WATCH: Press Corps Hammers U.S. State Dept Spokesperson On U.S. Impotence In Middle East
This U.S. State Department press briefing exemplifies how the United States’ foreign policy in the Middle East is both nonsensical and indefensible.
State Dept. Spokesperson Victoria Nuland (the wife of Neocon Robert Kagan) could not give a sound and plausible answer to a single question she fielded. The press corp questions continued to come back to one central theme: Why is the U.S. impotent in its ability to influence Israel to stop its illegal settlement expansions, and to engage with the Palestinians for peace, when it gives this tiny country $3 billion per year in military aid — which could clearly be used to pressure them?
Two reporters asked her outright if the Israel Lobby’s influence, as it pertains to President Obama’s 2012 reelection prospects, has made it impossible for the United States to act as an honest broker in the ‘peace process.’
One reporter, when referring to U.S. legislation which automatically defunded UNESCO this week for accepting Palestine as a member, thus harming America’s own national security interests in the process, asked Nuland about the lobbying required to force Congress to change the two laws:
Does the Administration find it unpalatable that it has to go to another government [Israel], to other government officials, to lobby members of its own legislature?
Reporters’ Questions On Gaza-Bound Flotilla Stump US State Dept Spokesperson
Friday’s daily press briefing at the US State Department (see video below) pretty much exemplifies the Obama Administration’s inability to articulate a logical justification for their support of Israel’s illegal Gaza blockade, or for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent hat-tip to Israeli threats against thirty-six US citizens who plan to set sail on a Gaza-bound flotilla carrying $370k worth of humanitarian aid.
Clinton was asked about the flotilla’s American passengers at a news conference this week in the Philippines, to which she replied:
“We think that it’s not helpful for there to be flotillas that try to provoke action by entering into Israeli waters and creating a situation in which the Israelis have the right to defend themselves.”
As Clinton surely knows, the flotilla intends to sail only within international waters (not Israeli waters), thereby making any Israeli action against them a violation of International law — an act of piracy. She also knows full well that the passengers aboard the flotilla are humanitarian activists (including an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor). So to put forward the notion that their presence in international waters would necessitate Israel’s right to “defend itself” is downright deceitful and, frankly, an act of betrayal against her own countrymen/women.
Just three days ago, the State Department revised its 10-month old travel advisory to Israel, the W. Bank, and Gaza:
U.S. citizens are advised against traveling to Gaza by any means, including via sea. Previous attempts to enter Gaza by sea have been stopped by Israeli naval vessels and resulted in the injury, death, arrest, and deportation of U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens participating in any effort to reach Gaza by sea should understand that they may face arrest, prosecution, and deportation by the Government of Israel. … On May 31, 2010, nine people were killed, including one U.S. citizen, in such an attempt. The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem are not able to provide consular assistance in Gaza or on the high seas or coastal waters.
You would think by this travel advisory that the State Dept. was describing a country hostile to the United States of America — one with whom the US has no leverage to ensure its compliance with international law, as it impacts US citizens abroad. What you wouldn’t guess is that the State Department is warning American citizens that they might be harmed or even murdered by its ‘greatest’ ally, who will incidentally be receiving over $30 billion in US military aid over the next decade.
Should Israel injure, murder or arrest any American citizen — as the State Dept. advisory warns it might — for exercising his/her lawful right to sail upon international waters, or for attempting to deliver humanitarian aid to a people being choked to death by Israel’s unlawful blockade, Israel would clearly be in violation of international law. And yet, the Obama Administration refuses to acknowledged this fact. On the contrary, the Administration appears to be preempting any possible Israeli attacks against US citizens by casting THEM as the “lawbreakers” who have somehow “asked for it”.
So it was thrilling to watch yesterday’s State Dept. briefing, as reporters boldly took Spokesperson Victoria Nuland to task on this issue. They bombarded her with questions ranging from: Clinton’s recent statements, to the Obama Administration’s obligation to protect US citizens, to international law as it applies to both the Gaza blockade and to the flotilla’s right to sail in international waters.
Unable to defend the Administration’s recent statements (including ones made in her own name), Nuland sidesteps dozens of straight-forward questions and claims to be ignorant of international law.
WATCH (Note: Gaza Flotilla discussion begins at 1:35 and ends at 14:35):
The full transcript of the press briefing can be found HERE.
WATCH: US State Dept. Spokesman Struggles To Explain US Hypocrisy In Egypt
Here’s an excellent al Jazeera interview that perfectly demonstrates America’s misguided and hypocritical Middle East policy.
US State Department Spokesman PJ Crowley gets tongue-tied trying to explain how the United States can on one hand claim to support the Egyptian protesters in their fight against torture, poverty, corruption & unemployment, while simultaneously propping up their brutal dictator Hasni Mubarak with $1.3 billion per year.
The rhetorical tightrope Crowley attempts to walk will leave you cringing. Which could be said of most US State Department press briefings these days.
I encourage the “They hate us for our freedom” crowd to take a moment, and watch this video clip: