Archive for April 5th, 2009

Doha Forum Calls for Tougher U.S. Policy on Israel

April 5, 2009


Doha Forum Calls for Tougher U.S. Policy on Israel



| Mar 26 2009

The Doha Debates, a forum for dialogue and free speech in Qatar, took place in Gaston Hall last night for a discussion entitled “This House believes it’s time for the U.S. administration to get tough on Israel.”
In its first event in the United States since its founding in 2004, moderator Tim Sebastian, founder and chairman of the Doha Debates, was joined by Avraham Burg, former speaker of the Israeli Knesset and senior member of the Labor Party, and Michael Scheuer, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Bin Laden Issue Station, affirming. Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations and current president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and Alan Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, spoke against the motion.
In his opening remarks, Burg compared relations between the United States and Israel to the relationship of a parent to a child. He stated that, at times, the parent needs to be tough.
“After 100 years of war … it’s about time to say ‘enough.’ It’s about time to say ‘let’s think differently about it,’” he said.
Burg added that the United States needs to push Israel to cooperate with its neighboring countries in order to attain peace in the area.
“It’s about the well-being of the region and the well-being of the world. Israel is — as tiny as it is — a component which impacts and influences so many other systems,” Burg said.
Dershowitz argued that additional pressure on Israel from the United States would result in a weakened Israel that is more susceptible to attack and would ultimately lead to heightened violence in the region.
“Getting tough with an ally may make us feel macho, but it’s a simple-minded solution to a complex and multidimensional problem. We need to be smart with Israel — not tough,” he said.
Dershowitz said that the United States does not have to put pressure on Israel to attain peace, since it is something that Israelis want for themselves. He emphasized the need to continue to provide Israel with military support.
“What’s smart is for the United States [to] take a position that would never compromise on Israel’s security,” Dershowitz said. “What’s really not smart is using words like ‘let’s get tough’ without discerning where this toughness occurs. Saying we’re going to get tough simply weakens Israel in the minds of its enemies.”
Scheuer later challenged the United States’ financial support of Israel.
“We are under attack by Sunnis around the world — an extraordinary threat to the United States internally and externally — and to think that our support for Israel is not a negative in terms of our ability to defend ourselves is a fantasy,” Scheuer said. “As long as we’re supporting Israel, as long as Israel is using our pennies to kill Palestinians. It’s not going to be a good thing for the U.S.”
While Gold also rejected the motion alongside Dershowitz, he focused on how the U.S. stance on Israel will affect other countries in the region, specifically Iran.
“Getting tough on Israel is getting soft on Iran,” Gold said. “People in the Gulf understand that the moment Iran gets nuclear weapons, its revolutionary guard will be emboldened. … People in the Gulf understand that Israel is a sideshow.”
Scheuer’s opinion that the United States should remain indifferent toward Israel was widely viewed as the most extreme standpoint.
“My position is that we shouldn’t care about Israel. We should make them grow up,” Scheuer said. “We have no business bolstering democracy … I don’t think America has any business building democracies anywhere.”
Following their opening remarks, the speakers took questions from the audience on topics ranging from whether or not the conflict is based on religion, to whether individual rights exist in Israel and the viability of a two-state solution. Additionally, at the end of the debate, the audience was given the opportunity to electronically vote on which argument they thought was stronger.
With a result of 63 percent to 37 percent, last night’s attendees ultimately voted in favor of the motion that the United States should take a stronger stance in its relationship with Israel.
Students attending the event had mixed reactions. Senior Matt Smallcomb (COL ’09) said he thought the argument was too vague for debate and the debate itself was poorly executed.
“First of all, it wasn’t a substantive discussion. Second of all, I think it’s a huge shame that the people arguing the affirmative were so weak,” Smallcomb said. “I think there’s definitely merit to the affirmative argument, but the fact that an overwhelming number of people in the audience voted for the affirmative [given that the argument was weak] demonstrated that people showed up with an idea in mind and were just sort of listening in for entertainment.”
Others felt the debate was a valuable learning experience and an opportunity to hear many diverse points of view.
Josh Mogil (SFS ’11) said that he particularly enjoyed listening to the proposals presented by Dershowitz and Burg.
“I thought this well-reasoned debate — with voting at the end — was a wonderful exercise in American democracy,” he said.
“Dershowitz and Burg, despite being on two different sides of the debate, were the winners of the evening,” Mogil said. “They may have been representing opposing viewpoints, but by the end of the debate they were able to look at their common ground and actually come up with a compromise solution to the entire resolve.”
While Dani Isaacsohn (SFS ’11) said he was generally pleased with the debate, he found some of the speakers to be controversial and particularly extreme.
“I think a lot of what Dore Gold said was very dated, and that he was speaking as if it was still 2001 when it’s really 2009. I also thought that Scheuer was radical and reactionary,” Isaacsohn said.
The Doha Debates are sponsored by the Qatar Foundation for Education Science and Community Development. Recent debates have included “This House believes that political Islam is a threat to the West” and “This House believes the Middle East would be better off with John McCain in the White House.”
Last night’s event will air on BBC World News on April 4 and 5.
Read more: Doha Forum Calls for Tougher U.S. Policy on Israel | The Hoya –

Photo 1 of 1
Courtesy Patrick Forbes
Tim Sebastian, the founder and host of the Doha Debates, led a panel of experts in a discussion regarding U.S. foreign policy in Israel, in Gaston Hall, Wed.

US wants Afghanistan/Pakistan/India as its military base – By Ghulam Muhammed

April 5, 2009

Sunday, April 05, 2009


US wants Afghanistan/Pakistan/India as its military base


It will a great mistake for analysts and leaders of AF-PAK-IN to take Obama or others in the US administrations on their words and work on the premises that US is in Afghanistan and Pakistan only to take out Al Qaida, or Taliban, or Mullahs in Pakistan and then they will leave.


US policy makers, from Obama downwards are once again fooling the world through their carpet to carpet media and public relations blitz to camouflage their real objective of coming back to the sub-continent after they left it 60 year back as ‘tactical retreat’.


India was partitioned at Churchill express plea to US Viceroy Lord Wavell, to ‘keep something for us’ while leaving the country at the mercy of the Brahmins. That was the real genesis of Partition and creation of Pakistan. Churchill convinced the US to take over from where UK is pulling out due to resource crunch after being virtually destroyed by the Second World War.


It was the US that single-handed husbanded Pakistan and started with the very first check to Pakistan’s newly anointed Governor General, Mohammed Ali Jinnah. It was the US that had built up and maintained Pakistan’s armed forces. It was the US that got Pakistan into CENTO and SEATO. It was the US that looked away, while Pakistan got its nuclear arsenal.


It is naïve for Indian policy makers to nourish the wishful hope that US will anytime leave its ‘vital asset’ – Afghanistan or Pakistan — in the neighbourhood and carry out the wishes of some lightweight democrats ruling India, that are obsessed with their private and insidiously consuming hatred of Islam and Muslims and Muslim world. This hatred is seriously blurring their focus on the real issues confronting the subcontinent and its total 1.5 billion people.


An imperialist US, whose children play games travelling to other galaxies to assure their survival in millennium to come, can not be faulted if it has a grand design for Afghanistan- Pakistan- India, as a big consumer heaven that will be the driving engine, pulling the western economies in years to come. However, the US is not for any partnerships. It wants to enslave and rule. Its wish is our command. This is coming of the second age of colonialism for the subcontinent.

And it all happened due to lack of vision by Indian leaders, who were consumed by hatred of Muslims. If they had overcome that negative obsession and had visionary plan of their own to take the whole neighbourhood in a all-embracing economic and strategic unit, Indian subcontinent could have been as independent today as China.


The Brahmin’s need for exclusivity born of pathological insecurities, has throttled the future of the whole subcontinent.


India’s most celebrated security analysts are all obsessed with Pakistan — an obsession that has robbed them of all independent and visionary thinking about alternatives available to them and availed by other in same stage of development. It is sickening to see media headlines about the same old hackneyed phobias consuming the media and analysts and preventing them of the larger picture. Be that Subrahmanyam, Parthasarthy, or all other favourite talk-show panelists, they all end up brainwashing entire nation of the hate filled propaganda about their favourite ‘Other’. That leaves them no time for them to look up from their full plates and see the wider implications of US moves in the sub-continent.


The worst scenario of any US move into Afghanistan/Pakistan/India is the danger of widespread bloodshed. US is deliberately provoking and instigating rogue elements in the north so that it can fool the whole world that it is in these troubled countries, to ensure peace —- peace for the people here and peace for the West, who are targets of terror attack. It is time both India and Pakistan figure out, if the real terrorists are the Taliban or the CIA-Mossad backed operatives in the region. They can always get hire-hands from any group that can suit their current propaganda thrust.


The whole subcontinent is at the threshold of a very trying future. It has no defence against the super-power. It has no diplomatic savvy or vision or courage to cross red-lines drawn around us and go for a wider circle of friends to be helpful at crucial times.


The thoughts for my above rejoinder came about while I was reading Mr. A. G. Noorani’s following article: US’s Afghan lesson 1: Taliban are not jihadis in today’s Asian Age/ Deccan Chronicle. I am not sure if we in India and Pakistan are not wasting our time trying to distinguish between Taliban and Al Qaida while for the US policy makers – all of them are the same ‘terrorists’.  Mr. Noorani did gather courage to write the last few lines:


‘Special conference on Afghanistan met in Moscow. Convened by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), with India and Pakistan participating, it threw its hat in the ring: “The SCO was one of the appropriate fora for a wide dialogue” on the issues related to Afghanistan. It proposed an “SCO-Afghanistan Action Plan”.


But I feel the subject could do with a larger public debate, at least in the media.


While we are being kept engaged in micro strategies, the US is most sure- footed, thanks to Jewish Neo-Cons plans for America’s New Century, and is single – mindedly fixated with macro strategies, whoever may be the President, Bush or Obama.


Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai



US’ Afghan lesson 1: Taliban are not jihadis




April 5th, 2009


By A.G. Noorani


“IT is an infallible rule that a prince who is not wise himself cannot be well advised… wise counsels, from whoever they come, must necessarily be due to the prudence of the prince, and not the prudence of the prince to the wise counsel received”. Niccolo Machiavelli’s sage words aptly sum up the predicament of President Mr Barack Obama on Afghanistan. Unlike his predecessor Mr George W. Bush and his equally rash bunch of advisers, Mr Obama is a sensible man. However, the haste he has shown in crafting a policy on Afghanistan does not reflect wisdom.

He ordered “a careful policy review… as soon as I took office” he said on March 27 in a speech which, like all American pronouncements, did not err on the side of brevity. His own understanding of that country and this region, as his campaign speeches revealed, is not profound. His advisers are none too blessed with the knowledge or understanding either.

Then what is it that emboldened Mr Obama to think that he would hit upon a cure for the ills in
Kabul in record speed? The recipe prescribed in his speech does not reckon with the one fundamental that lies at the root of the problem — the presence of foreign troops on Afghan soil. They went there to be rid of Al Qaeda. The Taliban were affected because they had extended hospitality to its chief Osama bin Laden. Second only to secretary of state Ms Madeleine Albright, her colleague Mr Karl F. Inderfurth was responsible for snubbing the Taliban’s many overtures and for, thus, hardening their attitude. Disdain for diplomacy and indifference to other people’s sentiments are the twin hallmarks of American diplomacy.

They were reflected in the President’s speech and in an article by Mr Inderfurth and Mr James Dobbins, a Bush official. Mr Inderfurth and Mr Dobbins first lay out the sketch of an impressive edifice of an international treaty which ensures peace in
Afghanistan and in the region. The US and its allies will “withdraw all forces from Afghanistan once these other provisions (of the treaty) had been implemented”.

That is a consummation devoutly to be wished for. But how will it be achieved? By the use of military force. “More western troops and economic assistance, more sophisticated military tactics and greater civilian capacity will be needed to turn the tide that is currently running against Nato…”
Mr Obama’s proposals are no different. Deployment of more
US troops. “That’s how we will prepare Afghans to take responsibility for their security, and how we will ultimately be able to bring our own troops home”. Is this a realistic exit strategy?

The goal is defined thus: “to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda in
Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future”. To this end “we must isolate Al Qaeda from the Pakistani people (sic)” — a strange formulation. Even the Economist came to realise by March 28 that “America’s bombing raids inside Pakistan are counterproductive”.

Afghanistan is also asked to wipe out “corruption that causes Afghans to lose faith in their own leaders”. One wishes President Obama will also direct his energies to rooting out corruption in the US Congress which causes Americans “to lose faith in their own people”.

There is no effort to distinguish between the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Their agendas differ, as they have always differed. The Kabul correspondent of the Economist reported, “For most Taliban fighters, the ideology of global jihad is less important than other things: Pakhtun nationalism; opposition to the Western invasion; desire to defend conservative Muslim values deemed to be under attack; and a raft of local grievances, tribal frictions, inter-ethnic conflicts and competition for power and resources… Most analysts think that the irreconcilable ideological component of the Taliban remains in the minority. What is not so clear is the answer to the question: how does one go about engaging with the Taliban? So far, the Western aim has been to defeat them; little thought has been given to coming to terms with them. Taliban representatives were not invited to the Bonn conference of 2001, which was supposed to lay the foundations for an Afghan political settlement. (Many analysts have argued that that was a mistake). Since then, other Afghans have used their positions in power to marginalise many who might otherwise have been brought into the political process. The result has been that whole sections of the populace in the Pakhtun south feel alienated, a problem sometimes compounded by the clodhopping tactics of Nato-led forces”.

In contrast, to Mr Richard Holbrooke, Mr Obama’s special envoy to Afgh-
anistan and
Pakistan, the real source of the problem lies in Pakistan. The Taliban, he told Nato ambassadors, were only the “outer rim” of a global jihadist movement. Familiarity with this region was not one of Mr Holbrooke’s qualifications. He is a man who would rather be wrong in speech than be right in silence.

Finally, Mr Obama proposes “a new Contact Group for
Afghanistan and Pakistan” comprising all the stakeholders in the region from the Gulf nations to Central Asia; Iran, Russia, India and China included. A group as large as this cannot serve as an efficient contact group. Its members do not see eye to eye. Some reject Mr Obama’s thesis on the entire region.

The day Mr Obama spoke, a special conference on
Afghanistan met in Moscow. Convened by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), with India and Pakistan participating, it threw its hat in the ring: “The SCO was one of the appropriate fora for a wide dialogue” on the issues related to Afghanistan. It proposed an “SCO-Afghanistan Action Plan”. Mr Obama has a lot to learn — and unlearn.


A.G. Noorani is an advocate and one of India’s leading constitutional expert