National Security Network

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Diplomacy

Misleading from South Carolina

Report 14 November 2011
As Republican candidates for president debated foreign policy in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) laid down lines of attack in the conservative National Review. Many of his attacks were echoed on Saturday by the candidates, who used the piece as a sort of playbook to fill in for a lack of experience and ideas in the field. Missing, in the debate and the article, was strategic thinking - China, for example, is mentioned only once in the piece, in relation to sanctions on Iran - as well as an understanding of the connection between the foundations of our strength at home and our power abroad. Also missing was awareness of how extreme conservative views clash with the advice of military leaders and nonpartisan national security experts. When Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN), for example, was asked about her support for torture techniques that our military opposes, she said: "I'm on the same side as Vice President Cheney on this issue" and against Colin Powell and John McCain. Below, NSN explores how the topics covered in Graham's article stack up against expert advice. Graham's words are in italics.
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Military

US Security in a Changing Middle East

Report 12 September 2011
This weekend tensions rose in the Middle East and diplomats prepared for a possible vote in the UN General Assembly on Palestinian statehood. In dramatic and quickly-changing circumstances, the U.S. has unchanging national interests: an unshakeable commitment to the security of our ally Israel and a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Over the weekend, Prime Minister Netanyahu said Israel owed President Obama "a special measure of gratitude" for U.S. work with Egypt to protect Israeli diplomatic personnel under siege. At the same time, the weekend's events highlight the importance of close U.S. ties with all the countries of the region - and visible progress toward resolving the conflict. The perpetuation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict foments extremism and frustration in the Arab world, creating challenges for U.S. military, diplomatic and economic objectives.  Progress toward resolving the conflict will not resolve all of the problems in the Middle East, but it will make it easier to pursue core U.S. interests, in addition to making life safer and easier for Israelis and Palestinians.
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Diplomacy

Achieving Security Through Middle East Peace

Report 23 May 2011
Recognizing that the status quo is unsustainable, President Obama sought last week to revive the long-stalled Middle East peace process. He reiterated his case yesterday at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference, saying "[W]e can't afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades to achieve peace. The world is moving too fast." Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to speak to the AIPAC conference today as well as to address a joint session of Congress tomorrow. While it will be a long and difficult process, going forward experts agree that lasting peace is in the interest of both U.S. and Israeli security.
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Diplomacy

America’s Interest in Middle East Peace

Report 20 May 2011
President Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House today. Against the backdrop of tremendous change in the Middle East, President Obama made a bold challenge to both sides to revive the long-stalled Middle East Peace Process. As President Obama noted in his speech yesterday, “Our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable… precisely because of our friendship, it is important that we tell the truth: the status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace.” American leadership in the Middle East is tightly tied to perceived progress on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The alternative to a resolution to the conflict is continued violence, which weakens American interests, harms Israel's long-term security and prevents the creation of a Palestinian state. Active American diplomacy, especially in light of recent events, is therefore essential to advancing our national security and protecting that of Israel.
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Diplomacy

Playing with Fire on Israel Policy

Report 14 July 2010
 

A brand new attack group has taken partisanship over Israel policy to a new low, spreading fear and smears in order to undercut American policy goals in the Middle East.  While the assertions put forward by the Emergency Committee for Israel are nothing more than retreads of previous broader arguments against the Obama administration's foreign policy, they represent a new level of political cynicism about how Americans view the Middle East.  In particular, their political attacks are meant to deceive voters into thinking that Middle East peace is bad for American security. It is clear that the goal of this cynical attempt to undo decades of bipartisan American efforts to bring peace to the Middle East - efforts that have been historically supported by American ally Israel, including the current Netanyahu government - is to score a partisan victory against the Obama administration.  Yet while this group would revel in such a political outcome, the wreckage of their efforts would be felt in the real world, with disastrous consequences for Israel's long term survival, Palestinians' aspirations, and American national security aims in the most sensitive region in the world. 

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Diplomacy

Anticipating the Obama-Netanyahu Meeting

Report 23 March 2010
American leadership is once again being challenged in the Middle East.  But this time, it is not Iran, Iraq, or some other predictable actor that is doing the challenging.  This time, it is Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who is stating, unequivocally, that while he supports American efforts to promote Middle East peace, he rejects American calls for actions that the Obama administration has identified as necessary to move the process forward.  In particular, Netanyahu publicly rejected the Administration's call to stop Israeli settlement construction in East Jerusalem, directly rebuking longstanding American policy and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's call for such a move at this week's AIPAC conference.
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Diplomacy

Putting U.S. National Security on the Table in Middle East Peacemaking

Report 17 March 2010
For much of the past six months, the Obama administration has engaged in quiet, behind the scenes diplomacy with Israel and the Palestinians to try to get peace talks between them back on track.  This shift occurred after having spent much of 2009 putting public pressure on both of the parties to resolve the conflict.  In response to this shift however, and despite Vice President Biden's nearly week-long goodwill tour to Israel, the Netanyahu Government announced new settlement starts in order to cover its right flank within its coalition.  Though there are obvious policy differences between the Israeli government and the Obama administration, it does not change the urgency of reaching a peace agreement. Achieving a peace deal is a priority for America's national security leadership. 
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Diplomacy

Israeli-Palestinian Peace, Not Settlements, Is Essential to American Interests in the Middle East

Report 10 March 2010
Yesterday's announcement by Israel to continue expanding settlements in East Jerusalem has demonstrated fragility of the situation there, which has direct implications for American national security interests in the region. America's national security interests are deeply intertwined in the Middle East.  American national security leaders and experts agree that as long as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict persists, the U.S. will lack the credibility it needs to ensure that its vital security interests in the region are achieved.  This is why the Obama administration, as well as multiple predecessor Administrations from both parties, have made resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a core foreign policy priority.    
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Iran

Engaging the Middle East

Report 5 May 2009
A series of high-level meetings this week points up the interconnections in the Obama administration’s comprehensive strategy for the Middle East. The most high-profile of these meetings will take place between President Obama and Israeli President Shimon Peres, while Secretary Gates is in the Middle East meeting with Egyptian and Saudi leaders. The new approach rejects the neoconservative trope that the road to Jerusalem goes through Baghdad or Tehran or Damascus. There is no quick route to peace in the Middle East; the road goes through all of these places, but it ultimately begins and ends in Jerusalem.
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Diplomacy

A Comprehensive Strategy for the Middle East

Report 5 March 2009
Fewer than 50 days into his Presidency, Barack Obama has begun to set a different framework for how America deals with the Middle East. There is no question that today America’s choices and flexibility in the region are far greater than they were only 50 days ago.
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