Posted on October 05, 2011 in Countdown

From the NLC to New Hampshire and Iowa 

There could be no better time for Jim to pay a visit to Iowa and New Hampshire – Just after the NLC.  Like he did before the 2008 presidential election, Jim is holding town halls in both states, addressing the questions that will probably be neglected by GOP presidential aspirants about the Arab world. As he noted in a blog post he recently wrote after his speech in New Hampshire: “Reading what the GOP candidates are saying about the Middle East is deeply troubling.” Jim described how important both New Hampshire and Iowa are to the presidential race going forward, saying his visit was extremely positive because “folks in New Hampshire and Iowa are our interlocutors. They are able to meet and take the measure of those who run.” With Iowa and New Hampshire representing the median of American opinion, there could be no better place to spread awareness about Arab opinion.

Escalation in Syria?

Joe Lieberman (I-CT) just became the first U.S. Senator to call for a no-fly zone over Syria. What makes this proposition complicated is that a no-fly zone would have to entail “attacks on Syrian military assets” in order to make the measure enforceable. This comes only a day after media reports indicated that the Syrian government had warned it would respond to any foreign military action against it with “hundreds of rockets and missiles” on major Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv. The warning also reportedly entailed an Iranian attack on U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf. Yesterday, Russia and China vetoed a U.N. resolution seeking to impose further sanctions against Syria, though Turkey is considering its own sanctions. Syrian opposition to the government remains divided on the question of direct foreign intervention. Things appear to be ripe for escalation with no clear pathway towards diffusing the situation.

That's Pretty Bad, "But in America' Defense..."

Hawkishly “pro-Israel” members of Congress are finding themselves increasingly at odds with the Defense establishment which understands how a one-sided U.S. policy towards Israel harms American interests. A few months ago, we highlighted the remarks of General David Petraeus in which he described U.S. favoritism (he called it a “perception” of favoritism, but let’s be serious here) towards Israel as an obstacle to our ability to advance our interests in the Middle East. A few weeks ago, we highlighted the remarks of former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates calling Israel an ungrateful ally  because of its continued colonization of the West Bank despite America’s generous efforts to induce a settlement freeze. Yesterday, current Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta criticized U.S. lawmakers for suspending $200 million in aid to the Palestinians. With the evidence mounting, members of Congress who engage in anti-Palestinian pandering will have to come up with a new excuse for their behavior; because the “in America’s defense” fallacy is just not cutting it anymore.

Perry Bit By the Big Snake, But Christie Still Doesn't Want to Play

If you’ve ever played Shoots/Snakes & Ladders, you know about that big giant snake that drags you from the top all the way down. Well, Rick Perry was just bit by it.  A few weeks ago, he was leading the GOP pack. But after some embarrassing moments (including an inarticulate attack on Romney’s flip-floping, & a REALLY unsavory name written at the entrance of his father’s hunting camp for years), Perry has fallen behind, with a recent poll indicating that he is losing tea party support. As for Chris Christie, he has felt the need, despite an overabundance of No’s to the “are you thinking about running for President” question, to hold a press conference announcing (wait for it…) that he is indeed not running! This came to the annoyance of pundits who didn’t get why on earth the press conference went on for longer than the few seconds needed to say “not running.” Mitt Romney must be feeling pretty good right now, but with many months left ahead before the Republicans officially settle on a front-runner, anything could happen.

Fast Track to Posturing

Yesterday The House Committee on Foreign Relations put out a press release announcing that newly-elected Republican representative Bob Turner has been appointed to the committee: just perfect!  You remember Bob Turner; he beat out Democrat David Weprin for Anthony Weiner’s old congressional seat.  Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen informs us that “Already, he [Turner, hawkishly pro-Israel - without really knowing why] has signed on as a co-sponsor of legislation aiming to withhold U.S. funding to any U.N. agency that upgrades that status of the Palestinian mission at the U.N.” Just like his appointment to the committee, Turner’s co-sponsorship seems to have been pre-determined. Given the kind of race which got him elected, his hasty appointment to the committee (which still baffles us) and his ensuing co-sponsorship of a bill which aims to demonize countries which believe that Palestine, like Israel, has a right to exist, we can probably count on Turner being a single issue voter.

Godwin's Law Delivers Again

Don’t you miss Hitler analogies in American politics? How could you not when they’re always so tasteful & reasonable? Well, country singer Hank Williams, Jr. dropped one on Fox News a couple of days ago, expressing his disgust with Speaker Boehner’s golf game with President Obama, which he thought was like “Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu.” In case you’re confused about who Hitler is in this analogy, Williams, Jr. followed up by emphasizing that Obama was “the enemy.”  After getting pulled from Monday night football for his remarks, Williams, Jr. apologized for his “dumb” statement. Elsewhere he explained that it was the fact that Obama and Boehner were “polar opposites” which inspired the analogy. Even if we entertained that proposition, shouldn’t some peacemaker (Ghandi or MLK or something) be Hitler’s polar opposite instead of some obnoxious politician who perpetuates conflict in the Middle East? Go figure.

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