Posted on August 27, 2015 in Countdown

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Holy Land Huckster

GOP Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee gets a lot of things wrong. And, quite frankly we, and hopefully American voters, are getting tired of his bigoted remarks. Some of his comments in recent weeks should have foreign policy-informed voters scratching their heads. Huckabee appears to see everything in the most apocalyptic terms possible. His grasp of world politics and reality is tenuous at best and his understanding of U.S. policy seems to be even worse. Earlier this month Huckabee traveled to Israel to peddle his special brand of ignorance, and fundraise for his campaign at an Israeli settlement in the Palestinian West Bank. The American Presidential candidate addressed a group of Israelis and said that people "should visit all of Israel, and that would include Judea and Samaria." His embrace of Israeli settlements runs contrary to U.S. policy, which continues to consider Israeli settlement expansion illegitimate. Before Huckabee starts jetting off to peddle his message abroad perhaps he could start by understanding the policies of the country he is campaigning to lead.


7 Against 14

Donald Trump’s provocative candidacy is having a measurable effect on otherwise serious, Republican career-politicians. Rhetoric has transformed into dangerous policy rather quickly. Somehow the slur “anchor babies”—which until this election was almost entirely confined to the vocabulary of political outliers—has become an acceptable and downright casual term of reference. By no means a Trump creation, the phrase-of-the-week has seen many notable Tea Party and institution-backed Republican candidates alike not only condone its use, but some have scurried to outflank Trump to the right on the issue of birthright citizenship. Seven candidates (Trump, Walker, Carson, Jindal, Graham, Santorum, and Paul) have gone so far as to suggest eliminating the 14th amendment to the Constitution, which provides citizenship to any persons born in the United States. A few Republican candidates have taken an admirable stand against this policy prescription stemming from a slur, including Chris Christie, but not so many have challenged the now normal use of such an offensive term.


Donald Trump’s “Passionate” Followers

Donald Trump has consistently been making headlines since he announced he was seeking the Republican nomination for president. Yet more recent news coverage has focused on his more “passionate” followers. These of course include the two men in Boston who allegedly attacked a homeless man because he was Hispanic, and claimed that “Donald Trump was right” about immigrants, and the coalition of extremist white groups that claim Trump is the first candidate they will be able to vote for who “Actually represents [their] interests.” This tie between Trump’s rhetoric and his “passionate” supporters who have a tendency to commit hate crimes demonstrates the danger of public officials engaging in hateful rhetoric. Candidates on a national stage should offer more leadership and less pandering. AAI has been calling on all Americans and especially those running for elected office to sign a pledge to reject the bigotry that has been infecting the political discourse in our country. 


Almost There

This week, the Obama administration edged a bit closer to getting the necessary votes to keep the Iran deal alive. The most notable victory came from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who proclaimed his strong support for the deal and even promised to help defend it. Other Senate Democrats who came out in support of the deal include Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO). While these latest victories get the Obama administration closer to the mandatory 41 votes needed to vote against a GOP resolution disapproving the deal, there are several notable democrats, such as Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, who have yet to offer their support. According to the latest estimates, 29 Senate Democrats have supported the deal and 67 of their colleagues in the House have done so as well. As Congress says goodbye to the August recess and prepares to vote on the deal on September 17th, we can only hope that they used some of their time away from Washington to realize that this deal, while it may not resolve all issues related to Iran, provides an historic opportunity to use diplomacy as a tool that yields peace.  


Cleaning Up Lebanon

The stark white, pockmarked, bullet-riddled abandoned Holiday Inn towering above central Beirut is no longer the only blight on Beirutis' sightlines. City residents are now holding their noses as they face piles of garbage on the streets (often set aflame) which government paralysis has caused to go uncollected for over a year. The protests are the culmination of months of inaction by the government in remedying this issue and a number of other seemingly basic problems. The clashes between protesters and security personnel became violent earlier this week and hundreds were injured and several killed. The loss of life led to a brief pause in the protests, but a lack of resolution following an emergency government cabinet meeting led to continued clashes. Among the more bizarre incidents in the last couple days, a makeshift wall was assembled by the government blocking access to the Prime Minister's office. The wall, which looked quite a bit like a miniature version of Israel's concrete slab wall, was taken down Tuesday less than 24 hours after it was erected. While these protests may not rise to the scale of those seen in other Arab nations in recent years, they do serve as a clear indication that the Lebanese people are fed up. They are done dealing with the corruption, mismanagement, and broken political system through which Lebanon is governed. The division of power put in place so many decades ago clearly isn't working. Lebanon deserves better and we'll be watching closely in the weeks ahead.