Posted on August 02, 2010 in Viewpoint with James Zogby
On Thursday's edition of Viewpoint with James Zogby: P.J. Crowley, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the State Department; Honorable Robert Wexler, former Florida Congressman and President of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace; Hilary Shelton, Director of the NAACP’s Washington Bureau.
P.J. Crowley, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the State Department, examined the tenuous Iraqi political process following the March elections. Crowley acknowledged the U.S. government’s concern with the slow pace of government formulation, but highlighted the "real politics" taking place in the country and the importance of this “indigenous” process. Explaining that "there are some people in Iraq who would like us to tell them what the right answer is. We can’t do this for their benefit…If we’re seen as dictating a solution, that undercuts the legitimacy of the government when it does emerge." Crowley also discussed the recent "talk from many quarters" that ICE investigators may indict several Hezbollah officials concerning the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafiq Hariri. Though worried that an investigation may potentially incite instability in Lebanon, Crowley believes this process will be important for Lebanon to "establish its own sovereignty…the chips have to fall where they do."
Robert Wexler, former Florida Congressman and President of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, answered tough questions concerning the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, settlement construction, and the impact of a potential Republican take over of Congress on the peace process. When asked to evaluate Obama’s policies encouraging Middle East Peace, Wexler praised the president for "inspiring hope in the Arab world from the very first day in office." While discussing the recent drop in Arab approval of Obama, Wexler defended the president’s "integrity and the seriousness of purpose… I imagine the President is frustrated in terms of the ebbs and flows and the starts and the fits…But you have to look where he started, and where he is today. He entered office right on the heels of the War in Gaza when the parties could not have been further apart." Wexler then went on to state that despite the potential for a shift in political control of Congress, President Obama will continue to encourage peace in the region "with a very ambitious agenda [and will] seek to facilitate the negotiation process that hopefully will benefit both the Israelis and the Palestinians to take risks for peace."
Hilary Shelton, Director of the NAACP’s Washington Bureau, discussed the allegations of racism within the Tea Party as the NAACP calls for greater accountability by Tea Party leaders. Shelton highlighted a resurgence of racist rhetoric and went on to examine a number of pictures of tea party protestors carrying "very ugly racist signs." Dr. Zogby then displayed data from a New York Times-CBS poll that demonstrated "Clearly a race obsession" within the Tea Party movement "fed by a network [Fox News] that some accuse of actually being a mobilizer for the tea party movement." Shelton went on to discuss an October march sponsored by the NAACP, which intends to "reclaim the civility and…eliminate a lot of this disruption and distraction that comes from people like the tea party, allowing us to really focus in on the issues that challenge us as Americans every day."