…or McCain for that matter. But given the tendency for formerly progressive or radical people to support Obama here are more reasons to vote for Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney. I have not been keeping track exactly, but over the course of the last year there are numerous examples I’ve given on this blog about why a vote for Obama would be disastrous for the Middle East. Here are some more of those reasons:
Contrasting himself with President Bush, Obama has pledged to “take an active role and make a personal commitment to do all I can to advance the cause of peace from the start of my administration.” Obama’s team of Mideast advisers includes former Mideast peace coordinator Dennis Ross, former Ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer, and Dan Shapiro, a former National Security Council official. These individuals have impeccable pro-Israel credentials, are longtime supporters of US engagement in Arab-Israeli peacemaking, and will likely have important roles in an Obama administration.
Because of Obama’s relative inexperience on foreign policy, it is this part of his team that is getting much of the attention, and one adviser in particular — Dennis Ross, Bill Clinton’s Mideast envoy whose record includes supporting the pro-Iraq War advocacy campaigns of the Project for the New American Century and serving as a consultant to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a bastion of Israel-centric policy thinking in Washington.
Generally regarded as a political moderate who has the ear and respect of both Republicans and Democrats, Ross, a former Soviet specialist, reportedly has told friends and foreign officials that he hopes to nab a very senior post in an Obama administration, one that at least covers Iran policy, if not the entire Greater Middle East.
But Ross’s record as a Mideast peacemaker during the Clinton years, longtime association with hawkish political factions, and track record promoting a hard line vis-à-vis Israel’s Arab neighbours have spurred concern that he would be a less-than-ideal pick for a Middle East portfolio in an Obama administration, which many presume he will be offered.
Saeb Erikat discussed updates on Palestinian-Israeli negotiations with Daniel Kerster, advisor to the American Democratic candidate.
Pertinent to the talks was the inability of either side to reach a peace agreement by 2009, a responsibility that Erikat claimed belongs to Israel and its refusal to comply with commitments made on the Road Map for Peace.
This will likely be one of Obama’s advisers, as I wrote yesterday, this man, Rahm Emanuel, who is related to and participated in terrorism (read: Irgun):
Of the three brothers, Rahm is the most famous, Ari is the richest and Zeke, over time, will probably be the most important. Zeke is also, according to his brothers, the smartest. Rahm, naturally, gets the most press attention. Last term he managed the President’s campaigns to pass the crime bill and the North American Free Trade Agreement, but this term he has taken over the job and close-to-the-Oval-Office cubbyhole of his friend Stephanopoulos. Now chief promoter of Clinton’s small-bore issues like stopping teen-age smoking and requiring trigger locks on guns, Rahm has been singled out in recent profiles as the centrist, hyperactive counterreaction to the Stephanopoulos liberal cool. The articles are more colorful than is typical of the genre (the dead fish helps), but Rahm is more interesting, and reflective of his time, in the context of his brothers.
Together, Emanuel Freres are a triumvirate for the 90’s. All are rising stars in three of America’s most high-profile and combative professions. All understand and enjoy power, and know how using it behind the scenes can change the way people think, live and die. All have been called obnoxious, arrogant, aggressive, passionate and committed. All three get up before dawn. All are the sons of an Israeli father, now a 70-year-old Chicago pediatrician, who passed secret codes for Menachem Begin’s underground. Irgun, and an American Jewish mother, who worked in the civil rights movement and owned, briefly, a Chicago rock-and-roll club. All three also worry about a less successful Emanuel: Shoshana, 23, their adoptive sister, who crash-landed into the family at the age of 8 days, when the brothers were in their teens.
I have a theory about US presidents and the Middle East: every president since Lyndon Johnson becomes more pro-Israeli than his predecessor–with the exception of George H.W. Bush. So expect Obama to be more pro-Israeli than George W. Bush–his palling around notwithstanding.
And yet it seems some people are still misguided enough to believe that Obama will bring change to the region. Of all places, people in Bint Jbeil seem to be supporting Obama:
Like many other Lebanese-Americans in Bint Jbeil, a town near the border with Israel where Hizbullah enjoys strong support, Hussein al-Sayyed speaks fondly of the American way of life and says he plans to cast his vote for Democrat Barack Obama. In July and August 2006 Bint Jbeil was subjected to massive Israeli air and artillery bombardment as Hizbullah fighters battled invading Israeli troops. Much of the town was reduced to rubble, and it still bears the scars of that deadly 34-day war.
The United States and its regional ally Israel label Hizbullah a “terrorist” organization and hold it responsible responsible for many attacks on Westerners and Israelis.
“I’ll vote for Obama, that’s for sure,” Sayyed, a Shiite 48-year-old restaurant owner and fan of the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini, told AFP ahead of Tuesday’s US presidential election.
Was nothing learned from Khomeini’s anti-Western speeches? I hope that Sayyed reads Angry Arab’s blog and wakes up a bit about the expected reality to visit Lebanon with a president Obama.