Saturday, January 3, 2009

UPDATED [he speaks, sort of] Yeah, Barack Obama is staying out of the Gaza situation because...

... he doesn't want to make foreign policy pronouncements while there is still a sitting President he might contradict...


That's why his transition team isn't talking publicly about changes in the relationship of NASA and military space programs in relationship to a new space race with China that will impact American satellite security.

Oh. Ooops. They are talking publicly about those changes.

But Israel, Gaza, Hamas--the tough questions?

Can't touch that.

Here's Obama from his third debate with John McCain:

In such cases, answered Obama, "we have moral issues at stake." Of course the United States must act to stop genocide, he said. "When genocide is happening, when ethnic cleansing is happening . . . and we stand idly by, that diminishes us."

Here's Obama today:

Here's the thing: If Barack Obama sees the bombing and invasion of Gaza by Israel to be acceptable international behavior, he should support the current administration. If he sees it as standing on the borderline of genocide, he should speak, because not to do so--in his own words--diminishes him. If he has a distinct idea for a settlement that's not on the table, then, damnit, people are dying while he keeps a better idea to himself.

Barack Obama did not hesitate to travel the world during the election campaign and proclaim that a new American foreign policy is coming. He didn't hesitate to criticize Dubya's foreign policy.

Now, when it counts (as in body counts), he's AWOL.

How is he going to have any personal credibility to say anything--especially anything that might be seen as critical of Israel--after January 20 if he fails to speak now?

According to the Telegraph, it seems that Barack Obama's team has been stung by criticism of their silence. Their reaction: It's the economy, stupid, and nuance.

Read the whole thing for yourself, but here are my two favorite bits:

Number one:

President George W Bush has all but ceded handling of the country's economic slump to his successor. However, on foreign policy, Mr Obama and his aides are sticking to the mantra that the country has only one president at a time.

"The best leaders can multi-task while keeping their priorities clear," said Dan Gerstein, a Democratic strategist.

"The discipline that Obama showed during the campaign bodes well for his presidency and his ability to handle more than one crisis at a time. But he was elected to solve the country's economic woes and he won't be distracted."

Number two:

During his election campaign Mr Obama focused his foreign policy agenda on withdrawing from Iraq and changing the direction of war in Afghanistan. Aaron David Miller, a former US Middle East negotiator and adviser to six secretaries of state, said that although Mr Obama was elected to mend the US economy, he would inevitably have to involve himself in events in Gaza.

"He'll have no choice but to try to tackle the Middle East," he said. "The issue will stick to him like a barnacle to a boat. The Europeans, the Arabs and the international community will be all over him like a cheap suit demanding he do something.

"But he could inherit a very different situation on Jan 21 from where we are now. Three weeks is an eternity in the Arab-Israeli conflict."

He predicted that an Obama administration would "differentiate between a special and an exclusive relationship with Israel" and would seek ways to talk to Hamas through a third party such as Egypt.

Daniel Levy, who was a special adviser to the former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and is now the director of the Middle East Initiative at the New American Foundation think-tank in Washington, said the incoming president's words would come under intense scrutiny.

"Obama will face his first challenge on the Middle East as soon as makes his first comments," he said.

"Everyone is waiting not just to hear the words but to hear the nuance. We may hear language that has not been heard for a long time – strongly supportive of Israel's security concerns, but also empathetic to the Palestinians and their needs."

Give me a f**king break: there is war in Gaza and people are dying, and we're supposed to be listening not for Barack Obama's words, but to hear the nuance.


Still looking for that spine of steel--not to mention somebody on the liberal/progressive side other than Dana Garrett willing to be disturbed over this....

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