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Ron Radosh

Oren, Abrams, and Ross Address AIPAC: What Should U.S. Foreign Policy Be?

March 3rd, 2013 - 8:18 am

On the issue of the threat from Iran, Abrams said that in his view, the U.S. was negotiating not with Iran, but only with itself. Iran came to the table, said progress had been made, but essentially walked away without giving anything in the form of a serious proposal on its side. Iran’s game is to talk and get closer to attainment of a nuclear weapon, and the regime is using negotiations as a ploy to buy time.  Ross agreed, saying that Iran made only excuses, saying it listened to what the U.S. said and offered nothing itself that was serious. As Abrams then added, the world was “failing to step Iran from getting closer to a nuclear weapon.” 

On what might happen between the president and the Israeli prime minister in the forthcoming trip, Ross said the public would not learn what happens in private, but that neither the U.S. nor Israel wants its own hands tied so what it might do in the future was limited by a public agreement. What he hoped both wanted is to achieve a better personal understanding between each leader.

On Syria, Ross said Assad must leave, and that the U.S. should help accelerate his departure, while preventing a new state leaving Jihadists in charge. The U.S. must use its power to influence the new landscape after Assad leaves.

Agreeing with Ross, Abrams praised Secretary of State John Kerry for changing policy and giving humanitarian aid to Syria’s rebels fighting the Assad regime. It was, he said, both a good sign and a “terrific” step. Previously, he noted, the U.S. through the UN had given millions of aid that was funneled through the Assad regime and its Red Crescent agency. Kerry ended this, and he hoped it was not too late to have an effect. It was one step in trying to strengthen moderate forces against extremists. 

Most surprising was Dennis Ross’s next statement. Ross said that humanitarian aid was not sufficient. Instead, he said there had to be “lethal aid” — in other words, military equipment and supplies. The issue was to these writers a throwback to the ’80s and the issue facing the Reagan administration it had to decide what had to be done to stop the Sandinistas and Marxist guerrillas in the region and stop the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Should there have been military aid to the contras?  This was a policy some say a younger Elliott Abrams supported. Now, the Democrat advisor Dennis Ross openly came out for such aid to Syria’s rebels. Ross said military aid would be a true balance of force to make the opponents of Assad an equal force to Syria’s army. 

Finally, turning to Egypt, Ross said the Muslim Brotherhood was not being inclusive, as some thought it would be. He expected them to try and take power, but was surprised at the sectarian path they took. Abrams then said: “I agree completely with Dennis.” Both said the Brotherhood only won with 51 percent of the vote but was disregarding the wishes of the rest of the country whose support they did not have.  The money given them by the U.S. was enough to bail Egypt out for only three months or a bit more. After that, both feared that the regime would be near collapse. Abrams, in fact, thought they would no longer be in power within a few years. Ross responded that they had to respect the rights of Christian Coptics in Egypt as well as respecting all international agreements made in the past by Egypt.

The last point was a brief discussion on Israel and the Palestinians. Abrams feared that while the U.S. would stand firm and not negotiate with Hamas, European nations would quickly do just that, and try to forge an agreement between the PLO and Hamas. If such took place, he warned, it would forever make a peace impossible. 

The discussion, therefore, was a firm dose of reality for the beginning of a conference that will have more substantive discussion of these pressing issues.

More from Bridget Johnson: Oren: ‘Thank God the Golan Heights is in the Hands of Israel.’

Update: Video of the Sunday morning session is now online at

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All Comments   (6)
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Barack Obama does not "support Israel." His plans to go there are intended to provide a show of support in lieu of the real thing.

Anyone who at this point does not believe Barack Obama wants Iran to go nuclear has not been paying attention. It was obvious from the beginning, but it became crystal-clear when he sat on his hands, and kept silent, during the Iranian "Green Revolution" of 2009.

His plan has always been to use the promise of US protection from the threat of Iranian nukes to force Israel to grant the "Palestinians" the most extravagant wish list they can dream up, so that he will retroactively "earn" his Nobel by midwifing the birth of the "Palestinian" state that will gladden the heart of his old friend Rashid Khalidi. And if, after he leaves office, Iran decides to nuke the tattered vestige of Israel that this dream deal of his leaves intact---well, isn't that just terrible? Tsk, tsk. Who could possibly have foreseen it?
2 years ago
2 years ago Link To Comment
A majority of the people in the Middle East want Islamism.

There's nothing we can do. We do nothing, like in Turkey, they get voted in. We meddle, Islamists come to power. We don't meddle, Islamists come to power.

So what should we do? How about mind our own business? If we're lucky, they'll fight among themselves. If they don't, and try something, we simply bomb a country to smithereens. No nationbuilding.
2 years ago
2 years ago Link To Comment
Now, the Democrat advisor Dennis Ross openly came out for such aid to Syria’s rebels. Ross said military aid would be a true balance of force to make the opponents of Assad an equal force to Syria’s army.

Equal? That's not a way to support your allies and defeat tyrants.

And handing over cash and weapons to an opposition with a significant presence of Islamofascists isn't a good idea either if you are interested in sustainable peace.

We have probably missed the window for direct US intervention to attain a decisive victory, followed by the establishment of a rights-respecting government that might have a chance of securing a sustainable peace.

Once again, the nattering nabobs of moral equivalence, who think they are "above" getting their nations' hands dirty with the effort to interdict tyranny, have let a bad situation fester into something worse. So much for their "genius".
2 years ago
2 years ago Link To Comment
And how in the world is the U.S. supposed to stop Islamists from coming to power in Syria? Ross must be daffy. We didn't have that kind of muscle one way or the other in Egypt and we certainly don't have it in Syria, a place that will fracture 7 ways from Sunday if Assad goes.

The days of making countries out of nothing on a map, calling them Jordan and putting some king from somewhere else on the throne are over. May as well try and arm the rebels with armored model-t's and blimps.

And then there's the next inevitable country coming there soon - Kurdsville.
2 years ago
2 years ago Link To Comment
In other words, they recited in unison "Nice doggie, nice doggie".

But no one is looking for a stick, we both (US and Israel) have them. Israel probably has the will to use its stick, but lacks a reason that will pass muster before "world opinion" ( a significant portion of Israel needs be a smoldering cinder before it passes that muster).

I don't think the US is even contemplating using a stick.
2 years ago
2 years ago Link To Comment
I wish I could see a "moderate" route to peace between Israel and her neighbors, but the problem as I see it is resistance to modernity within Iran and the Arab states. There is also our dependence on Mid-East oil--a long standing problem that I traced here I don't see diplomacy solving this problem, no matter how experienced the diplomats in question.
2 years ago
2 years ago Link To Comment
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