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The Red Telephone is Ringing Off the Hook–in a Good Way!

November 5, 2008


It’s President Bush calling…and President Motlanthe of South Africa and President Kibaki who was so excited he declared yesterday a national holiday. (Note: Would it be too much to ask that if Kenya can make a national holiday out of our election couldn’t we have it as well?) But it’s also Iran, France, Venezuela, Indonesia, Egypt and Lebanon. As ,Caroline noted, the streets of Washington D.C. last night’s victory flags weren’t just about Old Glory–giddy partiers danced atop a bus shelter with Kenyan flags.

Caroline called to the rest of the world to check us [U.S. of A] out.

I’m asking the U.S.–time to check the freaking REST OF THE WORLD OUT!

If Obama was elected by the rest of the world, his mandate would clearly have been to:

* End the failed “war on terror” (The vast majority of whom believe has not weakened Al Qaeda, if not having made AQ stronger.)

* Support a robust diplomatic solution to the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program and other U.S. and Israeli grievances. This would include recognizing Iran’s right to enrich uranium on its own soil, and the international community’s right to vigorous safeguards and transparency on the scope of its nuclear program.

* Withdraw completely from Iraq in a matter of months

*Support a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by not taking sides and instead recognizing each people’s right to self-determination (That means not taking a position that “Jerusalem must remain undivided”. To imply that only Israelis have a claim to Jerusalem is an alarmingly radical position in Israel–not to mention the rest of the globe. Even President Bush has maintained that Palestinians have a claim to Jerusalem. Moreover that it is an issue for Israelis and Palestinians to decide in final status negotiations–not U.S. presidential candidates pandering to certain voters.)

Of course the rest of the world could only watch, as Americans voted for Obama with one principle mandate: to fix the rapidly deteriorating economy.

Obama has made no commitments to ending the war on terror–Bush’s legacy.

Obama has pledged to withdraw combat troops from Iraq in 16 months. Obama, nor any other politician or military official, has never defined what a “combat troop” is. Let’s not forget that President Bush told us on May 1, 2003 that combat missions were over in Iraq. Then Paul Bremer told us on June 28th, 2004, when the U.S. handed over Iraq its “sovereignty”, that combat missions were over and future troops would only be there for “force protection”, “counter-terrorism”, and for “training Iraqi security forces”. The vast majority of the Iraqi population want ALL U.S. troops out–whether they are combat, ‘force protectors’, ‘force trainers’, or ‘peace, love, and happiness bringers’. (To get a sense for this, look at Iraqi public opinion over the last 5 and a half years of this occupation.) The majority of the Iraqi parliament have spelled out its support for the withdrawal of ALL U.S. troops, contractors, and bases here.

Obama has said he is willing to meet with Iran without preconditions. This is incredibly important–and much of my work at FCNL for the next year will be about getting Congress to support this position.

HOWEVER, he has also stated that in any final deal with the Iranians, they would not be able to enrich uranium on their own soil.


So Bush said the U.S. wouldn’t meet with Iran without suspension of its uranium enrichment program. Now Obama says that he will meet with Iran…but maintain that it not only has to suspend its nuclear program, but cease it all together…or make its very operation (the delivery of enriched uranium which is the foundation for a nuclear energy program) dependent on the international community. (The same international community that watched and uttered not even a UN resolution condemning Saddam’s chemical attacks on the Iranian people in the 1980’s? What country would put its energy security in the international community’s hands in a case like this?)

So Obama is ready to meet with Iran–but already has determined that it will continue the Bush policies of no-compromise?

We have a lot of work to do folks to make this mandate one of peace. To tell the Obama administration that “ending the war in Iraq” doesn’t mean bringing home 20,000 troops–it means bringing them all home and giving Iraqis back their country.

It doesn’t just mean sitting at the table with adversarial governments–it means negotiating in good faith to resolve differences while recognizing their sovereign right to energy security.

It doesn’t mean just ending Bush’s ‘failed war on terror’–it means ending the very notion that there can be a war on terror. Even the RAND Corporation–a think tank with close ties to the Pentagon– concludes that war cannot defeat terror.

The rest of the world is calling out to us. The campaign season taught a lot about how red telephones can be enormously influential by playing on fears of international terrorism.

Hard for us to hear because its not news of a forthcoming attack on America–but rather a critical moment when the world is calling up. They are saying congratulations for electing a new president and Congress. Now its time to build up momentum to redefine America’s relationship with the world.

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