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Obama: The Legitimate claims of Hezbollah and Hamas?

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by basso, May 16, 2008.

  1. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    Say what? What legitimate claims are those?

    [rquoter]Obama Admires Bush
    By DAVID BROOKS

    Hezbollah is one of the world’s most radical terrorist organizations. Over the last week or so, it has staged an armed assault on the democratic government of Lebanon.

    Barack Obama issued a statement in response. He called on “all those who have influence with Hezbollah” to “press them to stand down.” Then he declared, “It’s time to engage in diplomatic efforts to help build a new Lebanese consensus that focuses on electoral reform, an end to the current corrupt patronage system, and the development of the economy that provides for a fair distribution of services, opportunities and employment.”

    That sentence has the whiff of what President Bush described yesterday as appeasement. Is Obama naïve enough to think that an extremist ideological organization like Hezbollah can be mollified with a less corrupt patronage system and some electoral reform? Does he really believe that Hezbollah is a normal social welfare agency seeking more government services for its followers? Does Obama believe that even the most intractable enemies can be pacified with diplomacy? What “Lebanese consensus” can Hezbollah possibly be a part of?

    If Obama believes all this, he’s not just a Jimmy Carter-style liberal. He’s off in Noam Chomskyland.

    That didn’t strike me as right, so I spoke with Obama Tuesday to ask him what he meant by all this.

    Right off the bat he reaffirmed that Hezbollah is “not a legitimate political party.” Instead, “It’s a destabilizing organization by any common-sense standard. This wouldn’t happen without the support of Iran and Syria.”

    I asked him what he meant with all this emphasis on electoral and patronage reform. He said the U.S. should help the Lebanese government deliver better services to the Shiites “to peel support away from Hezbollah” and encourage the local populace to “view them as an oppressive force.” The U.S. should “find a mechanism whereby the disaffected have an effective outlet for their grievances, which assures them they are getting social services.”

    The U.S. needs a foreign policy that “looks at the root causes of problems and dangers.” Obama compared Hezbollah to Hamas. Both need to be compelled to understand that “they’re going down a blind alley with violence that weakens their legitimate claims.” He knows these movements aren’t going away anytime soon (“Those missiles aren’t going to dissolve”), but “if they decide to shift, we’re going to recognize that. That’s an evolution that should be recognized.”

    Obama being Obama, he understood the broader reason I was asking about Lebanon. Everybody knows that Obama is smart (and he was quite well informed about Lebanon). The question is whether he’s seasoned and tough enough to deal with implacable enemies.

    “The debate we’re going to be having with John McCain is how do we understand the blend of military action to diplomatic action that we are going to undertake,” he said. “I constantly reject this notion that any hint of strategies involving diplomacy are somehow soft or indicate surrender or means that you are not going to crack down on terrorism. Those are the terms of debate that have led to blunder after blunder.”

    Obama said he found that the military brass thinks the way he does: “The generals are light-years ahead of the civilians. They are trying to get the job done rather than look tough.”

    I asked him if negotiating with a theocratic/ideological power like Iran is different from negotiating with a nation that’s primarily pursuing material interests. He acknowledged that “If your opponents are looking for your destruction it’s hard to sit across the table from them,” but, he continued: “There are rarely purely ideological movements out there. We can encourage actors to think in practical and not ideological terms. We can strengthen those elements that are making practical calculations.”

    Obama doesn’t broadcast moral disgust when talking about terror groups, but he said that in some ways he’d be tougher than the Bush administration. He said he would do more to arm the Lebanese military and would be tougher on North Korea. “This is not an argument between Democrats and Republicans,” he concluded. “It’s an argument between ideology and foreign policy realism. I have enormous sympathy for the foreign policy of George H. W. Bush. I don’t have a lot of complaints about their handling of Desert Storm. I don’t have a lot of complaints with their handling of the fall of the Berlin Wall.”

    In the early 1990s, the Democrats and the first Bush administration had a series of arguments — about humanitarian interventions, whether to get involved in the former Yugoslavia, and so on. In his heart, Obama talks like the Democrats of that era, viewing foreign policy from the ground up. But in his head, he aligns himself with the realist dealmaking of the first Bush. Apparently, he’s part Harry Hopkins and part James Baker.[/rquoter]
     
  2. SamFisher

    SamFisher Contributing Member

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    It's going to be fun when somebody uses the search function to find all the times when basso is wiping his mouth:eek: after citing David Brooks and then contrast it with this thread : :)
     
  3. Mulder

    Mulder Contributing Member

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    Did you know that Hezbollah runs hospitals, clinics, and schools?

    "Hezbollah did everything that a government should do, from collecting the garbage to running hospitals and repairing schools." In July 2006, during the war with Israel, when there was no running water in Beirut, Hezbollah was arranging supplies around the city. "People here [in South Beirut] see Hezbollah as a political movement and a social service provider as much as it is a militia, in this traditionally poor and dispossessed Shiite community."

    http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/07/24/schuster.hezbollah/index.html
     
  4. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    and Mussolini made the railways run on time.
     
  5. mtbrays

    mtbrays Contributing Member
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    [​IMG]

    And Stalin made the winter colder to strengthen resolve.
     
  6. El_Conquistador

    El_Conquistador King of the D&D, The Legend, #1 Ranking
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    Obama -- Hamas' candidate for President.

    Tells you all you really need to know right there...
     
  7. pirc1

    pirc1 Contributing Member

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    Not saying Hamas have no problems, but let me ask a question. If say tomorrow some aliens comes to the earth and says Texas will be given to Mexico, everyone here would be fine with that right? No one would rise up to oppose the new rulers? Just because some powerful force declared it that way, the Texas people should just pack up and leave their home and give the land to Mexicans joyfully?
     
  8. Mulder

    Mulder Contributing Member

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    Come on. I'll give you one better. Hitler was the driving force behind the Volkswagen... Wait, my Jetta was an awful piece of crap so probably not the best example. :D Bad governments and political parties sometimes do good things. They sometimes help the people. That is exactly the point.
     
  9. Mulder

    Mulder Contributing Member

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    T_J want a cracker?

    “It is just a fact that Hamas, apparently the North American spokesperson, is endorsing Senator Obama. People can make their own judgment from that,” McCain told reporters April 25, 2008, referring to comments made by Ahmed Yousef, chief political adviser to the prime minister of Hamas.

    McCain's campaign told us that he based his comment on this quotation from Yousef in an interview with WABC Radio on April 20, 2008:

    “We don’t mind — actually we like Mr. Obama. We hope that he will (inaudible word) the election and I do believe he is like John Kennedy, great man with a great principle, and he has a vision to change America to make it in a position to lead the world community, but not with domination and arrogance.”

    [The word in parentheses above is not audible in the recording, but Yousef's comments before and after the word suggest he was saying "we hope he will win the election."]

    Before we examine McCain's claim, it's important to know a little about Hamas and its relationship with the United States, which officially considers it a terrorist group. The Council on Foreign Relations, a nonpartisan foreign policy think tank, describes Hamas as "the largest and most influential Palestinian militant movement." Its goals include the destruction of Israel, the replacement of the Palestinian Authority with an Islamic state on the West Bank and Gaza, and to raise "the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine."

    Hamas won the Palestinian elections in 2006 and now controls the Gaza Strip, home to more than 1-million Palestinians. The victory created a touchy diplomatic situation for the Bush administration, which has trumpeted democracy in the Middle East but has opposed Hamas because of its terrorist tactics and its goal of destroying Israel.

    Hamas' praise for Obama is notable because the Illinois senator has repeatedly denounced the group. He has called it a terrorist organization and said it was a "bad idea" for former President Jimmy Carter to meet with Khaled Meshaal, the group's exiled leader.

    Obama told a Jewish group on April 16, 2008, "We must not negotiate with a terrorist group intent on Israel's destruction. We should only sit down with Hamas if they renounce terrorism, recognize Israel's right to exist, and abide by past agreements."

    But is McCain right that Hamas has endorsed Obama?

    First, we should note that McCain got Yousef's title wrong. He is chief political adviser to the prime minister of Hamas, not a North American spokesman. Still, Yousef is a senior adviser in the organization and his views probably represent the organization's position, according to David Schenker, director of the Arab Politics Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a foreign policy think tank.

    "I think the quote demonstrates a sentiment that represents what Hamas is thinking about the U.S. presidential race," Schenker said. "It’s not an endorsement in the traditional sense that we think of it, but I think it’s an expression of what they think will be best for their organization."

    Schenker said that even though Obama has criticized Carter and opposes diplomatic talks with Hamas, the group probably prefers Obama over McCain because of Obama's willingness to have diplomatic talks with Iran and Syria, which are allies of Hamas.

    Steven Cook, a fellow for Middle East politics at the Council on Foreign Relations, said he doesn't consider it an official endorsement, but Hamas believes "Obama would be a better president of the United States."

    Cook said Obama "is wildly popular in the Arab world" because of expectations that he would be different from President Bush. That's based more on hopes than actual statements, though. The senator isn't well-known in the Arab world, so Arabs are "projecting their views onto Obama," Cook said.


    Cook said the Hamas support is odd because "there is no way you can interpret anything (Obama) said as against Israel. I think (people in the Arab world) are going to be deeply disappointed if he comes to power as president. I think there will be change in American foreign policy in the Middle East, but I think the steadfast support for Israel will remain."
     
  10. FranchiseBlade

    FranchiseBlade Contributing Member
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    Not only that, Israel has illegally occupied part of lebanon, and oppressing the Palestinians, while not living up to their end of the bargain in numerous agreements with the Palestinians.

    All of those are legitimate issues. The problem is the two groups mention don't address those issues in legitimate ways.
     
  11. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    yes, i would say that a BIG problem, but hey, Obama's face will fix it!

    Appeasement: the change we've been waiting for!
     
  12. Invisible Fan

    Invisible Fan Contributing Member

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    I liked H.W. Bush's foreign policy efforts because it was shrewd, effective, and nuanced so that its players had something to bring home to their people even if they ended up losers in the deal.

    This article does bring up a strong point about Obama. It's very difficult to forecast how he will handle hardcore murderers and despots despite being well informed and nuanced. He knows of the right things (by "right" I mean the best possible answer that can lead to a desired goal), but can he handle the chain of unpredictable events, which require equally demanding decisions, that follow?

    I don't think any candidate has that quality outright, but in this election, the public will compare hime to the others on a fuzzy estimate which Hillary has boiled down to "readiness".

    And down the line, there might be an unfairness to his decisions because dealing with the despots in the ME is mostly a risky loss heavy proposition which is bound to have contingencies ripe for right ring pundits to snipe. If a hawkish president suffers an embarrassment, he'd be considered ill prepared to a region that deserves its fate. But for Obama to fall in the same predicament, he'd be considered weak and naive.
     
  13. SamFisher

    SamFisher Contributing Member

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    You are probably best served saving this for 2012 - when Condoleeza Rice runs for president, just like you predicted! :)
     
  14. bucket

    bucket Member

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    It seems to me that any thinking person should be able to recognize two possible reasons why someone associated with Hamas would like Barack Obama.

    If the reason is that they think Obama will not be firm against terrorism, then that is worrisome. However, given everything Obama has said about the lengths he will go to to kill those who would kill Americans (for instance, strikes inside Pakistan, which were opposed by certain posters here until they were used by the Bush administration), it's obvious that this would not be a reasonable assessment for groups like Hamas to make.

    If, on the other hand, the reason is that they feel Obama will rectify some of the sillier policies of the US in the Middle East, then that would strike me (and all others who have ever seriously pondered the question "Why do they hate us?") as a good thing. Surely, many Muslims will continue to hate America as long as it is close allies with Israel, a policy that will continue after Obama takes office. However, given the US history of blind and clumsy self-interest in the region, it is folly to believe that all hatred against the US is the result of policies that the US has no chance of fixing, just as it is folly to believe that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". Our policy of doing anything possible to kill terrorists, without regard for collateral damage or for the actual root causes of terrorism, has merely created many more terrorists and led to hundreds of thousands of deaths. If, on the other hand, we can reduce the number of terrorists by being more proactive and respectful in our dealings with other nations, this country will benefit tremendously. If that happens, I frankly don't care whether some Hamas spokesman is pleased.
     
  15. Invisible Fan

    Invisible Fan Contributing Member

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    It's never that simple. While everyone looks to the US for leadership, the hardcore elements would want our leadership to help them defeat or minimize Israel. And if any president voices his intentions of reproachment the wrong way, it might seem too misleading and would set up for an eventual feeling of betrayal once things are sorted out.

    It's going to take a genius of geniuses to navigate the region to a real and lasting solution. NO ONE is going to help us along the way. Not its neighbors, and not the Europeans in any meaningful capacity. The UN will only step in if there's money/power involved or after we've done all the heavy lifting that removes any risk of embarrassment out of the equation.
     
  16. FranchiseBlade

    FranchiseBlade Contributing Member
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    Please point out to me anything in any of Obama's foreign policy statements that suggests appeasement.

    You may not like Obama's plans, but...

    1. They aren't appeasement.

    2. They will be a change from policies that were failures under Bush.
     
  17. bucket

    bucket Member

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    I don't think there's any risk of any sane person thinking Obama will try to help "defeat or minimize Israel". There's simply no basis for that. Obama has been clear on how he will treat terrorists.

    Remember, our policy for the last eight years (and potentially for the next four under McCain) is founded on the idea that terrorism really is simple. They hate us because we're awesome; we make them (and everything near them) explode.

    I much prefer Obama's reasoned approach to another four years of thoughtless Whack-a-Mole.
     
  18. Invisible Fan

    Invisible Fan Contributing Member

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    You're assuming Hamas is a pool of likeminded individuals, similarly to Israel's positions on the matter. It's always the extremists who crash the party and get the cops involved.
     
  19. bucket

    bucket Member

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    From my earlier post:

    Neither McCain nor Obama will be able to eliminate terrorism. However, I think Obama's approach has a better chance of reducing their numbers.
     
  20. Sweet Lou 4 2

    Sweet Lou 4 2 Contributing Member
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    Do you knock doors or something for Dick Cheney?
     

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