Friday, September 21, 2012

The Middle East Media Sampler 9/21/2012: The Case Against Obama's Middle East Policy

From DG:

1) Reset

Exhibit A:

President Obama's Nowruz greetings to the people of Iran - March 19, 2009
So in this season of new beginnings I would like to speak clearly to Iran's leaders. We have serious differences that have grown over time. My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community. This process will not be advanced by threats. We seek instead engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect.
You, too, have a choice. The United States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations. You have that right -- but it comes with real responsibilities, and that place cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization. And the measure of that greatness is not the capacity to destroy, it is your demonstrated ability to build and create. 
So on the occasion of your New Year, I want you, the people and leaders of Iran, to understand the future that we seek. It's a future with renewed exchanges among our people, and greater opportunities for partnership and commerce. It's a future where the old divisions are overcome, where you and all of your neighbors and the wider world can live in greater security and greater peace. 
Michael Rubin - Iran Endgame - September 10, 2012
Barack Obama made outreach to Iran the cornerstone of his policy toward that country. In his first interview as president, he declared, "If countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us." In effect, though, this desperate diplomacy transformed Obama into Tehran's useful idiot. By offering to negotiate without preconditions, Obama unilaterally waived five previous Security Council resolutions that required Iran to cease uranium enrichment unconditionally. Hassan Rowhani, Iran's former nuclear negotiator, bragged about how the regime had often embraced dialogue not to resolve conflict but to buy time. 
Seeking to avoid antagonizing the regime, Obama turned his back on protesters who rose up against it in 2009. His conciliation won him no favors. On November 4, 2009, the 30th anniversary of the U.S. embassy seizure, Khamenei ridiculed Obama and his outreach. "This new president of America said beautiful things. He sent us messages constantly, both orally and written: 'Come and let us turn the page, come and create a new situation, come and let us cooperate in solving the problems of the world.' It reached this degree!" Khamenei then told assembled students that any agreement with America was off the table. 
Exhibit B:

President Obama's speech before Turkey's Parliament, April 6, 2009
This is my first trip overseas as President of the United States. I've been to the G20 summit in London, and the NATO summit in Strasbourg, and the European Union summit in Prague. Some people have asked me if I chose to continue my travels to Ankara and Istanbul to send a message to the world. And my answer is simple: Evet -- yes. (Applause.) Turkey is a critical ally. Turkey is an important part of Europe. And Turkey and the United States must stand together -- and work together -- to overcome the challenges of our time.
I know there have been difficulties these last few years. I know that the trust that binds the United States and Turkey has been strained, and I know that strain is shared in many places where the Muslim faith is practiced. So let me say this as clearly as I can: The United States is not, and will never be, at war with Islam. (Applause.) In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical not just in rolling back the violent ideologies that people of all faiths reject, but also to strengthen opportunity for all its people. 
I also want to be clear that America's relationship with the Muslim community, the Muslim world, cannot, and will not, just be based upon opposition to terrorism. We seek broader engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect. We will listen carefully, we will bridge misunderstandings, and we will seek common ground. We will be respectful, even when we do not agree. We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world -- including in my own country. The United States has been enriched by Muslim Americans. Many other Americans have Muslims in their families or have lived in a Muslim-majority country -- I know, because I am one of them. (Applause.) 
Barry Rubin - This Week, Turkey Went a Long Way Toward Becoming an Islamic Republic, June 7, 2012
We are not talking of someone criticizing Say or disagreeing with him. We are talking about the power of the Turkish state being used to charge a man with a crime and to send him to prison for exercising free speech. True, they are only asking for a sentence of eighteen months in prison, but once the precedent is set their ambitions will expand. 
There are already hundreds of political prisoners in Turkey today who have been in prison for over three years without any trial. Now, if criticizing Islam in Turkey is a crime, Turkey is not a secular state. And with all of those innocent people already thrown in jail by the regime on trumped-up charges of treason and terrorism, Turkey is no longer a democratic state, either. (For a study of the conspiracy charges — actually a wave of repression and intimidation seeking to quell opposition to Turkey’s fundamental transformation — see this detailed article by Gareth Jenkins in MERIA Journal.) 
This is the country that the Obama administration views as a role model for other Muslim-majority countries. In fact, though, Turkey is going down the same road of repression. In Saudi Arabia, a young man was recently indicted, extradited back from Malaysia, and put on trial for a similar offense. But we know where Saudi Arabia stands. Islamists in Egypt wanted to do the same to a leading Christian businessman for posting a picture of Mickey and Minnie Mouse in “Islamic” garb.
Exhibit C:

President Obama's Speech at Cairo University - June 4, 2009
I've come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles -- principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings. 
I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. I know there's been a lot of publicity about this speech, but no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust, nor can I answer in the time that I have this afternoon all the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly to each other the things we hold in our hearts and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground. As the Holy Koran tells us, "Be conscious of God and speak always the truth." (Applause.) That is what I will try to do today -- to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.
This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they're out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. 
(Applause.) So no matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who would hold power: You must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.
Charles Krauthammer - Collapse of the Cairo Doctrine - September 21, 2012
It’s now three years since the Cairo speech. Look around. The Islamic world is convulsed with an explosion of anti-Americanism. From Tunisia to Lebanon, American schools, businesses and diplomatic facilities set ablaze. A U.S. ambassador and three others murdered in Benghazi. The black flag of Salafism, of which al-Qaeda is a prominent element, raised over our embassies in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Sudan. 
The administration, staggered and confused, blames it all on a 14-minute trailer for a film no one has seen and may not even exist. 
What else can it say? Admit that its doctrinal premises were supremely naive and its policies deeply corrosive to American influence?

2) Pretty far from the tree

Pat Buchanan in September 1990:
"There are only two groups that are beating the drums for war in the Middle East - the Israeli Defense Ministry and its amen corner in the United States... 
The Israelis want this war desperately because they want the United States to destroy the Iraqi war machine. They want us to finish them off. They don't care about our relations with the Arab world."
A.M. Rosenthal:
Mr. Buchanan knows the importance of words. He wrote for Presidents Nixon and Reagan and now makes a fine living writing columns, making speeches, talking on TV, presenting himself as the voice of true conservatism. He is the man who told Elie Wiesel that Mr. Reagan must not surrender to ''Jewish pressure'' against visiting a German cemetery where SS men were buried, as if only Jews could care. 
Mr. Buchanan surely understands that if the U.S. attacks Iraq, Saddam Hussein may hit Israel and kill as many Israelis as he can. We can assume Mr. Buchanan has heard that some real non-Jewish types like the leaders of a half-dozen Arab states now know that Saddam Hussein can-not be bought off by blackmail; they want his power destroyed. And he must have enough contacts in the White House, National Security Council and Defense Department to know that there are people there who feel the same way - non-Jews! 
It doesn't matter what he knows. What counts is his venom about Jews. In one column, he denounced five people for supporting military action against Iraq - all Jews, including me. I was silently contemptuous of him. But about his infamous statement on ''The McLaughlin Report'' about Jews beating the war drums for Israel - contempt yes, silence no.
Maureen Dowd, September 16, 2012:
“Off the record, Paris is burning,” Senor told a group of reporters a year into the war. “On the record, security and stability are returning to Iraq.” 
Before he played ventriloquist to Ryan, Senor did the same for Romney, ratcheting up the candidate’s irresponsible bellicosity on the Middle East. Senor was the key adviser on Romney’s disastrous trip to Israel in July, when Mittens infuriated the Palestinians by making a chuckleheaded claim about their culture. 
Senor got out over his skis before Romney’s speech in Jerusalem, telling reporters that Mitt would say he respected Israel’s right to make a pre-emptive, unilateral attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Andrew Rosenthal, September 16, 2012
"No fair-minded reading of Maureen Dowd's column supports the allegations you and others are making. She makes no reference, direct or implied, to anyone's religion."
3) What? No riots? 

MEMRI reports:
In November 2011, MEMRI published a report about the Iranian antisemitic film Saturday Hunter, which was first screened at a Tehran film festival and then in Iranian movie theaters, and was posted on the Internet that month. The film's plot centers around Zionist Rabbi Hanan, an Orthodox Jew who takes it upon himself to teach his grandson Benjamin to create a war machine to destroy all the nations. His little grandson Benjamin becomes the fearless warrior that his grandfather wishes
Another MEMRI report, published in January 2012, noted that the film's director, Mohammad Qahremani, said of the film that it "portrays the Zionist crimes against the defenseless Palestinian people. It presents the extremist Zionist ideology, which calls for the killing of Palestinians and the plundering of their land, which are deemed a religious duty... [and] the Zionist brainwashing, which is passed down from one generation to another."[1]
According to MEMRI the film played again last month on Iranian television.  No riots in Israel or any other community with a strong Jewish presence were reported. (h/t Seraphic Secret)

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