Steve Clemons has more than you probably want to read on the subject of different presidential candidates’ positions on US-Cuba relations. The main point, though, is that Chris Dodd has boldly challenged the status quo, Barack Obama has put forward more modest proposals for change, and Hillary Clinton and the Republicans all support the status quo policies that have been failing for decades.
From Glenn Kessler’s profile of Condoleezza Rice in the Post:
In this effort, Rice’s bond with Bush has emerged as her key asset — but possibly also her critical weakness. It has made her the president’s top foreign policy confidante and helped her cultivate a public image imbued with power and influence. But at the same time, friends and former colleagues marvel at how Rice has been transformed by the president she so devotedly serves — from a hardheaded foreign policy “realist” to a wholehearted supporter of Bush’s belief in the power of freedom and democracy.
But, of course, this wouldn’t be a weakness at all if the beliefs to which Rice converted herself hadn’t proven to be catastrophic failures. But into that context, Rice’s critical weakness is less her loyalty, than her advocacy of incredibly misguided policies.
But it also has a certain delicacy, in particular in its openness to alternative histories, alternative political arrangements. “It is worth considering how the Middle East might have evolved had Arab rulers accepted the partition of Palestine,” [Ruth Wisse] writes. There would have been some voluntary shifts of population. Arab Palestine might have federated with Jordan. Regional priorities would have dictated new patterns of trade, commerce and development. Jews and Arabs who wanted to live in the other’s land could have traveled back and forth.
I’m not sure about the Palestinians federating with Jordan, but this basically seems right to me. The world would have been a much better place had the Arab states accepted the UN partition plan. But Kirchick runs with this observation in a weird direction:
Indeed, imagine how history might have changed had the Arab powers accepted the mere presence of a Jewish state in their midst. Devastating wars would have been averted, radical Islam would not have the appeal it currently does, economies would be on the rise. Why is the existence of Israel such a big deal, not just for the Arabs, but for gullible and guilt-ridden Westerners who insist that the Palestinian issue must be solved before any other Middle Eastern problem can be tackled?
The establishment of Israel was a big deal to the Arabs because of the legacy of imperialism. Similarly, many Westerners think progress on the Palestinian issue is vital to making progress on other issues in the region because this is a very big deal to Arabs. I don’t think friends of Israel do themselves any favors by refusing to recognize these basic facts.
I mentioned this in a sarcastic mode, but Kevin Drum’s right that it’s worth considering the possibility that the essential “plan” in Iraq is just to stay there, in force, vaguely allied with whichever side (or sides) we perceive to be willing to ally with us, until, eventually, the civil war ends, a brilliant victory is portrayed, and the hippie peacenik scum are told to beat it. After all, civil wars do end if you just wait long enough.
On the other hand, the Tamil Tigers have been fighting for about thirty years and there’s no particular sign of Sri Lanka’s civil war coming to an end. Peace does seem to possibly be dawning in Northern Ireland (although not totally) but the current phase of fighting there’s been going on for almost forty years. Meanwhile, at times it seems to me that the US military is leaning in the direction of exacerbating problems by introducing more and deadlier weapons into the area while tending to fragment political authority as elites lose authority (but gain guns) through association with us.