Nine years ago, former FBI agent Robert Levinson disappeared in Iran while on a mission for the CIA. The story of his secret journey to Iran, the CIA cover-up that followed and efforts to rescue the longest-held U.S. hostage.
In a wide-ranging speech on the Middle-East, President Obama declared support for democratic reform in the Arab world. He also began a new effort to break the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate, calling for talks based on Palestine’s pre-1967 borders. The search is on for a new chief of the International Monetary Fund as Dominique Strauss-Kahn awaits trial in New York on attempted rape charges. Top U. S. military officials pressed for continued aid to Pakistan in the face of growing public resistance. And Queen Elizabeth expressed regret for the painful legacy between Britain and Ireland.
- Keith Richburg China correspondent, The Washington Post.
- Jeffrey Goldberg national correspondent, The Atlantic Magazine, and author of "Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror."
- Susan Glasser editor-in-chief, Foreign Policy.
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us, I'm Diane Rehm. President Obama endorsed a Middle East peace deal based on Israel's '67 borders. The White House sanctions Syria's president and the former head of the IMF was indicted. Joining me in the studio to talk about the week's top international news stories, Keith Richburg of the Washington Post. On vacation from China joining us on the Friday News Roundup, Susan Glasser of Foreign Policy Magazine, Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic.
MS. DIANE REHMAnd we look forward to your questions, comments. Join us on 800-433-8850. Send us your email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to join us on Facebook or Twitter. Good morning to all of you.
MS. SUSAN GLASSERGood morning.
MR. KEITH RICHBURGGood morning.
MR. JEFFREY GOLDBERGGood morning.
REHMJeffrey Goldberg, the meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu is taking place right now. Couldn't be too pleasant.
GOLDBERGIt's probably not the highlight of either day -- either man's day. It could have been a little bit more pleasant if Netanyahu, right before he got on the plane to come to Washington last night, hadn't said that he expected, that was the word that he used, expected President Obama to essentially walk back on part of his big Middle East speech yesterday, The part about those '67 borders
GOLDBERGAnd I think that, in the White House, there is a fair amount of shock that he would use language like that and go public with it. They have a lot of disputes, these two guys, over the past couple of years. And usually they work it out behind closed doors. You could just tell that this is going to be a pretty icy meeting.
GLASSERWell, it's an icy meeting in a context of what's been a very icy relationship, as Jeff mentioned. President Obama's speech yesterday was much, much ballyhoo. There were weeks and weeks of build up to it. And in the end, it was -- the news was about Israel and Palestine and not so much about what the president said involving the Arab world and the revolutions there.
RICHBURGYou know, I remember being in Israel at the closing days of the Clinton administration and the Israelis and the Palestinians almost came to an agreement when Ehud Barak was there. That was essentially the same thing Barack Obama talked about. It's basically the '67 borders with some land swaps to take into account the settlements in exchange for some desert land in the Sinai.
RICHBURGAnd, you know, there's nothing new in that, if you really get right down to it. What Obama said, he used a different phraseology. But everybody on earth except the Israelis and Palestinians know how this thing's going to be resolved. It's '67 borders, it's some land swap to take into consideration, the big settlements out there. But you got to consolidate some of those smaller settlements into the big ones.
RICHBURGYou're going to have to share Jerusalem and there's -- they're going to give up the right of return. Everybody knows that. The point has always been, in this conflict, how do you get from where we are now to that settlement? So, you know, I don't know why Netanyahu and a lot of the Israelis went ballistic over that when there was nothing really new in there.
GOLDBERGWell, I -- they went ballistic. And they did go ballistic, I think, because they don't want to see the outcome of negotiations predetermined. And I think that's what they thought Barack Obama was doing. I would disagree with one thing, Keith, that you said, which is that everyone except the Israelis and Palestinians know what it's going to look like. The Israelis and Palestinians know exactly what it's going to look like.
GOLDBERGGrappling with it emotionally or spiritually or however you want, is another question. And, I think, you know, there is a point, when you're an Israeli negotiator or Palestinian negotiator, you don't want the president saying exactly what the deal is going to be. If you're selling your house, you're not going to tell the potential buyer, I will settle for this, at the outside of your negotiations. On the other hand, the framework is so well known.
REHMWhat a terrible time for George Mitchell to finally give up, clearly in frustration about his role.
GLASSERWell, on some level, I think it reflects the fact that he wasn't playing much of a role. You know how extraordinary it is and how sad it is that Chief U.S. Mid-East Peace envoy hadn't even been to the region in months and months. Why is that? Because there is no real peace process. And I'm struck in this conversation, in fact, by that very notion, right.
GLASSERYou know, we're talking about, well, Obama, is he affecting the peace negotiations? There are no meaningful peace negotiations right now. And I think that's actually, really the state of play where we are.
GOLDBERGThe problem -- one of the problems of many in this relationship has always been that you have never gotten a labor government in Israel that wants to negotiate land for peace at the same time you had a president in the White House who was willing to push this, at the same time you had a Palestinian partner who had enough authority to sign the deal. When you had Clinton and Barak together, you had Arafat who wasn't ready to sign the deal.
GOLDBERGAnd, you know, the dynamics of that require getting the three strongest personalities together.
RICHBURGYeah, I have this picture in my mind of a slot machine with all the cherries lining up at once. And it's been 63 years of pulling that lever.
REHMNo one's gold bar.
RICHBURGYou know, gold bars or whatever, cherries are the -- well, I don't remember. I'm not a big gambler, but you get my point.
RICHBURGThe interesting thing to me is that what's been lost, among many things that Susan pointed out, one of the many things that's been lost in the speech is that President Obama was brutal toward the Palestinian side in this speech. He said, you basically -- you guys have walked away from negotiations. You are now trying to reconcile with Hamas and I completely understand why Israel does not want to negotiate with a joint Hamas PLO or Fatah government. And that's been lost in all the hubbub and all the sort of yelling after this.
GLASSERYou know, we'll see what happens in the meeting. Remember, it's not just the meeting between President Obama and Netanyahu today, but there is many more days that this is going to play out in a very public fashion. You have an apex speech which, I think, is really going to provide us a sense with just how contentious is the relationship right now.
REHMNetanyahu is making a (unintelligible) ...
GLASSERBetween Netanyahu -- exactly, on Sunday. And also, I think...
GOLDBERGWell, Obama is going on Sunday and Netanyahu is going on Monday.
GOLDBERGYeah, yeah, yeah.
GLASSERAnd then Netanyahu speaks to the U.S. Congress and that was going to be my other point. U.S. domestic politics is also something that we cannot count out here. I think, it was very instructive, that no matter what the nuances were of the president's speech yesterday, you had a whole line of republican 2012 contenders immediately jumping on it. And, you know, on some level, they're going to affect the Israelis response and dealings with the Obama administration, too.
REHMSo what can we expect then from these various speeches and statements, Keith?
RICHBURGWell, interestingly, I would say nothing. Because when you look at the Obama speech, there was no road map. There was no announcement of a new peace envoy. There was no announcement of a quartet meeting or Hillary Clinton didn't announce, we're bringing all the parties together. There was nothing other than the statement of general principal. And just one other thought about that.
RICHBURGYou know, this was supposed to be -- most of this speech was about the Arab Spring. It was about democratization in the Arab world. Seeing from abroad, and I think the White House and the speech writers recognize this, you can't talk about democracy and the need for democracy in the Arab world and not talk about the fact that you've got millions of Palestinians living under undemocratic occupation.
RICHBURGSo they had to add this into the speech, otherwise every Arab looking at this on television from the Arab Spring would've been saying, how can you talk about democracy when you didn't even mention the Palestinians?
REHMWhat about his statements regarding Syria -- sanctions against Syria, Susan?
GLASSERWell, ironically, I think, in many ways, we were teed up to think that that was going to be the big story in the speeches. How is the Obama administration going to respond? What distinction are they making between the events in Libya, which caused a NATO military intervention, which, by the way, is now hitting, you know, a crucial moment where the war powers resolution with Congress needs to be invoked or -- you know, we've already been at this war for several months now.
GLASSERAnd we've seemed to have forgotten about it. And Syria, where, you know, the government has engaged in a brutal crackdown. They've announced, this week, more sanctions on the Syrian regime, but it's pretty clear that it's still a bright line for Obama and for the other Western powers. They're not even contemplating any kind of...
REHMSending in troops.
GLASSER...in the same way that they have -- that's now settled into a very frustrating back and forth in Libya.
REHMAnd people are asking why?
GLASSERWell, that's right. And then, what's the distinction between Syria and Bahrain? What's the distinction with Saudi Arabia, which, by the way, was not mentioned in this speech of President Obama.
GOLDBERGIt was not mentioned, but it was there hovering in the background.
GOLDBERGAll of that Bahrain talk was really about Saudi Arabia in a way. But just to add one thought. I mean, I think we all can sit here and understand the different nuances of each of these countries, but, yes, you do open yourself up to a charge of hypocrisy if you're going to be focused on removing Gadhafi. But Bashar al-Assad, if you follow this carefully, is murdering his people at a rapid clip.
GOLDBERGAnd it is -- and there's a lot of hope, I think, on the part of the Syrian opposition that Obama would make a decisive break with Bashar al-Assad yesterday and he didn't make that decisive break.
REHMBut what did he say?
GOLDBERGHe moved the ball the closer toward that break.
GOLDBERGBy saying, you know, either help the transition transit to something better or get out of the way. Soon, I imagine, if the trend continues, it'll just be, get out of the way. But, of course, we can't really push him out of the way.
GLASSERRight, but get out of the way has also proven to be a very unsuccessful policy statement on the part of the Obama administration. He referenced, for example, very briefly, Yemen yesterday where remember, the big change in policy was more than a month ago for Obama to say, get out of the way. I'm sorry, President Saleh, but your time has come. You need to leave now.
GLASSERRemember, that hasn't produced anything. The so-called agreement between Saleh and the protestors in Yemen, for him to leave, has not collapsed, just this week. President Obama looks very ineffectual. So even were he to shift and to say to President Assad, sorry, your time has come, get out of the way, in the absence of other meaningful tools to back that up in some way, I think he risks looking even more like a non-player in the region.
RICHBURGWell that's absolutely right. You don't tell leaders of other countries to leave unless you've got -- either going to go -- you've got some means to force them to leave or you know it's inevitable. Otherwise, you look weak. And the Arab spring seems to have stalled a little bit into the Arab winter. I mean, after the leaders in Tunisia and Egypt are gone now, you look -- you know, Yemen, it's still unsettled.
RICHBURGIt was crushed in Bahrain. We don't know what's going to -- Libya, it's still a stalemate at the moment. So we don't know where this is all kind of going. And I think the administration, looking at this, doesn't want to get to ahead of events.
REHMAt the same time, the President did announce the one billion aide package to Egypt, one billion in loan guarantees, wasn't calling it an assistance package. Does that boost his image at all?
REHMI'm not sure. We got to take a short break. And when we come back, we'll talk about the IMF and what will happen there.
REHMWelcome back to the Friday News Roundup in this hour of International goings on. And that's what we have to say in regard to the IMF former head Dominique Strauss-Kahn who on Thursday was indicted, accusing him -- a grand jury accused him of seven counts of sexual assault on a hotel maid last Saturday. He has now been granted bail in the amount of $1 million. He's going to wear an ankle bracelet. He is going to have a guard posted outside his apartment.
REHMYou know, with what's going on in this country in regard to Arnold Schwarzenegger, in regard to John Edwards, other people, one begins to wonder about the sense of entitlement. There's a front page story in this morning's New York Times specifically about the IMF, Susan.
GLASSERYeah, we were talking while we were off the air about the lush lifestyles of the international economic officials that are depicted in there. It also reports in that story that one of the leading candidates for the job, a Turkish -- well known Turkish economist, you know, is also going to face questions based on a personal relationship he had many years ago while at the World Bank with the senior IMF official. Remember, Paul Wolfowitz was forced out of the World Bank based on a longstanding private relationship he had.
GLASSEROne thing I wanted to say, though, because I think it's been hard as we've watched the coverage this week unfold of the Strauss-Kahn scandal. There obviously is a very important difference between the personal life of public men and perhaps their bad behavior towards their wives, their families, the difference between an affair and a violent assault on a hotel maid that is alleged in this particular circumstance.
GLASSERAnd it's been really hard as an editor, as a reader, as a consumer of this information to think about, well, are we having the right conversation. Should we be talking about, for instance, tolerance of affairs in these married men? Does that inevitably lead to accusations of violence against women? You know, I'm not really sure yet, in fact, that we are having the right conversation. But it's true that there's a disgraceful record when you look at the International Monetary Fund about what they've done in handling the complaints that have come forward...
GLASSER...to them. And I think I'm glad that there's more accountability on these very unaccountable organizations.
RICHBURGWith respect to Strauss-Kahn, let me preface everything I say by saying he's -- these are only allegations.
RICHBURGThey have not been proven. He's entitled to the presumption of innocence. That being said, he has long had a reputation of pushing the line of the French seductress to a point of groping and grappling. There have been other accusations in addition. One has come public, this woman journalist -- female journalist there. Among a lot of the top echelon of the French politicians, they are known for -- and I can tell you this personally because I was based in Paris for five years. I would send interns to press conferences who would come back and tell me how, you know, cabinet ministers held their hand too long and touched them in ways that we would consider inappropriate.
RICHBURGSo there is, I agree, this line between having affairs versus violent conduct. But there also is some middle ground there, whether it's behavior that in this country we would consider just outright boorish, that's accepted there.
GOLDBERGYou know, it's interesting. I was thinking as Keith was talking that both of us have a lot of experience reporting in Africa. And I remember what some of these U.N. missions were like in war-torn countries. There is this -- there's assumption of privilege and that extends into this whole sort of international universe, the IMF, World Bank, U.N. There are no laws that govern these organizations.
GOLDBERGThe IMF has a very, very loose law -- loose rules about interpersonal relationships at their institution. Remember, this is an organization in the middle of Washington surrounded by a U.S. government that has very different standards. And I think that this issue is going to prompt, you know, a real reckoning on the part of these organizations about how they deal with women.
REHMAll right. And putting aside the sexual element, which won't be put aside for the next few months I fear, what about the political scramble to replace him at the IMF?
GLASSERWell, that's the other very interesting aspects that started to play out this week is a full scale debate over the future of the IMF. There's been a gentleman's agreement if you will, and I do say men, you know, since the founding of the IMF and the World Bank that a European would head the IMF while an American would head the World Bank. That is now being very aggressively challenged this week by leaders of some of the emerging economies in the world.
GLASSERChina, Brazil and Turkey have all been boisterously asserting the notion that the world can no longer be carved up into two spheres of influence. Just last year there was sort of a preliminary skirmish in this in which the U.S. interestingly took the side of the emerging economies and really helped to strong arm the Europeans to giving up some of their seats on the IMF board. But I think what we're hearing now is that's not enough and we have to let go of this default assumption.
GLASSERThat being said, the Europeans have very quickly closed ranks around Christine Lagarde, the French Finance Minister, as their candidate to be the new chief. Given what we were just discussing about the terrible record of the IMF on women, I would think that she would remain actually a very strong frontrunner for the position.
RICHBURGYeah, there are two scrambles going on, as Susan was saying. One is the scramble to replace Strauss-Kahn at the IMF, with countries like China where I live saying, look, none -- we were not around at the table when any of these institutions were created and so why should we agree to this rotation where the IMF head is always a European and we are one of the largest contributors to it.
RICHBURGThe other scramble for replacement is for the Socialist party in France, which was counting on Strauss-Kahn as their savior to come in and be the candidate that was gonna beat Nicolas Sarkozy. And so Sarkozy was able to ride two pieces of good news despite dismal approval ratings. His main competitor, who was beating him in every opinion poll, is now out of the way. Even if he beats this rap he's going to be fighting this, you know, through the court system way beyond any time he can run for president. And secondly, his wife is pregnant, which softens his image a little bit now with the French public.
REHMNow, let me bring up something that has come up certainly initially on the part of the French and here in this country as well that it could've been a setup on this man in the hotel. That it could've been a plot on the part of high flown French officials.
GOLDBERGI mean, I suppose it could've been a setup if this were the "Borne Identity." But I think in real life the chances are very slim that this was a setup, especially when you look at that pattern. Again, presumption of innocence. But you look at the pattern with this guy, there's no proof whatsoever that it is anything other than an allegation of an assault of a chamber maid.
REHMSo both the EU and the U.S. do, do they not, have the power to determine who's going to be the next head of the IMF?
GOLDBERGA point that needs to be raised, of course, is that the U.S. controls 16 percent of the voting shares of the IMF. The European Nations has a collective control, enough to give the U.S. and Europe together more than 50 percent. So I think you take that fact and then you combine it with the fact that it might be a very opportune moment for the IMF to put a woman in charge. And I would -- you know, you would say you have to bet on Christine Lagarde as being the next manage director.
RICHBURGJust a quick point. I think this replacement is only going to be for the remainder of Strauss-Kahn's term. So there may be some kind of a deal where the Europeans can get the remainder of the Strauss-Kahn term with an agreement that another country can get it at the -- for the next rotation.
REHMHow likely do you think that is?
GLASSERWell, they're early days. I think there's going to be a lot of talking between here and when they come up to a decision. One thing, in fact, they were already signaling yesterday, we're going to need a few months to sort this out. So I don't think we're going to see a lightning replacement of him either way. Remember that he has a longtime very qualified deputy who had already been appointed in acting seat. So...
RICHBURGThe only problem is what the IMF is so focused on right now is Europe and European bailouts and that gives Europe a pretty strong position to say we need someone who's familiar with what's happening in Greece and in Portugal and in Ireland and potentially in Spain. And now is not the time to make the shift that we all agree has to be made at some point.
REHMAll right. Let's move from President Obama's speech to what Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said, that somebody in Pakistan knew where Bin Laden was. Was he trying to exonerate the people at the top, Keith?
RICHBURGWell, yeah, likely. It's hard to believe that the most wanted man in the world was living down the street from the military academy in Pakistan.
REHMBut he did say no, there was no evidence that anybody in a position of senior leadership...
GOLDBERGYou know, it's hard to believe on the one hand. But on the other hand, the U.S. flew four helicopters into Pakistan. They spent a couple of hours, you know, hovering around Abbottabad. They went -- they refueled in Pakistan and Pakistani Air Force had no idea what was going on. So I don't know. It just seems to me that it's completely plausible that incompetence as much as conspiracy explains the Pakistani behavior.
GOLDBERGOn the Gates point very quickly, it -- I listened to Gates and I had an opposite reaction of some people. I thought he was going out of his way, as you suggested, to exonerate the leadership. I mean, yes, it's not plausible to argue that no one in Pakistan knew a retired intelligence official or a cabal of retired intelligence officials. But he went out of his way to say, look, there's no proof. We even have proof suggesting that they did not know, meaning the civilian leadership in particular.
REHMWell, but now you've got letters written to Bob Gates and Secretary of State Clinton written by Diane Feinstin, Max Baucus, Menendez, Nelson, Tester, urging that the U.S. cut off aid to Pakistan.
GLASSERWell, I think this was a pretty inevitable next step once you had this astonishing revelation of where bin Laden was located and the extraordinary amount of time in which -- I mean, it wasn't just like this was some safe house he was in for a few weeks or something. The man was not on the run. He was stable. He had a network of people in the country supporting him. So the mood in Congress already very troubled by the extraordinary amounts of money that have been poured into Pakistan with very little accountability, with very little results. This was inevitable.
GLASSERI've been struck by -- I think you should go and count and you will find probably no fewer than several hundred op-eds over the last two weeks bearing some version of the we know, we know, Pakistan is a terrible partner. They don't tell us the truth. There's lots of problems with relationship. Nonetheless, we have to stick with it.
REHMWe need them.
RICHBURGI would only add that this is not a one off. Every senior Al-Qaida leader who's been arrested has been arrested in Pakistan. Ramzi Binalshibh, Khalid Sheikh, they were all in Pakistan.
GOLDBERGBut arrested very often with the help of the Pakistanis. I mean, I've been one of those people who's writing those op-eds the last couple weeks saying we can't cut these people off. The truth of the matter is, there are parts of the Pakistani government that are working assiduously against terrorism.
RICHBURGBut that usually comes when there's some point of U.S. pressure and suddenly they'll pop up with Ramzi Binalshibh to prove that they're on board.
GOLDBERGI would bet that Ayman Zawahiri does wash up fairly soon. I'm going to make that bold statement that maybe within a year or so, you know, we see a disposition of that problem because the Pakistanis know that they can deliver that because he's probably in Pakistan.
REHMBut on the other hand, you've got John Kerry visiting Pakistan. What message is he giving?
GLASSERWell, Kerry is a very interesting figure in this because, in fact, Kerry, for a long time, has been one of the leaders of the, you know, engagement with Pakistan. He's championed additional aid. He's worked hard to establish relationships there. He's gone out of his way. And I was very struck by his comments before he left on the trip, which really marked a change in position for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman. He also raised very serious new questions. I think this was not probably what they expected to hear from someone who's been one of their champions on Capitol Hill. I think they're in a much weaker position than I can remember on Capitol Hill.
REHMKerry said, you can't keep telling us you want good relations but your people don't like us. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." There have been new audio reports released of bin Laden while he was supposedly hiding out there in Pakistan. He praised the Arab Spring. He talked about what was going on there and saying that anything you can do to defeat the United States is exactly what we want. But who might be the new leader of Al-Qaida?
RICHBURGOh, well, they're talking about this new number three going up to number two. Zawahiri is a mystery. I mean, that's a real central mystery. You know, there was this fisher in the group. Bin Laden was a popular figure in Al-Qaida in those circles. Ayman Zawahiri, the number two, was not. And so it seems as if it might be splintering a little bit, which, you know, all for the good I suppose.
RICHBURGYou know, one point about these tapes that's so interesting is that bin Laden was already having a bad year before his year ended. He -- the Arab Spring, the nonviolent response to oppression that people in Egypt and Tunisia and other places were showing was a repudiation in many ways of the bin Laden strategy, which is you use violence to overthrow these pro-American dictators.
RICHBURGAnd so just listening to what you said about what he was saying, I was thinking of, you know, Osama bin Laden desperately spinning, desperately doing sort of a PR damage control campaign from this pathetic little room in Abbottabad.
GLASSERYeah -- no. It's actually ironic that, you know, you have bin Laden praising the Arab Spring. You have the Iranians at various points praising the Arab Spring. You know, you look at the kind of governments that they support, the notion of what society they wanted to have and it's completely incompatible with what these protestors are in the streets demanding. And, you know, they've stolen a march really on what looks like a sort of marginalized ideology right now.
REHMAnd considering the fact that Osama bin Laden is now off the landscape, what happens with Iran, Jeffrey?
GOLDBERGWell, Iran is the -- I don't know what you call it, the 800-pound gorilla, the elephant in the room. A lot of -- for instance, the speech yesterday was geared toward the reality of Iran as a supporter of Syria. Obviously Iran is a supporter of the Shiite in Bahrain, which is why in some ways I think the party that's probably more grieved than the Israelis -- this is just on the side but it's interesting to me -- the party that might be more grieved than the Israelis about that speech, or at least the Israeli prime minister, the Saudis.
GOLDBERGBecause the Saudis are arguing vociferously in Washington that the Obama Administration needs to focus on the Iran threat and that's why they need to get behind the Sunni royal family of Bahrain. President Obama went out of his way to criticize the behavior of -- so in other words Iran is a looming presence. And of course, Netanyahu, right now I'm sure in the White House, is telling the president, and there's a plausible argument to make, we cannot get to a final deal as long as Iran is there supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon, supporting Hamas in Gaza.
GOLDBERGThere's no way that we can withdraw from territory if we think that that territory's going to be occupied essentially by Iran and its rockets. And so Iran is this enormous presence in this whole story.
REHMJeffrey Goldberg. He's national correspondent for the Atlantic Magazine, author of "Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror." Short break. When we come back, we'll open the phones.
REHMAnd it's time to open the phones. First to Nashville, Tenn. Good morning Carl.
CARLGood morning. My comments about President Obama and the stance that he's taken is finally, finally, thank God, a grownup is in the room now telling the two spoiled brat children, Israel and Palestine, stop it and just as predicted the children on the right come with the childishness, he's throwing Israel under the bus.
CARLWow, that all you have -- unbelievable. And on top of that, Benjamin Netanyahu, how did we get off telling our president when to back off. Excuse me, we are your protectors. We defend you. I've never seen anyone from Israel defend the United States militarily so maybe he needs to be put in his place when he get in the White House today to remind him, but we arm you, you don't arm us.
REHMI must say I think Carl read your blog, Jeffrey Goldberg.
GOLDBERGI'm glad to have a reader in Nashville, if that's the case. It's true -- let me just deal with one aspect of this. Yes, it's true Netanyahu probably regrets instantly the language that he used to describe his feelings about the Obama speech, especially since it was such a pro-Israel speech. And I assume that President Obama, in a very polite way, will remind Netanyahu of all that the U.S. does for Israel.
GOLDBERGThere's an interesting point that the caller made on this throw under the bus line, which is a Mitt Romney line. Mitt Romney said yesterday almost instantaneously, President Obama's just thrown Israel under the bus.
GOLDBERGThat's an extraordinary statement because you cannot read that speech, listen to that speech and come to any other conclusion except that President Obama has solidified, if anything, his support for Israel's security needs. And so it was just such blatant pandering to a certain kind of audience. It was unbelievable.
GLASSERWell, that's right. That's that factor of domestic U.S. politics, I think, serving to potentially drive a wedge between Obama and Netanyahu at exactly the time when it seems pretty clear there's a very strong argument to be made that one short-term effect of the Arabs would be to drive the U.S. out closer to Israel.
REHMAll right. To Rochester Hills, Mich. Good morning, Al.
ALGood morning. I have some observations. Bahrain and the people in and roundabout, while being asleep get attacked and murdered. The U.A.E. brings in mercenaries, non-Muslims, to potentially quell any problems there. Imagine what would happen if the same thing happened here. Muslims come in here and so that they would have no compunction about killing Christians.
ALAnd then we have Syria, where Syrians are said to be mercilessly killed. Yet we know that over 100 of Syria's soldiers, including a general, his two sons and nothing is said about that. And also from Lebanon and from Jordan you have Saudis with-- from Lebanon, including the complicity of Hariri, bringing in millions of dollars into Syria, including offensive weapons and nothing is said about that.
REHMAll right. Susan?
GLASSERWell, you know, I think the point is not that nothing is said about Syria, it's that no one knows what to do about Syria. And I think that that was very much reflected in President Obama's speech yesterday. It's a dilemma without a good answer. The problem is, not that the world isn't paying attention to Syria, it's that there's no consensus about how to proceed.
REHMAll right. To Dallas, Tx. Good morning Jasmine.
JASMINEGood morning. Good morning. As far as I know, the Pakistani people don't want the U.S. aid. Referendum after referendum of the people, they just don't want it. They want the U.S., the CIA out there. They want al-Qaida out of there. Why is America insisting on giving them the aid, you know? Is it because they want bases there? Is it because they want to exploit Pakistan? What is it?
GLASSERYou know, that, I have to say, it's an amazing -- in a time of conspiracy theories, the idea that we're forcing $20 billion down Pakistan's throat, money that could be very well spent here in the United States is -- it's very hard to imagine that that's going to be a real part of the debate.
REHMBut maybe she's just talking about personnel on the ground?
GOLDBERGIt could be. And one of the problems the U.S. has had in Pakistan is that, for instance, I mean, U.S. aid has saved thousands and thousands of Pakistani lives, after the floods most recently. And one of the problems -- and I've heard this from Pakistanis who are inclined toward America, they feel that America doesn't do good enough job stamping that made in the U.S.A. on those bags of wheat and those bags of rice that go out to millions of Pakistanis.
GOLDBERGAnd, you know, yes, obviously this is colored by the feeling that the CIA is running around in Pakistan. Pakistanis need to understand something, though. The greatest mass murderer in American history, Osama bin Laden, was living in Pakistan. We are going to respond to that. I'm sorry, there's no other way around it.
GLASSERWell, I'm putting that aside. There's two things, not only is there the enormous amount of economic aid and the assistance after the floods, but the vast majority of the American aid goes to shoring up the Pakistani military, which runs the country.
RICHBURGYes, and I was about to say that, you know, those al-Qaida and Taliban terrorists have killed more Pakistanis than anyplace else and the Americans giving counter-terrorism money, training, equipment to the Pakistani military is helping save Pakistani lives.
REHMAll right. To Little Rock, Ark. Billy, good morning, you're on the air.
BILLYGood morning. There's been so many subjects I'm going to have limit my comments. I wanted to say that Netanyahu, I can understand his reluctance. But when he was president before, if I recall correctly, he wouldn't negotiate at all with Palestinian. And then also, the Palestinian organization used to be considered a terrorist organization, but I think they did recall their refusal to accept Israel.
BILLYAnd then, with Pakistan...
REHMI don't think that's correct, Billy. Hold on a minute.
GOLDBERGWell, A, Netanyahu did negotiate with the Palestinians. He actually agreed to Israeli withdraw from parts of the West Bank in 1998. And we're talking about, you have to disaggregate, there's two different Palestinian organizations we're talking about.
GOLDBERGOne is Fata, which is part of the PLO and they did acknowledge Israel's right to exist. Then you have Hamas, which runs Gaza, which is the -- which was the target of much of what Obama had to say yesterday, which does not recognize Israel's right to exist.
RICHBURGYou know, I would just add, and this is in no way an endorsement of the Hamas position. But as I understand it, Hamas has said, yes, we still have this in our charter that, you know, we don't recognize Israel's right to exist. That's our final negotiating point. Why should we give that up before there's the settlement? That's part of the settlement.
REHMAll right. To Kalamazoo, Mich. Santiago, good morning.
SANTIAGOGood morning. I just have a couple of questions. What's the operating definition of sovereignty in terms of U.S. foreign policy with regards to the Middle East? How does the U.S. government understand this concept of sovereignty? And the second question is, with regards to these governments in the Middle East that are being asked to democratize now, these are dictatorships that have been supported by the United States since the 1940s?
GLASSERWell, I think in part that is what President Obama was looking to respond to yesterday was the question of, what is our new position toward the governments of the Middle East given that record of support for many of these authoritarian regimes?
GLASSEROn the question about sovereignty, I'm not 100 percent sure where the caller was going with that. It seems to me that one hallmark of this administration, whether you like it or not, is an interest in and a willingness to work through multi-lateral organizations, to not, wherever possible, act unilaterally in its conduct of affairs. That's why you see a real insistence that NATO take the lead no matter how troubled that has turned out to be in realty, in the Libya operation, for example.
RICHBURGYou know, in the Middle East, as in every other part of the world, we have our values and we have our interests. And unfortunately, those things don't always come together. Our values, of course, are always to support democracy and be on the side of human rights. Jimmy Carter talked about that. George W. Bush talked, every president talks about that.
RICHBURGBut then you have our interests. And our interests are varied in the Middle East and they don't always coincide with our values. We have an interest in going after al Qaida in Yemen. We have an interest in making sure we can bring Syria into a negotiating position at some point with Lebanon and with the Palestinians.
RICHBURGWith the Saudis, we have, you know, strategic interests. We have all kinds of other interests that don't always fit with our values.
GOLDBERGBut one quick point that's worth making about -- one of the many overlooked aspects of the speech yesterday was that President Obama came closer than he's ever come to endorsing some of the principles, rhetorically, of the Bush Freedom Agenda.
GOLDBERGAnd, you know, and there is this argument, this is an enormous argument inside our government now, about whether it's finally possible to align some of our interests with some of our values.
GOLDBERGI think the president has moved to the position, based on realty, that power is diffusing in these countries and that the old model of just deal with the dictator, let him sort everything out, that model isn't working anymore. So he is moving closer toward a kind of liberal, idealistic position.
REHMAnd also in the news this week, Queen Elizabeth's visit to Ireland. Why did she visit and what was the import of her visit, Jeffrey?
GOLDBERGWell, as I understand, I mean this is a visit that hasn't happened for 80 years. I think it actually is a sign that the crisis is over and that the situation has matured to the point where the Queen could actually go lay a wreath at the site of one of the Bloody Sunday massacres of 1920.
GOLDBERGThat's pretty extraordinary, especially when we're talking about such a live conflict as we have in the Middle East. It was a fairly extraordinary thing. The other extraordinary thing about it is, is that there was very little protests.
REHMWell, also her expression of regret?
RICHBURGThat's a very, very...
REHMWhich I thought was just enormous significant.
GOLDBERGThat's what happens at the end of conflicts. At the end of conflicts, everybody finally can look at each other and say, you know what, we made mistakes and you made mistakes and we're sorry.
RICHBURGYes, just in a year that seen, you know, so much bad news and, you know, when we see the Arab-Israeli conflict especially that looks so intractable, the Queen going to Ireland was just a little reminder that these things can be solved.
REHMShe received a five-minute standing ovation from literally an adoring Dublin crowd on her final visit there. And the last thing I'd like to ask you about, Secretary Clinton seems to be moving toward mending fences in South and Latin American, an area that seems to have been neglected for such a long time and she hosted a dinner with at least six former Latin American presidents this week. How significant is this, Susan?
GLASSERYou know, I think you're right that Latin America is an under the radar issue for the Obama Administration. Remember, that President Obama went on this trip to Brazil despite much criticism here in Washington at the very moment when events in the Middle East seemed to be hitting a crisis period.
GLASSERWhy did he do it? Because Brazil is not only one of the world's emerging assertive powers but potentially a natural ally after several decades of some real tension with the U.S. A real desire not to have the U.S. always to be the big, bad actor, you know, throwing its weight around in the neighborhood.
REHMSusan Glasser of Foreign Policy magazine and you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." We have an e-mail from Jonathan with two questions. First, what is the chance that Israel will go back to the 1967 lines and second, overall what grade would your guests give the president for yesterday's Middle East speech? Let's take the '67 lines first, Keith?
RICHBURGWell, the '67 lines, when there -- if and when there is a settlement it will be largely based on the '67 lines. But it will be very, very close to the agreement that was almost signed, you know, in the closing days of the Clinton Administration, which will call for some very large settlement blocks in the West Bank to be annexed into Israel in exchange of other land the Palestinians will get.
RICHBURGSo it won't be exactly the '67 lines, but that's going to the starting point for then deciding which settlements will get -- will end up getting included into what will then be the new Israel.
GLASSERYou know, I think Keith is right. This debate, though, it reminds me in some ways about the debate about healthcare reform in this country. You know, we're talking decades and decades and decades and everybody has a sense of here's exactly what the deal is going to look like and remember, you know, Senator Dole in 1995, you know, said, yes, here's what I support.
GLASSERAnd it looked very much like what was absolutely unthinkable a decade later. So, you know, I'm not holding my breath for what the settlement is going to look like 'til there's actually a peace process to talk about.
GOLDBERGBut time is not on Israel's side...
GOLDBERG...on this question. The way I sort of break it down is as follows, it is dangerous for Israel to leave most of the West Bank. It's for security reasons. It is going to be dangerous for them to do that, but is impossible for them to stay. In other words, Israel cannot perpetually occupy Palestinians in the West Bank. Eventually there will be more Palestinians under Israeli control than Jews. And so that is a nonstarter. Most Israeli politicians have understood this.
GOLDBERGEven Ariel Sharon in his last days, understood this point and so what President Obama is doing, and this is a very -- another important part of his speech, was he was simply reminding the Israelis again that the demographic question is not on their side. And so I wouldn't be surprised, with a new prime minister maybe, that things move rather quickly toward that conclusion.
REHMA new prime minister?
GOLDBERGSomeday there'll be a new prime minister, I assume.
REHMAll right. And your overall grade for President Obama's speech. How would you rate this speech?
GOLDBERGLook, I thought there were a lot of good aspects to the speech. I mean, the underlying question is why give this speech? Not only because anytime you open your mouth about the Middle East, you're going to get it from all sides. But there didn't seem to be an overwhelming need for such a speech at this moment. That said, he made some very, very valid points about a lot of things, including Syria and Bahrain.
GLASSERSo Jeff doesn't have to give a grade?
REHMNo, it's all right. It's okay, go ahead.
GOLDBERGOkay. A minus.
GLASSERListen, all teachers, I guess, face this problem of expectations. You know, if you have an A student, and Barack Obama has shown he can be an A student when it comes to giving speeches, if he doesn’t knock it out of the park, he almost certainly gets a penalty and is graded down for it, right? And I think that might be a little bit of my reaction to it.
REHMSo your grade?
GLASSERSo it was probably a B effort from an A student.
REHMOkay. And Keith?
RICHBURGI'm a little bit different. I marked tardy. You know, I thought it was an A speech, but he handed it in two months late.
REHMAll right. And that's where we'll leave it. Keith Richburg of The Washington Post, Susan Glasser of Foreign Policy magazine, Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic. And thank you all so much. Have a great weekend. Thanks for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.
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