because it’s where I grew up. I see the same process at work in apartheid Israel.
Iran, hamas, hezzbollah, iraq, saudi arabia, etc,etc, etc are the best examples of democracy, right?
Why Israelis must accept arabs and others that see Israel as a Zionist state that must be destroyed? Why Israelis should show tolerance when the rest of the world still think Hitler was right?
Long live Israel!!!
But zionism is racism. More than that, behind it’s Jewish exterior lies a movement that has much in common with another famous white supremacist movement from Europe.
Why don’t you ask the Germans what they think of supremacist movements that promise a better day?
@Martian_14 @mrxexon ”are the best examples of democracy, right?” They do not misrepresent democracy and give a horrible example for the Arab Spring to use such system that allows a state to exist for the sake of only one religious group. Did you ever look into minorities rights in the apartheid state?
It is a shame to democracy.
Are you saying Zionism does not exist in Israel? Do you understand where that came from?!What is the goal?!
Israel has to respond. The pathetic world stage will, of course, watch her move much more closely than the madmen that attack her. Imagine for a moment that missles fell relentlessly on U.S. soil from anywhere, say Canada. How would we respond? Can there be any doubt? And yet, once again, Israel must somehow justify their most basic right; to defend their land and their lives. As a race, if we don’t stand by Israel, in times like this, we are surely hopeless.
@fjbdc As a race? Do explain that comment.
Would you have stood by nazi Germany? Israel is very much like nazi Germany was. A whole lot of people beholden to a militaristic government that is leading them all to the edge of a cliff. And through US aid, over 60 years worth now, we’re helping to make it happen.
Israel needs a new government. And until people like you understand that, you’re only helping to push that country towards the edge. You cannot save what is in place right now. It’s terminal, and it’s going to end badly.
@fjbdc Its more like what if the US invaded Canada, killed everyone in Ontario who didn’t leave and then got angry because Toronto refugees in Quebec started attacking Detriot.
The Heritage Foundation
|The Heritage Foundation|
|Motto||Leadership for America|
|Formation||February 16, 1973|
|Type||Conservative think tank|
|Headquarters||214 Massachusetts Ave, NE|
|President||Edwin J. Feulner, Jr.|
|Chairman||Thomas A. Saunders III|
|Budget||$80 million (2010)|
The Heritage Foundation is an American conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C. Heritage’s stated mission is to “formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense“.
The foundation took a leading role in the conservative movement during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, whose policies drew significantly from Heritage’s policy study Mandate for Leadership. Heritage has since continued to have a significant influence in U.S. public policy making, and is considered to be one of the most influential conservative research organizations in the United States.
History and major initiatives
The Heritage Foundation was founded in 1973 by Paul Weyrich, Edwin Feulner and Joseph Coors. Growing out of discontent with Richard Nixon’s embrace of the “liberal consensus” and the nonpolemical, cautious nature of existing think tanks, Weyrich and Feulner sought to create an organization that would supply policymakers with concise, timely position papers. With $200,000 from Coors, the Analysis and Research Association was created in 1970. New supporters and board members joined, including petroleum executive Edward Noble and Richard Mellon Scaife. Eventually, the organization split into a public interest law center and a separate public policy foundation, the latter of which was incorporated as The Heritage Foundation on February 16, 1973. Weyrich was its first president. Later, under president Frank J. Walton, the Heritage Foundation introduced using direct mail fundraising and Heritage’s annual income grew to $1 million per year in 1976.
In 1981, Heritage began work on a comprehensive report aimed at reducing the size of the federal government. The end result, Mandate for Leadership, was published in January 1981. Mandate contained more than 2,000 specific suggestions to move the federal government in a conservative direction. The report was well received by the White House, and several of its authors went on to take positions in the Reagan administration. Approximately 60% of the 2,000 proposals were implemented or initiated by the end of Reagan’s first year in office. Heritage also advocated for the development of a new ballistic missile defense system for the United States. Reagan adopted this as his top defense priority in 1983, calling it the Strategic Defense Initiative. By mid-decade, The Heritage Foundation had emerged as a key organization in the national conservative movement, publishing influential reports on domestic and defense issues, as well as pieces by prominent conservative figures, such as Bob Dole and Pat Robertson. In 1986, Time called Heritage “the foremost of the new breed of advocacy tanks”.
George H. W. Bush administration
The Heritage Foundation remained an influential voice on domestic and foreign policy issues during President George H. W. Bush’s administration. It was a leading proponent of Operation Desert Storm against Iraq, and according to Frank Starr, head of the Baltimore Sun’s Washington bureau, the foundation’s studies, “laid much of the groundwork for Bush administration thinking” about post-Soviet foreign policy. In domestic policy, the Bush administration agreed with six of the ten budget reforms contained in Mandate for Leadership III and included them in their 1990 budget proposal. Heritage also became involved in the culture wars of the 1990s with the publication of “The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators” by William Bennett. The Index documented how crime, illegitimacy, divorce, teenage suicide, drug use and fourteen other social indicators had become measurably worse since the 1960s.
Heritage continued to grow throughout the 1990s and its journal, Policy Review, hit an all-time-high circulation of 23,000. Heritage was an opponent of the Clinton health care plan of 1993. It was also a leading advocate for welfare reform; many of Heritage analyst Robert Rector’s recommendations on welfare were adopted in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996. In 1995, Heritage published the first Index of Economic Freedom, co-authored by policy analyst Bryan T. Johnson and Thomas P. Sheehy. In 1997, the Index became a joint project between the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal.
In 1994, Heritage advised Newt Gingrich and other conservatives on the development of the “Contract with America“, which was credited with helping to produce a Republican majority in Congress. The “Contract” was a pact of principles that directly challenged both the political status-quo in Washington and many of the ideas at the heart of the Clinton administration.
Heritage has hosted many influential foreign and domestic political leaders since its founding, including Congressmen, U.S. Senators, foreign heads of state, and U.S. Presidents. On November 1, 2007, President George W. Bush visited Heritage to defend his appointment of Michael Mukasey to succeed Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General of the United States; Mukasey’s nomination faced opposition in the U.S. Senate over the nominee’s refusal to label the interrogation tactic of waterboarding as illegal. Mukasey was confirmed and became Attorney General eight days later.
In October 2011, The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) announced they would co-host the Republican Party presidential candidates’ debate on foreign policy and national defense. The event took place at Constitution Hall on November 22, 2011, and was the first presidential debate to be sponsored by either Heritage or AEI.
Several Heritage Foundation personnel have served, or gone on to serve, in senior governmental roles, including: Richard V. Allen, L. Paul Bremer, Elaine Chao, Lawrence Di Rita, Michael Johns, John Lehman, Edwin Meese, Steve Ritchie, and others.
Heritage’s 1981 book of policy analysis, Mandate for Leadership, was a landmark in advocacy for limited government. At 1,000-plus pages, Mandate for Leadership offered specific recommendations on policy, budget and administrative action for all Cabinet departments.
Until 2001, the Heritage Foundation published Policy Review, a public policy journal, which was then acquired by the Hoover Institution. From 1995 to 2005, the Heritage Foundation ran Townhall.com, a conservative website that was subsequently acquired by Camarillo, California-based Salem Communications. In 2005, the Foundation published The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, a clause-by-clause analysis of the United States Constitution.
Once per year Heritage publishes its Budget Chart Book using visual graphs and charts to demonstrate the growth of federal spending, revenue, debt and deficits, and entitlement programs. The chart relies on 42 visual images to convey its data, which Heritage makes available to the public for free distribution.
Policy analysts and fellows of the Heritage Foundation frequently publish books, both through Heritage and other non-fiction imprints. Among independent publications, in 2010 the Intercollegiate Studies Institute published We Still Hold These Truths by director of American Studies Matthew Spalding.
Internationally, and in partnership with the Wall Street Journal, Heritage publishes the annual Index of Economic Freedom, which measures a country’s freedom in terms of property rights and freedom from government regulation. The factors used to calculate the Index score are corruption in government, barriers to international trade, income tax and corporate tax rates, government expenditures, rule of law and the ability to enforce contracts, regulatory burdens, banking restrictions, labor regulations, and black market activities. Deficiencies lower the score on Heritage’s Index. The Heritage Foundation also publishes The Insider, a quarterly magazine about public policy.
In 2002, Heritage began publishing its annual Index of Dependence report on the growth of federal government programs that constrain private sector or local government alternatives and impact the dependence of individuals on the federal government. It examines programs in five broad categories: housing; health care and welfare; retirement; higher education; and rural and agricultural services. The report has found that each year the number of Americans who pay nothing in federal personal income taxes continues to increase, while there is a simultaneous increase in the number who rely on government services. The 2010 report found that Americans’ dependence on government grew by 13.6% in 2009. According to Heritage, this is the biggest increase since 1976 and the fifth largest going back to 1962, when the foundation began tracking dependence. The report stated that in the previous eight years, the index of government dependence has grown by almost 33%.
The Heritage Foundation publishes a blog, The Foundry, with reporting provided by Heritage staff and fellows. News stories originally published by The Foundry have been reported by media outlets, including reporting on a 15-cent Christmas Tree tax proposed by the Obama administration. Following a Heritage blog post by David Addington that was critical of the tax, the story was reported by ABC News, and according to Fox News, this criticism in the media led to a delay in the implementation of the tax.
Since 2006, the Foundation has hosted “The Bloggers Briefing”, a meeting of conservative and independent bloggers organized by Robert Bluey. According to Bluey, the meetings were launched to provide conservative bloggers with greater understanding of conservative policy debates and a forum to discuss ideas, as there was then no regular meeting of people involved in the conservative blogosphere. Guest speakers at the meetings have included Jon Huntsman, John Boehner and Robert Novak, and the briefings are video recorded and live streamed on the Internet.
In June 2011, Heritage launched “Scribe”, an investigative journalism feature by Robert Bluey for its blog, The Foundry. At the time of its launch, Bluey stated that Scribe would feature “long-form investigative stories” focusing on important policy issues, video report, analysis and breaking news. Scribe is part of a trend of “think tank journalism” using the knowledge of Heritage policy experts to inform investigative stories.
According to The Next Web, the Foundation “has strong followings on most major platforms – from YouTube to Twitter to Facebook”. Rory Cooper, the Foundation’s communications director, stated that the organization uses social media platforms such as Facebook for issue-based campaigns to provide individuals and the media with information directly from the Foundation.
In 2009, Heritage produced 33 Minutes, a one-hour documentary film about the foreign policy challenges facing the United States, titled after the time required for a long-range nuclear ballistic missile to be fired from any distant hostile nation and deliver its payload to any American city. The film interviews numerous foreign policy experts, including former Assistant Secretary of State Kim Holmes, professor and journalist James Carafano, weapons scientist Ken Alibek, former White House Chief of Staff Edwin Meese, and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The Heritage Foundation has hosted viewings of this film, followed by panel discussions.
Republican presidential debate
On November 22, 2011, The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute co-hosted the Republican Party presidential candidates’ debate on foreign policy and national defense held at Constitution Hall. The event was the first presidential debate to be sponsored by either Heritage or AEI. During the debate, Heritage fellows Edwin Meese and David Addington were among those who questioned candidates on policy. The debate was praised by The New York Times for putting “pressure on candidates to show their policy expertise”. According to conservative commentator Michael Barone, the debate was “probably the most substantive and serious presidential debate of this election cycle.”
Heritage is primarily funded through donations from private individuals and charitable foundations. Businessman Joseph Coors contributed the first $250,000 to start The Heritage Foundation in 1973. Other significant contributors have included the conservative Olin, Scaife, DeVos and Bradley foundations.
In 2007, Heritage reported an operating revenue of $75.0 million dollars. As of February 2011, Heritage reported 710,000 supporters. Heritage Foundation is also a part of the Koch Foundation Associate Program.
Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom
In 2005, Heritage established the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom in honor of the former British Prime Minister, sponsoring hundreds of events involving world leaders since its inception. Lady Thatcher has maintained a long relationship with The Heritage Foundation. Shortly after leaving office, Lady Thatcher was honored by Heritage at a September 1991 dinner. Seven years later, Thatcher delivered the keynote address during Heritage’s 25th anniversary celebration. Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol said at the time, “Given that Reagan obviously couldn’t be here, I think it was important to have Mrs. Thatcher because she and Reagan are really the great heroes of conservatism in the last few decades and still today.” In 2002, Thatcher was again honored by Heritage as the recipient of its annual Clare Boothe Luce Award, which was presented by then-Vice President Dick Cheney. Lady Thatcher has since been named Patron of the Heritage Foundation, her only official association with any U.S.-based group.[dead link]
In 2005, The Heritage Foundation was criticized by Thomas Edsall in The Washington Post for softening its criticism of Malaysia following a business relationship between Heritage’s president and Malaysia’s then-prime minister Mahathir Mohamad. The Heritage Foundation denied any conflict of interest, stating its views on Malaysia changed following the country’s cooperation with the U.S. after the September 11 attacks in 2001, and changes by Malaysia “moving in the right economic and political direction”.
In popular culture
The Heritage Foundation was mentioned periodically in the NBC fictional television series The West Wing. The character Patricia Calhoun, a former member of the Office of Management and Budget and a Republican appointee to the Federal Election Commission in the fictional Bartlet administration, is identified as the former Director of the Roe Institute for Economic Policy at the Heritage Foundation. Calhoun is depicted in the series as an aggressive advocate of campaign finance reform.
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- ^ Heritage Foundation – About
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- ^ Berkowitz, Bill. The Heritage Foundation at 35, Media Transparency, March 3, 2008.
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- ^ Edwards, Lee. The Power of Ideas. Ottawa, Illinois: Jameson Books. pp. 1–20. ISBN 0-915463-77-6.
- ^ a b c Edwards, Lee. The Power of Ideas. Ottawa, Illinois: Jameson Books. pp. 41–68. ISBN 0-915463-77-6.
- ^ Holwill, Richard (1981). The First Year. Washington, D.C.: The Heritage Foundation. p. 1.
- ^ Edwards, Lee. The Power of Ideas. Ottawa, Illinois: Jameson Books. pp. 25–35. ISBN 0-915463-77-6.
- ^ “Joining the think ranks”. Time. September 1, 1986.
- ^ Starr, Frank (January 20, 1991). “What Will the U.S. Fight For?”. Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2011.
- ^ a b Edwards, Lee. The Power of Ideas. Ottawa, Illinois: Jameson Books. pp. 43–50. ISBN 0-915463-77-6.
- ^ “Bush Raises Stakes on Mukasey,” The Los Angeles Times, November 2, 2007.[dead link]
- ^ “GOP candidates talk foreign policy, national security at Heritage/AEI debate”. The Washington Times. 2011-11-23. Retrieved 2012-10-25.
- ^ a b Gonzalez, Mike (November 1, 2011). “National Security Debate Moves to Nov 22″. TheFoundry. The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved November 17, 2011.
- ^ a b May, Caroline (October 18, 2011). “November debate to address foreign policy”. The Daily Caller. Retrieved November 17, 2011.
- ^ “Think Tank Index: Top Thirty U.S. Think Tanks,” Foreign Policy magazine, The Washington Post Company, February 2009.
- ^ NNDB – The Heritage Foundation
- ^ About Us Townhall.com
- ^ “2011 Budget Chart Book”. Heritage Foundation. heritage.org. Retrieved September 6, 2011.
- ^ “Out Now! The federal budget in pictures”. South Florida Tea Party. southfloridateaparty.net. June 23, 2011. Retrieved September 7, 2011.
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- ^ a b David Hogberg (June 28, 2010). “Government Dependency Surges; Addiction to get worse”. Investor’s Business Daily. blog.investors.com. Retrieved September 13, 2011.
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- ^ “Under Fire, Obama Delays Christmas Tree Tax”. Fox News Nation. November 9, 2011. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
- ^ a b c d e Simon Owens (March 4, 2011). “Inside the social media strategy of a conservative think tank”. The Next Web. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
- ^ Allen McDuffee (December 6, 2011). “Jon Huntsman reaches out to conservative online community at the Heritage Foundation to boost domestic agenda”. Think Tanked. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
- ^ “Bloggers emerge as force on right”. The Washington Times. August 15, 2007. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
- ^ Mark Tapscott (June 21, 2011). “Heritage unveils new Scribe investigative journalism feature”. Washington Examiner. Retrieved March 9, 2012.[dead link]
- ^ Jason Stverak (April 1, 2011). “Think Tank Journalism: The Future of Investigative Reporting”. State Policy Network. Retrieved March 9, 2012.
- ^ Jim Barnett (September 11, 2009). “Why a reporter left mainstream media for a think tank”. Nieman Journalism Lab. Retrieved March 9, 2012.
- ^ Jacqueline Otto (March 1, 2012). “Profiles in Liberty: Robert Bluey”. America’s Future Foundation. Retrieved March 9, 2012.
- ^ Heritage Foundation 33 Minutes Experts April 22, 2009.
- ^ Heritage Foundation 33 Minutes Panel Discussion April 22, 2009.
- ^ “Istook Enters Syndication Aren”. Talkers.com. July 10, 2012. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
- ^ “WYD Media Management Launches Ernest Istook Show”. All Access. July 10, 2012. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
- ^ a b Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny (November 22, 2011). “Spirited Foreign Policy Debate Includes a Test of Gingrich’s Rise”. The New York Times. Retrieved February 29, 2012.
- ^ Michael Barone (November 23, 2012). “Barone: Thoughts on the AEI-Heritage-CNN debate”. The Washington Examiner. Retrieved February 29, 2012.[dead link]
- ^ Feulner, Edwin (April 12, 2010). “New Fangs for the Conservative ‘Beast’”. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 14, 2010. “…to convince many members of Congress to do the right thing. But we can prevail by making them feel the heat from more than 630,000 members of the Heritage Foundation—and millions of others around the country who believe in our principles and share our vision of America’s future.”
- ^ Charles Koch Institute » Partner Organizations
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- ^ Roxanne Roberts (September 24, 1991). “Margaret Thatcher, On the Right Track; Raves for the Iron Lady at the Heritage Foundation Dinner”. Washington Post.
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- ^ A new birth of freedom, Heritage Members News, Winter 2006
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- ^ “The West Wing Resource,” Bartlet Administration officials.
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