Friday, January 9, 2009

The hundreds of reasons why Barack Obama will not be allowed to change American foreign policy...

... reside not only among his choice of advisors, but in the US Congress, where the Senate just unanimously handed the Israeli Defense Force a blank check to continue operations in Gaza (and the House will not be far behind, according to Nancy Pelosi):

The U.S. Senate unanimously approved a resolution expressing support for Israel in its conflict with Hamas, while the House of Representatives prepared to act on a similar measure tomorrow. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said the measure “expresses vigorous support” for Israel. “The Israelis have every right to defend themselves against these acts of terrorism,” said Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Israel is in its 13th day of military operations against the Islamic militant Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip in an effort to stop rocket attacks against southern Israeli towns. Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said they had personally spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to express their support. “We support the state of Israel, very strongly as a national policy, because it is in our national interest to do so,” said Pelosi, a California Democrat. “We also defend any country’s right to defend itself.”

Reid said the resolution recognizes Israel’s right to self- defense, calls on Hamas to end rocket attacks on Israel and says any cease-fire must be “durable, enforceable and sustainable.” He said it also calls for the protection of civilians as well as an end to “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a strong and secure Israeli living in peace with an independent Palestinian state.”

This self-righteous, unanimous resolution occurs as documentation mounts that the Israelis are firing on UN relief vehicles, obstructing humanitarian relief, and continue to keep the world press from seeing what's happening on the ground in Gaza.

So, even though his transition team has suggested that Barack Obama would prefer a more balanced approach to the situation, implementing it will apparently require him to go underground:

The Guardian is reporting that incoming President Barack Obama is being urged by advisers to abandon the Bush Administration’s policy of isolating Hamas and to allow for multipartite or clandestine talks with the Islamist organization.

But even if the Obama Administration does make the significant foreign policy decision, Americans might not necessarily hear about it. One expert close to the transition team conceded that “it is highly unlikely that they will be public about it.” Rather, secret envoys will likely be used, and European nations may be used as intermediaries to avoid the unseemly appearance that the United States is really negotiating with the Hamas government.

Meanwhile, managing to renege on a major campaign promise prior to his inauguration, President-elect Obama has selected a major defense industry lobbyist to be the number-two man in the Pentagon:

President-elect Barack Obama, who deliberately distanced himself from lobbyists during his campaign and his transition, appointed a defense contractor's lobbyist Thursday to become his No. 2 official at the Defense Department. Obama acknowledged that his choice appeared to break with his self-imposed rules to keep lobbyists at arm's length.

William J. Lynn III, Obama's choice for deputy defense secretary, was senior vice president for government operations at Raytheon Co. and lobbied as recently as last June on issues including missiles, sensors and radar, advanced technology programs and intelligence funding.

Obama has vowed that no political appointees in his administration would be permitted to work on areas that "directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years." His transition team said Lynn was worth the apparent exception to the spirit of Obama's anti-lobbyists policy. It said it will work with Lynn to maintain Obama's high ethics standards.

"Because Mr. Lynn came so highly recommended from experts across the political spectrum, the president-elect felt it was critical that he fill this position," Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor said.

During his presidential campaign, Obama took pains to tell voters he wouldn't tolerate influence-peddling.

I can't avoid saying, "I told you so," not once, but twice.

Just add William J. Lynn to neo-con Dennis Ross as the new State Department point-man on Iran, and James Jones as NSA (who has advocated NATO troops being deployed into Gaza)....

And--I should mention--I suppose it is not a surprise that the Government Party in Congress would support Israeli tactics in Gaza, since neither Democrats nor Republicans in leadership positions approved waterboarding, and now apparently have signed off on forced feedings at Gitmo:

Guantánamo captives are staging a fresh wave of hunger strikes ahead of the seventh anniversary of the controversial prison camps -- a campaign a lawyer links to the speedy release of Osama bin Laden's driver from U.S. military detention.

As of Thursday, 30 of the 250 war-on-terror detainees were classified as hunger strikers, 25 of whom were being fed through tubes in their noses, said Navy Cmdr. Pauline Storum at Guantánamo....

Hunger strikers at Guantánamo are counted as captives who refuse nine meals in a row.

Those fed through tubes have fasted for 21 days in a row, Storum said -- or weigh less than 85 percent of their ''ideal body weight,'' or weight on arrival.

The forced-feeding regime has guards and medical staff strap a captive into a chair, Velcro his head to a metal restraint, then tether a tube into the man's stomach through his nose to pump in liquid nourishment twice a day.

A doctor and the prison camps commander signs off on each case, said Storum.

Of course, it's not torture if Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, and John Boehner all tacitly approve the process, and the incoming administration intends to keep the man (SecDef Gates) who is ultimately responsible for the policy.

Keep telling yourself that.

American foreign policy will not dramatically change for the better as long as the Government Party is in charge, no matter who is in the White House.

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