Obama and the Middle East

Thursday, May 24, 2012

US President Barack Obama, speaks about the Defense Strategic Review, outlining Defense budget priorities and cuts, during a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington President Barack Obama speaks about the Defense Strategic Review during a press briefing at the Pentagon. (Saul Loeb/Getty)

Fawaz Gerges, professor of Middle Eastern Politics and International Relations at the London School of Economics and author of Obama and the Middle East: The End of America's Moment?, talks about the Egyptian presidential election and looks at Obama's foreign policy in the Middle East.

Comments [16]

Elaine from Baltimore

Oh dear Hugh, do explain your interesting comment.

1. In 1948, five Arab armies invaded Israel after the UN declared the Jewish State.

2. Six Day War started when Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran and Arab armies amassed on Israel’s borders to invade and liquidate the state. I'm guessing you'll say they just wanted to sell Girl Scout cookies to the Israelis while the Israelis preemptively destroyed their marketing plan.
Hugh: do you remember the three no's of Khartoum?

3. We all know who started the Yom Kippur War.

4. Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 after years of terrorism emanating from the safe haven Lebanon graciously provided to the PLO. After a short 2 month invation, Israel withdrew her troops, allowing United Nations forces to enter. But UN troops were unable to prevent terrorists from reinfiltrating the region and introducing new, more dangerous arms (sort of what we are seeing now on Israel's northern border). The final provocation occurred in June 1982 when a Palestinian terrorist group led by Abu Nidal attempted to assassinate Israel's Ambassador to Great Britain, Shlomo Argov.

5. And now Gaza. In 2005, Israel disengaged from Gaza, removing Israelis from the Strip and dismantling its civilian and military infrastructure. Greenhouses were left behind along with an EU and World Bank plan to aid Gaza in its economic development. Israel removed its troops from the Gaza-Egypt border and Egyptian troops were deployed there. Approximately 8,000 rockets fell on Israel between the disengagement and December of 2008. I suppose Hugh would argue that Israel should have had more patience with Hamas lobbing rockets on a daily basis to the civilian population of Israel.

Yes Hugh. You are correct in your statement "Israel has attacked _every_ one of its neighbors" because THAT is the only way she can survive.

May. 24 2012 01:20 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Sansom and Yusuf

Egypt invaded Israel in 1948, the clear aggressor, and never made peace with Israel until after its defeat in the Yom Kippur war, its third defeat by the Israelis. As for the 1956 Suez War, Israel participated in it for two reasons: (1) the Egyptian backing of fedayeen terrorists from Gaza who had killed many Israelis in the 1950s, and (2) to eliminate the threat of the Soviet bombers that they got from the USSR. But it has to be remembered that Egypt did not make peace with Israel in 1949 despite the fact that Israel returned territories it gained in the first war with Egypt, and their backing of Palestinian terrorists infiltrating Israel. See Nonie Darwish, the daughter of the Egyptian security that armed the Fedayeen terrorists for further details.

May. 24 2012 11:40 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

I don't understand why supposedly "progressive" neo-commies support reactionary Islamic Republics.

May. 24 2012 11:40 AM
yosif from manhattan

Ask your guest to explain the Suez Canal crisis. Apparently most Egyptians know about this whereas most americans do not.

May. 24 2012 11:31 AM

So Jacob, the Israeli caller, is concerned about Egypt's military budget, but not about Israel's, which is far larger. It is Israel, not Egypt, that has attacked _every_ one of its neighbors.

May. 24 2012 11:30 AM

Martin, do you ever deal in anything other than rumor, speculation and opinion? It's hard to have an honest debate with you when you keep making things up. you're an odd, odd man, but that puts you in the majority of Americans, I guess.

May. 24 2012 11:29 AM

If a Republican in power right now, Fawaz Gerges would be telling us about the wonders of that president. Gerges sounds like a classic go-along-to-get-along pseudo-intellectual. He won't say anything that really upsets the mainstream because he is more concerned about getting invited to the right estates for summer vacations than he is about the truth or the welfare of any public.

May. 24 2012 11:28 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Islam is what essentially united the Arab tribes 1300 years ago to go out and conquer a large swathe of that area, and the attempt to replace Islam with democracy as a unifying principle, as it has in the formerly Christian West, is a long and uphill struggle that could take a century or more.

As for "American dominance," that only began when the British withdrew from the Middle East and the US had to protect the oil flow from that region. If that oil flow is not protected by somebody, it will not be the West that collapses, but the Middle East Muslim countries that will collapse, because it is by far the major income earner for most of those countries.

May. 24 2012 11:27 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Mr. Gerges images the end of US dominance.

Keep dreaming Mr. Gerges.

The entire world shells out their After-Tax dollars for overpriced oil and gas.

May. 24 2012 11:27 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

If only Pakistan would have arrested Osama bin Laden rather than provide a safe haven for him.

Can the US trust the Islamic Republic of Pakistan?

Whose side is Pakistan on?

FBI: Most Wanted Terrorists

May. 24 2012 11:25 AM

"Israel said they would negotiate without preconditions." ROFL

As they continue to change those conditions with unceasing settlement growth.

There is no good faith negotiation with Israel. There is only playing for time as they continue to change facts on the ground.

May. 24 2012 11:21 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Are Muslim boots on the ground in the West unacceptable too?

Please no double standards Mr. Gerges.

May. 24 2012 11:17 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

One of the oldest civilizations in the world just now catching up to 20th century freedoms. Hopefully Egyptian elections won't be rigged like the "Islamic Republic of Iran".

May. 24 2012 11:10 AM
Jaime Delio from Ellenville, NY

If the Palestinian problem is solved, who will run the civil service in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and much of the middle east. The Israel/Palestinian situation will be resolved when the arab states want it to be. That will only happen when it is no longer useful to control arab populations. And what will happen when arab decent Israeli citizenship exceeds jewish decent?

May. 24 2012 10:56 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

How much credence does Gerges give to the “secret deal” by Obama theory??

(There is a widespread belief in Israel, true or not, that Obama this past year had privately communicated to Abbas a deal: promise to “keep things quiet” until after the election and Obama will (like with the Russians) have much more “flexibility” in 2013 and be able to get tough with Israel. The lack of significant Palestinian protests on last week’s Nakba Day has only heightened this speculation.)

May. 24 2012 10:44 AM
Peter from North Carolina

I took several Middle East history courses with professor Gerges in the 90s. At that time, Gerges said that Jordan and Egypt were partly responsible for causing the Israeli-Palestinian problem and should be partly responsible for helping to solve it. Gerges routinely said that Egypt and Jordan should be called upon to give land bordering Palestinian areas for a future Palestinian state. I have not heard Professor Gerges repeat this in many years. Does Gerges still hold this view and why?

Israel has said they will negotiate without preconditions. The Palestinians refuse to negotiate with Israel until their preconditions are met. Does Gerges believe that the Palestinians should refuse to negotiate until their demands are met?

May. 24 2012 09:54 AM

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