The Challenge of NAFTA

Posted on November 15, 1993 in Washington Watch

The White House is engaged in a major campaign to pass the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) through Congress. With the vote set for November 17, both pro- and anti-NAFTA forces have been waging a relentless crusade to collar enough votes to win.

NAFTA is an inheritance of the Clinton Administration. Initially negotiated by the Bush Administration with Mexico and Canada, the issue became a topic of intense debate during the 1992 presidential campaign.

The basic principle behind NAFTA is that the absence of tariffs and other trade barriers between nations benefits the businesses and consumers of those nations....

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The Lessons of the November Elections

Posted on November 08, 1993 in Washington Watch

Republicans swept the three most hotly contested and high stakes elections of November, 1993, stirring a national debate over the impact of the Democratic defeats will have on the year-old Clinton Administration.

In Governor’s races in Virginia and New Jersey, and in the mayoral race in New York, Republicans ended long-time Democratic party rule. When added to the Republican victories earlier this year in the mayoral races on Los Angeles and Jersey City and the special Senate election in Texas, 1993 looks like a very bad year for Democratic incumbents.

Virginia Twelve years of Democratic party control of the Governor’s...

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The Political Responsibility of Intellectuals

Posted on November 01, 1993 in Washington Watch

Last weekend, an Arab American organization held its convention in Washington. Bringing together a number of Arab American and Arab academics and intellectuals, the conference was little more than a harsh three-day long attack on the Israel-PLO accords.

Most of the 100 or so attendees were sharply critical of the agreement, and used terms like “abject surrender,” “tragedy,” and “catastrophe” to describe it. Some of those who defended the accord were denounced as “collaborators,” apologists” or “opportunists.”

As distressing as it was to hear the harsh rhetoric, what is more troubling is that these attacks are a function of a...

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A Muslim American Doctor, Washington D.C. and the U.S. Health Care Debate

Posted on October 25, 1993 in Washington Watch

The American political scene has come to be dominated by the issue of health care like not other issue in the past generation. It has played an important role in U.S. politics for the past three years, and will for some time to come, but it is incredibly complex.

Dr. Mohammad Akhtar, a Pakistani American, is one of the leading medical professionals in the U.S. As Commissioner of Public Health in Washington, DC, he has become an outspoken advocate in the American debate on health care.

Dr. Akhtar came to his post in 1991 from a distinguished career in medicine....

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Somalia and Haiti

Posted on October 18, 1993 in Washington Watch

During the past two weeks, the Clinton Administration has been hit hard by crises in Somalia and Haiti—namely increased U.S. casualties in Somalia and accelerated violence and a breakdown of the agreement to restore democracy to Haiti. Though these were crises in and of themselves, these events also were of concern to the Administration because of their timing.

The White House had already laid out an agenda for October. Elected to focus on the domestic issues Bush had ignored, Clinton had planned this fall to begin a major campaign to pass legislation on health care, the North American Free Trade...

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Arab American Involved in the '93 Elections

Posted on October 11, 1993 in Washington Watch

The work of becoming a respected political force in a democracy is a continuing process. And so Arab Americans, though fully engaged in the dramatic developments taking place in the Middle East are keeping one eye focused on important November 1993 elections and our domestic political work.

There is a saying in American politics—” All politics are local.” For an ethnic community, this saying means that, in order to become a political force, they must be organized and be able to deliver votes and money to support candidates on the local level.

In the past, too many Arab Americans focused...

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Questions Remain About Clinton's Foreign Policy

Posted on October 04, 1993 in Washington Watch

Last week the President and his three top foreign policy advisors delivered major addresses designed to clarify the principles and purposes behind the Administration’s foreign policy. The speeches of Clinton, Secretary of State Warren Christopher, National Security Advisor Anthony Lake and United Nations Ambassador Madeleine Albright were thoughtful, well-crafted and complementary—but left critics unsatisfied.

President Clinton’s address before the UN General Assembly was cleverly wrought to respond to American isolationists.

He spoke, as President Bush had, of the drama of the post-Cold war world. “It is clear,” he noted, “that we live at a turning point in human history. Immense...

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Three Tough Elections for Clinton This Fall

Posted on September 27, 1993 in Washington Watch

This week, press attention in the U.S. is focused on two legislative fights that President Clinton must win this year: reform of the nation’s health care system, and passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Both measures will meet stiff opposition—health care reform because of its cost and complexity, and NAFTA because of strong opposition from labor unions, environmentalists and isolationists.

But there are other equally critical votes that the Democratic President must win this November. In gubernatorial elections in the states of New Jersey and Virginia, and in the Mayor’s race in New York City, Democrats are...

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The Accord is Right

Posted on September 20, 1993 in Washington Watch

The critics have had their say about the Israeli- Palestinian “Declaration of Principles.” The PLO has been attacked for `selling out,’ for surrendering Palestinian rights to Israeli might, for betraying their historic mission to establish an independent Palestinian state and protecting the rights of Palestinian refugees, and for forsaking Jerusalem.

A careful reading of the “Declaration” shows none of these charges to be true. In fact, by agreeing to this accord the Palestinian negotiators have given up none of their inalienable rights except one: the right to use armed resistance against the state of Israel. And this `right,’ I would...

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Challenges Facing the Clinton Administration in the Fall

Posted on September 13, 1993 in Washington Watch

In mid-summer, President Clinton emerged victorious from the Congressional fight over his budget agreement. The White House made significant compromises to secure passage of the bill, but the final outcome did contain the essential principles to which the President was committed: reductions in the projected federal budget deficit by nearly $500 million over the next five years; taxes increases that will fall most heavily on the wealthiest Americans; and maintaining and even increasing essential social programs.

Despite the slight margin of victory—the changes introduced by the budget were important enough for Time Magazine to herald the bill as “overturning the...

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