Negotiating like Jim Baker
There are Americans whose negotiating tactics have actually worked in the Middle East. John Kerry should be like them.
Our very last troops in Iraq have left for home. And, of course, Iraq is no longer ruled by the Ba’athist tyrant who murdered so many people both within his own country and in Iran that he should be counted in the bloody second circle right behind Hitler and Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot.
I was in bed at a New York hotel when my stock trader called to say that one of the Twin Towers had been hit by an airplane. “A horrible accident,” he surmised, adding “unprecedented” to the presumption. He told me to turn on the “tube,” such nomenclature dating him as middle-aged. The phone rang again: “The second tower is on its way down. And, of course, this means it is no accident at all.” Which was my intuition as soon as I’d heard the first terrible tidings. Moreover, I knew instinctively who’d done the dreadful deed; and it wasn’t a new version of the Unabomber.
The U.S. war in Iraq has just been given an unexpected seal of approval. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in what he billed as his “last major policy speech in Washington,” has owned up to the gains in Iraq, to the surprise that Iraq has emerged as “the most advanced Arab democracy in the region.” It was messy, this Iraqi democratic experience, but Iraqis “weren’t in the streets shooting each other, the government wasn’t in the streets shooting its people,” Gates observed.
Nuclear policy analysts are apoplectic about his "shabby, misleading and … thoroughly ignorant" reasoning, and his arguments have already been rebutted on the merits in a number of places (including here, here, here, and here). But the question at hand isn't necessarily whether Romney's ghostwriter "has even the vaguest acquaintance with the subject matter." As with the "death panels," Romney's op-ed is an ideological statement, which does not require fealty to facts.
It is just about two and a half months since BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, at the same time exploding the lives of 11 workers whose names no one knows—in contrast to the two haughty executives who seem always to be taking respite from troubles in their conveniently docked boats. The news buried in today’s Financial Times story about BP being “braced for shake-up at top” reveals that, aside from ExxonMobil or Royal Dutch Shell (notice how these are already combines of previous companies), PetroChina seems to be preparing for an “opportunistic bid.” This will not be good for the United St
Jerusalem—I visit Israel at least once a year, so I have an opportunity to observe changes in the country's concerns. Never before have I sensed such a mood of foreboding, which has been triggered by two issues above all—the looming impasse in relations with the United States and a possible military confrontation with Iran. In response to American pressure that began shortly after President Obama took office, the Netanyahu government agree last November to a temporary and partial freeze on construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, which averted an immediate crisis.
The lady has been an old crone for more than half a century. So it was inevitable that some people in the profession would feel sympathy for Helen Thomas, even in her wicked quintessence. And not only merciful to her person but concerned for her lost job. Yes, Hearst pushed her, but Thomas, intuitively sensing that she would no longer be deferred to by the president or the press corps, went gently. Her wacky game was up. But this is not comedy. And Thomas’s answer to a random question—from a rabbi, it is true—about her current thoughts on Israel were deadly serious.
Look, I wish the Israeli raid on the so-called “Freedom Flotilla” had ended differently. Why, I ask, didn’t Israel’s navy disable the engine of the Mavi Marmara and drag the ship into port? Who knows? The engines of the other boats were apparently disabled—or so reliable sources say. But, frankly, when some 800 men and women, distributed over six boats after weeks and weeks of preparation, are headed towards Gaza on the wings of slogan and hysteria, you don’t take that many chances.
Barack Obama came into office with one messianic mission. It was to bring statehood to the Palestinians. Of course, even he understood that he couldn’t quite put it that way. But statehood for the Palestinians necessarily also meant Palestinian peace with Israel, an aim worthy enough for any American administration. So that became his primary foreign policy mission. Still, the fact is that he saw the shadings of the conflict only through the eyes of the “disinherited.” And they really had nothing much to give in any transaction.