There are still a few races to be decided, but the overall results of the 2018 midterms are clear. The hoped-for “blue wave” turned out to be a blue trickle, but Donald Trump’s era of completely unfettered action is over. Voter suppression and gerrymandering stack the deck in favor of Republicans, yet there was enough disgust with Trump and congressional Republicans to swing about 30 seats in the House of Representatives to the Democrats. Republicans still gained at least two—probably three—seats in the Senate, despite the fact that Democrats got nearly 13 million more votes in the Senate races. That’s not a great indicator for the state of democracy in the United States.
It wasn’t the rebuke of Trump’s behavior and policies that some hoped for, but given the ongoing strength of the U.S. economy, the Republican losses still mean something. Democratic control of the House creates a check on Trump’s worst excesses, at least domestically.
In foreign policy, the gains will be more meager and harder to gauge. Congress still holds considerably more power over domestic affairs than foreign, and that is even more true for the opposition party in a divided Congress. Read more at LobeLog
No one has ever complained that the United States doesn’t pay enough attention to the Middle East. In recent years, however, one country that hasn’t gotten much attention in Washington is Lebanon. But on Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee’s Sub Committee On Near East, South, and Central Asian Affairs and Counterterrorism held a hearing on Lebanon. The hearing focused on US aid to Lebanon, and whether the outsized presence of Hezbollah in the Lebanese government meant that aid should be cut.
Elliott Abrams, a leading neoconservative ideologue and senior fellow at the Council for Foreign Relations, spoke in favor of reducing aid to Lebanon. Rob Malley, president of the International Crisis Group and former lead diplomat in the Clinton and Obama administrations, spoke against such measures. Read more at LobeLog
For Immediate Release: September 10, 2015
The Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) released the following statement applauding the vote in the Senate today that upheld the deal between the P5+1 and Iran on the Iranian nuclear program.
“Today, we have seen the victory of diplomacy over war. This is an important day for American global leadership, and for the overwhelming majority of Americans who prefer global challenges to be addressed peacefully, rather than militarily,” said Matthew Duss, President of FMEP. “With this agreement, the Obama Administration has successfully blocked Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon. This is a very good deal for the United States, our allies in the Middle East, including Israel, and for the entire world.”
“We hope that, as time proves that diplomacy succeeded in preventing an Iranian nuclear bomb, that this agreement will create a new roadmap for solving problems in the Middle East,” said Mitchell Plitnick, FMEP’s Program Director. “Diplomacy and compromise have brought us here today. The same processes, with forceful political will of the United States and international community behind it, can work in the Israel-Palestine conflict and other difficult issues in the region.”
It may be just a footnote to the current violence in Gaza and Israel, but it’s important for Americans to see what is being said in our names. The AIPAC-crafted bills in Congress reflect the very ugly sense of valuing Israeli lives and not Palestinian ones at all. I can only wonder how that feels to Arab-Americans, especially Palestinians. I explore at LobeLog.
The Syria debate in the United States brought a lot of surprises, not the least of which was the behavior of various sectors of the “pro-Israel” Lobby. Despite the Russians coming along and at least temporarily bailing Obama out of the hole he dug for himself, AIPAC in particular took hit. The damage that caused should not be overstated, but it was real. I explore this at LobeLog.
It’s been a busy day. My third article post of the day, this one at LobeLog, reporting on a bill that was a focal point of AIPAC lobbying around its policy conference. Such bills usually torpedo through Congress, but not this one. I examine why.
This article originally appeared at LobeLog. Check out the new look of this outstanding site for foreign policy analysis you won’t find anywhere else.
In recent weeks, a few incidents have begun to raise questions about the vaunted power of the so-called “Israel Lobby” and whether its influence might be waning. First there
Bibi might have to do more listening to Obama and future Presidents
were the AIPAC-backed congressional bills that sought to level sanctions on the Palestinian Authority to punish it for having gone to the United Nations in seeking and winning an upgrade in their status to one that implied statehood and granted it a few more rights in the international system. Those bills both died before reaching the floors of the Senate and House of Representatives. More recently, there was the row over Chuck Hagel’s nomination as Secretary of Defense. That nomination went forward and it has since become evident that, despite some disparaging comments from a few Senators, Hagel is likely to be confirmed.
Those aren’t small failures for “the Lobby”, but the circumstances around them should be examined to put them in context. The two events do indicate the potential beginnings of a shift in the discourse around US policy in the Middle East, but it’s important not to make more out of this than there is. Continue reading