By Josh Gerstein
President Barack Obama’s much-touted pivot to Asia — a foreign policy drive which has languished recently amidst a lack of high-level direction — could be reinvigorated by Vice President Joe Biden, analysts said.
Biden is on a swing through Asia this week amid heightened tensions following China’s announcement last week of a new air defense zone over long-disputed waters between that country and Japan.
The pivot to Asia was a central foreign policy theme of Obama’s first term, underscoring a need many policymakers saw for the United States to shift its diplomatic, security and economic attentions from the traditional focus on Europe and the Middle East to the rising powers in the Pacific — most notably, China. [EXCERPT]
(Also on POLITICO: Biden arrives in Tokyo)
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/12/joe-biden-asia-pivot-100620.html#ixzz2mUxhEHEp
DAILY KOS BLOG
By Meteor Blades
Every 10 years, millions of Middle Easterners in the U.S. turn to their census forms and check the box under race labeled “white.” This is, after all, their legal classification. The U.S. government formally recognizes anyone from “Europe, the Middle East or North Africa” as white.
This seems counterintuitive, but it’s the product of several contentious court battles that occurred in the early 1900s. The most prominent of these was Dow v. United States, a 1915 case in which Syrian immigrant George Dow fought to overturn two lower court decisions that found him ineligible for naturalization because he wasn’t white. A federal appeals court ruled in Dow’s favor. And he won because of Jesus.
attribution: None Specified
Part of Dow’s successful argument was couched in the logic that if Jesus, a Middle Easterner, was white, it only followed that George Dow, also from the Middle East, was white too. It was notions of Jesus’ whiteness—in a largely white Christian American culture—that ultimately won the case for Dow. White Christians owned Jesus and the right to call him theirs, and they were unable to let him go.
WASHINGTON – With a cast of characters that has presided over numerous failed Middle East peace efforts, the Obama administration launched a fresh bid Monday to pull Israel and the Palestinians into substantive negotiations.
Despite words of encouragement, deep skepticism about the prospects for success surrounded the initial discussions, which were opening with a dinner hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry. He named a former U.S. ambassador to Israel to shepherd what all sides believe will be a protracted and difficult process.
Former envoy Martin Indyk, who played key roles in the Clinton administration’s multiple, unsuccessful pushes to broker peace deals between Israel and Syria and Israel and the Palestinians, will assume the day-to-day responsibility for keeping the talks alive for the next nine months.
Kerry called Indyk a “seasoned diplomat” and said he “knows what has worked and he knows what hasn’t worked.” Neither Kerry nor the State Department would say what has worked in the past, although the fact that there is no peace deal now would seem to indicate that nothing has worked in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian standoff.
President Obama echoed Kerry’s hopeful sentiment in a White House statement that said Indyk “brings unique experience and insight to this role, which will allow him to contribute immediately as the parties begin down the tough, but necessary, path of negotiations.”
The Israeli side will be led by chief negotiator Tzipi Livni, a former foreign minister who was active in the Bush’s administration’s ill-fated Annapolis peace talks with the Palestinians, and Yitzhak Molcho, a veteran adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who was part of the Israeli team involved in Mr. Obama’s two previous attempts to broker negotiations. Those two efforts relied heavily on Dennis Ross, a former Indyk colleague and Mideast peace envoy, and veteran negotiator George Mitchell.
The Palestinian team will be led by chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and President Mahmoud Abbas’ adviser, Mohammed Shtayyeh, both of whom have been major players in failed negotiations with the Israelis since 1991.
Senator John McCain, irrepressible interventionalist, recently visited Syrian rebels and caused much doubt and controversy. He wants President Obama to involve our young military in the religious and civil war in Syria. Syria is not a Christian nation. We should not send our young patriots to die for them. The problems in Syria must be solved by diplomatic means. We have the world’s greatest military and we are the most powerful nation on earth. However, we should use our power to help solve the world’s problems–when we can–through means that don’t require bullets, blood and dying. IMHO. —GoodOleWoody
By Clarissa Ward
(CBS News) AMMAN, Jordan — Um Majed’s cell phone rarely stops ringing these days. She calls herself a marriage broker; in reality, she sells Syrian girls to men looking for brides at bargain prices.
“Of course she’s thin,” she tells one client. “She’s been in a camp for a month.”
For many families living in Jordan’s refugee camps, selling their daughters into marriage is the only way to survive. Across the Middle East, it is the custom for the groom to pay the bride’s family, but their desperation is being exploited. Often the marriages are a sham, just a way to have sex. Some last only weeks.
Um Majed gets a cut for every match she makes. Young virgins fetch up to $5,000.
“You want me to get a younger one?” she asks one caller. “Thirteen, fourteen?”
Asked how it feels to marry off a 13-year-old girl, she replies, “Don’t ask me, ask the families. It’s the parents who feel it like a knife to their heart. … But what can they do? We’re in a state of war.”
BEIRUT – The Syrian regime and opposition forces found one thing to agree on, albeit for different reasons: They both condemned Israel for carrying out two airstrikes in the Middle Eastern country over the past 48 hours, a major escalation of Israeli involvement in the Syrian civil war.
Israel rushed to beef up its rocket defenses on its northern border Sunday to shield against possible retaliation from both Syria and its patron Iran. Although Syria and Iran hinted at possible retribution, the rhetoric in official statements appeared relatively muted.
Syrian opposition forces also spoke out against the airstrike in a press statement, saying it hurt their efforts to take down the regime of Bashar Assad.
“The Syrian Coalition is suspicious of the timing of this attack,” the statement said. “These strikes have given the regime the necessary time to draw attention away from its crimes and massacres on the Syrian coast. It is not unlikely that as a result of these attacks, and world distraction, more crimes will be committed.”