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Gaza and the Bush/Rice/Obama `Joined at the Hip' Reaction

The silly season has officially ended with Obama and his watchers about whether anti-gay evangelist Rick Warren should give the inaugural blessing, or how it came to pass that Obama was caught on camera beachside, in Hawaii without a shirt, of all things.

What has changed for the serious watchers of Obama is the Israeli heavy bombing of Gaza and Obama's complacent reaction, (so far) in the manner of Bush or Secretary Rice.

As a preface, it was always my major complaint with Obama (for domestic political reasons) that he would be nearly as uncompromising and hawkish as Bush, pro- Israel. Obama has declared that he full-heartedly backed Israel`s disastrous and merciless invasion of Lebanon, so it is not surprising that lockstep with Bush and Rice he is implicitly supporting Israel's heavy bombing of Gaza.

First, Secretary of State Rice`s official reaction, verbatim

The United States is deeply concerned about the escalating violence in Gaza. We strongly condemn the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and hold Hamas responsible for breaking the ceasefire and for the renewal of violence there. The ceasefire must be restored immediately and fully respected. The United States calls on all concerned to protect innocent lives and to address the urgent humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza

You will note a complete absence or even hint of condemning Israel. The blame is placed solely on Hamas for their repeated rocket and mortar attacks in which there have been zero casualties or possibly one. There is a complete absence of addressing or calling Israel to lift the blockade or to stop bombing Lebanon in which there have now been hundreds of casualties..you know like for urgent humanitarian reasons.

Most of the Israeli airstrikes appear aimed at government buildings and police stations.

Bush's spokesman, Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council calls the policemen and Hamas officials, (indiscrimately) thugs ...and the civilians walking by or in the police stations?

Johndroe, said,

"These people are nothing but thugs, so Israel is going to defend its people against terrorists like Hamas that indiscriminately (are the Israelis any less discriminating) kill their own people," Johndroe said in Texas as President George W. Bush was spending the week before New Year's at his ranch here.

And how does Obama`s National security spokesman say Obama is reacting?

Obama, who takes office on January 20, is closely monitoring global events, including the situation in Gaza,"... said his chief national security spokesperson Brooke Anderson.

Anderson however emphasized that "there is one president at a time," a statement Obama has said often since he was elected on November 4.

Wow that`s great... Bush is practically on permanent early/retirement and Obama is just 'monitoring global events" (who isn't?) and is precluded from talking about the situation you know... as a human being.

If he did he would presumably support tacitly 'the Israeli slaughter ' based on his previous sympathetic pro-Israeli statements

In a July interview with The New York Times, Obama said he didn't think that "any country would find it acceptable to have missiles raining down on the heads of their citizens," in reference to rockets fired from Gaza into Israel...(presumably not the other way round).

Update:Glenn Greenwald has an excellent column today, Sunday, and elaborates on some of the points I have raised..I hope Obama realizes, that he should know where this Israeli onslaught is going.

As the Jewish Group J says,

Today's IDF strikes will deepen the cycle of violence in the region. Retaliation is inevitable, though we don't know how far the violence will spread or how many more Israelis and Palestinians will die and suffer in the days and weeks to come

Obviously, blinkered Bush and Rice are going to being seen carrying Olmert's lunch for him, but Obama still has a chance to come out of this looking if not even-handed, fairer than the present incumbents.

The success of his Mid-East peace initiative, when he takes office, may depend on him saying something more helpful than he 'is just monitoring the situation'.


Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!

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Comments (18)

Steve Crickmore:

Frank, essentially you are correct. This is a continuation of the Israeli/American war against Hamas ever since they won the elections(encouraged by Bush/Rice against the better judgment of Israel and Abbas) in Palestine in January of 2006.

Since Hamas won the election, the Bush administration even began arming (covertly) El Fatah to fight Hamas (Americans don't seem to care)- in the Gaza Gaza Bombshell (Iran Contra 2).

After failing to anticipate Hamas's victory over Fatah in the 2006 Palestinian election, the White House cooked up yet another scandalously covert and self-defeating Middle East debacle: part Iran-contra, part Bay of Pigs. With confidential documents, corroborated by outraged former and current U.S. officials, the author reveals how President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Deputy National-Security Adviser Elliott Abrams backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever.

At some point, let`s hope Obama can rid himself of the Bush/Cheney/Rice incubus which has led to so many of the recent problems in Gaza, but I think he is too beholden to AIPAC and the pro-Israeli neocon establishment to detach himself from history of bad errors in Middle East diplomcy, made by all sides.

Probably, the Obama foreign policy team has not responded so far because this news is pretty fresh, and it has not assessed the real fallout so far as to how Hamas or Fatah reacts to this serious situation. Also since the nation only has one president at a time, the Obama team probably needs to give the Bush Administration the first opportunity to make a public announcement. However, the Obama side will be pressed to offer a statement very soon.

Certainly the Midest situation will remain as a very troubling foreign policy situation for this administration as well as future ones to wrest with. Neither the Israeli or Palestinian side is really completely sincere about peace, and will play a long running song and dance to avoid meaningful negotiations as much as possible, where militant or military actions will continue to be the rule of law.

Sleve Crickmore:

Paul..I feel this is the one blind spot in the liberal left..Haaretz has much more diverse opinion than you would find in the American liberal side. We can only speculate as to Israel's real motives now...Here is one Haaretz Israeli correspondent`s viewpoint who doesn`t just mouth the IDF/Bush administration line...

Unlike the Lebanon war, whose chief priority was to bring back the abducted IDF soldiers which encompassed the destruction of Hezbollah's military "infrastructure," the Gaza operation's motivation is different: Halting rocket-firing at the Negev and destroying Hamas' rule. A new order will be set up in the occupied territories and the PA, and Abbas will be brought back to Gaza under the Israeli military's aegis. Just before we get lost in this dream scenario let us examine reality.

Six months ago Israel asked and received a cease-fire from Hamas. It unilaterally violated it when it blew up a tunnel, while still asking Egypt to get the Islamic group to hold its fire. Are conditions enabling the return of a ceasefire no longer available? Hamas has clear conditions for its extension: The opening of the border crossings for goods and cessation of IDF attacks in Gaza, as outlined in the original agreement. Later, Hamas wants the cease-fire to be extended to the West Bank. Israel, for its part, is justifiably demanding a real calm in Gaza; that no Qassam or mortar shell be fired by either Hamas, Islamic Jihad or any other group.


Doubting Thomas:

"It unilaterally violated it when it blew up a tunnel, while still asking Egypt to get the Islamic group to hold its fire"

Gee - why would they want to blow up a tunnel? After all, what would go through that? Small arms? Rockets? Mortars? Explosives? Nothing at all harmful to the random Israeli citizen, I'm sure. Did the 'cease fire' include not blowing up tunnels used to smuggle muntions?

Somehow, I don't think they were smuggling pot through it. Though maybe they should - get all the Palestinians stoned and things would be much nicer for everyone in that neck of the woods..

Steve Crickmore:

Doubting Thomas..They may have included small arms and munitions but with the truce, Gaza was practically hermetically sealed off of all its supplies including gas, medicine, food.


On 5 November the Israeli government sealed all the ways into and out of Gaza. Food, medicine, fuel, parts for water and sanitation systems, fertiliser, plastic sheeting, phones, paper, glue, shoes and even teacups are no longer getting through in sufficient quantities or at all.


A great truce for Hamas and Gaza..Hamas has lobbed a lot of rockets at Israel--zero casualties--(until one on Saturday).Israel`s raids on Gaza netted them at least eleven casualties- until the airstrikes. Again the retaliation is disproportionate. It is no longer an eye for an eye but three hundred eyes for an eye.

Doubting Thomas:

"Hamas has lobbed a lot of rockets at Israel--zero casualties"

Not through lack of trying, it would seem. Oh, I get it - it's actually a harmless hobby indulged in by Palestinian males, assisting Israeli farmers, except with explosives to turn the soil?

As far as the hermetically sealing goes - what about Egypt? Aren't they willing to open the border so supplies can cross? There's a 6-mile border... but it's already clear what Egypt will tolerate.

If Hamas wants peace, which I doubt, they know what they need to do. And it isn't call for a cease fire, then complain because Israel reacts because THEY don't bother to observe the cease fire in the first place.

Steve Crickmore:

I assume Mubarak/Egypt doesn`t care for Hamas, doesn`t want hundreds of thousands of refugees within Egypt and is being coerced by Israel not to open the borders..Better to cage the Palestinians from Gaza in a box..and then they can shell them from the air because they nearly killed an Israeli in months of rocket attacks.
Here is some of background to the closing of the Gaza border with Egypt and the blockade

Now I understand the IDF has deliberately shelled Islamic University in Gaza City..That makes sense. Now we definitely know where the next generation of terrorists will come from.

Fred:

Where is CNN and Media?...........complete silence from the West side, but again who cares about Media.........Thanks to the Internet and millions of blogs people know the truth............we all know Israel is evil........they have nukes, planes, tanks, money, and educated people with university degrees.....yet they are still struggling with the basics..........still fighting over land, water, and buildings.........still warshiping man-made walls in the jerusalem.....but breaking the God's fundamental law (love your neighbour)..........look at their history.......filled with curroption and curropt, and sissy people how try to influence the governments to spare their lives............enough is enough........we know the truth now..........we are nto gonna close our eyes and ignore the reality.........evil is evil........israel is evil

ke_future:

steve, could you name one agreement, truce, or cease fire that the palestinians have ever kept? seriously, what do you expect Israel to do when Hamas keeps launching rockets at them? just sit there and take it?

think about it, Hamas launches indiscriminate rocket attacks at Israel, and there is silence. Israel targets the Hamas government and military facilities and all kinds of nuts come out of the wood work to condemn them. gee, hypocrit much?

Steve Crickmore:

There were many breaches of the cease fire by both sides; the most serious was this one when the IDF kills 7 Palestinian gunmen in Gaza..I repeat there were no Israeli casualties in the 6 months of sporadic rocket attacks launched by Hamas...reprehensible, but more of the nature of a irritating knat given the context this is the Mid-East, afterall and Hamas is the governing party, but now what may happen (I hope not), will be a wider war and possibly a third intifada with enormous casualties.

ke_future, I agree with you the Palestinian leadership whether the PLO, El Fatah or Hamas has been almost impossible to deal with, but as Churchill said: "jaw, jaw is always better than war, war"
.
The US and Israel always wanted El Fatah in power in Gaza, in fact provided arms for them in their conflict with Hamas (at least the Bush administration did so) so I don`t think we were negotiating seriously either. This is about regime change more than rocket attacks.

ke_future:

but churchill also understood that there was a time when jaw jaw no longer worked. many people ignore that part of churchill's legacy.

you didn't answer the question tho, what is israle supposed to do about Hamas firing rockets into their conntry? ignore it?

they could try economic snactions. oh wait, they did. they were condemned for cutting off gaza.

they could try to support the more moderate fatah. they did. you then condemn them for interfering in palestine

they could set there and take it. well, let's see, when has that ever worked.

face it, you're putting israel into a no-win box. what exactly do you propose they can do to stop the Hamas rocket attacks. as you your self agree, Hamas has been impossible to deal with at the negotiating table.

Steve Crickmore:

To stop the rocket attacks, Israel would have to agree to loosen the blockade, and order Egypt to do it, refrain from assassination plots and begin progess for a two state treaty.

ke_future... difficult, yes.

The real problem is that the two sides- Israel and Hamas have been on collision courses since the Palestine election of 2006, and there has been little rapprochment. The Bush government has not helped by making unacceptable demands of Hamas and actively funding El Fatah armed groups in Gaza, until Hamas won their 'civil war ' in June 2007, and threw them out.

Hamas, I believe could have changed their rhetoric after winning the election, in January 2006, with the responsibility of governing, but they were given little incentive to do so because of American and Israeli actions which sought to destablize or overturn their government in Gaza, which only served to radicalize Hamas more and so it went.

Now Israel has been given virtual impunity (the ineffective rocket attacks not withstanding) to launch an almost Guernica 'offensive' bombardment ...and Olmert and the defense minister Ehud Barak seem to relish the prospect.

ke_future:

Israel imposed the blockade because of the continued rocket attacks. How does it logically follow that if they loosen it, the rocket attacks will diminish?

As for Israel ordering Egypt to do anything...Wow, I really don't know where you came up with that one.

Israel and Hamas have been on a collision course since the founding of Hamas. Remember, the key tenets of Hamas are the destruction of Israel and the removal of all Jews from Palestine. When was Hamas founded again?

I'm curious, what do you think the unacceptable demands are that Bush has made on Hamas? This is a real question, and not snark, because I can't think of any that I would consider unreasonable, but it's possible that I missed something.

If you believed that once Hamas gained power, they would become reasonable, you have not studied history. Look at some similar examples: the French Revolution, the Bolsheviks, the Nazis. These are all groups that had radical and destructive agendas that gained power. And once they had power, what did they do with it?

I would hardly call what Israel has now virtual impunity. Already the UK and the Vatican are calling on Israel to stop their offensive. They will be joined by other nations soon. Because that is what the international community does when Isreal is involved. Again, look at history for examples if you don't believe me.

Steve Crickmore:

It is my understanding, that Israel and Cairo announced the blockade more or less in tandem 18 months ago. If Israel lifts its side of the blockade, I'm sure Egypt will be compelled to, whether Israel urges them or not. Cairo brokered the 6 month cease-fire between Hamas and Israel.

Egypt, one of only two Arab nations with a peace deal with Israel, has been in a tough position because of the Hamas control of Gaza. It worries that Hamas rule there boosts Iran's influence in the region and could fuel Islamic militancy on its own soil. Cairo is also under pressure from Israel, Abbas and the United States not to make any concessions that would boost Hamas.

The unacceptable Bush administration demands (to Hamas), were essentially to give up claims of an armed struggle, (against Israel). 'Bush demands renunciation of violence and recognition of Israel' .

You might as well ask that Hamas exclusively adopt Gandhi's non-violent civil-disobedience tactics or put Hamas on the short list of the Nobel Peace Prize. It just was never going to happen... and never did in the birth pangs of Israel`s either.. and here we are again.


ke_future:

You still didn't answer what you think an acceptable Israeli response should be to Hamas firing rockets into Israel. I really am curious, and trying hard not to snark =)

I do not find it unacceptable to insist that Hamas renounce violence in order to allow them at the table. After all isn't that what the rest of the world is asking of Israel? Especially given that Hamas is indiscriminate in it's lack of targeting.

They just throw rockets in Israel's general direction or send suicide bombers into civilian areas. Oh, and they base themselves in civial areas as well.

And everytime that Israel stops what ever military tactics it's using, what happens? Hamas, or some similar group, starts shelling Israel again.

In my opinion, any reasonable person would insist that Hamas renounce these tactics in order to be included.

Steve Crickmore:

Make no mistake, Hamas is interested in continuing the truce, but wants to improve its terms. It wants us to lift the siege [on Hamas-ruled Gaza], stop [IDF] attacks, and extend the truce to include Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]," Diskin (the Israeli Shin Bet security chief) said.

Taha, a Hamas representative in Gaza, told Haaretz that under the current conditions, no cease-fire is in effect whatsoever. "Rocket fire is in the hands of the military wing. It will decide how to react," he said. "Resistance must continue in every way and by every means, as long as the occupation continues."

As I said before Hamas are difficult/or impossible negotiators and Israel would rather deal with Fatah, anyway so we have the makings an all-out war from Israel...against these almost pyhrric or self-defeating rocket attacks by Hamas.


Steve Crickmore:

If the Israelis call off their airstrikes, we will see if Hamas military wing stops its rather futile rocket attacks in this supposed 48 hour truce. Hamas would certainly be wise to.

Doubting Thomas:

But when have the Palestinians done the wise thing?

No, let me rephrase that - when has their LEADERSHIP done the wise thing?

Let's see. You're a disposessed people (who bugged out of the area in order to make way for the combined armies of 9 countries to kill the Israelis) and needing a home were given shelter in Jordan. The PLO decided they were going to take over the country, forcing King Hussein to eject them militarily.

It looks to me like that sort of behavior has been distilled down into Hamas. Fatah seems to have come to the understanding their usual actions are self-destructive, and are willing to negotiate, cooperate, and coexist. Hamas won't - they won't consider any of those three options. They're really starting to remind me of Monty Python's Black Knight - ineffectual at what it's trying to do, but a bloody nuisance nonetheless. Chop its arms and legs off, and it'll break its teeth on your leg...


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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