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“Glorious Pageantry Of The GOP Process”: Ted Cruz And Donald Trump Are Fighting Over Their Wives. This Was Inevitable

Throughout the political world, people are expressing shock, dismay, and disgust at the argument that has broken out between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz over their wives. But this shouldn’t be surprising to anyone. In fact, it was all but inevitable.

To catch you up briefly: First an anti-Trump super PAC put out an online ad directed at Mormon women in Utah with a picture of Trump’s wife Melania posing nude, on the absurd grounds that it constituted a reason to vote against Trump. Then Trump accused Cruz of orchestrating the super PAC ad, and threatened to “spill the beans” on Cruz’s wife Heidi. Then Trump retweeted a picture of Melania looking like the professional model she was next to a particularly unflattering photo of Heidi, with the caption, “The images are worth a thousand words.” Then Cruz said, “Donald, you’re a sniveling coward. Leave Heidi the hell alone.”

Truly an inspiring moment in the glorious pageantry of the democratic process. But this is what you get when you make Donald Trump the frontrunner of your party. If you know anything about Trump, you should have known that it was going to come to this.

As he does so often, Trump takes what is ordinarily implied in politics and makes it literal. Republicans have long insinuated that their candidates are more manly than their Democratic opponents, whether it was saying that John Kerry “looks French” or mocking Al Gore for wearing “earth tones.” Trump, on the other hand, just comes out and suggests that he has a big penis and his wife is hotter than the other guy’s.

You don’t have to be a trained psychologist to discern that Trump views women largely as objects whose purpose is to demarcate, through their physical appearance, the relative positions men occupy in an eternal contest for domination and status. Just look at his marital history. He married his first wife Ivana, a Czech model who was a mere three years younger than him, when she was 28. Fourteen years later, when Ivana was 42, he divorced her and married Marla Maples, with whom he’d been having an affair. Maples was 29 at the time, and 17 years younger than Trump; a few years later he divorced her as well.  Then he married his current wife Melania, a former Slovenian model who is 24 years his junior. Melania is now 45, and if I were her I’d be looking over my shoulder.

Trump has a long history of misogynistic comments directed at women who cross him (Franklin Foer documents many of them here), and one common strain running through them is the presumption that women’s worth is a function of their appearance. When he wants to be nice to a woman, he tells her she’s beautiful. And when he tangles with another man, he’ll sometimes seek to establish his superiority by asserting that he’s had sex with more women than his opponent; in other words, he has more trophies, so he’s the dominant male.

There was simply no way that Trump was going to get into a one-on-one contest with another candidate and not eventually try to puff out his chest and claim this kind of sexual primacy. Up until now he’s done it to other opponents in slightly more subtle ways (calling Jeb Bush “low energy,” referring to Marco Rubio as “little Marco”), but as the stakes get higher and we near the end of the primaries, his more base instincts and impulses are obviously coming out.

As I argued last week, if Trump and Hillary Clinton are the nominees, this election will likely produce the largest gender gap in American political history. Trump’s unfavorable ratings among women have already hit 75 percent in some polls. And it’s important to understand that controversies like the one with Cruz, where Trump says or does something that women (and plenty of men) immediately understand as sexist, are going to happen again and again, particularly with Clinton as the Democratic nominee. That’s because Trump can’t help himself, and doesn’t even seem to realize what he’s doing. For instance, consider this incident:

“I’d hit you the same way,” Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd in February when pressed on the issue. “I mean, you are the perfect one to ask that question — you have been, you know, under fire from me for a long time, and you are far from a woman.”

“I think there are some women — there’s one sitting right over there in the beautiful red dress. You see that woman over there? I have great respect for that woman over there,” he said, as Todd clarified to viewers that Trump was talking about veteran reporter Andrea Mitchell.

The lack of self-awareness on display here is truly spectacular. Trump thinks that he should be exonerated from the charge of sexism because he attacks men too. And then as proof, he points to Andrea Mitchell, one of the most recognizable journalists in America, and refers to her as “one sitting right over there in the beautiful red dress.” I’m sure he thought he was complimenting her by noting her appearance approvingly. He just doesn’t get it.

As soon as he has the nomination in hand, Trump will start pivoting to the general election in many ways, by changing his emphasis and moderating some of his positions. I’m sure he’ll say, as he has before, that he’ll be great for women because nobody values women more than he does. He may even point to a couple of policy positions, like his opposition to defunding Planned Parenthood, as proof. But every time one of these controversies happens, it digs him deeper and deeper into a hole with women voters, one that’s going to be almost impossible for him to climb out of. And there will be a lot more of them.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, March 25, 2016

March 26, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Women | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Who Needs ‘Meet The Press’?”: It’s Not Sunday Shows Audiences Hate, It’s Sunday Show Hosts

If you want to put your finger on the problem confronting Chuck Todd, who made his much-ballyhooed debut as moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, you don’t have to look much farther than the two “fun new features” introduced on the first show.

Todd said the recurring segment called “Who Needs Washington?” will explore politics beyond the Beltway, which this week meant interviews with mayors of cities that are “going it on their own with little of Washington’s help or dysfunction.” The second new feature is “What everyone in Washington knows but is afraid to say.” This week the thought that dare not speak its insight was “what Hillary Clinton’s really up to.”

But maybe what everyone on Meet the Press is really afraid to say is that Todd’s mission is at best inherently self-contradictory: although his new show desperately wants some outsider cred to boost the ratings, it’s not willing to risk its insider status to do so.

Talking to America’s big-city mayors is hardly new—Sunday shows have always been bringing on local pols who claim to be better at governing than the national leaders. And while the very existence of a Sunday Beltway talk show would seem to hinge on telling you what “everyone in Washington knows” and you don’t, as it turned out, neither Chuck nor his panelists had anything new to say about “what Hillary’s up to.” (And since when was anyone in the media afraid to speculate about that? The only fear you smell is their fear of admitting, “I don’t know.”)

As MTP fell from first to third place during David Gregory’s misbegotten reign, NBC brass realized that something was wrong beyond Gregory, but they weren’t sure what. “The show needs more edge,” NBC News President Deborah Turness recently declared. Format changes, she suggested, will include a panel of journalists questioning guests, as the show did in its earlier, better days. “The one-on-one conversation belongs to a decade ago,” she said. “We need more of a coffeehouse conversation.”

So just how edgy or coffeehouse was yesterday’s show? It stuck to a one-on-one interview, of President Obama, but it usefully tweaked the format so that the panel discussion was interspersed with the interview.

But only one panelist conceivably had “edge,” or his visibly tattooed armed did, anyway: Buzzfeed reporter John Stanton, who’s been a guest on Chris Hayes’s and then Steve Karnaki’s Up—a show that’s edgy enough to not broadcast its need for that quality.

But the other panelists included the usual inside-DC suspects and MSNBC stalwarts: Andrea Mitchell, who has her own MSNBC show and is married to former Fed chair Alan Greenspan; The Washington Post’s Nia-Malika Henderson, who pops up on MSNBC to convey the most conventional wisdom in the most conventional way; and Joe Scarborough, now promoted to an “NBC News senior political analyst.” It’s possible that Joe could bring the edge of his sarcastic annoyance as well as coffeehouse demeanor from Morning Joe. But on Todd’s show, Joe wasn’t allowed to play the alpha male, and he was on his best network TV behavior; he even had only nice things to say about Obama.

Try as he might—and he only might—Todd may not be able to escape the safe blandness endemic to network Sunday shows.

The shadow all the NBC anchors are trying to outgrow is Tim Russert’s, who was MTP host until he unexpectedly died in 2008. Russert had a reputation for “gotcha” journalism, in a good way. He’d use the technology of his era—tapes from the archives—to confront a guest: back then you said that, but now you say this. Some guests were rattled, but the show soon acquired a chummy atmosphere—seasoned pols would lean in and say, “You sure are good with those clips, Tim,” and then chuckle through an analysis of spin. “Meet the talking points,” critic Jay Rosen calls the show.

After all, the hosts and producers didn’t want to alienate the guests they’d need to book down the road. Even more, of course, they didn’t want to alienate the corporate sponsors. Corporations advertised on the Sunday shows to influence policy legislated by the target audience of “thought leaders.” The shows were dominated by companies like GE, Northrup Grumman and Archer Daniels Midland, who helped determine what policies and scandal were not talked about on Sunday shows. Yesterday on MTP, Koch Industries ran its big national ad that says, in so many words, they’re so powerful you’re better off working for them than boycotting them.

The idea is that these corporations are above right/left politics, a delusion the news media helps perpetuate by repeating the false equivalency canard that both political sides are equally guilty of any wrong. This Sunday, Todd kept suggesting that it won’t make any difference if the midterm elections result in a Republican or a Democratic senate majority, because gridlock will rule the day. (Obama gave a decent explanation for why that’s crazy.)

In trying to brand the show and himself, Todd has been repeating his own slogan of sorts: “It’s not politics that people hate, it’s that they hate the politicians that don’t know how to practice the art of it.” That sounds plausible, but it also sounds like a reluctance to examine underlying structural issues to focus instead on the personalities of the moment.

In fact, you might say, it’s not Sunday shows audiences hate, it’s Sunday show hosts.

But as Jason Linkins wrote, “A New Host On ‘Meet The Press’ Isn’t Going To Solve Its Problems.” He made a great case for why John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight “beats ‘Meet The Press’ coming and going. The show literally wandered right onto ‘Meet The Press’ Beltway turf and delivered a report [on the nutritional supplement industry] with a sophistication that no Sunday show has pulled off in years.” It wasn’t just the jokes that made it work, but “the show wanted to have a point” and demonstrated a “real respect and genuine concern for their audience, instead of trying to get over by posing as an ‘insider’ operating under a veil of savviness.”

Todd is smart enough to recognize the problem, but to really shake off that toxic insider status, he might consider Jay Rosen’s advice:

I think it would be wise for Chuck Todd to see himself and his colleagues, Washington journalists, as part of the class that has screwed up politics.

And maybe, in taking over “Meet the Press,” he can begin to address some of how that happened.

 

By: Leslie Savan, The Nation, September 8, 2014

September 9, 2014 Posted by | Media, Meet The Press | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Forget About The Disasters Of The Past”: On The Islamic State, The Voices Counseling Panic Grow Louder

There’s a new message coalescing around events in the Middle East, coming from Republicans, the media, and even a few Democrats: It’s time to panic. Forget about understanding the complexities of an intricate situation, forget about unintended consequences, forget about the disasters of the past that grew from exactly this mind-set. We have to panic, and we have to panic now.

The centerpiece of every Sunday show yesterday was a sentence that President Obama spoke in a press conference on Thursday. He answered a question about “go[ing] into Syria” by saying that we shouldn’t “put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet.” Naturally, Republicans leaped to argue that Obama wasn’t actually talking about military action in Syria, but about dealing with the Islamic State (or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) more generally, and who knows what else. Many in the media took the same line. The first rule of a “gaffe” is that it should be taken out of context, and then the discussion should quickly be shifted away from whatever it was actually about to how, thus decontextualized, it might be perceived.

So on “Meet the Press,” Andrea Mitchell ignored the fact that the question Obama was answering was about U.S. military action in Syria, and asked Sen. Dianne Feinstein, “is the president wrong to signal indecision by saying that we still don’t have a strategy against ISIS?” When that didn’t elicit a sufficiently strong condemnation from Feinstein, Mitchell pressed on: “Doesn’t that project weakness from the White House?” Obviously, there’s nothing worse than “signaling indecision” or “projecting weakness.” Not even, say, invading a country without having a plan for what to do after the bombs stop falling.

Let’s not forget that the Obama administration is already taking military action against the IS by bombing their positions in Iraq. And the military is conducting surveillance flights over Syria in preparation for military action there. But to the war caucus, whose advice has proven so calamitous in the past, it’s not big enough and it’s not fast enough.

And let’s be clear about this, too: the position of the people who pretend to be horrified at Obama’s “gaffe” about not having a strategy for invading Syria is that we don’t need a strategy. As Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) — a man who wants to be commander in chief — said, “we ought to bomb them back to the stone age.” Having a carefully constructed plan that takes into account not just what you want to blow up but what the consequences of American action will be in the coming months and years? That’s for wimps. We should just invade, yesterday if possible, and worry about all the messy stuff later. After all, it worked in Iraq in 2003, right?

We should be able to agree on at least one thing: Anyone proposing large-scale military action in Iraq and/or Syria ought to be required to explain exactly how and why it will achieve the goal of destroying the IS, and exactly why the unintended consequences that result from some kind of invasion won’t be worse than those that would grow from a more carefully planned course of action. “Just start bombing already!” doesn’t qualify as an explanation.

If the war advocates ever get around to thinking about those consequences, they may come up with a compelling case for why proceeding carefully is a mistake, and why the dangers of acting methodically are greater than the dangers of acting with maximal force as soon as possible. They could be right. I think most Americans would be willing to listen. But they haven’t even tried to make that case. Instead, what we’re hearing is a lot like what we heard in 2003: The clock is ticking, the danger is rising, if we stop to think then we’re all gonna die.

As Michael Cohen wrote over the weekend, “if there is any one lesson from the conduct of U.S. foreign policy in the nearly 13 years since Sept. 11, 2001 it is that — exceptionalist rhetoric notwithstanding — America is far from omnipotent.” Obama has always understood that fact, to the endless exasperation of Republicans who would prefer to believe, in defiance of all evidence, that there is no problem that can’t be solved with sufficient deployment of U.S. munitions. And his impulse to use calming rhetoric is anathema to those (in both the GOP and media) who mistake bellicose fist-shaking for “strength.” But Cohen’s smart and measured op-ed ran inside a newspaper with the screaming headline “ISIS WILL BE HERE SOON” on its front page. The voices of panic are getting louder.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect; The Plum Line, The Washington Post, September 1, 2014

September 3, 2014 Posted by | Foreign Policy, Middle East, War Hawks | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Syria Converted To A Political Story”: And The All Knowing Washington Media Breathe A Sigh Of Relief

So last night I was watching NBC News, and a report on Syria came on, in which Andrea Mitchell spent five minutes talking about whether going to Congress for affirmation of his decision to attack the Syrian government makes Barack Obama “look weak.” Mitchell is the network’s “Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent,” which is what you call someone who stays in nice hotels and gets talking points from top officials when she travels with the secretary of State to foreign countries. The news is full of this kind of discussion, about whether Obama is weak, whether he “bungled” the decision-making process, how this might affect the 2014 elections, and pretty much anything except whether a strike on Syria is genuinely a good idea or not. Here’s The Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza talking up the “massive gamble” Obama is taking—not a gamble on what will happen in Syria, mind you, but a political gamble. Here’s Chuck Todd and the rest of the NBC politics crew gushing that this is “a great political story.” Don’t even ask what’s going on over at Politico.

Look, I get it. These folks are political reporters, so they report on politics. You don’t go into a restaurant and ask the sommelier to make your entree and the pastry chef to pick you a wine. I’m not sure you’d even want Chris Cillizza trying to explain the actual substance of a potential military action in Syria. Heck, I too spend most of my time writing about politics, and there are legitimate political issues to discuss. But it does seem that Obama’s request for a congressional authorization has almost been greeted in the Washington media with a sigh of relief: At last, we get to frame this issue in terms of the political stuff we feel comfortable with, and can stop worrying about the serious and deadly substance of it all. We can treat it just like we treat everything else, as a game with winners and losers and a point spread to be debated.

And I suspect that that relief is made all the more overwhelming by the fact that anyone who is even a little thoughtful about this question can’t help but feel profoundly ambivalent about it. That’s certainly how I feel. I’m paid to have opinions, and I can’t figure out what my opinion is. On one hand, Bashar Assad is a mass murderer who, it seems plain, would be happy to kill half the population of his country if it would keep him in power. On the other hand, if he was taken out in a strike tomorrow the result would probably be a whole new civil war, this time not between the government and rebels but among competing rebel groups. On one hand, there’s value in enforcing international norms against certain kinds of despicable war crimes; on the other hand, Assad killed 100,000 Syrians quite adequately with guns and bombs before everybody got really mad about the 1,400 he killed with poison gas. On one hand, a round of missile strikes isn’t going to have much beyond a symbolic effect without changing the outcome of the civil war; on the other hand, the last thing we want is to get into another protracted engagement like Iraq.

In short, we’re confronted with nothing but bad options, and anyone who thinks there’s an unambiguously right course of action is a fool. So it’s a lot easier to talk about the politics. But just one final point: Can we please stop caring whether Obama “looks weak”? You know who spent a lot of time worrying about whether he looked weak, and made sure he never did? George W. Bush. Everybody lauded his “moral clarity,” his ability to see things in black and white, good guys and bad guys, smoke ’em out, dead or alive. And look where that got us.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, September 3, 2013

September 4, 2013 Posted by | Media, Politics | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Realism Or Politics: The Council On Foreign Relations Richard Haass Has A Credibility Problem

Meet The Press had a very interesting cast of characters today for their round table discussion on the events occuring in Libya. Panelists included Helen Cooper, White House Correspondent for the New York Times; Andrea Mitchell, NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent; Michael Hayden, Former Director of the NSA and CIA; John Miklaszewski, NBC News Chief Pentagon Correspondent; and Richard Haass, President of The Council on Foreign Relations.

None of the input by these elitist panelist’s came as a surprise. In fact many of their responses were predictable. Cooper, Mitchell and Miklaszewski obviously wanted to use their airtime to promote their next story..to keep the news cycle going. That’s their job so more power to them. Hayden, as a George W. Bush appointee, surely would not suddenly have a change of heart and say anything contrary to the proven failed policies of that administration. Richard Haass, in symphony with Hayden, played his “bad cop” role to the hilt. Haass never seemed to miss a step in his criticism of the Obama administrations handling of Libya (excerpted comments):

David Gregory, the host (and I use that term lightly) of Meet The Press, Began the discussion:  I want to talk, however, about how much is on the president’s plate right now. You talk about crisis management and a confluence of crisis.  We’ve pulled together some cover stories from Time magazine–I want to put it up there on the screen–“Target Gaddafi.” The next one, “Hitting Home:  Tripoli Under Attack.” And the next one, “Meltdown.”

MR. RICHARD HAASS:  It’s a lot to manage, but also it raises the importance of an administration having its priorities.  You’ve got a lot to manage with Japan, you’ve got a lot to manage with what’s going on in the broader Middle East, you’ve got a lot to manage what’s going on in the United States in terms of our economy and our deficit.  So one of the real questions is why are we doing as much are we are doing in Libya?  So many of your guests are talking about too little too late.  Let me give you another idea, David, too much too late.  In times of crisis and multiple crisis, administrations have to figure out their priorities.  They got to do some triage.  The–to me, the big problem is not what we haven’t done, it is what we are doing.

MR. GREGORY:  Richard, you, you just have broad concerns as you, as you penned a piece in the Wall Street Journal earlier this month, “The US should keep out of Libya.”

MR. HAASS:  Again, our interests aren’t vital.  We’re talking about 2 percent of the world’s oil.  Yes, there’s a humanitarian situation on, but at the risk of seeming a bit cold, it is not a humanitarian crisis on the scale say of Rwanda.  We don’t have nearly 100–a million people, innocent men, women and children whose lives are threatened.  This is something much more modest. This is a civil war.  In civil wars, people get killed, unfortunately.  But we shouldn’t kid ourselves.  This is not a humanitarian intervention, this is U.S. political, military intervention in a civil conflict which, by the way, history suggests, often prolongs the civil conflict.  And, as several people have already pointed out, what is step B?  Whether Gadhafi complies with what we want or whether he resists successfully, either way, we are going to be stuck with the aftermath of essentially having to take ownership of Libya with others.  And just because others are willing to share in something, as so many people point out, doesn’t make it a better policy.  It just means the costs are going to be distributed.  But the policy itself is seriously flawed.

MR. GREGORY:  The big ideas and are we getting them right?

MR. HAASS:  Mike Mullen says the big idea, the biggest single national security threat facing the United States is our economy, it’s our fiscal situation.  This will not make it better.  Instead, we are ignoring a previous secretary of state, John Quincy Adams, someone you haven’t had on the show in awhile.  We are going abroad in search of monsters to destroy.  There’s any number of monsters.  But is this, right now, something that’s strategically necessary and vital for the United States, given all that’s happening in places like Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, around the world, with all that we need to repair at home?  The answer, I would think, is not.  And that’s the big idea the administration’s missing.  It’s not enough to simply want to do good around the world wherever we see bad.  We’ve got to ask ourselves, where can we do good, at what cost, against what else we might have to do?

All of Haass’ comments gave me a flashback. Iran immediately came to mind. Haass, Iran..Haass, Iran. When is enough actually enough..when is enough not enough?

The answer is Mr. Haass, you’ve got a credibility problem. The following article appeared in Newsweek on January 22, 2010. It was written by none other than Richard Haass:

Enough Is Enough

Why we can no longer remain on the sidelines in the struggle for regime change in Iran.

Two schools of thought have traditionally competed to determine how America should approach the world. Realists believe we should care most about what states do beyond their borders—that influencing their foreign policy ought to be Washington’s priority. Neoconservatives often contend the opposite: they argue that what matters most is the nature of other countries, what happens inside their borders. The neocons believe this both for moral reasons and because democracies (at least mature ones) treat their neighbors better than do authoritarian regimes.

I am a card-carrying realist on the grounds that ousting regimes and replacing them with something better is easier said than done. I also believe that Washington, in most cases, doesn’t have the luxury of trying. The United States must, for example, work with undemocratic China to rein in North Korea and with autocratic Russia to reduce each side’s nuclear arsenal. This debate is anything but academic. It’s at the core of what is likely to be the most compelling international story of 2010: Iran.

In the wake of 9/11, the Bush administration judged incorrectly that Iran was on the verge of revolution and decided that dealing directly with Tehran would provide a lifeline to an evil government soon to be swept away by history’s tide. A valuable opportunity to limit Iran’s nuclear program may have been lost as a result. The incoming Obama administration reversed this approach and expressed a willingness to talk to Iran without preconditions. This president (like George H.W. Bush, whose emissaries met with Chinese leaders soon after Tiananmen Square) is cut more from the realist cloth. Diplomacy and negotiations are seen not as favors to bestow but as tools to employ. The other options—using military force against Iranian nuclear facilities or living with an Iranian nuclear bomb—were judged to be tremendously unattractive. And if diplomacy failed, Obama reasoned, it would be easier to build domestic and international support for more robust sanctions. At the time, I agreed with him.

I’ve changed my mind. The nuclear talks are going nowhere. The Iranians appear intent on developing the means to produce a nuclear weapon; there is no other explanation for the secret uranium-enrichment facility discovered near the holy city of Qum. Fortunately, their nuclear program appears to have hit some technical snags, which puts off the need to decide whether to launch a preventive strike. Instead we should be focusing on another fact: Iran may be closer to profound political change than at any time since the revolution that ousted the shah 30 years ago.

The authorities overreached in their blatant manipulation of last June’s presidential election, and then made matters worse by brutally repressing those who protested. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has lost much of his legitimacy, as has the “elected” president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The opposition Green Movement has grown larger and stronger than many predicted.

The United States, European governments, and others should shift their Iran policy toward increasing the prospects for political change. Leaders should speak out for the Iranian people and their rights. President Obama did this on Dec. 28 after several protesters were killed on the Shia holy day of Ashura, and he should do so again. So should congressional and world leaders. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards should be singled out for sanctions. Lists of their extensive financial holdings can be published on the Internet. The United States should press the European Union and others not to trade or provide financing to selected entities controlled by the Guards. Just to cite one example: the Revolutionary Guards now own a majority share of Iran’s principal telecommunications firm; no company should furnish it the technology to deny or monitor Internet use.

New funding for the project housed at Yale University that documents human-rights abuses in Iran is warranted. If the U.S. government won’t reverse its decision not to provide the money, then a foundation or wealthy individuals should step in. Such a registry might deter some members of the Guards or the million-strong Basij militia it controls from attacking or torturing members of the opposition. And even if not, the gesture will signal to Iranians that the world is taking note of their struggle.

It is essential to bolster what people in Iran know. Outsiders can help to provide access to the Internet, the medium that may be the most important means for getting information into Iran and facilitating communication among the opposition. The opposition also needs financial support from the Iranian diaspora so that dissidents can stay politically active once they have lost their jobs.

Just as important as what to do is what to avoid. Congressmen and senior administration figures should avoid meeting with the regime. Any and all help for Iran’s opposition should be nonviolent. Iran’s opposition should be supported by Western governments, not led. In this vein, outsiders should refrain from articulating specific political objectives other than support for democracy and an end to violence and unlawful detention. Sanctions on Iran’s gasoline imports and refining, currently being debated in Congress, should be pursued at the United Nations so international focus does not switch from the illegality of Iran’s behavior to the legality of unilateral American sanctions. Working-level negotiations on the nuclear question should continue. But if there is an unexpected breakthrough, Iran’s reward should be limited. Full normalization of relations should be linked to meaningful reform of Iran’s politics and an end to Tehran’s support of terrorism.

Critics will say promoting regime change will encourage Iranian authorities to tar the opposition as pawns of the West. But the regime is already doing so. Outsiders should act to strengthen the opposition and to deepen rifts among the rulers. This process is underway, and while it will take time, it promises the first good chance in decades to bring about an Iran that, even if less than a model country, would nonetheless act considerably better at home and abroad. Even a realist should recognize that it’s an opportunity not to be missed.

Which is it Mr. Haass…Is the humanitarian crisis in Libya too small or is there just too little oil? Are you a realist or just another political hack?

By: raemd95: Excerpts are quotes from Meet The Press, March 20, 2011; Enough is Enough: By Richard N. Haass, originally published in Newsweek, January 22, 2010

 

March 20, 2011 Posted by | Democracy, Dictators, Egypt, Foreign Governments, Foreign Policy, Ideologues, Iran, Libya, Military Intervention, Muslims, National Security, Neo-Cons, No Fly Zones, Obama, Politics, Qaddafi | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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