Thursday, December 11, 2003

Skooooooool’s out. For. Christmess!

Sot we get the candidates’ positions on today’s issue: Israel/Palestine. This is clearly an issue that should be important to all major US politicians, as the US is easily the most important participant in that kerfluffle (other than, of course, the Israelis and Palestinians). The opinions of the candidates on this issue will (or should) bear some similarity to their position on the Bushwars and will be a reflection on their broader positions on the military (coming soon) and general foreign policy (also coming soon).

Before we get to that, however, I must say that I think the position of the candidates on war in general should in some way be consistent. Clark, for instance, was a high ranking army officer until recently, and has put troops in harm’s way (and ordered them to kill) on more than one occasion. His positions should, I believe, reflect his past experience. Kerry, similarly, was a soldier (actually a sailor) in Vietnam, and became a leader of the antiwar veterans’ movement thereafter. We should see some of this in his positions today, I figure. If we don’t, well then, there may be a bit of ocrasy on a hip or two.

(If you would like to see an outline of what the Democratic candidates think about the death penalty, and Bush’s wars, see the posts below.)

Clark: supports Israel’s preemptive policies (including the wall); wants negotiations (from strength, in the case of Israel); says the Palestians are “human beings” and have “gotta be given a chance”; thinks the US role should be to press harder for a negotiated settlement, a la the Dayton Agreement (he was a participant). NOTE: this info is not on his own website. I gather that he doesn’t see it as a major issue.

Dean: wants renewed US pressure for peaceful agreement; idealizes a two-state solution, pointing out (interestingly) that the Palestinian state would be “demilitarized” (but not the Israeli one); P’s must fight terrorism, I’s must help improve quality of life among the P’s and remove “a number of existing settlements.” NOTE: he makes a special point of Bush falling down on the job on this (I see a pattern), and I think it is safe to assume that he thinks Clinton was much better.

Edwards: “is a strong supporter of Israel, and believes that the U.S. has a vital role in promoting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians” (that’s all I could find).

Gephardt: I’ll just quote on him, too: “The United States has a special relationship with Israel and the Jewish people. As president, Dick Gephardt will continue to work tirelessly to foster that relationship and maintain military and economic aid to Israel.
Gephardt will expand federal jurisdiction over hate crimes at home, and he will work to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Gephardt will also re-engage the U.S. in the Middle East peace process which will enhance the long-term security of Israel while combating the intolerable acts of terror that have disrupted diplomacy in the region.” NOTE: moving the embassy to Jerusalem is about as firmly pro Israel as you can get, diplomatically, in this conflict. Gephardt, then, neither hems nor haws on this issue.

Kerry: “Ignoring or downplaying the conflict, as the Bush Administration did for far too long, is a dangerous game.”; basically the same as Dean, but with an endorsement of the Bush “road map” (albeit adding that the US should really pressure the sides to implement it).

Kucinich: Sees the ideal US role as being more balanced between the two sides, essentially arguing that the US has been, heretofore, a bit biased on the side of the Israeli government. Wants more attention to the issue, more balance, and more money for humanitarian/infrastructure aid, less for military aid; wants Israel to withdraw from the settlements and wants a negotiated final status for Jerusalem.

Lieberman: Like Gephardt, Lieberman wants to move the embassy to Jerusalem. Essentially, Lieberman is the most forceful of all the candidates (including Bush) in taking the Israeli side in the conflict, up to and including pressing for more military aid to Israel.

Mosley-Braun: “has publicly called upon the president to affirm as a matter of U.S. policy ‘that Jerusalem must remain the undivided capitol of Israel,’ and has voted in favor of maintaining foreign aid to Israel.” The second bit is essentially meaningless, since I know of no candidate who says there should be no aid to Israel of any sort (although Kucinich and Sharpton are down on the military aid), but the first bit, about Jerusalem, speaks for itself.

Sharpton: Like Kucinich, thinks the US role should be more balanced. Doesn’t seem to have a whole lot to say about it, although he did recently go to the region and met with both FM Perez and Chairman Arafat.

On this issue, KUCINICH is the only one who could get my vote. SHARPTON is a bit vague, and DEAN seems to think things were just peachy when Clinton was at the helm.


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