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January 26, 2008

The Audacity Of Hopefully Strangling More Palestinians

Here's an excerpt of Barack Obama's letter on Gaza to US Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad:

Dear Ambassador Khalilzad,

I urge you to ensure that the Security Council issue no statement and pass no resolution on this matter that does not fully condemn the rocket assault Hamas has been conducting on civilians in southern Israel...

All of us are concerned about the impact of closed border crossings on Palestinian families. However, we have to understand why Israel is forced to do this... Israel has the right to respond while seeking to minimize any impact on civilians...

Barack Obama

Ali Abunimah has some pictures of Obama and his wife with Edward Said at a 1999 event in Chicago, along with this:

The last time I spoke to Obama was in the winter of 2004 at a gathering in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood...As he came in from the cold and took off his coat, I went up to greet him. He responded warmly, and volunteered, "Hey, I'm sorry I haven't said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I'm hoping when things calm down I can be more up front."

And here's a section about Zalmay Khalilzad from the book Leo Strauss and the American Empire:

At [the University of] Chicago, one pursued the life of the mind. There was nothing higher, there was nothing else...

Albert Wohlstetter belonged to another world: the world of the policymaking coasts: the world of Washington and Rand. He flew between Chicago and Washington, between Chicago and various think tanks...

Wohlstetter invited the class to a reception at his house. He didn't live, as most of the professors did, in Hyde Park, an old, integrated neighborhood of four-flats and apartments. He lived at the edge of Lincoln Park in an elegant and lavish apartment, where we drank champagne and ate strawberries. This wasn't the life of the mind. This was the life of the privileged and powerful. I don't know why Paul Wolfowitz entered it. I do know how and why Zalmay Khalilzad did.

He is a protege of Wolfowitz, who worked with him on the war with Iraq and the occupation...When I knew him, he was an Afghani graduate student and a radical. He boasted of the demonstrations he had organized in Beirut, of the fedayin he knew and had worked with, and of his friends who regularly visited Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi. He went to pro-Palestinian meetings. His room had a poster of Nasser in tears. He and I had taken Wohlstetter's course on nuclear war together. He didn't seem, at the time, particularly interested in the course. He was, however, enthralled by Wohlstetter's party. In the elevator, in the apartment, he kept saying how much it all cost, how expensive it was, how much money Wohlstetter must have. Later, he borrowed my copy of Kojeve's Lectures on Hegel. When he returned it, one sentence was underlined. "The bourgeois intellectual neither fights nor works." The next summer, Wohlstetter got Khalilzad a job at Rand. I don't know what happened to the poster of Nasser.

(Obama letter via IOZ)

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at January 26, 2008 06:08 PM

Wish I was a bourgeois intellectual.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at January 26, 2008 07:34 PM

It seems anyone who chooses to speak out against Israel gets themselves branded as anti-semitic and quickly looses their social standing. Not so good for aspiring politicians and statesmen/women.
Arun Gandhi, president and co-founder of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence recently resigned from the peace institute he co-founded after condemnation of his comments that Israel and the Jews are the biggest players in a culture of violence that is eventually going to destroy humanity.
I wish more people had the courage and fortitude to tell it like it is.

Posted by: Frances at January 27, 2008 12:19 AM

What's depressing is that Obama (according to this Stephen Zunes article I've linked) has the best human rights record of the top three Democrats.

(I forget how links work here, so maybe you have to cut and paste.)

Posted by: Donald Johnson at January 27, 2008 01:10 PM

I'm trying to imagine the inside of Jonathan's apartment (or, perhaps, the inside of his head). On a wall, thousands of 3x5 cards are thumbtacked, each with the name of a public figure and telling anecdote or quote. Other 3x5's represent general concepts, such as the ability of those in power to deceive themselves, while they attempt to deceive us. All the cards are connected with colored yarn.

Thus, after reading Ali Abunimah's blog, Jonathan rushes to make a new "Obama" card, runs a string back to "corruption of former radicals by the ruling class", follows another string from there to the Zalmay Khalilzad card, and bingo, another ATR post is born.

Please don't tell me if this is untrue. I'm having too much fun with the fantasy.

Posted by: SteveB at January 27, 2008 01:13 PM

Your theory reminds me of that movie about John Nash, A Beautiful Mind, the decor in his office and barn. In real life Nash was asked to Antarctica to be king of the penguins, not to spy on Soviets.

Posted by: StO at January 27, 2008 03:41 PM

I just read an inside-baseball piece in The New Republic on why top Democrats are defecting from Clinton to Obama. There's very little to it, but a couple bits near the end on Kerry jumped out at me:

"Prior to his presidential campaign, Kerry had long thought of himself as an anti-establishment figure."

Right, yes. Because nothing says "anti-establishment" like "filthy-rich four-term Senator". But, more importantly:

"According to the longtime friend, Kerry feels like he and Obama are 'programmed from the same foreign policy DNA.'"

That is something less than totally reassuring.

Posted by: Chris E. at January 28, 2008 06:48 PM

If you think we are ever going to elect a President who will be the radical vanguard, you have a looong wait ahead of you. The goal is to elect a president who won't enthusiastically and quickly stomp progressive ideas, and who might even at moments take tiny incremental chances that allow watered down versions of "radical" thoughts a little space in the mainstream debate.

Posted by: Whistler Blue at January 29, 2008 03:34 PM