Iran Statement

American Foreign Policy Project has released a joint statement by experts (including J. Cole and B. Rubin), containing recommendations for President Hussein’s future Iran policy:

Open the door to direct, unconditional and comprehensive negotiations at the senior diplomatic level where personal contacts can be developed, intentions tested, and possibilities explored on both sides. Adopt policies to facilitate unofficial contacts between scholars, professionals, religious leaders, lawmakers and ordinary citizens. Paradoxical as it may seem amid all the heated media rhetoric, sustained engagement is far more likely to strengthen United States national security at this stage than either escalation to war or continued efforts to threaten, intimidate or coerce Iran.

More on the site. The “myth” section is a great addition. I kinda want to write a Pakistan version.

The Hope for President Elect Hussein

Moacir has already called out the media on their triumphalism. While I assert that Obama’s transformative election cannot be held hostage to the likes of Chris Matthews, I see his point. Tom Friedman has already written some jaw-droppingly dumb column about this being the end of the Civil War or something.

Rebirth is a cornerstone of American mythology. To many, this election is a rebirth of the nation – whether in the context of the America’s slave-holding past, or in the context of America’s imperial wars of the last eight years. There is an overwhelming sentiment that by electing Barack Obama, America has somehow redeemed itself from Iraq. That we will now have a fresh, new start. Except the craters from the bombs remain. Hundreds of thousands are still dead in Iraq. Tons are being killed daily from drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan. This is no rebirth, gentle readers. This is no fresh start.

Running parallel to this effluvia of American triumphalism is the despair of some others on the Left. They rightfully point out that Obama seeks to continue the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan – in fact, to fortify our efforts there. Sure. Obama was never opposed to all wars – he was only opposed to the Iraq War. I have previously said much on this – and you are welcome to go read it again. But, perhaps a larger sigh of despair came about with the announcements of Emanuel and Shah. (Neither are terribly surprising. Rahm Emanuel is a central figure in Democractic politics – rumored to become the next Speaker of the House before he took his job. And Google’s Eric Schmidt has been a prominent member of Team Obama and I expect many other Googlites to follow suit. Also, funny.) But do these associations necessarily translate into the end of Palestinian hopes or the equivalence of Hindutva policies from the W.H.?

I, at least, don’t think so. Why?

I return, again and again, to these two images:

This man is a child of the global south who worked as a community organizer on the southside of Chicago. And the foremost skill of being a community organizer – I was told the other night – is to “listen”, to not assert your own agendas, your own pre-conceived notions onto others. That this lesson is an integral part of Obama’s intellectual composition is apparent from reading Audacity of Hope. I see no reason to doubt that this capacity will remain a function of his administration.

I care about the war in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I care about a foreign policy that engages with that region. To me, the fact of advisory hawks is not a deterrent. I do not believe that the Hussein White House will be enthralled to a small clique of inspired chickenhawks. I honestly believe that there will be space for dialogue and persuasion, come January.

The question is, how will we participate in this dialogue. How will we – the community – make the Community Organizer-in-Chief listen to us. I hope we can rise to the challenge.

Company We Keep

Rahm Emanuel: “In an interview with Ma’ariv, Emanuel’s father, Dr. Benjamin Emanuel, said he was convinced that his son’s appointment would be good for Israel. “Obviously he will influence the president to be pro-Israel,” he was quoted as saying. “Why wouldn’t he be? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to clean the floors of the White House.” Jerusalem Post.

Sonal Shah: “Her father Ramesh Shah, who hails from Gabat village in Sabarkantha, has been associated with Vishwa Hindu Parishad for the last 30 years. The family is now settled in Houston, Texas, where Shah founded the Gujarati Samaj.” Times of India.

Rachid Khaleeede

Actual Professors in Hyde Park
Actual Professors in Hyde Park
Last night, from Sarah Palin, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow (♥!) and Jon Stewart, I heard about “yet another radical professor from the neighborhood who spent a lot of time with Barack Obama going back several years”, “Rashid Khalidi”. It is a startling realization; one that has caused me to reassess my impression, and my feelings for Hyde Park. Some of you may not know that Hyde Park has lots of “professors and such”. And now, with this bombshell, people are going to look at these innocent workers with suspicion. It cannot be. Let me be the first to defend the Hyde Park Professors as god-fearing, church-going, freedom-loving true-blood Americans who live in the Real America ©. These are not the people we need to fear.

Now, this Khaleeede guy. I have, I am forced to admit, taken classes with him. He led me to believe that he was just some generous-hearted, razor-sharp intelligent, thoughtful, New Yorker who cared deeply about his scholarship as well as his students. I even held him to be a “role-model”; someone to emulate. I was obviously brain-washed.

I will, certainly, undergo the hundreds of hours of “Re-education” that is needed. And I will do it with a smile.

Others, like Juan Cole, can spin a masterful defense of the “idiotic wind” that went through my neighborhood. I will just focus on cleaning up the name of these fair grounds.

PS: You can also see Scott Horton and Barney Rubin‘s defense of Hyde Park.

PPS: By default, anything Daniel Pipes says is bullshit, but, um, here: Khalidi and the PLO, if you must.

Update: Sadly, the Obama campaign can only manage a how pro-Israel we is defense, instead of pointing out the racism of McCain’s attack.


“I make no claims that I can comprehend the mind of a terrorist, but as a Muslim I think I have a handle on bin Laden’s twisted view of Islamic eschatology.” – Rany Jazayerli at

Why? Why is the fact of being a Muslim qualify any one for anything? Seriously. I would really like to know. Are there other “Muslim only” minds we can inhabit by the mere fact of saying the shahada? What is so well-established about “Islamic eschatology”? World War III? Let me lay down just one, single, fact about “Islamic eschatology”. It’s all bull. shit. There is no such thing. Perhaps Jazayerli can elaborate on which particular strand of eschatological beliefs UbL subscribes to, or what the metrics of “end times” are which determined his strike.

And really, that analysis of the prescient, omniscient “bin Laden” (here is another Muslim tip, his name is Usama not ‘son of laden’) is so riddled with contradictions that I don’t know why I picked on the above statement, alone.