National Security


Can the Republican Party Recover From Iraq?  


Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal, March 21, 2013

The war almost killed the GOP. Whether it can come back is yet to be seen.

Tom Curry, national affairs writer for NBC News, who wrote of one element of the story, the war’s impact on the Republican party: “The conflict not only transformed” the GOP, “but all of American politics.”

Did the Iraq war hurt the GOP? Yes. The war, and the crash of ‘08, half killed it. It’s still digging out, and whether it can succeed is an open question.

Here, offered in a spirit of open debate, is what the war did to the GOP:

• It ruined the party’s hard-earned reputation for foreign-affairs probity. Before Iraq, the GOP’s primary calling card was that it was the party you could trust in foreign affairs.

• It muddied up the meaning of conservatism and bloodied up its reputation.

• It ended the Republican political ascendance that had begun in 1980.

• It undermined respect for Republican economic stewardship.

• It quashed debate within the Republican Party.

• It killed what remained of the Washington Republican establishment.


The Legacies of Iraq: An Ailing Press and an ‘Invade or Nothing’ Foreign Policy


By David Rohde, International Herald Tribune, March 21, 2013

The glaring lesson of the war is that American ground invasions destabilize the Middle East, instead of stabilizing it…

Daniel W. Drezner has called the “creeping militarization of American foreign policy.” Instead, the civilian American institutions that failed us before Iraq have grown even weaker…

[The] Pentagon’s budget has ballooned in the decade after 9/11, so has its influence over American foreign policy. Too many former generals, he contends, have occupied important foreign policy positions…

John Kerry tried to put the size of the American civilian effort in perspective. He cited a recent poll that found most Americans believe the State Department and U.S. foreign aid programs consume 25 percent of federal spending. In fact, they receive 1 percent. (The military gets roughly 20 percent…)

The New York Times published a series of exaggerated articles about unconventional weapons by Judith Miller on its front page. At the same time, editors at The Times and other mainstream outlets largely ignored intrepid reports by Knight-Ridder newspapers that questioned the administration’s claims about such weapons…

“The mainstream news media was as egregious in its failure to do its job,” [Jonathan Landay] wrote, “as the U.S. intelligence community was in its failure to produce accurate intelligence on Iraq’s non-existent WMD…”


Have lessons been learnt from the Iraq war?


Al Jazeera, March 21 2013

We ask if ten years on from the invasion of Iraq US politicians and media have learnt from their mistakes.

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have lost their lives in that war. And it is estimated that over 4,400 US military personnel have been killed, nearly 32,000 have been injured. It is also estimated the war has cost US tax payers at least $1.7tn over the past decade….

… the enormous costs, many of them spent on no-bid contracts to defence firms with close ties to the Bush administration.   Defence contractors received $138bn, with just 10 firms receiving 52 percent of the money. And the firm that raked in the most cash, Halliburton spin-off KBR, has close ties to Dick Cheney, the former US vice president…


Can Obama Make Israelis Believe Again?


By Karl Vick, Time Magazine, March 21, 2013

The master orator brought all his skills to the Jerusalem address, braiding emotion, history, reassurance, logic and personal charisma into a speech that did to the audience what a really good Obama speech can be relied upon to do: it lifted them out of themselves and made them think anything was possible…

Obama understands that the two-state framework is in danger of collapse — the idea that the competition between Jews and Palestinians can be resolved by negotiating a sovereign Palestine on the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since 1967, and Gaza Strip, which remains virtually sealed off by the IDF.  But the new government assembled by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is officially committed to resuming the talks, and Obama spent hours with both Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas trying to bridge the mistrust between the two…

The larger problem is that their constituents have no faith in the talks anymore, either, especially the young people Obama is trying to coax…

The question is whether the newfound popularity will produce some newfound power of persuasion, especially on a topic as fraught as peace…

…“Israel isn’t going anywhere.” [Obama’s] words brought a thunderous ovation — the kind Netanyahu receives, projecting the jut-jawed steadfastness that accounts for much of his popularity…


Obama urges Palestinians to resume peace talks with Israel despite settlement activity


By Scott Wilson, The Washington Post, March 21,2013

President Obama urged Palestinian leaders Thursday to quickly resume peace negotiations with Israel, setting aside their condition that the Israeli government first stop building on land that the Palestinians view as part of their future state…

Later, in an address to the Israeli people at the Jerusalem Convention Center, Obama also called on Israelis to respect the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and justice.
“Put yourself in their shoes,” he said in a speech frequently interrupted by cheers and once by a heckler. He urged Israelis to recognize that continued settlement construction in the West Bank “is counterproductive to the cause of peace…”

“The Palestinian people deserve an end to occupation and the daily indignities that come with it,” Obama said at the news conference with Abbas…

He said both sides must be “willing to break out of the old habits, the old arguments, to reach that new place, that new world…”

He said the fundamental issue is how to structure a Palestinian state that is sovereign, viable and contiguous while giving Israel confidence about its security…


Obama’s visit to Israel will do nothing to restore Arab faith


Ian Black, The Guardian, March 20, 2013

Arab expectations of Barack Obama, in the spotlight in Jerusalem and Ramallah, have been declining steadily since his famous speech in Cairo in June 2009…

So, unusually for such a high-profile trip, expectations have been kept deliberately low, with the Obama administration emphasizing that it does not have a new peace plan to promote. Instead the goal is to assure the Israeli people of “unwavering” US support while reiterating its commitment to the Palestinians – referred to only as “neighbours” in the president’s arrival statement…


Barack Obama hails ‘eternal’ US-Israel alliance at start of Middle East visit


Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian, March 20, 2013

The alliance between Israel and the United States is eternal, Barack Obama has said after landing in the Jewish state for his first visit since becoming US president more than four years ago…

In a short speech before Israeli parliamentarians, religious leaders, military figures and other dignitaries, Obama said: “We will never lose sight of the vision of an Israel at peace with its neighbours…”

[Israeli president, Shimon Peres,] ”We long to see an end to the conflict with the Palestinians. To see the Palestinians enjoying freedom and prosperity in their own state. We extend our hand in peace to all the countries of the Middle East.”

The Iranian nuclear programme is top of the agenda for Netanyahu, closely followed by the deteriorating security situation in neighbouring Syria. The stalled “peace process” with the Palestinians will also be discussed, along with Israel’s regional relationships, principally with Turkey and Egypt…

The White House has said it is a “chance to connect with the Israeli people” – who are largely distrustful of Obama…

Many Palestinians are hostile towards Obama, believing he failed to live up to early pledges to halt Israeli colonisation of the West Bank and tried to obstruct their quest for recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations…


Obama in Israel: Let the fence mending begin


Noga Tarnopolsky, Global Post, March 19, 2013

Israel’s annual high octane gathering of its political and military elites, liberally salted with foreign guests from the deep bench of international policy and analytic thought, is usually held in January. The Herzliya Conference, as it is called, hosted UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as its keynoter in 2012…

The situation today, as held by a consensus of experts here, is a dangerous world in which Muslim fundamentalism is on the rise, violent weapons are not necessarily accounted for, and a perception of diminished American involvement in world affairs. Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the disintegration of Arab countries swept by the Arab Spring — in this conference referred to as the Islamist Winter — will take top billing.

“Egypt is a failed state, Palestine is a failed state in the making, Syria is imploding, Lebanon — well, blank. And Jordan’s stability is very important,” said Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli diplomat, summing things up…

Elliott Abrams, who served as deputy national security adviser for global democracy strategy under Bush, said he thinks Obama will do what’s necessary to demonstrate compassion for Israel’s position in the region.

“The president will absolutely deliver the message to Israelis that he gets it. That is the main goal. He’ll tell Israelis, ‘I understand and I am your friend and we will face these challenges together…’”

“There has not been a cold war since 1992. Israel is neither the strategic asset nor the liability many in Washington depict it to be. But what if Iran is neutralized and is a non-issue by 2015? What then are the basic tenets that would facilitate the US-Israel relationship? Israel, as the junior party in this relationship, has to be the one who has to figure it out,” [says Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli diplomat]


 

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