Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Israel-Palestine: Jimmy Carter: There is Zero Chance for the Two-state Solution

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter visits the Arab East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem. © Pool/Pool

The US has withdrawn from tackling the Middle East's most intractable problem, says the former President

By Bronwen Maddox

Prostect / UK

Aug 13, 2015 - “At this moment, there is zero chance of the two-state solution,” said Jimmy Carter, giving his bleakest pronouncement yet on the Israeli-Palestinian deadlock to which he devoted much effort while President of the United States, and even more time since then.

“These are the worst prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians for years,” he said, adding that he didn’t think that Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister, “has any intention” of making progress towards the goal, the thrust of international efforts for decades, of the creation of a separate state for the Palestinians alongside Israel. After John Kerry’s efforts as Secretary of State to broker a deal, which collapsed in the spring last year, the “US has withdrawn” from the problem, he reckoned. 

Carter, US President from 1977 to 1981, spoke to Prospect on the launch of his new book (his 29th), A Full Life: Reflections at 90, and just shortly before the operation that revealed he had cancer, and that it had spread. He is arguably the best recent case of a president who gained in stature after he left office, and this crisp survey of the arc of his life and passions shows why. It is a reminder of the strength of the moral views of someone described as “more of a missionary than a legislator”; his lack of fear in voicing them on the global stage, and his enduring lack of interest in political compromise.

His controversial and uncomfortable presidency, after narrowly defeating Gerald Ford, was dogged by clashes with the Democrat-controlled Congress. Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, incredulous that the born-again Christian from Georgia stopped serving alcohol at the White House, and furious at how Carter, the former Governor of Georgia, put Georgians in key posts, became an insurmountable obstacle when the President refused on principle to reward potential supporters on Capitol Hill with bills containing “pork” (favours for local projects). That blocked many of his idealistic projects on energy, the environment and water, leaving the Egypt-Israel peace accords struck at Camp David as one of the landmarks of his time in office.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Unheralded Force That Helped Win the Iran Deal and Reshape US Foreign Policy

By Ben Wikler
Huffington Post

Sept 17, 2015 - At midnight tonight, the clock stops. The congressional review period for the Iran nuclear deal expires, and the opponents of the deal officially lose their chance to torpedo the landmark foreign policy achievement of the Obama era. Thanks to 42 Democratic and Independent Senators, the GOP-driven sabotage bill never even reached the president's desk, and the United States has moved off of the path to war with Iran.

It's a moment worth marking: the visible sign of a tectonic shift in the politics of American foreign policy.

The Iran deal's political survival means many things at once. It signals the decline of AIPAC and the Likud lobby, a masterfully executed vote-whipping operation driven by the White House, Dick Durbin and Harry Reid in the Senate, and Leader Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Rep. David Price, and Rep. Lloyd Doggett in the House.

But it also means something more, something largely missed in the many write-ups of how the victory was forged. The success of the Iran nuclear deal marks a crescendo of a politically mature constituency for peace and diplomacy. It's a milestone in the ascendancy of a grassroots movement stirred to action by the Iraq war that has been building steadily since, a force that will shape the politics of war and peace in 2016 and the years beyond.

In mid-July, when the seven-country negotiations finally ended and the Iran Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was unveiled, today's moment of victory was anything but assured. A front-page New York Times story detailed a $20 million campaign plan, backed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), to sink the deal. Former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman helmed another $10 million attack, while neoconservative hawks ranging from Joe Lieberman to Dick Cheney geared up to join the fray. The deal's opponents promised -- and pundits expected -- a 2009 Tea Party-style uprising during the August congressional recess that would send members of Congress running for cover.

As the Washington Director of, I experienced the D.C. effort to support the deal from the inside. On paper, the pro-diplomacy coalition looked hopelessly outgunned. The coalition of nuclear policy experts and peace advocates who were lobbying Congress couldn't come close to matching the resources of the hawks. The widespread assumption was that the GOP would pass a resolution of disapproval through both houses of Congress. Our modest and urgent goal, then, was to retain enough Democrats to sustain a presidential veto. I remember a fierce private debate about whether we should give up on the Senate entirely and focus all of our energy on the House.