Archive for the ‘middle-east’ Tag

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Bill Maher “The Republicans in the Senate, this week, tried to repeal Obamacare again, get this, for the 36th time, they’ve tried.  At some point it stops really becoming legislating, and it’s more stalking.  And, Obama heard about that, and said he was glad to be in the Middle East, where people are more reasonable.”

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Fareed Zakaria “But, first, here’s my take. Yasser Arafat’s body has been exhumed for investigation, bringing back memories of the unpredictable Palestinian leader and the Middle East in which he operated.

The news broke at a time when a conventional wisdom began to take hold that the Middle East today is much more dangerous, unstable, violent and anti-American than before. So let’s take a look at the facts.

In the 1980s, the newly empowered, radical Islamic Republic of Iran unsettled the region with its promise to spread its revolution elsewhere. Lebanon was in the midst of a bloody civil war that engulfed not only itself but also the Palestinians and Israel.

Iran and Iraq fought a gruesome war with over 1 million casualties. Hezbollah attacked U.S. armed forces directly, forcing a humiliating withdrawal from Lebanon. A CIA station chief was tortured and killed, and U.S. secrets and interests compromised. And that was just in one decade.

Or consider those days from Israel’s point of view. During the 1980s, Jerusalem faced well-armed regimes in Iraq and Syria, leading members of the so-called rejectionist camp that urged permanent hostilities against Israel. No Arab regime other than Egypt would dare speak openly of peace with Israel. The official charter of the Palestine Liberation Organization called for the destruction of Israel and its replacement with a Palestinian state. Arafat’s chief tactic was terrorism against Israelis, Europeans and Americans.

Today the Soviet Union has collapsed, Saddam Hussein is gone, the Syrian regime is tottering. Israel, on the other hand, has grown to become a regional military superpower.

Its defense budget is larger now than that of all its neighbors put together. Its technological advantages put it in another league. The Palestinian Authority affirms Israel’s existence and works with it regularly.

Iran remains a real threat, but it is isolated, sanctioned and contained like few other countries in history. It is also roiled by discontent at home and facing the combined opposition of the secular Arab states, Israel and the Western powers.

Amidst the disorder, there is a broader contest for regional power. Israel has by far the most powerful economy and military, but it lacks political power for obvious reasons. Turkey has economic and military power as well, and it also has growing regional clout.

Egypt, meanwhile, is the natural leader of the Arab world, but at the moment is not in a position to dominate. Its economy is a shambles, its military second rate and under pressure from its people, and its democracy still very fragile.

President Mohamed Morsi’s recent power grab is worrying, but the public opposition to it has been reassuring.

So the Middle East today is mixed, complex region that is changing fast. Grand generalizations about it are likely to be undone by events. But it is a more vibrant, energetic, open, even democratic place than the Middle East of a generation ago.”

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1212/02/fzgps.01.html

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Stewart speaking about the war between Israel and Gaza “This is such a depressing, cyclical status quo. where the untenable underlying conditions are never addressed.  There are no winners here.  Or, to put that a different way…”

Pundit 1.) “Who was the big winner, do you think, here?”

Pundit 2.) “There are two clear winners.”

Pundit 3.) “Who are the losers and who are the winners?”

Stewart “You really miss the election, don’t you?  Is everything about the winners and losers and the horse race?  Even intractable bloodshed is just another chance to see who’s incrementally up or incrementally down.  And, by the way, winners and losers, in what game?  Sandy Land?  Hungry Hungry Hebrews?  Or, maybe it’s the old family favorite, Monotony (A game of momentary respite from implacable historical hatred), where violence is the day to day norm.  It’s a game where angrily flipping over the board is how you start.  And don’t get them started about where you can put up houses.  You can’t put up a house on Baltic Avenue.  I own Baltic Avenue.  Stop calling it Baltic Avenue, it’s called the dark purple territories and it was given to my people before this game was even invented.  Now, get your thimble off my schnauzer.  So, no winners.”

Pundit 4.) “There’s a military side of this, which Israel clearly won.”

Stewart “Oh, yes, Israel clearly won.  Israel’s in great shape now.  There’s no winners!”

Pundit 5.) “Hamas emerges as a big winner from this conflict.”

Pundit 6.) “Hamas is a winner here.”

Stewart “So, Israel won and Hamas won.  Did I say no winners?  I meant two winners.”

Pundit 6.) “President Obama is a winner here.  Netanyahu is a winner here.  Hillary Clinton is a winner here.”

Pundit 7.) “Egypt has definitely emerged as the winner in all this.”

Stewart “Did anyone lose this bleeping thing?  Did anybody lose?  Did anybody actually lose in this bloody conflict that killed over 150 people?

Pundit 8.) “The loser in all this is Mahmoud Abbas.”

Pundit 9.) “Iran is the main loser in this conflict.”

Stewart “So, the only two losers in the war between Israel and Gaza, are people that don’t live in either of those places.  So, the lesson here is that the next time your region descends into a war, you’ve gotta be in it to win it.”

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Stewart “So, let me get this straight.  All this destruction and bloodshed was over a dumb internet video, made by some bleephole, and it was promoted by the Koran burning Florida pastor, Terry Jones.  I believe we have a clip of him as well.”

Terry Jones (from the movie Life of Brian) “He’s not the messiah.  He’s a very naughty boy.”

Stewart “I’m sorry.  I’m being told that’s a very different Terry Jones, mocking a different world religion, in a film that’s been around for 33 years.  Well, that must be a lot of burned embassies.  Really?  None at all?  Fair enough.  Look, I’m all about cultural sensitivity.  It’s the whole point of my 1996 rap album: Black and white and great all over – celebrating our differences through phat beats.  But, I gotta say, I don’t understand this one.  An online film, that nobody’s seen, made by some bleephole.  I mean, it’s the thinnest pretext for violence imaginable.  It’s almost as if certain leaders in that part of the world are deliberately exploiting whatever they can get their hands on, to rile up the populous for their own political gain.  Ah!  Hey, wait a minute.  You really are getting the hang of this democracy thing pretty fast.”

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-september-17-2012/actual-democalypse-2012

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Fareed Zakaria “Well, it turns out, again, that there’s some recently released data that contradicts the claim. The Pew Foundation released one of its global surveys in June, soliciting opinions from several countries around the world.

When asked if they have some or a lot of trust in President Obama, the numbers are overwhelmingly positive across most of the world. In Britain, for example, which was Romney’s first stop on his foreign tour, 80 percent of people trust Obama, compared with 16 percent who trusted George W. Bush. Most countries surveyed have much higher approval ratings of America in 2012 than they did in 2008, when Bush was President. And, by the way, consider the reasons Obama’s ratings are low in one area in particular, the Arab world.

The two strongest justifications given by people in every Arab country that was surveyed were, first, that he has not been fair in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and second, that he has used drone attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan to go after terrorists.

In other words, the reason Obama has lost some of his global popularity is that he is perceived as too pro-Israeli and too hawkish. Think about that, Mitt Romney.

Romney has tried to use the standard-issue Cold War Republican attack on Democrats; the world is dangerous, our enemies are growing strong, Obama is weak. The problem is most Americans recognize that none of this is really true.

The world is actually quite peaceful right now. Our adversaries, like Iran, are weak and isolated. China is growing strong, but it has not used its power to contest America in major national-security terms.

The one enemy Americans recognize and worry about remains al- Qaeda and its affiliated Islamic terrorist groups, and Obama has been relentless in attacking them.

Now, Mitt Romney is a smart man who has had much professional success, but even Republican insiders have admitted to me that he has been strangely amateurish on foreign policy.

His campaign, they note, is not staffed by the obvious Republican foreign policy heavyweights, people like Robert Zoellick, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Armitage, Richard Haass, Stephen Hadley.

As a result, he has blustered about Russia’s being our greatest geopolitical adversary. Actually, it is a second-rate power. He seems willing to start a trade war with China. He’s vague yet belligerent about Syria and Iran. He’s gone back and forth on the timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Romney faces a tough problem. President Obama is the first Democrat in nearly 50 years to enter an election with a dramatic advantage in foreign policy. The last time was Lyndon Johnson vs. Barry Goldwater in 1964. But, unless Romney can craft a smart, strategic alternative, that gap will only get wider.”

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1207/29/fzgps.01.html

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Mitt Romney “It is a deeply moving experience to be in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel,”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-19035134

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Fareed Zakaria “Another telling indicator of dissent is the number of silent objectors in the army. According to the “New York Times,” a growing number of Syrian soldiers, many of whom lack the means to flee, are staying home. But to ensure their continued silence and neutrality, these officers continue to draw salaries and pensions. Money is the main reason to believe that Assad’s regime cannot last. Inflation is said to be as high as 30 percent, according to some reports. Assad and his cronies are freely printing money. The Syrian pound has depreciated against the dollar by more than half on the black market. Meanwhile, the regime is running out of cash. 90 percent of Syria’s oil used to go to the European Union. But sanctions have put a stop to that. Tourism and trade have, of course, plummeted, and monetary support from Iran cannot be counted on indefinitely. Tehran itself is buckling under unprecedented sanctions. And there was a report last week that Iran might be weakening in its support for Assad. An Iranian ambassador gave an interview in a Tehran paper criticizing his government’s support for the Syrian regime and saying that Assad’s days were obviously numbered.”

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1207/15/fzgps.01.html