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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 15th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Futures of the Obama Administration:

Dan Rather says the President must show resolve and steel. This was echoed by Helene Cooper (He must start showing his accomplishments) and Joe Klein (people want to see him crack the whip). Despite this 11 said he must play to the center and only one said he must play to the left.

There is no contradiction here – all agreed that the Democratic base is a varied coalition while the Republican base is the Republican idiosyncratic right (a much less flattering word was used).

So what do the Democrats need now? The answer in the TV and Internet age is that you must be authentic and have a conversation with the broad constituency that is the country.

——–

Helene Cooper reminded us that in Foreign countries Obama did very well – now he will have a huge welcome in Indonesia and the Tea Party folks will say that this proves he is not from here. But they may overplay because again the President will show he can raise in the world the essence of an ideal. Indonesia is a poor country in recession and a probable breeding ground for Al Qaeda with a war going on in nearby Philippines.

Joe Klein kept repeating that even in the US people rank Obama’s foreign policy much more then his economic policy – so some will say that when he goes overseas to take of the news the needed US internal economic policy – he does not face the economy.

But above is not correct – he actually goes to the energy markets – Indonesia, then India, and probably after that South Africa. This follows the trip he made to China. So there is a pattern here.

Also – we were reminded that Iran has an operation to extract Uranium in a remote location in Venezuela – and yes – there is now a daily flight from Tehran to Caracas while there is only a weekly flight from Caracas to Bogota. AHA – is this not what we say all the time since Copenhagen? Obama needs to have in the White House a clear Western Hemisphere desk in order to be able to do all these other needed activities that are mainly Asia oriented.

We learned that Rahm Emanuel – the White House pragmatist – said all the time – the futures are ENERGY and JOBS. That should have been the laser guided policy from day one.

On the Israeli Palestinian issue, with the latest misery for all to see and a consensus building that the killing in Dubai and the slap to Vice President Biden, were “botched-on-purpose” events. Simply – they are so botched that they must have been on purpose and the purpose was that Israel wanted the world to know that they are ready to take responsibility for their future because they do not want to have to pay for complicated world policies that may treat them as collateral.

The two issues with most impact on the Middle East are clearly the global look into the maze of State-to State energy policies and what seems to emerge – a border set between Israel and the West Bank run by the Palestinian Authority. This as a “what-can-be-done” approach to get us out of this impasse. With the AIPAC meeting coming up in Washington – March 21-23, 2010, President Obama out of town, and Vice President Biden having been pushed aside by the Israelis, it remains now for Secretary Hillary Clinton to try to build such an approach for the only two direct factors in the dispute, and the Arab States the US has friendly relationship with. If this is not accepted by the two sides, the best the US can do is to drop this topic from its agenda all together, and wait the sides come back begging for new mediation.

Karl Rove is making the rounds of the TV stations in order to sell his book “Courage and Consequences.” It is him, former VP Cheney, the daughter Liz Cheney (Chris Matthews Calls Liz Cheney ‘Daughter of Dracula’), and pundist Bill Krystal that try to reinvent history. Of interest to US foreign policy is the mention now that the mismanagement of the war in Iraq under the Bush-Cheney Administration was the fault of Turkey – because of their reluctance to allow NATO overflights. Quite true – but did not one look into such things when planning a war?

Gillian Tett of the Financial Times, declared that  US President Obama is liked in the world but not feared. Russia and China are not going to allow greater restrictions on Iran. She also said that Israel is probably not as fearful of Iran as it is assumed because had they had Iran in mind they would not have turned against the US and the UK the way they did. She thinks the events in Dubai were a clear provocation to the UK. France and the UK will go along with the US grudgingly on Iran but others at the UN Security Council, like Lebanon and Brazil will not.

Candy Crowley’s program was underlined with the idea that the gridlock in Washington on health-care has signaled to the world that it also carries no power overseasand that Obama will now stress in his relations to Congress what he already said: “Ignore the Washington Eco Chamber!”

————-

Pakistan turns into a US Administration’s Show-case: At least something that showed some changes for the better.

On Farred Zakaria with Ambassador Richard Holbrooke – “Pakistan is looking up – A victory for Obama. It helped by dangling of showers of aid – so the Hakami faction of the Taliban that was previously tolerated by the military is now being attacked.

Holbrooke finds that the Afghans in Khandahar and Marja in general, want a conservative society but no corruption. They want education including for girls and are mad at the Taliban. The district leader in Marja is an Afghan who returned from Germany. There are returnees and the US encourages also afghans in the US to return and participate in the rebuilding.

———–

With Fareed – The Jeffrey Sachs, Amity Schlaes (conservative formerly with The Wall Street Journal and presently Council of Foreign Relations specialist), and Christa Freeland (global editor-at-large, The Financial Times – middle of the road, right leaning):

The underlying Jeff Sachs dictum: “EVERY DECENT SOCIETY ENSURES CITIZENS HAVE ACCESS TO HEALTH-CARE.” Without reforms of the health-care delivery system we will get nowhere – this was really not discussed yet he said.

The problem is that we have no cost controls so we use four times more Cat-Scans then Switzerland or France.

Freeland concurred  and said THE SYSTEM ENCOURAGES DOCTORS TO DO TOO MUCH! She had found that in the American system you have to fight excessive treatment more then anywhere else. She herself gave birth in Toronto, Paris, New York and the US was worse. She asked why all those Cesarean treatments for first birth in the US? She concluded that it was not only a problem of greed – which it is – but also a problem of the legal system, the high insurance of the profession, that makes doctors more worried and pushes them to prescribe unnecessary treatments. SO – WE ARE BACK TO THE INSURANCE AND TO THE HEALTH-CARE IMPASSE. She also pointed out that 80% of the health-care cost is in the last years of life and this should be something to be looked at also.

The two seemed to agree that with 10% unemployment it is wrong to tie-in health-care to a job – and Freeland suggested HELP RATHER PEOPLE TO BUY AN INSURANCE.

Talking about the economy at large, Jeff Sachs said we were in a panic situation last year – that was removed – but we are out of control with the budget and a burdened debt consumer is no consumer. We risk a downward spiral as for two and a half years we really did nothing on the economy. He predicts that the US is out for a double recession.

Amity Schlaes in all of this was a parody of the Wall Street Journal – “A person who gets a job – not the happy consumer that goes to the mall – is who saves the economy. Which she is obviously right but nowhere in the discussion did we see an indication of how to get there. Cut spending? From where? She brings up Indiana State tax cuts as an example, but Professor Sachs cuts her short by saying the US is already the lowest taxed country in the developed world and we are paralyzed because we cannot do what a civilized country must do. Can we have a value added tax Fareed asks Schlaes and she gives a clear NO!. We read her stuff in the WSJ many times and wonder now what she can do for the Council on Foreign Relations. We thank Fareed Zakaria for having brought her in to the panel so we understand better what US institutions of long-standing have done to split America.

With a 10% of GNP budget gap while the entitlement amount to a total of 15% for Social Security and existing Health-Care, there is just no way that the US can cut itself out of the coming recession without falling back into the ranks of a third world country – whatever the meaning of that term which we clearly do not accept as part of our own parlance. Clearly – Presidential leadership is needed here and plain conversation with the electorate is the way to honestly explain the situation to the public. Do not expect the media to be able to do this public relations job.

David Axelrod on all channels, kept saying that Illinois got 60% insurance increases this year and the President will speak in Ohio where a woman wrote to him that she had to chose between health insurance and her home – so she stopped her insurance. Then when cancer struck – now she will lose her home. This is the biggest driving force of the economy that the Federal Government must take into consideration first. We say power to him.

Further, on Fareed Zakaria’s program, we learned that March 9th was a year since the Wall Street Dow Index hit bottom from which it climbs up again. Banks have recapitalized with new $150 billion to a safe position, managers make fabulous pay again, Timothy Geithner who took the country on a middle road has shown success, refusing to nationalize the banks, but what did this do to the person on main street who will be voting in November?

———-

Intricacies of the Arab and Islamic world:

On the Amanpour program we started with Sheikh Dr. Tahir Ul-Qadri – an Islamic Theologian from London who started the JIHAD-AGAINST-JIHAD movement. He was a former special advisor on Islamic Law to the Pakistani Supreme Court.

He says – No ifs – No buts – Terrorism is Terrorism. Any good intentions cannot allow terrorism.

A terrorist does not reach Shihada (martyrdom) or in lay language – he does not go to heaven – he rather goes to hell!

He was questioned about “Khawarij” in the “Hadit” – the words of the Prophet as reported by men that wrote them down – “whoever fights against the people (that is the believers) has more rights to Allah then others.”

Sheikh Ul Qadri answered that the ideology that says those that are not Muslims – their blood is allowed – he does no accept. He fights for peace and when asked if his life is in danger he said he is not afraid “one has to live for truth and die for truth” – he is thus a jihadist-against jihad.

Elias Khouri is an Arab lawyer living on the West Bank near Jerusalem. Both – his father and his son were killed by other Palestinians as part of their war against Jews. The father back in the pre-Israel days, the son, George Khouri, who went to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, in March 2004, when he was mistaken for a Jew.

Elias Khouri paid from his money for the translation into Arabic of the book “A Tale of Love and Darkness” by the famed Israeli author Amos Oz, and had it published in Beiruth so that Arab readers can learn something about the Israelis. This bereaved person wants to help remove prevailing stereotypes in the Middle East.

Amos Oz who can be defined as an Israeli who clearly wants to live in a Middle East mixed environment, depicted in this book the non-heroic ways of the first settlers who lead to the foundation of the State. Elias Khouri says that knowledge is needed to be able to understand if we want to fight them or go along. Since the offer to translate the book, the two families – the Khouri and the Oz families became close friends and visit each other. Amos Oz says that he tried always to put himself in the other’s shoes. Anyone in the Arab world who reads the book will understand the historical events better. Oz says – Imaging the other is a moral thing.



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