Democracy Arsenal

« July 30, 2006 - August 5, 2006 | Main | August 13, 2006 - August 19, 2006 »

August 11, 2006

Middle East

128 More Nasrallahs on the Streets of Egypt
Posted by Shadi Hamid

Even if Nasrallah is killed, there will, apparently, be hundreds more. This, from the newspaper Al-Masri al-Youm (translation of the first sentence):

Health offices in Alexandria (Egypt) found that 128 newborn babies were given the name "Nasrallah."

Don't worry guys. These are the birth pangs of the "new Middle East."

Progressive Strategy

The Best Week Ever
Posted by Michael Signer

Wow -- big week, with both Lamont and London, in rapid succession.  I've been sampling opinions from all the bedraggled lawyer-types who I run into on the Metro coming home from work at 11 p.m.

So here's what I'm hearing this week, which for political and national security junkies was definitely The Best Week Ever. 

In true Hegelian spirit, let's do a little thesis-antithesis-synthesis on two key issues:  (1)  What this means for progressives, (2) What in tarnation Joe Lieberman is doing.

Continue reading "The Best Week Ever" »

Ghoulish Opportunistic Pandering
Posted by Lorelei Kelly

Stands for GOP. After issuing talking points claiming Ned Lamont's victory would encourage Al Queda, they raise the threat level to red. Didn't stop there. Then there's this revelation :

"Weeks before September 11th, this is going to play big," said another White House official, who also spoke on condition of not being named, adding that some Democratic candidates won't "look as appealing" under the circumstances. - AFP, August 11, 2006

Then yesterday, the Republican National Committee sent out a fundraising letter, written by Rudy Giuliani:"In the middle of a war on terror, we need to remain focused on furthering Republican ideas more than ever beforeā€¦ Please make your commitment felt
with a financial contribution for $500, $250, $100, $50, $35 or $25 ...blah blah blah..."

Americablog does a nice recap.

Is it true that the GOP is so desperate that they have to hope people die in order to raise money?

Be aware of neo-con media, like a background chorus, turning our security challenges today--along with the political opposition-- into a Cold War redux. It really, really is not. Having lived in 1989 Berlin, I'll go into this more later.

Remember, the people in charge now are the same ones who will fund any number of outer space techno-fantasies that enriches their campaign contributors and won't even fix Amtrak. International terrorism has increased every day that George Bush has been president. Its not a coincidence. Bush's policies have thrown gasoline on the fire of resentment and hatred (latest fire, our friends in Lebanon). Remember 04? Mr. Cheney spread the gospel far and wide, declaring that Senator Kerry was "weak" because he talked about international terrorism as a law enforcement challenge. Well, The Heathrow terror plot was uncovered by Pakistani, British and American policework and intelligence. Mr. Kerry was right. He still is. Law enforcement cooperation from nations who are our friends, Mr. Cheney and company, not vanity wars, is what will keep Americans safe.

August 10, 2006


UN Debates While Lebanon Burns
Posted by Suzanne Nossel

Annanun The protracted debates underway at the UN over a ceasefire in Lebanon illustrate all that's best and worse about the UN.  Leading members of the Security Council have spent weeks debating the text of a resolution aimed to end the fighting and install an international peacekeeping force in Southern Lebanon. 

A few weeks back, the night before similar calls from Kofi Annan and Tony Blair, I wrote a piece suggesting that UN intervention would be the only way to quiet the conflict.  Events since then both underscore the UN's indispensability, and highlight its limitations. 

On the downside:

- As virtually always, progress at the UN is unbearably slow.  Today's thwarted terrorist attack finally dislodged horrifying photos of the devastation in Lebanon and Israel from the front pages for the first time in weeks, but if no deal is struck, the bloodshed and destruction will continue.

- The UN is only as good as its most powerful member states.  The reason the organization hasn't acted is very simple:  the US, France, Israel, Lebanon and Hezbollah have so far failed to agree on the terms of a cessation to hostilities.  In the face of continued discord on a ceasefire's terms, the UN is paralyzed.

- The UN's deployment capabilities are limited.  One of the key sticking points on the resolution is that while France and other countries need time to amass a peacekeeping force, Israel does not want to pull back until international troops are there to keep the peace.  If the UN had better rapid deployment capabilities, that gap would be easier to bridge.  This leads right back to my last point in that its the UN's leading member states who have historically blocked the formation of any standing UN peacekeeping capabilities.

But despite all that, the negotiations underway also illustrate the UN's central importance to the resolution of the conflict:

Continue reading "UN Debates While Lebanon Burns" »

State Dept.

Karen Hughes is at Summer Camp
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

Shadi asks such a good question -- Where is Karen Hughes -- that I thought I'd try to answer it.  And indeed, it wasn't hard.  Just last week, she sat down for an interview with the Dallas News which included this gem of a public diplomacy priority:

summer camps to teach English.

Now, it would actually be a cheap shot to contrast that proposal with the depth of disaster that is our Middle East policy. 

But I can't resist it.  Let's see -- maybe one in Ramallah; one in the Lebanese mountains -- so beautiful; and one each for Iraq's Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites!

Seriously, in places like Indonesia, Turkey, parts of Africa, I think that might be a reasonable idea.  But what it does highlight is the long-term, slow-moving nature of public diplomacy -- and the utter foolishness, or cynicism, of presenting Ms. Hughes' work as the solution to the problem of our terrible image in large parts of the world.

It's like your mama used to tell you about your reputation -- takes a long time to build it up but only a short time to lose it.

(Another reason Ms. Hughes might want to disappear -- release of this study showing that attitudes toward the US actually worsened among Arab students who took in the two US-funded networks, Radio Sawa and Alhurra tv.) 

State Dept.

Karen Hughes is Missing
Posted by Shadi Hamid

Is somebody going to file a missing person report on Karen Hughes? If any Democracy Arsenal readers know of her whereabouts, please email me