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Obama’s Middle East Speech Will Contain A Surprise


Tomorrow night, Thursday, May 19 (time not yet announced), the President will lay out his administration’s role in the Middle East in an attempt to show that it intends to act as a facilitator, not a meddler, and a few other goodies according to his press secretary and aides.

The Hill says:

“The White House is also drawing a great deal of attention to the speech. Carney said Tuesday that the President will make news with the speech with “some specific new ideas about U.S. policy towards the region.”

“I can say safely the president will make news on Thursday when he gives this speech,” Carney said.

To that end, Carney said Obama will talk specifically “about ways that we can best support that positive change … while focusing on our core principles: nonviolence, support for human rights and support for political and economic reform. (my bolds throughout diary)

(Sounds as though the White House really wants attention drawn to the speech.)

Aides hint he’ll speak about bin Laden’s message having been discarded by most Arab nations, and will extol the virtues of non-violent regime changes.  Carney said he will call on Assad of Syria, suggesting there is a limit to international tolerance, and other leaders (Yemen?  UAE?  Bahrain?) to listen to the demands of their people.  He might even talk about a sanction process; 800 protestors have been killed by Assad’s forces in Syria to date.

After meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan on Tuesday, the President said he will call for renewed I/P peace talks, even though for two years his administration has spent a total of three weeks in talks, and George Mitchell has now resigned.

The LA Times says:

“The atmosphere around the speech is politically charged. Republican presidential candidates are looking for weaknesses in Obama’s foreign policy positions and the White House is making an effort to rally Jewish leaders and other groups to its agenda.

Republicans have been hoping to capitalize on tensions between the president and elements of the Jewish community, a relationship that has been fluctuating since his high-profile speech in Cairo in 2009. Some of Obama’s critics are already referring to this week’s address as the Cairo sequel. Netanyahu will address a joint session of Congress next week as the guest of House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).

In a private briefing Tuesday for Jewish religious and other community leaders, four top White House aides portrayed Obama as an unwavering friend of Israel. The four included Daniel B. Shapiro, a national security aide and Obama’s nominee as the next U.S. ambassador to Israel.

Those who attended the meeting said Shapiro described the Islamic militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as the rulers of Iran, as hardened enemies of Israel. He also spelled out the administration’s opposition to the Palestinian proposal for U.N. recognition of its statehood.”

Now I had no idea that his agenda needed more rallying of Jewish leaders, but he’s the man, so okay.  And he’ll address AIPAC on Sunday.

Will he discuss that the War Powers Resolution of 1973 means that US intervention in Libya is about to time out on May 20, and that he is seeking ways to almost legally extend it?

He isn’t likely to tell us where he and his administration stand on Rep. Buck McKeon’s extensions to the National Defense Authorization Act in which is contained more provisions for indefinite detainment of prisoners with essentially no ability to defend themselves, and  according to the ACLU:

“Tucked inside the National Defense Authorization Act, being marked up by the House Armed Services Committee this week, is a hugely important provision that hasn’t been getting a lot of attention — a brand new authorization for a worldwide war.

The current authorization of war provided the constitutional authority for the executive branch to go to war in Afghanistan. Subsequently, it has reportedly been invoked by the executive branch much more broadly to also use military force in Yemen and elsewhere, to justify torture and abuse of detainees, to eavesdrop and spy on American citizens without warrants, and to imprison people captured far from any battlefield without charge or trial.

Before Congress this week, the proposed authorization of a worldwide war goes much further, however, allowing war wherever there are terrorism suspects in any country around the world without an expiration date, geographical boundaries or connection to the 9/11 attacks or any other specific harm or threat to the United States. There have been no hearings on the provision, nor has its necessity been explained by Rep. McKeon or anyone else in Congress.”

All agree that Obama didn’t ask for this, but the last I’d read was that he hadn’t decided on a position about it. Thirty-two Democratic House Reps. led by John Conyers oppose it.

What do you think ‘the news’ will be?  I could apologize for the red herring about the updated NDAA, but I won’t.  Obama has taken advantage of some of these provisions already, and it may reach the floor of the House by the end of the month.  (NY Times editorial)

Will he announce the Pentagon’s choice of maybe 5,000 troop draw-down in Afghanistan in July?  Or that he has significantly reduced the target number of trained security forces there as a cost-saving measure? (Critics charge that the reduction serves to make Petraeus look better, but I couldn’t possibly say if that’s true; but war cost savings?  Oh, never mind.)


(cross-posted at



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