We've gone from a country whose population instinctively knew there was no free lunch to one who's population has convinced itself that the consumption of free lunches is a revenue generating activity.
Erdogan concludes Assad has become toxic and too hot to handle for now. (See 1 below.)
Trying to understand Obama and even progressives is challenging but not impossible.
It certainly appears they are comfortable turning teachers into sex educators and school playgrounds into pimping campuses.(See 2 and 2a below.)
Abbas' response to Netanyahu is as one would expect. Peace is a long way off and ephemeral, at best, when it comes to Arab acceptance of Israel and reality on the ground.
Feeding Arab neurosis has been tried for over 62 years but Obama must believe his toothy smile can overcome history. (See 3, 3a and 3b below.)
Maybe the Republican candidates have a chance even according to this writer from the New York Times.
Yesterday, I posted an excellent article by Shelby Steele discussing the difference between Obama the man and Obama the icon.
Obama the incompetent is where the focus must be placed. Overcoming Obama the icon is a difficult challenge because being called a racist is an easy card for Obama and his defenders to play as, we know, they often do and with effect.
Obama's record of achievement is, at best, numerically weak. When looked at qualitatively it is where he becomes his most vulnerable.
In Obama's first campaign he raised expectations on his ladder of hope and change message and in the ensuing 2 1/2 years hope has changed into a multitude of abject failures when measured against his slickly contrived campaign pronouncements.
The economy is recovering at a tepid pace,unemployment is intractable, we are still losing youth in half hearted fought wars, most of GW's efforts to restrain and catch terrorists is intact and, in fact, is largely responsible for locating and killing bin Laden. Dictators roam the Middle East killing their citizens with unrestrained abandon, Iran persists in developing nuclear bombs and America's debt has risen so dramatically it has become crippling.
Even Obama's handpicked mediator, George Mitchell, jumped shipped realizing the Palestinian -Israel peace effort was a dead ender and made so , in part, by Obama's own mishandling.
These are facts, they are the quilt patchwork of Obama's record of accomplishments but beware when it comes to talking and/or writing about them because you enter the iconic world where you run the risk of being anti-Obama and thus a racist. Such is the lot of The Tea Partyers among others.
Steele's article is very insightful and any Republican candidate seeking to unfrock our messiah would be wise to read and heed its message.
I believe Pawlenty has what it takes as well as Cain and I still believe they would make a very worthy ticket.
The Obama 'healer- heeler' crowd are positioning themselves to make 2012 one of the meanest and dirtiest campaigns and I believe it is critical that Pawlenty - Cain must be prepared and capable of giving back as much or more than they assuredly will receive.
Republicans finally need candidates willing to shove back and shove back hard!
Obviously Republicans were so cowed by a disgusting ad showing grandmother being shoved off a cliff they could not even defend a House Seat in a New York district that was heavily conservative. Oh well it might be a Grand Old Party but it is a pretty tepid one at best. (See 4 below.)
Stratfor on Obama's inane and risky Middle East policies. (See 5 and 5a below.)
1)Turkey ditches Assad, calls off participation in Gaza flotilla
Intelligence sources report Assad's second most steadfast supporter after Iran, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, has secretly ordered his government officials to dump Ankara's ties with Damascus with all speed.
This change has several consequences which may also indirectly affect Turkey's relations with Israel. For now, Erdogan has given Syrian opposition leaders permission for the first time to hold a meeting in Anatalia from May 31 to June 2 to turn over ways of intensifying the three-month popular uprising to the right pitch for finally toppling Bashar Assad.
After three months of unstinting support for the Assad regime, Turkish government circles seek to shun finding themselves "backing a regime which shoots to kill Muslims in the street." After the number of Syrian deaths rose past 1,100, one high-ranking official commented, "Turkey is a Muslim democracy. It must not lend support to dictators who murder their citizens."
This change of policy has taken form in three additional steps:
1. The following message was posted to Damascus on Tuesday, May 24: Turkey is not a member of the European Union and is therefore not bound by its sanctions it has imposed freezing Assad's assets and barring him and his regime heads from travelling. Nonetheless, the Syrian ruler is advised not to try and test its intentions by trying to visit Turkey.
2. Assad's repression of the uprising in the Kurdish regions of northern Syria is causing ferment among the Kurds of southern Turkey. Unless it is stopped forthwith, Ankara will take overt action against the Syrian ruler.
3. Erdogan has discontinued his almost daily phone conversations with Assad. In any case, his advice to the Syrian ruler on how to overcome the uprising against him was never heeded.
Sources report Erdogan also ordered the Hakan Fidan, chief of Turkish MIT intelligence service, to stop traveling to Damascus with updates on Syrian opposition activities. Assad has thus lost his key source of information about what the opposition is up to.
As a by-product of this radical policy change in Ankara, the Turkish Prime Minister is reported to have reconsidered the dispatch from Turkish ports of a large anti-Israel flotilla for breaking the Gaza blockade. It was scheduled for the last week of June.
Fifteen vessels carrying 1,500 activists from several countries were due to take part, led by the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish vessel aboard which nine people were killed in a violent clash with Israeli commandos a year ago. Erdogan decided to withdraw Turkish participation lest Syria exploit another possible Israel-Turkish clash at sea to launch an attack on Israel's northern border as a show of Syrian-Turkish solidarity.
These days, Ankara is working hard to avoid any suggestion of solidarity with Syria.
2) No Dog in That Fight, Mr President?
By Christopher Chantrill
Scott Johnson at Powerline, like many others, was unimpressed with President Obama's May 29 Mideast speech. The president fails "to distinguish properly between friends and enemies," he wrote.
Let us drive a little deeper and ask a question. Why would the president announce in his speech, before negotiations had even started between Israel and the Palestinians, that he believed "the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps"?
To put his unilateral concession--what our labor union friends would call a "give-back"--in perspective, let us ask another question. When has the president, in negotiations with the loyal opposition in the United States, ever made a similar concession before negotiations even began?
Let us make the issue even clearer. Has the president, in the ongoing negotiation of federal spending cuts, offered, as a starting position, that federal discretionary spending should be rolled back to the 2008 level, which is the minimum demand of his Republican opponents?
The answer is obvious. President Obama is conceding nothing on the federal budget. He is clearly going for the best deal he can get on spending, and will continue to do so in every crisis negotiation.
The president did not concede the continuation of the Bush tax cuts until the last moment last December. He did not concede any spending cuts in his 2012 budget. His people did not concede any spending cuts until forced to in the continuing resolutions saga. And in the current debt ceiling negotiations, the president's team official position is a "clean bill" with no spending cuts. Oh, by the way, the Budget Committee in the Democratic Senate has failed to produce a budget resolution as required by law because Democrats don't want to concede anything on spending'
Let us give the president credit for believing in his government-run health-care system, his national network of very fast trains, his clean energy, his high energy prices, and his wacko left-wing judge nominees like UC Berkeley professor Goodwin Liu. President Obama fights tenaciously for the things he believes in. He clearly believes that he should pass as many of his left-wing initiatives as possible, and only retreat when forced to. The president clearly does not believe in "the consent of the governed." He pushes as hard as he can, knowing that every policy he pushes over the finish line, whether in legislation or in regulation, becomes a new strong point on the border of Big Government Empire.
But when it comes to Israel, the president's position is also clear. President Obama doesn't have a dog in that fight. So it is easy for him to unilaterally give away the issue of the 1967 borders so he can pose as a peacemaker. It costs him nothing to make his flaccid speech about Mideast peace and the Arab Spring. Why, he's always been in favor of things like that. But he certainly wouldn't risk reelection for the sake of Israel.
Of course, it is possible that the Jewish vote will start heading south, and the president's pollsters may soon start worrying not just about wavering "prominent Jewish Americans" but real voting Jewish bubbies in South Florida. That's probably why the president went to AIPAC on February 22 and said that "the commitment of the United States to the security of Israel is ironclad. (Applause.)"
So the president is all in favor of Israel. But why does the president treat people that want to harm the United States better than he treats conservatives and Republicans? I will tell you why. He does it because it is coded into the DNA of his left-wing secular faith.
Politics is a fight for power. For American exceptionalists, the great fight is between the forces of freedom and the forces of coercion; we march toward the vision of political freedom and limited government. But President Obama is different. For him, the great fight is the left-wing fight of resistance and liberation, an educated elite marching with the victims toward a vision of sharing the wealth. Conservatives look at Israel and see a nation that has fought for its freedom. President Obama looks at Israel and gets distracted by Palestinian victims with a right to share the wealth of the Jews.
That's why American conservatives experience liberals as irritating know-it-alls that just don't get the notion that every new government program chips away at our freedom. But liberals look at conservatives as evil oppressors -- racists, sexists, homophobes -- that deny justice for traditionally marginalized peoples. And liberals don't seem to believe in the forgiveness of sins, at least, not so you'd notice.
Say all you want about Arab thug dictators. In their campaign against Israel they are at least trying to unify their peoples against a foreign "threat." But American liberals are always dividing America, fighting a civil war by other means. For liberals, the "other" is always other Americans.
President Obama's Mideast speech does achieve one goal. His empty bromides about 1967borders and Arab Springs keep his progressive base at home for 2012. The president does have a dog in that fight.
Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his usgovernmentspending.com and also usgovernmentdebt.us. At americanmanifesto.org he is blogging and writing An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism.
2a)The Left's Dirty Little Secret
By Robin of Berkeley
Reader Advisory: Sexual Content
Years ago there was an incendiary article in our local free newspaper. It was called, Berkeley's Dirty Little Secret.
The article exposed an unseemly aspect of the 60's, one that isn't touted in the flattering history books. The dirty little secret was the widespread sexual abuse of children.
While parents were ingesting copious amounts of drugs, while they were off picketing and protesting, there was no one to look after the children. With communal living, the newest roommate took advantage of all that freedom by preying on the little ones. And with the nuclear family an oppressive relic of the past, sketchy lovers and others had easy access to the kids.
With the 60's over, have the progressives given up their corruption of the innocent? No; they are just sneakier about it. They camouflage abuse with lofty concepts, such as "diversity " and "social justice."
The left is a shapeshifter movement; like a chameleon, the radicals change their appearance to adapt to the times. The left has morphed into many different life forms since its roots in Marx.
In the 60‘s, the progressives were in-your-face revolutionaries. They were the Black Panthers carrying machine guns and donning military fatigues; they were the Symbionese Liberation Army and the Weather Underground and their bloody trail of destruction.
When the radicals grew up, many of them infiltrated the universities, schools, media, and government. Even the churches and the synagogues have not been immune. In fact, the leftists have wormed their way into every aspect of society.
Now the Bill Ayers and the Van Joneses of the world masquerade as men of impeccable character. Ayers, domestic terrorist and mad bomber, has metamorphosed into Dr. Ayers, tenured Professor in Education.
Ayers was smart enough to know what every totalitarian regime understands: to control the populace, focus on the children. This is why the SS mandated that children over l0 must join the Hitler Youth.
Rather than directly recruit children as foot soldiers, the left does something more insidious: the left poisons children's minds through, for instance, the garbage in the media. But while kids can turn off the boob tube, there's nothing that they or their parents can do when the public schools turn into instruments of corruption. Exhibit A: "sex education."
In today's public schools, kids are inundated with sexual material. We're not talking sex education here, but sex saturation.
The debasement of children's minds through sex education was concocted about a hundred years ago by Germany's Frankfurt School. The socialists launched a cultural revolution to corrupt the West so badly that it would "stink," in their words. Some of their methods would be destroying the family, stripping parents of power, and forcing sex education into the schools.
Sex education has mutated from, in my day, animated films of sperms swimming toward eggs to an outright violation of children's innocence. Nine-year-olds learn to put condoms on bananas; middle school children squirm at talks about sex change operations. By high school, free condoms are in plentiful supply.
The federal government and progressive states, such as California, are big cheerleaders for children becoming sexual junkies. The One-World loving UN has chimed in with proclamations declaring children's "right" to masturbation. And the deluded dupes running today's public schools follow in lockstep.
The sexual immersion in today's public schools doesn't just stimulate kids to experiment with the opposite sex; it cajoles them to consider a gay or bi or polyamorous lifestyle.
Being gay appears more and more appealing as schools hold assemblies where gay teachers and teens offer guidance and support. And all of those special services and attention cast a magnetic spell on some children hungry for a sense of identity and belonging. (For an excellent pamphlet on the subject, press this link.)
There's actually a word for what schools are doing; it's a form of recruitment called "queering." This term became widely known after Obama appointed Kevin Jennings as his School Czar. Jennings became notorious in Massachusetts for his "queering" of teens through instructing them on hard-core practices such as fisting and water sports.
But the news gets worse. The latest craze (and I do mean craze) is teaching "gender diversity" to children as young as five. Gender diversity means that since gender is socially constructed, children are free to change their gender whenever the spirit moves them.
Close to home, an Oakland public elementary school recently held a two-day training on gender diversity. Kindergarten through first grade kids explored the question, "Boy, girl or both?" while perusing the picture book, "My Princess Boy."
Second and third graders were informed that gender diversity was natural; that it appears throughout nature and in the animal kingdom. The fourth and fifth graders were treated to the song, "All I want to be is me," while being told that they "can be a boy, a girl, both or neither." And lest you think this type of brainwashing only happens in Berkeley and Oakland, there are national organizations working hard to bring this to a classroom near you.
The progressives, of course, don't publicize such training as queering or gender bending. In classic doublespeak, they cloak the programs in noble terms, such as "safety training," and "anti-bullying." (Thus, Kevin Jennings' position in the Obama Administration has been carefully crafted as "The Assistant Deputy Secretary in the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools.")
But while the training is supposedly about safety, the issues quickly become focused on sexual minorities. There's no help for the Christian child bullied for his beliefs, or the abstinent teen teased mercilessly for waiting until marriage.
Somehow the safety issues always return to the gay, bi, or trans youth. Perhaps this is a way to control and intimidate the sexual majority; certainly, it forces more sex talk into the curriculum.
Regardless of how the left spins it, children being forced to listen to one uncomfortable, repellant sex talk after another, is not safety. It's also not education. It's actually a state-sanctioned form of child abuse.
This is another of the left's dirty little secrets: the ease in which they will use and abuse children for their radical agenda. Back in the 60‘s, the secret was the molestation of kids in places like Berkeley. Today, it's the widespread exploitation of children in the public schools.
Sexual misconduct isn't just creepy Uncle Henry touching and exhibiting. Abuse exists on a continuum from exposing a child to inappropriate sexual materials and asking sexually intrusive questions, all the way to incest and rape.
Notice the disturbing parallels between the creepy uncle and today's schools. Uncle Henry may force a child to look at pornography; how is this any different in a child's mind than the child being required to sit through sexual talks and films, beginning in elementary schools?
The demented relative will tutor the child that sex is pleasurable; that he's doing this for her own good. Note the similarity to teachers advising kids that it's okay, even desirable, to have sex with whomever; that kids, in fact, have a "right" to it.
Abuse often happens in secret, with the predator twisting and contorting his true intent. Notice the parallel to teachers introducing shocking and confusing sexual information to children, unbeknownst to parents.
Of course, the left has worked overtime to make sure parents are left out of the picture. Liberal courts have determined that parents don't need to be notified or consenting for sex talk. In schools today, parents have little or no say in what their children are exposed to.
Teachers force-feeding kids a steady diet of sexual information confuses and corrupts them. At least when it comes to the creepy uncle, most kids know, on some level, that what the relative is doing is wrong.
But teachers are in positions of authority; they are guardians of the public trust. Schools violate this trust and abuse their power by using it to brainwash kids. And this is how brainwashing works: forcing a person to remain in a disturbing situation where propaganda is repeated over and over again, until finally the victim becomes desensitized and compliant.
By focusing on the youth, the left creates the perfect victim. Sexually abused children may lose their ability to say no -- or even to recognize when it's appropriate to say no. Exposing them to sex at an early age plants permanent images in their brains, ones that stimulate them to become hooked on thrills, sexual and otherwise.
The sexualization of school children isn't simply a difference of opinion between the right and the left. It's a difference between right and wrong.
Teaching school children to become hooked on pleasure; coaxing them to try sexual practices that may sicken, even kill them; giving them license to change their genders. . . Is there a person in their right mind who can't see that this isn't just inappropriate; it is downright evil?
Those in charge of the sexualization of children are our postmodern Frankensteins; they have engineered mad plans to steal the bodies and souls of our children.
Why? For so many reasons: cultural Marxism; social control; desensitization. . . maybe even because the same was done to them when they were too young to object; maybe, shorn of strong arms to guard and guide them, they were victims of abuse and neglect in those communes and broken families so long ago.
And this is the final legacy of the abused child: that he can use his pain to help others. He can become a beacon of light to people in darkness.
Or he can do the opposite: he can become darkness itself; he can grow up to be a monster. And in today's progressive classroom, under the pretense of justice and fairness, he can do monstrous things to others.
3)Abbas: Netanyahu's vision for peace is nothing we can build on
Palestinian president rejects PM's speech to Congress, says he will seek UN recognition of Palestinian state if there is no breakthrough in peace process.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected Wednesday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's vision for peace as outlined in his speech to Congress on Tuesday.
Addressing a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Ramallah, Abbas said Netanyahu's vision for peace contained "nothing we can build on."
Abbas also said he would seek UN recognition of Palestinian statehood if there was no breakthrough in the peace process by September.
Abbas told the Palestine Liberation Organization Netanyahu's speech to the United States Congress on Tuesday "traveled far from peace," dictating solutions before negotiations even begin.
He said he would consult Arab states over the weekend about U.S. President Barack Obama's latest ideas for restarting the peace process and Netanyahu's negative response to them.
"We said in the past and we still say that our choice is negotiation, negotiation and nothing but negotiation. But if nothing happens by September we will go [to the UN to ask for recognition]," Abbas said.
"Our aim is not to isolate [Israel] or to delegitimize it. It is not an act of terror and not a unilateral act."
Abbas' plan to seek UN recognition was criticized by both Netanyahu and Obama in speeches in Washington last week.
In a major policy speech, however, Obama said a future Palestinian state should be based on the borders as they existed on the eve of the 1967 Middle East, with land swaps mutually agreed with Israel.
In his speech to Congress on Tuesday, Netanyahu said that he is "willing to make painful compromises" to achieve peace but insisted that Jerusalem will not be divided. He said that Israel will be "generous" on the size of a Palestinian state but reiterated his firm stance against the return to "indefensible" 1967 borders.
Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat dismissed Netanyahu's speech, saying it was "full of lies" and that Netanyahu has "no vision and nothing to offer."
Erekat condemned Netanyahu's call to break its ties with Hamas, insisting the Palestinians choose unity and "not a man who has nothing to offer."
3a)The gullible, the guilty, and the ignorance of truth are crucial in advancing Obama's New Middle East
By Jonathan Rosenblum
In his June 24, 2002 Rose Garden speech, President George W. Bush made clear that the purpose of Oslo was not the creation of a Palestinian state, but peace. He disabused the Palestinians of the notion that a Palestinian state is inevitable, and let them know that it must be earned. That state would have to be based on governmental financial transparency, freedom of citizens to criticize the government without fear of repercussions, the rule of law, and division of governmental power. He made clear that a Palestinian state would not be born from terrorism.
Bush was not refuting a straw man, but rather the traditional position of the EU. Western Europe has long viewed the very creation of Israel as, at best, a mistake creating myriad unnecessary headaches with the Arab world, and, at worst, a grave injustice inflicted on the hapless Palestinians. For the Europeans the formation of a Palestinian state has long been the central goal of the peace process. Israel is always called upon to take brave steps for peace, and criticized for failing to do so, whereas the Palestinians are given a complete pass when they fail to live up to their own commitments.
To further the goal of a Palestine state, the EU has consistently urged a fixed timetable by which the Israelis and Palestinians should enter into a final negotiated settlement or a Palestinian state would be declared. (Such a deadline for the declaration of a Palestinian state effectively ensures that the Palestinians will not negotiate with Israel in good faith, just as they are refusing to negotiate at present in anticipation of a declaration of a Palestinian state by the UN General Assembly in September.)
At the outset of the Roadmap, President Bush had to stand firm against the other members of the so-called Quartet in demanding a set of performance based measures that both sides needed to meet at each stage of the process before proceeding to the next stage. The other members of the Quartet favored a deadline for the declaration of Palestinian statehood.
FROM THE OUTSET, the Obama administration leaned far closer to the European position than that staked out by President Bush. Thus Secretary of State Hilary Clinton declared "non-binding" the letter from Bush to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in which Bush acknowledged that "new realities on the ground" since 1967 made a complete withdrawal to the armistice lines as of June 4 1967 unthinkable, even though the letter was ratified by large majorities in both houses of Congress.
President Obama's expressed his conviction that the time was ripe for the achievement of a final status agreement, and made the appointment of a special envoy to advance the "peace" process, Senator George Mitchell, his first major act in office. The President's confidence about his ability to succeed where all previous presidents had failed was predicated on the belief that the final borders of Palestine were already well-known, and that the rest could be achieved by American pressure on Israel. That is certainly how the Palestinians read him, especially after he demanded a halt to all Israeli "settlement" activity, including building in the new Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem built after 1967. Mahmoud Abbas told the Washington Post editorial board, after his first meeting with Obama, that he saw no need to negotiate with Israel, and preferred to simply see what progress could be achieved through American pressure on Israel.
Israeli security concerns received scant attention from the new administration. National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones followed the traditional European prescription to allay Israeli concerns about weapons and terrorists entering the West Bank via the Jordan River: international peacekeepers. After its experience with U.N. peacekeepers in southern Lebanon, under whose watchful eye, Hizbullah has amassed an arsenal of 50,000 missiles since the end of the Second Lebanon War, Israel was hardly reassured.
FOR THOSE INCLINED TO BE DOUBTFUL of the President Obama's warmth for Israel and concern for her existence, there was plenty of cause for concern in last week's speech. For starters, there was the timing of the speech itself. Though nominally a speech about Arab Spring, the President had little to say of practical consequence on that subject. It is far too late for the United States to get ahead of the curve or effect events in any significant fashion. Had Obama responded with some vigor to the brutal suppression in Iran after the stolen elections of summer 2009 or when the Assad regime in Syria started mowing down civilians, he might have had an impact on the course of events in those two countries. But at this point his potential influence is negligible.
Only within the context of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's visit to the United States the next day and his scheduled appearance before a joint session of Congress did the timing of the President's speech make sense. The impression given was that Obama hoped to constrain Netanyahu in advance and intimidate him from presenting Israel's case too strongly in Congress.
Then there is the matter of President's vision of a final settlement based upon the 1967 lines — i.e., the 1949 armistice lines — with certain border adjustments and land swaps. The President is probably right that those lines formed the basis of negotiations at Camp David in 2000 under President Clinton, and that as a practical matter they might include the settlement blocs alluded to by President Bush in his letter to Ariel Sharon.
But reference to the 1967 lines as the starting point casts a shadow of illegitimacy over all Israel building beyond those lines, including in the new Jewish areas of Jerusalem, and represents a departure from UN Security Council Resolution 242. Making the 1967 lines the basis for swaps suggests that those armistice lines reflect the maximum area Israel may cover, and that compensation must be given for any area developed beyond that. The drafters of 242, however, explicitly rejected Arab language demanding a retreat from "all" the captured territories. They implicitly recognized that the retention of territory captured from an aggressor, especially when the aggressor was not an internationally recognized sovereign, could be retained, indeed had to be retained in order to create the possibility of "secure and recognized" borders for Israel. Nothing in the resolution contemplates land swaps or suggests that the 1949 armistice lines established Israel's maximum area.
PERHAPS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT than what the President said about the 1967 lines, which sucked up most of the attention, was his treatment of Israel's security needs. On the one hand, he committed himself to preserving Israel's ability to "defend itself — by itself — against any threat." That language is based on President Bush's April 14 2004 letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. According to former National Security Council official Elliot Abrams, Sharon considered Bush's commitment that Israel be given the means to defend itself, by itself, the most important aspect of the letter. It meant that Israel would not be asked to rely on the kindness of strangers — in the form of foreign peacekeepers — to preserve its existence.
On the other hand, the President called for the "full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces" from the entire West Bank. In short, he envisions no Israeli military presence in the Jordan Rift Valley, protecting Israel's eastern flank and guarding the border with Jordan against the invasion of weapons and terrorists from Jordan.
These two promises cannot be reconciled. Even today, the Palestinian Authority forces could not maintain their rule in the West Bank were it not for the continued presence of the IDF. They certainly could not guarantee a long and porous border, even if they were so inclined, which they are not. Thus one day before Netanyahu's visit to America, Obama deliberately placed himself on a collision course with the Israeli prime minister, who has insisted many times on the necessity of an Israeli military presence in the Jordan Rift Valley.
AS USUAL, THE PRESIDENT URGED ISRAEL to take "act boldly" (modified to make "hard choices" at the AIPAC convention) for peace. And as always, the counsel was offered in a spirit of friendship — out of recognition that the status quo is "unsustainable." Or, at least, it is unsustainable for Israel, despite its thriving democracy, vital entrepreneurial class, and powerful military. The President warned that without peace Israel would face increasing isolation, about which, it would appear, there is little that he or the United States can do.
Apparently, the status quo is not unsustainable for the supposedly downtrodden Palestinians. They were not asked to make any hard choices or take bold actions. Quite the opposite. The President argued that the issue of Palestinian refugees be put off until after borders are agreed upon. In other words, the Palestinians were not urged to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. All up-front concessions are to come from Israel.
By demanding "hard choices" only from Israel, President in effect, if not intent, placed the onus on Israel for the failure to achieve peace. Yet there are no choices Israel could make that would further peace, absent a Palestinian renunciation of the "right of return" and the desire to reclaim Israel, something for which no Palestinian leader has ever educated his people.
The closest the President came to a criticism of the Palestinians was to label it a "legitimate question" how Israel can be expected to negotiate with a government made up of Fatah and Hamas, when the latter does not recognize Israel's right to exist. It's a lot more than a legitimate question; it's a question to which there is no answer. Hamas does not confine itself to refusing to recognize Israel's right to exist. Its charter calls for the murder of Jews (Article 7) and the destruction of Israel (Article 12). These are not political stances, but expressions of theological necessity, and as such not subject to amendment, something that those who call for Hamas to renounce terrorism or recognize Israel's right to exist consistently ignore.
Nor is the distance between Fatah and Hamas so wide on this point. Only by comparison to Hamas does Fatah look moderate. Yet Fatah has always rejected out of hand any recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and had never indicated the slightest willingness to compromise on the right of return. Just last week the Palestinian National Assembly voted to provide monthly stipends to the terrorists held in Israeli jails — the more heinous the crimes (i.e., the longer the sentence), the higher the stipend. And the Palestinian Authority continues to name schools, summer camps, and town squares, and celebrate such arch-terrorists as Samar Kuntar, George Habash, the pioneer of air hijacking, and Dalal Mughrabi, the leader of the coastal highway massacre of 37 Israelis.
Official Palestinian Authority schoolbooks and media continue to portray the entirety of Israel as Palestine. Not surprisingly, every Palestinian poll shows a large majority rejecting anything resembling the peace outlined by Obama, which is why the Palestinians prefer unilateral declarations of Palestinian statehood over any negotiation process. It is also why no "hard choices" Israel could make would bring peace any closer.
Obama's speech was typically long on generalities and short on specific actions that the United States might take. Rather than just admit that the Israelis have a "legitimate question" about the Fatah-Hamas pact, it would have been more reassuring to Israel to hear that the United States is cutting off funding to the Palestinian Authority, in light of its partnership with a recognized terrorist organization, i.e., Hamas.
THOUGH THE PRESIDENT'S remarks on the Palestinian-Israel conflict were offered in the context of much longer speech on the current turmoil in the Arab world, he failed to draw any of the lessons of the latter for the former. True, he did not claim, as he has done so many times before, that resolution of the Palestinian-Israel conflict is the magical key to peace and prosperity in the region.
But neither did he admit how irrelevant the Palestinian-Israel conflict is to the larger regional picture. Israel is now surrounded by three failed states. The streets of Egypt are barely policed; the writ of the Lebanese government does not extend in any fashion to the Hizbullah-controlled south (though the opposite is not the case); and in Syria, the Assad regime has no choice but to gun down civilians daily or give up power and witness the slaughter of the Alawite minority. In addition, two Iranian-proxy terrorist mini-states, sit on Israel's northern and southern borders — Hizbullah-land to the North and Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip to the South.
Syria and Egypt are dirt poor, and the large parts of the population face near starvation due to the rise in world wheat prices. An Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement would not enable the Syrian or Egyptian governments, or any imaginable succesors, to feed their people, nor end the endemic second-class status of women in Muslim lands, or the raise rates of literacy.
Somehow calls for Palestinian "self-determination" ring increasingly hollow in a region where the citizens of no Arab state enjoy democratic rights, particularly the right to criticize the government as they want without fear of reprisals. Only Israeli Arabs enjoy that right. Nor is the urgency of Palestinian statehood self-evident given that the Palestinians could have had a state in 1948 had they accepted partition, or in 2000 had Arafat accepted the Clinton parameters at Camp David, or again in 2009 had Mahmoud Abbas not walked away from negotiations with Prime Minister Olmert. Palestinian claims pale compared to those of Kurds and Tibetans, two linguistically distinct people with ancient histories.
A Palestinian state would inevitably be a failed state. About one thing Fatah and Hamas agree: Neither want technocrat Palestinian Authority prime minister Salam Fayaad nor anyone like him running the show. Their goal is not building a state but claiming another. Three years ago, Fatah and Hamas forces were busy throwing one another off of roofs, and they would soon be back at it. Whatever state came into being would not exercise a monopoly on weapons within its borders. Nor would it be able to secure those borders from the infiltration of arms and terrorists.
Failed states provide the haven that terrorist organizations need. And those organizations would flock to a newly created Palestine, especially if, as envisioned by Obama, Israeli security control were absent. Rather than serving as the beacon of peace described by President Obama such a state would be the trip-wire for all-out Middle East war.
3b)How Obama has empowered Netanyahu
By Dana Milbank
Lawmakers gave Binyamin Netanyahu 59 rounds of applause as the Israeli prime minister addressed a joint meeting of Congress Tuesday. But more revealing was the whisper I heard while watching the speech from the House gallery.
It came as Netanyahu repeated his rejection of the notion, floated by President Obama last week, that peace talks with Palestinians should be based on Israel’s smaller, pre-1967 borders.
“Israel will not return to the indefensible boundaries of 1967,” Netanyahu thundered. “Jerusalem must never again be divided,” he roared.
“Go, Bibi!” the woman next to me said, sotto voce.
It was the voice of Inna Graizel, my daughter’s 21-year-old Israeli au pair, who is spending a year with my family, learning about America.
I, too, am learning. I took Inna to see her prime minister speak this week, first at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and then before Congress, and I saw through her eyes how badly Obama bungled his Middle East speech. He unwittingly strengthened Israeli hawks such as Netanyahu and made the already remote prospect of peace that much more distant. Of this, Inna herself is evidence: Though she’s a moderate who was suspicious of the uncompromising Netanyahu, the episode turned her into a supporter.
Inna, whose family emigrated from the former Soviet Union when she was an infant, comes from the north of Israel but from the center of its politics. Middle class and non-religious, she went to high school on a kibbutz before she learned how to fire an M-16 and became an army officer. She voted for the centrist Kadima party in the last election because she didn’t share the militant views of Netanyahu’s Likud.
Inna is fiercely patriotic, and when I asked her to assign blame for the conflict, she assigned 80 percent of it to the Palestinians. Twice in her young life, Hezbollah rockets rained on her neighborhood; the last time, she fled to Tel Aviv.
But she also sees her own country’s culpability. She thought the Israeli raid on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla was “stupid,” and she thought Netanyahu’s expansion of settlements was unwise. She describes her country as “arrogant” and has some sympathy for the Palestinians: “We did invade their home. You can’t deny that.”
What distinguishes Inna and other Israelis is their deeply pessimistic outlook. She fully understands that things could get worse in Israel without a peace deal, but she has no expectation that there will be peace in her lifetime. “It’s like an equation too big to be solved,” she said. This sense of hopelessness, confirmed by the recent resignation of the American envoy to the region, George Mitchell, has hardened Inna’s generation. “We are very cynical and we don’t trust anybody,” she said.
Unfortunately, Obama encouraged that cynicism last week, when he offered his now-infamous suggestion that “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.”
Obama and his defenders argued that this wasn’t really a new policy, but, as The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler expertly documented, the statement “represented a major shift.” Later, after the damage had been done, Obama qualified his statement, saying the border should be “different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967.”
Inna was stunned. “Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the West Bank, the 1967 lines? It’s crazy,” she said. “It’s impossible.” Holding her thumb and forefinger an inch apart, she added, “They’ll be this close to Tel Aviv.” The phrase about “agreed swaps” changed nothing.
To Inna’s ears, Obama had issued an existential threat to Israel, and it put her in an unfamiliar place: in lockstep with Bibi. When he told Obama in the Oval Office that the 1967 lines were “indefensible,” Inna celebrated. “Now, he’s our guy,” she said. “He’s the voice of Israel.”
She’s aware that Netanyahu isn’t about to strike a peace deal. After she listened on Tuesday to Netanyahu’s list of requirements for a Palestinian state — a list one Palestinian official called a “declaration of war” — she knew it was a nonstarter. “I can’t imagine it on a map,” she said.
But that was less important to Inna than Netanyahu’s firm rejection of Obama’s frightening proposal. “It’s a big thing to say ‘no’ to the president of the United States,” she said. If there were an election now, she said, “I would vote for Bibi.”
This is why Obama’s speech was such a blunder. By pushing an Israeli moderate such as Inna into the arms of Netanyahu, Obama has strengthened the hard-liners.
4)Cheer Up, Republicans, the 2012 Field Isn’t That Bad
By MATT BAI
Suddenly the 2012 presidential field appears to have cemented itself, more or less.
Indiana’s governor, Mitch Daniels, has passed, leading to much wailing and rending of clothes in the halls of conservative think tanks. Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor, made his candidacy official this week. Jon M. Huntsman, the former Utah governor and ambassador to China, just made a solid debut in New Hampshire, garnering decent crowds and sterling press coverage, and when I sat with him Monday he sounded ready to jump in. And Newt Gingrich had moved on from defending his comments on Medicare to explaining away his credit account at Tiffany’s, prolonging one of the most unfortunate curtain-raisings in the history of presidential campaigns.
Matt Bai’s analysis and commentary.
There could still be surprises, of course, and by now you’re probably sick of hearing the constant speculation about them; maybe Sarah Palin will decide to run, or maybe activists will draft Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, or maybe Ronald Reagan is actually frozen, like Ted Williams’s head, and is thawing out for a return engagement. But barring such an eventuality, we can pretty much say that the top tier of establishment Republicans comes down to Mitt Romney, Mr. Pawlenty and probably Mr. Huntsman, with Mr. Gingrich and other contenders (Rick Santorum, perhaps, or Michele Bachmann) vying to create a viable insurgency.
That roster is causing a near panic among Washington Republicans. But really, it shouldn’t.
That’s because the most likely Republican contenders have a lot more going for them than you would think from watching cable TV. For one thing, they’re all former governors, and governors generally make far more compelling presidential candidates than senators, who tend to speak like parchment scrolls, or, say, former big-city mayors who are used to getting their way all the time. (Not thinking of any Republican in particular here.) Governors tend to be pragmatic in a way that voters appreciate, and they can run as outsiders to Washington, which is the only way anyone can seem to become president anymore.
What’s more, two of the three likeliest candidates — Mr. Romney and Mr. Pawlenty — got themselves elected governor in predominantly Democratic states. The third, Mr. Huntsman, governed in one of the country’s reddest states, but even then, he won re-election by a whopping 58 points and left office with the highest approval ratings in Utah since Brigham Young arrived. In other words, they may be yet unknown or — in the case of Mr. Romney — uninspiring, but nobody should lightly dismiss the political skills of any of these guys. And with the unemployment rate refusing to budge and economic anxiety peaking throughout the land, the eventual Republican nominee will have plenty to work with. It’s not as if the game plan here requires a ton of innovation or star power.
You can’t really blame Republican power brokers who are pining for a more exciting entry to the race. They feel about this crop of willing candidates a little like any teenage girl would feel about the nice-enough guy who begs her to go to the prom six months out. All that availability just isn’t very attractive. Surely there’s some more popular kid who will come calling if you just hold out a little longer and drop some hints.
But if history tells us anything, it’s that you’re always better off with the small-time or flawed candidate who really, desperately, wants to be president than with a more imposing or romantic figure who has to be persuaded to run. (Just ask President Wes Clark about that, or President Fred Thompson.) Democrats, you may recall, once dreamed of Mario Cuomo and had to settle, instead, for some yokel named Bill Clinton.
And those who dream of more ideal candidates tend, as one does in dreams, to elide their very real blemishes. It’s true, for instance, that Chris Christie, New Jersey’s governor, has a national profile and plain-talking style; it’s also true that his approval ratings have fallen into the 40s, and, as a matter of sheer optics, he would be the largest man to run for president since William Howard Taft. (This shouldn’t matter, but then, neither should Michael Dukakis have been mocked for his height.)
Mr. Daniels might well have had his best day as a candidate on the day he announced, just before Republican voters remembered that he presided over all that spending as George W. Bush’s budget director. Jeb Bush might be the imaginary candidate with the most potential, but his last name is still Bush, and there’s no way around that.
No, the fact is that the best presidential candidates don’t start out as fully formed national figures, like a Bob Dole or a Bill Bradley. They evolve to meet the moment by listening to voters in depressing banquet halls and cramped living rooms. They sharpen arguments through endless repetition and find their voices when no one in the press is really listening. They meet adversity and keep on going, because they just can’t imagine living in a world where they haven’t proved the rest of us wrong.
Chances are that one of the candidates you see now is going to look a lot more presidential a year from now than he does today. Republicans shouldn’t underestimate the power of that transformation — and neither should the man they’re trying to unseat
5)Obama and the Arab Spring
U.S. President Barack Obama gave a speech last week on the Middle East. Presidents make many speeches. Some are meant to be taken casually, others are made to address an immediate crisis, and still others are intended to be a statement of broad American policy. As in any country, U.S. presidents follow rituals indicating which category their speeches fall into. Obama clearly intended his recent Middle East speech to fall into the last category, as reflecting a shift in strategy if not the declaration of a new doctrine.
While events in the region drove Obama's speech, politics also played a strong part, as with any presidential speech. Devising and implementing policy are the president's job. To do so, presidents must be able to lead - and leading requires having public support. After the 2010 election, I said that presidents who lose control of one house of Congress in midterm elections turn to foreign policy because it is a place in which they retain the power to act. The U.S. presidential campaign season has begun, and the United States is engaged in wars that are not going well. Within this framework, Obama thus sought to make both a strategic and a political speech.
Obama's War Dilemma
The United States is engaged in a broad struggle against jihadists. Specifically, it is engaged in a war in Afghanistan and is in the terminal phase of the Iraq war.
The Afghan war is stalemated. Following the death of Osama bin Laden, Obama said that the Taliban's forward momentum has been stopped. He did not, however, say that the Taliban is being defeated. Given the state of affairs between the United States and Pakistan following bin Laden's death, whether the United States can defeat the Taliban remains unclear. It might be able to, but the president must remain open to the possibility that the war will become an extended stalemate.
Meanwhile, U.S. troops are being withdrawn from Iraq, but that does not mean the conflict is over. Instead, the withdrawal has opened the door to Iranian power in Iraq. The Iraqis lack a capable military and security force. Their government is divided and feeble. Meanwhile, the Iranians have had years to infiltrate Iraq. Iranian domination of Iraq would open the door to Iranian power projection throughout the region. Therefore, the United States has proposed keeping U.S. forces in Iraq but has yet to receive Iraq's approval. If that approval is given (which looks unlikely), Iraqi factions with clout in parliament have threatened to renew the anti-U.S. insurgency.
The United States must therefore consider its actions should the situation in Afghanistan remain indecisive or deteriorate and should Iraq evolve into an Iranian strategic victory. The simple answer - extending the mission in Iraq and increasing forces in Afghanistan - is not viable. The United States could not pacify Iraq with 170,000 troops facing determined opposition, while the 300,000 troops that Chief of Staff of the Army Eric Shinseki argued for in 2003 are not available. Meanwhile, it is difficult to imagine how many troops would be needed to guarantee a military victory in Afghanistan. Such surges are not politically viable, either. After nearly 10 years of indecisive war, the American public has little appetite for increasing troop commitments to either war and has no appetite for conscription.
Obama thus has limited military options on the ground in a situation where conditions in both war zones could deteriorate badly. And his political option - blaming former U.S. President George W. Bush - in due course would wear thin, as Nixon found in blaming Johnson.
The Coalition of the Willing Meets the Arab Spring
For his part, Bush followed a strategy of a coalition of the willing. He understood that the United States could not conduct a war in the region without regional allies, and he therefore recruited a coalition of countries that calculated that radical Islamism represented a profound threat to regime survival. This included Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Jordan, and Pakistan. These countries shared a desire to see al Qaeda defeated and a willingness to pool resources and intelligence with the United States to enable Washington to carry the main burden of the war.
This coalition appears to be fraying. Apart from the tensions between the United States and Pakistan, the unrest in the Middle East of the last few months apparently has undermined the legitimacy and survivability of many Arab regimes, including key partners in the so-called coalition of the willing. If these pro-American regimes collapse and are replaced by anti-American regimes, the American position in the region might also collapse.
Obama appears to have reached three conclusions about the Arab Spring:
1. It represented a genuine and liberal democratic rising that might replace regimes.
2. American opposition to these risings might result in the emergence of anti-American regimes in these countries.
3. The United States must embrace the general idea of the Arab risings but be selective in specific cases; thus, it should support the rising in Egypt, but not necessarily in Bahrain.
Though these distinctions may be difficult to justify in intellectual terms, geopolitics is not an abstract exercise. In the real world, supporting regime change in Libya costs the United States relatively little. Supporting an uprising in Egypt could have carried some cost, but not if the military was the midwife to change and is able to maintain control. (Egypt was more an exercise of regime preservation than true regime change.) Supporting regime change in Bahrain, however, would have proved quite costly. Doing so could have seen the United States lose a major naval base in the Persian Gulf and incited spillover Shiite protests in Saudi Arabia's oil-rich Eastern Province.
Moral consistency and geopolitics rarely work neatly together. Moral absolutism is not an option in the Middle East, something Obama recognized. Instead, Obama sought a new basis for tying together the fraying coalition of the willing.
Obama's Challenge and the Illusory Arab Spring
Obama's conundrum is that there is still much uncertainty as to whether that coalition would be stronger with current, albeit embattled, regimes or with new regimes that could arise from the so-called Arab Spring. He began to address the problem with an empirical assumption critical to his strategy that in my view is questionable, namely, that there is such a thing as an Arab Spring.
Let me repeat something I have said before: All demonstrations are not revolutions. All revolutions are not democratic revolutions. All democratic revolutions do not lead to constitutional democracy.
The Middle East has seen many demonstrations of late, but that does not make them revolutions. The 300,000 or so demonstrators concentrated mainly in Tahrir Square in Cairo represented a tiny fraction of Egyptian society. However committed and democratic those 300,000 were, the masses of Egyptians did not join them along the lines of what happened in Eastern Europe in 1989 and in Iran in 1979. For all the media attention paid to Egypt's demonstrators, the most interesting thing in Egypt is not who demonstrated, but the vast majority who did not. Instead, a series of demonstrations gave the Egyptian army cover to carry out what was tantamount to a military coup. The president was removed, but his removal would be difficult to call a revolution.
And where revolutions could be said to have occurred, as in Libya, it is not clear they were democratic revolutions. The forces in eastern Libya remain opaque, and it cannot be assumed their desires represent the will of the majority of Libyans - or that the eastern rebels intend to create, or are capable of creating, a democratic society. They want to get rid of a tyrant, but that doesn't mean they won't just create another tyranny.
Then, there are revolutions that genuinely represent the will of the majority, as in Bahrain. Bahrain's Shiite majority rose up against the Sunni royal family, clearly seeking a regime that truly represents the majority. But it is not at all clear that they want to create a constitutional democracy, or at least not one the United States would recognize as such. Obama said each country can take its own path, but he also made clear that the path could not diverge from basic principles of human rights - in other words, their paths can be different, but they cannot be too different. Assume for the moment that the Bahraini revolution resulted in a democratic Bahrain tightly aligned with Iran and hostile to the United States. Would the United States recognize Bahrain as a satisfactory democratic model?
The central problem from my point of view is that the Arab Spring has consisted of demonstrations of limited influence, in non-democratic revolutions and in revolutions whose supporters would create regimes quite alien from what Washington would see as democratic. There is no single vision to the Arab Spring, and the places where the risings have the most support are the places that will be least democratic, while the places where there is the most democratic focus have the weakest risings.
As important, even if we assume that democratic regimes would emerge, there is no reason to believe they would form a coalition with the United States. In this, Obama seems to side with the neoconservatives, his ideological enemies. Neoconservatives argued that democratic republics have common interests, so not only would they not fight each other, they would band together - hence their rhetoric about creating democracies in the Middle East. Obama seems to have bought into this idea that a truly democratic Egypt would be friendly to the United States and its interests. That may be so, but it is hardly self-evident - and this assumes democracy is a real option in Egypt, which is questionable.
Obama addressed this by saying we must take risks in the short run to be on the right side of history in the long run. The problem embedded in this strategy is that if the United States miscalculates about the long run of history, it might wind up with short-term risks and no long-term payoff. Even if by some extraordinary evolution the Middle East became a genuine democracy, it is the ultimate arrogance to assume that a Muslim country would choose to be allied with the United States. Maybe it would, but Obama and the neoconservatives can't know that.
But to me, this is an intellectual abstraction. There is no Arab Spring, just some demonstrations accompanied by slaughter and extraordinarily vacuous observers. While the pressures are rising, the demonstrations and risings have so far largely failed, from Egypt, where Hosni Mubarak was replaced by a junta, to Bahrain, where Saudi Arabia by invitation led a contingent of forces to occupy the country, to Syria, where Bashar al Assad continues to slaughter his enemies just like his father did.
A Risky Strategy
Obviously, if Obama is going to call for sweeping change, he must address the Israeli-Palestinian relationship. Obama knows this is the graveyard of foreign policy: Presidents who go into this rarely come out well. But any influence he would have with the Arabs would be diminished if he didn't try. Undoubtedly understanding the futility of the attempt, he went in, trying to reconcile an Israel that has no intention of returning to the geopolitically vulnerable borders of 1967 with a Hamas with no intention of publicly acknowledging Israel's right to exist - with Fatah hanging in the middle. By the weekend, the president was doing what he knew he would do and was switching positions.
At no point did Obama address the question of Pakistan and Afghanistan or the key issue: Iran. There can be fantasies about uprisings in Iran, but 2009 was crushed, and no matter what political dissent there is among the elite, a broad-based uprising is unlikely. The question thus becomes how the United States plans to deal with Iran's emerging power in the region as the United States withdraws from Iraq.
But Obama's foray into Israeli-Palestinian affairs was not intended to be serious; rather, it was merely a cover for his broader policy to reconstitute a coalition of the willing. While we understand why he wants this broader policy to revive the coalition of the willing, it seems to involve huge risks that could see a diminished or disappeared coalition. He could help bring down pro-American regimes that are repressive and replace them with anti-American regimes that are equally or even more repressive.
If Obama is right that there is a democratic movement in the Muslim world large enough to seize power and create U.S.-friendly regimes, then he has made a wise choice. If he is wrong and the Arab Spring was simply unrest leading nowhere, then he risks the coalition he has by alienating regimes in places like Bahrain or Saudi Arabia without gaining either democracy or friend.
5a)Qaddafi and rebel commanders agree on truce. NATO carries on war
Qaddafi and rebels conclude ceasefireCombat in Libya is winding down. Military sources report that Muammar Qaddafi and the rebel commanders are close to concluding a series of accords for ending the war after two weeks of secret talks. Meanwhile, as NATO warplanes continued to pound Tripoli Wednesday night, May 25, fighting on the ground receded to small pockets where a few rebel commanders are still holding out. However the primary battlefields of Misrata, Brega and Ajdabia have fallen silent as the ceasefire begins to take hold.
The talks led by Qaddafi's chief of intelligence Abdullah Sanousi made enough progress this week for both sides to agree to go public on the call for a ceasefire. This prompted Libyan Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi to send a letter to world leaders proposing an immediate UN-monitored ceasefire. He said Qaddafi's regime is ready to enter into unconditional talks with rebels, declare an amnesty for both sides, draft a new constitution and create a different form of government. But first the fighting must stop. He made no mention of any plans for Qaddafi to quit.
The text of the prime minister's letter was taken from the draft accords already covered by government and rebel negotiators.
In London, US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron agreed after they met Wednesday that Qaddafi should step down and leave Libya but they also admitted that to achieve this objective the fighting would be drawn out. "We may have to be more patient than people would like," said Obama. Neither ruled out a possible ceasefire.
Meanwhile, NATO continues to bomb often empty buildings in Tripoli still hoping to kill the Libyan ruler and so cut the war short with a victory. This week, too, alliance bombers targeted Nalyut 230 kilometers west of Tripoli in the Nafussa Mountains where debkafile reports Berber tribes are fighting a secessionist war against Qaddafi unrelated to the Benghazi revolt.
According to sources, the rebel commanders decided to go for a deal with Qaddafi when they saw the Obama administration had no intention of contributing anything further to war and without the US, NATO would never defeat him. Negotiating for terms for ending the war looked like the better option.