Monday, November 17, 2008

Obama might cancel the US-Iraq troops agreement?

Obama might cancel the US-Iraq troops agreement.

By : Ali Alarabi

Now that the Iraqi and the US governments have signed the Security agreement yesterday, pending the Iraqi parliament ratification, which will regulate the presence of US troops in Iraq until 2011 and beyond, the real work, however, has not even begun yet.

For the current US administration, it is important to sign this agreement, amended to satisfy domestic Iraqi demands, such as changing the name into the “ The US withdrawal agreement” so as to not leave the US troops in Iraq, come December 31, without a legal cover that protects their presence in the country.

More importantly however, for the out going George Bush’s administration is to legally bind the incoming administration of President Barack Obama with an agreement that represent its own thinking on troops presence and US basis in Iraq and in the Middle East.

The current administration thinking on US troops and its role around the world, however, predates George Bus’s administration, and it started with the Project of the New American Century, an organization formed by neocons such as William Kristol, John Bolton, and Donald Kagan, which at its core want to exercise a muscular US foreign policy that will exercise the US military power, if necessary, around the globe particularly the Middle East and South East Asia.

This Militarist approach to US policy, at its heart, wants to ensure US dominance over much of the global affairs particularly when it comes to strategic issues such as global security, i.e terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and Oil.

Iraq, after its occupation, lies as central to the current administration, the neocons thinking, in continuing with this policy to project the US power, through permanent basis in Iraq and the Arab Gulf countries.

As for the Iraqi government, it really has very little room to decide .The presence of 146 000 US Soldiers in Iraq today, represent the only guarantee that Iraq does not slip in a savage civil war that will leave the country in total ruins. And to keep the current political order in the country alive.

The government of Nouri Al Malki after consulting with Ayatollah Ali Sistani , went ahead and approved the Pact, to the delight of the Kurds who have vested interests in keeping the US troops in Iraq, while Muqtada Al Sadar and the Islamic Scholars Association, opposed the Pact calling it “ a surrender” and” a continuation of American occupation of Iraq”.

As for the incoming US president Barack Obama: he did not issue a statement on this particular issue; he nonetheless was very clear since 2002 in opposing the war in Iraq and voted against a war resolution in Congress.

Will an Obama administration honor this agreement between the current US government and the Iraqi government? I must say that Its doubtful that an Obama administration will stick with an agreement to station US troops not only in Iraq but also in the Gulf region on a philosophical grounds that runs contrary to his own thinking, as well as the thinking of the centrist wing of the democratic party that he represents, on how to run the US foreign policy.

The Democrats have no institutions comparable to the neocon Republicans, like the American Enterprise institute, AEI, who when not in power lay dormant planning their vision of US policy until they assume power in Washington.

Therefore Obama and his democratic controlled congress would not feel obligated to honor this agreement that was founded on a political philosophy they deem very dangerous to American interests around the world and that it has undermined US interests and brought an unnecessary war in Iraq.

Consequently, it is likely that the new US administration will start withdrawing the US troops much earlier what this agreement stipulates with emphasis on withdrawing combat units first, as Obama the candidate has said in several of his speeches that outlined his policy on the war in Iraq.

Obama, however, would not commit a major policy blunder if he withdraws the US from this agreement and cancel all together, certainly, it is not without precedent.

George Bush decided that the Anti-Ballistic Missile ABM treaty signed with the Soviet Union, in 1972, is no longer fit the new US policy in accordance with his ideological line and he therefore on June 13TH 2002 withdrew the US from this treaty. George Busch also decided to withdraw the US from the Kyoto treaty that limits greenhouse emissions upon assuming power in Washington from his predecessor Bill Clinton who signed the treaty.

As for the US changing its position on a treaty after change of power in Washington certainly is not restricted to Republicans. President Jimmy Carter for example decided to withdraw the SALT II from the Congress after it was put there for ratification in response to the Soviet invasion Afghanistan in 1979. Congress, however, was not in hurry to sign the treaty anyway for it was facing several objections and was stuck in Congress without ratification.

President Obama does not have to go along with a US foreign policy that projects the US military force around the globe and ensure US dominance through an interventionist military policy and preemptive wars.

Obama had voiced his objections loud and clear starting with his vote in the senate against the war resolution and his senate bill to withdraw the US from20Iraq to his latest statement on his website that as soon as his assumes power Washington he will direct his secretary of defense to end the war in Iraq and remove the US troops from that country.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Obama’s Revolution and the Impact on the Middle East.

Obama’s Revolution and the Impact on the Middle East.

By: Ali Alarabi

Senator Barack Obama’s victory is no less important than storming the Bastille more than 200 years ago in 1789 which was perhaps the one iconic event that ushered the dawn of the French revolution that ended up changing the French people along with France and Europe and subsequently the entire world.

By all accounts, Obama’s victory is poised to start a revolution, not only because of its historic precedent as the first president of African decent which could be the single most important historical event in American history, when it comes to the issue of race, after Abraham Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation that freed the slaves in 1862. But it is important because Obama sees himself as his records shows that he is a man who through out his professional life had stood for changing the system to make it take into account the wretched of the Earth whom the “Ancien RĂ©gime” according to this view of the world, had deliberately ignored if not destroyed.

Obama is philosophically inclined to understand the third world that exists inside American borders and outside it, more and better. His days as a Chicago state senator had prepared him to work with disadvantaged people and poor communities. He understands that people need more than rhetoric to survive. Americans and a lot of people around the world are going through a vicious economic and political cycle that is wrecking havoc in their lives and shattering their dreams of stability and prosperity. People need American power to be a soft power, not a brute one, a force for good and stability, not a force to wage war and instability.

But the difficult question is that will an Obama administration withstand the storm some members of the “Ancien Regime” will try to wage against him and his new republic, or will his wagon be able to move forward and change things in this country as he promised the American people to do through out his campaign? This however remains to be seen, but it also depends on how he manages a democratic-majority Congress. but one thing for sure however and that if Obama succeeds in bringing the American people of all persuasions to come to terms with his agendas and to better understand his vision, he in this case will start the winds of change to blow not just in the American prairies but also around the world.

The Middle East is one area that will be directly and forcefully affected by Obama’s revolution. He had said in many different ways when it comes to Palestine /Israel issue that America should be a fair and an honest broker for peace in order to bring a Palestinian state to become a viable reality along side Israel. A problem could encounter Obama, however, if he pelages American might and treasure to side with Israel without responsibility or restrain, like his predecessors, or without conditions to end its occupation of Arab Jerusalem and all of the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967.

Barack Obama had also said that he will talk directly and face t face to America’s “current enemies” notably Syria and Iran, without preconditions and without setting up some kind of reward and punishment system that will insult them more than respect them.

Arab countries particularly Syria, in addition to Iran will be very relieved to see George Bush’s term ends without the wrath of US military being unleashed on their heads and seeing their country chopped up as in the case of Iraq. To put it simply, they are just happy to have survived George’s Bush tenure in the white House. Intact.

Iraq on the other hand is a different case. The Iraqi government and the Kurds are fearful of Obama’s intentions of withdrawing the troops from Iraq and leave them to deal with their complicated issues such as whether to keep the country intact or ending up dividing it up between the parties that came with the American forces to Baghdad or start dealing with each other without having the benefit of a handy American power to be used whenever there is trouble. Only Iran however will remain the true beneficiary of an American power vacuum in Iraq and will basically have free hand in Iraq treating Iraq or even re-making it as one of its own territories if Obama did what he said he will do.

A lot of high hopes and dreams are pinned on Obama’s historic presidency will it be like storming the Bastille more than 200 hundred years ago or end up in disappointment, only time will tell

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Rahm Emanuel and chicago politics

Since Rahm Emanuel of the democratic 5th congressional district, most likely will be President Obama chief of Staff, I am wondering why this particular congressional seat is seemingly more powerful than other Chicago area or Illinois congressional seats.

It looks to me that the 5th congressional district seat is the most important Congressional seat in Illinois, despite some of its former occupants have went to jail, but one became governor and the while Rahm had Emanuel served a stint in the Israeli Army in the early 90s and now is poised to become the White House Chief of Staff.

This Congressional seat has always been as far as I remember been occupied by powerful Chicago politicians and leaders who later on either went to Jail or become governors of the state, or eventually might end up in jail!

Historically, as far as I remember, that seat was occupied almost forever by former congressman Dan Rostenkowski, who rose to become the chairman of the powerful Ways and Means committee in the US Congress, and later was implicated in a corruption scandal, found guilty, and served time in a Wisconsin jail.

After Rostenkowski, came a little known Chicago attorney name Patrick Flanagan, who only served one term and nothing became of him,

Then came the current state of Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich the son in law of Patrick Mill the long time powerful Chicago alderman who helped the husband of his daughter win this Congressional seat and later on fought with him publically on the pages of the Chicago newspapers (an enjoyable fight!)

Its worth noting that Governor Blagojevich is under suspicion by the federal investigators over his connections with Tony Rizko who later was convicted for corruption.

After the election of Blagojevich to the governorship of Illinois, the seat became vacant and two former White House staffers competed for that coveted seat.

One was Pete Dagher who later lost that election in 2002.

What’s interesting about Rahm Emanuel is that as soon as he ran for the seat, he managed to get the endorsement of Chicago Mayor, Richard M. Daley and governor Rod Blagojevich. While President Clinton was hesitant in the beginning of whom to endorse because both Dagher and Emanuel had worked for him at the White House, albeit Emanuel assumed a higher profile position especially during Clinton Impeachment trial. Later on, Clinton Endorsed Emanuel.

Despite his high profile endorsements and accumulating an impressive amount of campaign money, Emanuel was worried that Dagher could steal that seat from him since both worked for Clinton rendering White House experience of Emanuel a moot point.

I was told, back then, by senior person in Pete Dagher campaign that Emanuel had offered Dagher a job if he gives up his campaign and leave it for Emanuel. Dagher refused and lost the election.

As soon as Emanuel won the seat and moved to Washington, he was offered a powerful committee assignment that placed him in the top democratic leadership in the House.

Compare that with Jessie Jackson Jr. who has been serving in the House since the 90s from the 1st congressional district, yet he is missing in action in the House keeping a very law profile. Jackson won that seat after the debacle and scandalous former Congressman Mel Reynolds who later went to jail for his relationship with an underage “Catholic school” girl” (Remember Mel… J )

The 1st Congressional district was home to former Congressman Gus Savage who got himself in deep trouble for criticizing Israel and its powerful lobby AIPAC. Mel Reynolds ran for Savage’s seat as friendlier to Israel, he was supported by AIPACK and Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reisndorf who was one of his biggest financial backers.
Jessie Jackson Jr, comparing to Emanuel, has almost no power on the Hill, despite his seniority in Congress. Perhaps because the Younger Jackson never really got out of his father, the elder Jackson, shadow and limited himself to a local South Side profile.

Even Congressman Bobby Rush of the Chicago 2nd Congressional district, who is senior to both Emanuel and Jackson, is less powerful than Emanuel.
What does that say?
It says that Emanuel got better connections in Chicago especially with the Mayor and better connections in Washington which helped him taking over a powerful position with the Democratic Party and now as White House Chief of Staff.