Sunday, November 11, 2007

American Foreign Policy in the Middle East 

This evening, The Jewish Policy Center, sponsored a form on Middle East issues at the Jewish Community Center in St. Louis Park. The moderator was radio host, Michael Medved. Panel participants were Cliff May (CM), Mona Charen (MC) and John Podhoretz (JP).

The program began with a few questions indicated below and then the session was open to questions from the audience. I've paraphrased and summarized for brevity.

Q-1 - Why don't Americans hear anything good coming out of Iraq?
A - MC: the Democratic leadership in the US is invested in defeat; see Joe Lieberman's US Senate speech on National Security here.
JP: Bush and company had a credibility problem after claiming success when it wasn't there; now it's different, we've got 5 months of success, the Iraqis are fighting with the Americans because Al Qaeda (AQI) performed their atrocities on Iraq Muslims who were "not Muslim enough" by murdering their children, forcing their women into marriages, and simply brutalizing Iraqis. The Iraqis had been told lies about Americans but discovered the opposite was true. General Petraeus' moving troops into Iraqi neighborhoods showed what our guys really are like. The Iraqis are pleased with the current situation.

Q-2 - Should Americans be concerned with terrorism? After all, we've not been struck again.
MC: Denial is not a river in Egypt. People don't like addressing unpleasant items. The Dems are concerned about world opinion and want to be like Europeans. Problem is the European "Kumbaya" approach is only possible b/c the US military protects them. If we copy the Europeans, Europe won't have the luxuries it has today, that of bashing the US b/c there won't be anyone to help them.
JP: Fighting terrorism will be important. If Clinton is the nominee, she will move to the right of the netroots. The basic question voters must decide is whether or not the Dem presidential nominee will be tough enough and will the Rep nominee be too tough? Who can best be trusted with the security of the US and free world?

Q-3 - What about Iran? Wait or attack.
JP: Iran is the biggest threat since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
CM: Today 75% of US casualties are done by Iran, either directly with Iranians crossing the border or with Iranian weapons. Three options available: 1 - Diplomatic - won't work; we've been trying for 30 years; 2 - Sanctions - can work but require cooperation of Europeans, Russians, and Chinese, hence low odds; 3 - Military - we should at least take out those factories making equipment used against our guys.
JP: If diplomacy is used, it must be backed with action when necessary

Q-4 - Iran comments. UN President actually said that Hezbollah (Supplied and trained by Iran) now has more arms in Lebanon than last year. Why? Israel lost so Hezbollah rebuilt its Lebanese Army and there will be another war there, this time, worse. The current Israeli government is too eager to make concessions. (My comment: appeasement doesn't work.) In addition, Iran has armed the Palestinians in Gaza.

Q-5 - Why do Jews in the US vote overwhelmingly Democratic?
MC: The least tolerant Jews are those who do not practice their religion and do not like Christians.
CH - In the 20th century, Germany and other European nations wanted to rid Europe of Jews; in the 21st century, the Middle East wants to get rid of the Jews.
MM: In the last presidential election, two subsets of Jewish voters, voted Republican: Russian Jewish immigrants and orthodox Jews. Many American Jews define themselves as not Christian. Because of this mindset, at an emotional level it becomes very difficult for them to consider any kind of association with religious people, particularly Christians. Because most religious people vote Republican, this is an emotional hurdle many Jews do not make.

Note: Mona Charen, John Podhoretz, and Michael Medved are all Jewish.

Some questions from the floor overlapped with the above questions. One person asked the standard "what about oil" question to which all replied, "Ridiculous." "If it were all about oil, we could have dropped sanctions against Saddam and gotten all the oil we wanted." "It's utter nonsense that we went to Iraq to steal oil from the Iraqi people."

A second version of why Jews vote with Democrats was responded with: "What planet are they living on? They get more concerned about a Christian when Muslims have said they want Israel and all Jews destroyed."

Overall, an informative evening. The room was full, at least 400 people. All were respectful and attentive. Attending forums like this help one gain perspective on world issues as well as exposure to those who write about these issues.