You are on page 1of 86

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

Page |1

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

Page |2

Table of Contents META...................................................................................................................... 4


RESOLUTION ................................................................................................................................................................. 4

PRO ........................................................................................................................ 5
GENERAL POLICY: US POLICY ISNT PROACTIVE ENOUGH ............................................................................................. 5 GENERAL POLICY: UNITED STATES DOESNT SHOW LEADERSHIP IN THE MIDDLE EAST ................................................ 9 GENERAL POLICY: US IS UNPOPULAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST ........................................................................................ 11 GENERAL POLICY: OBAMA ADMINISTRATION DOESNT PUSH AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY IN THE MIDDLE EAST .......... 12 GENERAL POLICY: UNITED STATES DOESNT DO ENOUGH TO COMBAT ANTI-AMERICANISM .................................... 13 GENERAL POLICY: RESET HAS FAILED ....................................................................................................................... 14 ISRAEL: ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT CRITICAL TO US NATIONAL SECURITY .......................................................... 15 ISRAEL: US IS TOO HANDS OFF .................................................................................................................................... 16 ISRAEL: US MUST CONDEMN SETTLER VIOLENCE ....................................................................................................... 18 IRAN: US HAS DONE TOO LITTLE ................................................................................................................................. 19 IRAN: US POLICY LEAVES ALLIES LIKE ISRAEL ONLY HORRIBLE CHOICES ...................................................................... 22 IRAN: SANCTIONS HAVE FAILED .................................................................................................................................. 23 IRAN: MUST HAVE A RED LINE POLICY ..................................................................................................................... 26 SYRIA: US HAS DONE TOO LITTLE ................................................................................................................................ 27 SYRIA: US MUST DO MORE NOW ................................................................................................................................ 29 SYRIA: US POLICY TOWARD SYRIA IS ANTI-ISRAEL ....................................................................................................... 31 SYRIA: SHOULDNT WAIT FOR UN/INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY ............................................................................. 32 EGYPT: US POLICY A DISASTER .................................................................................................................................... 35

CON ...................................................................................................................... 36
GENERAL POLICY: US BROAD MIDDLE EAST POLICY IS A SUCCESS .............................................................................. 36 GENERAL POLICY: BROAD US FOREIGN POLICY A SUCCESS ......................................................................................... 37 GENERAL POLICY: US POLICY IS AS GOOD AS IT CAN BE IN LIGHT OF CONDITIONS ..................................................... 38 GENERAL POLICY: DEMOCRACY IN THE MIDDLE EAST WILL LIKELY BRING MORE HOSTILITY ...................................... 39 GENERAL POLICY: OBAMA FOREIGN POLICY ISNT APOLOGETIC ................................................................................ 40 GENERAL POLICY: US FLEXIBLE MIDEAST POLICY WAS CRITICAL TO DEAL WITH THE ARAB SPRING ........................... 41 GENERAL POLICY: US COMMITTED TO INVESTMENT IN MIDEAST AND NORTH AFRICA ............................................. 42 GENERAL POLICY: OBAMA ADMINISTRATION HAS COMMUNICATION LINES OPEN ................................................... 43 GENERAL POLICY: MUST ALLOW TIME TO REBUILD US-MIDDLE EAST RELATIONS ..................................................... 44 GENERAL POLICY: BIG MOVES ON HOLD UNTIL AFTER THE ELECTION ........................................................................ 45 GENERAL POLICY: RECENT TURMOIL ISNT JUSTIFICATION FOR CRITICISM OF BROAD US POLICY ............................. 46 GENERAL POLICY: SABER RATTLING BAD .................................................................................................................... 47 ISRAEL: UNITED STATES MAKING SLOW, STEADY PROGRESS ...................................................................................... 48 ISRAEL: US POLICY IS APPROPRIATE FOR THE CONDITIONS ........................................................................................ 49 ISRAEL: ISRAELI PEOPLE BELIEVE THE US-ISRAEL RELATIONSHIP IS AS GOOD AS EVER ............................................... 50 ISRAEL: SHOULD CONTINUE WITH PUSH FOR TWO-STATE SOLUTION ........................................................................ 51 ISRAEL: RED LINES BAD FOR FOREIGN POLICY ......................................................................................................... 52 IRAN: US POLICY IS APPROPRIATE ............................................................................................................................... 53 IRAN: MILITARY ACTION BAD ...................................................................................................................................... 58 IRAN: US IS TAKING COVERT ACTION AGAINST IRAN .................................................................................................. 59 IRAN: US AGAINST AN IRANIAN NUCLEAR WEAPON ................................................................................................... 62 IRAN: SANCTIONS POLICY WORKING .......................................................................................................................... 63 IRAN: US POLICY WONT LOCK IS UNTO A DANGEROUS WAR ..................................................................................... 67 IRAN: US CITIZENS AGAINST WAR WITH IRAN............................................................................................................. 68 IRAN: US SHOULD HAVE POLICY DISTINCT FROM ISRAEL WITH IRAN ......................................................................... 69 IRAN: CLAIMS OF IMMINENT THREAT ARE OVERBLOWN ........................................................................................... 70

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum


SYRIA: US POLICY TOWARDS SYRIA APPROPRIATE IN LIGHT OF THE CONDITIONS...................................................... 73 SYRIA: MILITARY ACTION BAD ..................................................................................................................................... 77 SYRIA: US MUST ACT IN CONCERT WITH THE WORLD AND NOT GO ROGUE ............................................................... 78 SYRIA: US SECRETLY ARMING REBELS ......................................................................................................................... 79 SYRIA: SYRIA IS NOT LIBYA........................................................................................................................................... 80 SYRIA: NO SUPPORT FOR ADDITIONAL US ACTION ..................................................................................................... 81 AFGHANISTAN: US HAS MADE SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS ............................................................................................. 82 AFGHANISTAN: ROMNEY SUPPORTS CURRENT POLICY .............................................................................................. 84 POLITICAL SOURCES BIASED: ROMNEY ATTACKS ARE POLITICAL HOT AIR .................................................................. 85 POLITICAL SOURCES FALSE: ROMNEY/RYAN AND OBAMA/BIDEN ARENT THAT DIFFERENT ON FOREIGN POLICY .... 86

Page |3

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

Page |4

META
RESOLUTION
The November 2012 Public Forum Resolution, released on October 1, 2012, is: Resolved: Current U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East undermines our national security.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

Page |5

PRO
GENERAL POLICY: US POLICY ISNT PROACTIVE ENOUGH
US POLICY IS NOT PROACTIVE ENOUGH AND LEAVES THE UNITED STATES AT THE MERCY OF EVENTS-Lee '12 *Kristen; Romney attacks Obamas Middle East policy in speech to Virginia military cadets; New York Daily News; 8 October 2012; http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/romney-slams-obama-foreign-policy-virginia-speech-article1.1177569; retrieved 11 October 2012] Romney also said the President pulled U.S. troops out of Iraq too quickly, placing the nations fragile security gains at risk. And he said Obamas policies have left the U.S. at the mercy of events, including last months attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans were killed. Romney cast the attack in Libya as part of a larger trend of anti-American violence in the region. When we look at the Middle East today . . . it is clear that the risk of conflict in the region is higher now than when the President took office, he said. CURRENT POLICY ISN'T PROACTIVE ENOUGH FOR THE CURRENT SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST-Jewish Telegraphic Agency '12 [Romney decries Obama Middle East policy in foreign policy speech; 9 October 2012; http://www.jta.org/news/article/2012/10/09/3108836/romney-decries-obama-middle-east-policy-in-foreign-policyspeech; retrieved 11 October 2012] President Obama has led "from behind" on the Middle East, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney charged in a foreign policy speech. Romney, in a speech Monday at the Virginia Military Institute, said the attacks last month in Libya that left four American diplomats dead "were the deliberate work of terrorists who use violence to impose their dark ideology on others, especially women and girls; who are fighting to control much of the Middle East today; and who seek to wage perpetual war on the West." "They are expressions of a larger struggle that is playing out across the broader Middle East - a region that is now in the midst of the most profound upheaval in a century." Romney called out Obama for failing "to use Americas great power to shape history - not to lead from behind, leaving our destiny at the mercy of events."

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

Page |6

UNITED STATES NOT ENGAGED ENOUGH WITH THE THREATS IN THE MIDDLE EASTERN REGION-Jewish Telegraphic Agency '12 [Romney decries Obama Middle East policy in foreign policy speech; 9 October 2012; http://www.jta.org/news/article/2012/10/09/3108836/romney-decries-obama-middle-east-policy-in-foreign-policyspeech; retrieved 11 October 2012] Romney also discussed Iran and its nuclear weapons program. "Iran today has never been closer to a nuclear weapons capability. It has never posed a greater danger to our friends, our allies, and to us," he said. Romney also discussed the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, and the uncontrolled violence by the Assad regime in Syria, concluding that "it is clear that the risk of conflict in the region is higher now than when the President took office." "We cannot support our friends and defeat our enemies in the Middle East when our words are not backed up by deeds, when our defense spending is being arbitrarily and deeply cut, when we have no trade agenda to speak of, and the perception of our strategy is not one of partnership, but of passivity," Romney said. LACK OF US ACTION THREATENS INTERESTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST-Sharqieh '12 [Ibrahim; Deputy Director, Brookings Doha Center; Obama Must Stand Up to Netanyahu on Israeli Settler Violence; Christian Science Monitor; 9 October 2012; http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2012/10/09-obama-israelisettlers-sharqieh; retrieved 11 October 2012] There is increasing evidence to suggest that the Israeli government has been taking a passive and complicit role in dealing with settler terrorism. Dan Halutz, former Israeli Army chief of staff, recently told the Israeli Army radio that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus government is not doing enough to stop settler violence. If we wanted, we could catch them and when we want to, we will, Mr. Halutz said. Furthermore, Haaretz and Channel 2 television reported in February 2012 that an Israeli justice minister was caught on tape advising right-wingers on how to seek pardons for Jewish terrorists which he might later approve. A March 2012 report by senior European Union officials said that *d+iscriminatory protections and privileges for settlers compound...abuses and create an environment in which settlers can act with apparent impunity. The report said these and other actions have created the perception that settler violence enjoys the tacit support of the state of Israel. Successive Israeli governments of all ideological stripes left, right, and center can be held responsible for perpetuating the root causes of settler terrorism by creating and nurturing the settlement movement in the West Bank. They have largely pursued or refused to fully curb this policy, despite international consensus on the illegality of building those settlements. The U.S. government has been right to consistently oppose Israeli policies on settlements as a serious obstacle to achieving peace and stability in the region. However, the U.S. failure to back up that rhetoric with action has helped create the monster of settler terrorism that is now proving so difficult to contain. While President Obama made the right decision in demanding a settlement freeze, his failure to back up his demand allowed the Netanyahu government to launch the most aggressive settlement policy to date. Settlement activities in the Palestinian territories pose a structural threat to U.S. interests in the Middle East. As such, Washington must not shy away from confronting them. The U.S. State Department listing settler attacks as terrorist incidents clearly indicates a concern that such attacks may trigger a response from the Palestinians that could push the area into a new cycle of violence, something the United States cannot afford at a time of major upheaval and turmoil throughout the region.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

Page |7

US HAS IGNORED SIGNIFICANT ISSUES IN THE MIDDLE EAST-Dunne '12 [Charles; Scholar at the Middle East Institute; Barack Obama Sends Mixed Messages With Middle East Policy; US News and World Report Debate Club; 27 September 2012; http://www.usnews.com/debate-club/has-obama-properlyhandled-the-arab-spring/barack-obama-sends-mixed-messages-with-middle-east-policy; retrieved 11 October 2012] In the Persian Gulf, the president has let security relationships trump human rights. No public pressure has been placed on Saudi Arabia to reform, let alone to cease its anti-reform efforts elsewhere, and the administration announced a $53 million arms deal with Bahrain despite serious human rights violations. While the president has repeatedly called for the ouster of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, the administration has not committed support to the armed rebellion even after 25,000 Syrian deaths. Iraq, which has been largely forgotten, was transitioning to democracy long before the Arab Spring came along. OBAMA ADMINISTRATION HAS BEEN LONG ON RHETORIC AND SHORT ON ACTION IN THE MIDDLE EAST-Dunne '12 [Charles; Scholar at the Middle East Institute; Barack Obama Sends Mixed Messages With Middle East Policy; US News and World Report Debate Club; 27 September 2012; http://www.usnews.com/debate-club/has-obama-properlyhandled-the-arab-spring/barack-obama-sends-mixed-messages-with-middle-east-policy; retrieved 11 October 2012] There have been successes, to be sure. The intervention in Libya doubtless saved many lives and set the country on the path to democracy. Constructive engagement on the economic front helps emerging democracies buy time to address domestic problems and further reform. But the inconsistency between rhetoric and action has sent badly mixed signals to Arab publics, and the higher priority consistently awarded to security issues over human rights concerns has encouraged autocrats in their belief that they can weather the democratic storm. If the administration were truly prepared to act on the president's words and implement policies that treat the advance of democracy in the Middle East as a national security interest, the United States would go far in advancing its long-term desire for freedom and stability.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

Page |8

DESPITE SIGNIFICANT RISK TO THE UNITED STATES, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION POLICY TOWARDS IRAN HAS BEEN LACKLUSTER AND PUTS THE WORLD AT RISK-Zubrin '12 *Robert; Fellow with the Center for Security Policy; Obamas Iran Policy Risks a Global Crash; U.S. deterrence is dead. So what will happen now?; National Review Online; 28 September 2012; http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/328746/obama-s-iran-policy-risks-global-crash-robert-zubrin; retrieved 11 October 2012] The crisis caused by Irans nuclear program could soon come to a head in a way that will affect every American. Here are the facts: 1. Iran is building an atomic bomb. Of this there can be no doubt. Iran is mass-producing 20 percentenriched uranium235. Commercial reactors require only 3 percentenriched U-235; clearly, a factory producing 20 percentenriched fissile material is part of a nuclear-weapons program. 2. The sanctions designed to stop the program are not working. In fact, according to a recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), far from slowing down, Iran has doubled its rate of production. 3. Iranian bomb capability is imminent. While the U.S. military prefers its U-235 to be 93 percentenriched, for less picky customers 20 percentenriched material is more than good enough to do the job. With proper design, about 250 kilograms of the stuff are enough to make a nuclear weapon. According to the IAEA, Iran already has 190 kilograms of 20 percentenriched U-235, of which 120 kilograms are available for bomb production; and the country is producing more material at a rate of 13 kilograms per month. Assuming that the IAEA is correct in its figures, it will take Iran only another ten months to have enough 20 percentenriched U-235 to build a bomb. So what is the American response? According to David Sanger and Eric Schmitt, writing in the September 2 New York Times, the Obama administration is currently trying to calm Israel, so as to dissuade it from undertaking a military strike to stop the Iranian bomb program. In addition, Sanger and Schmitt report that President Obama has ruled out any U.S. military action that might harm ordinary Iranians or even inconvenience them by damaging the electrical grid that powers the bomb-making plants. We should avoid all such action, administration representatives say, in order to give sanctions time to work. This policy of inaction presents Israel with a stark choice. As the IAEA report makes clear, it is not sanctions but bomb makers who are being given time to do their work. Indeed, it is quite clear that, even if strong sanctions might work in principle, no policy that forbears from imposing economic difficulties on ordinary Iranians could ever include measures tough enough to effectively dissuade the regime; and, obviously, the measures thus far have not dissuaded the regime. Furthermore, since the administration has ruled out any action that might harm ordinary Iranians, it has effectively eliminated the threat of U.S. retaliation to deter a strike. After all, it is inconceivable that a government so squeamish as to forbear from risking the accidental deaths of a few people in order to prevent a nuclear attack would deliberately kill millions in revenge once the damage had already been done.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

Page |9

GENERAL POLICY: UNITED STATES DOESNT SHOW LEADERSHIP IN THE MIDDLE EAST
US POLICY TOWARDS THE MIDDLE EAST IS TO LEAD FROM BEHIND-Robinson '12 [Dan; Romney Criticizes Obama Middle East Policy; Voice of America News; 7 October 2012; http://www.voanews.com/articleprintview/1522214.html; retrieved 11 October 2012] He focused mostly on the Middle East, where Mr. Romney said attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities, including one that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya, were not random acts, but "expressions of a larger struggle" playing out in the region. The former Massachusetts governor said that after some time, President Obama "finally conceded" that the Libya attack was likely the work of terrorists. Romney accused the president of failing to lead. "I want to be very clear. The blame for the murder of our people in Libya and the attacks on our embassies in so many other countries lies solely with those who carried them out, no one else. But it is the responsibility of our president to use Americas great power to shape history, not to lead from behind, leaving our destiny at the mercy of events. Unfortunately, that is exactly where we find ourselves in the Middle East under President Obama," he said. OBAMA HAS NO LIVED UP TO PROMISES MADE ON FOREIGN POLICY DURING THE 2008 ELECTION-O'Hanlon '12 [Michael; Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute; Putting Obama's Middle East policy in perspective; CNN's Global Public Square; 14 September 2012; http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/14/putting-obamas-middle-eastpolicy-in-perspective/; retrieved 11 October 2012] I say this as someone who was dubious about Obama's big promises during his 2007/2008 campaign. The talk of reconciling with dictators, stemming climate change, making a big dent against global poverty, working towards a nuclear-free world, achieving Middle East peace and healing the broader breach with the Islamic world was unrealistic and, for me at least, overdone. In fairness, the big vision did help Obama get elected, and it did excite the world at large about his presidency. But that also set up false expectations around the world about what he could really do. And that has led to disappointment, especially in the Middle East. (In Europe, Obama is still popular. In much of Asia, President George W. Bush was never so unpopular and the U.S. stock was never so low prior to Obama's inauguration.) Throughout the Islamic world, Obama's standing as measured by public opinion polls is similar to Bush's. That is surely a disappointment.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 10

UNITED STATES HAS DISENGAGED WITH THE MIDDLE EAST, MUCH TO OUR DETREMENT-Rivkin and Casey '12 [David B. and Lee A., Both Washington-Area Attorneys; Not Just the Middle East: Obama Foreign Policy Record Is Appalling; the Daily Beast; 21 September 2012; http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/09/21/not-just-themiddle-east-obama-foreign-policy-record-is-appalling.html; retrieved 11 October 2012] But all of this flawed crisis management pales in comparison with the administrations strategic failures. The organizing principle of the administrations foreign policy is one of weakness and passivitywhether in dealing with Russia, China, or Venezuelacoupled with a conspicuous rhetorical abdication of American leadership, evident in speeches by the president, secretary of state, and other administration officials. The ultimate irony for an administration oft-praised for superior rhetoric is that in todays tightly knit global environment, words have palpable consequences. This overarching problem is accentuated by the fact that everybody in the Middle Eastour friends, foes, and folks in betweenhas correctly concluded that the administration has begun Americas disengagement from the region, on a scale unseen since the days of the British withdrawal from East of Suez. This has manifested itself in virtually every facet of our Middle East policy, from our failure to maintain any American military presence in Iraq and the consequent loss of diplomatic and economic influence in Baghdad; to Washingtons unwillingness to rally the American public to support our military efforts in Afghanistan and its repeated snubs of our strongest traditional Middle East ally, Israel; to our leading from behind on Libya and the total failure to lead from any direction on Syria; and last but not least, to our timidity in confronting the Iranian nuclear weapons program. As a result, the Middle East elites and the proverbial Arab street have concluded that the U.S. is a waning power, Israels future is one of a besieged state that someday may disappear from the regional chessboard, and Iran has an excellent chance of becoming a regional hegemon, to be feared and placated. These are self-inflicted wounds. The American disengagement has not been caused by military defeat or some adverse international developments that we have tried but failed to stop, but by an administration that has profoundly misunderstood the kind of world we live in, the types of threats we confront, and what constitutes vital American interests. The administration has amassed not just a middling or even moderately bad foreign-policy record, but an appalling one. It is this record that is shaping the way the governments in the Middle East are handling the antiAmerican unrest. Unless the record is decisively reversed, it will lead to many disastrous developments down the road.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 11

GENERAL POLICY: US IS UNPOPULAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST


UNITED STATES IS AS UNPOPULAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST AS EVER-Beinart '12 *Peter; Editor of Open Zion; How Obamas Middle East Policy Has Worked; The Daily Beast; 16 July 2012; http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/07/16/how-obama-s-middle-east-policy-has-worked.html; retrieved 11 October 2012] Quick: what was Barack Obama elected to do? Save the economy, sure. Give everyone health care, sure. But thats not all. For many of his most passionate supporters, Obama was elected to restore Americas reputation in the world. Hes largely failed. Yes, the United States is today somewhat more popular in Europe than it was in the bad old Bush days. In Britain, according to the Pew Global Attitudes Project, Americas favorability rating has jumped from 53 percent in 2008 to 60 percent today. In Germany, it has surged from 31 percent to 52 percent. But even with those boosts, the U.S. remains more than 20 points less popular than it was at the turn of the millennium. And in the Muslim world, where hopes for Obama were greatest, America is as loathed as ever. In Bushs final year, Americas approval rating in Turkey stood at 12 percent. Now it is 15 percent. In Egypt, where Obama gave his famed Cairo speech in early 2009, Americas favorability has dropped 3 points, from 22 percent to 19 percent. In both Jordan and Pakistan, its dropped from 19 percent to 12 percent.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 12

GENERAL POLICY: OBAMA ADMINISTRATION DOESNT PUSH AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY IN THE MIDDLE EAST
OBAMA ADMINISTRATION'S RHETORICAL STRATEGY DOESN'T GIVE THE JUSTIFICATION OF OUR POLICIES, TO OUR OWN DETRIMENT-Rivkin and Casey '12 [David B. and Lee A., Both Washington-Area Attorneys; Not Just the Middle East: Obama Foreign Policy Record Is Appalling; the Daily Beast; 21 September 2012; http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/09/21/not-just-themiddle-east-obama-foreign-policy-record-is-appalling.html; retrieved 11 October 2012] The administrations crisis-management strategy continues to emphasize its regret about that film, Innocence of Muslims. This was manifest not only in the original (and subsequently retracted) statement from our embassy in Cairo, but in all statements by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the president. But deploring efforts to denigrate Muslim religious beliefs is only the first half of the sentence. The administration should have also robustly propounded its commitment to the virtues and values of free expression in a free society, and why this must necessarily encompass offensive speech. Whenever the White House mentions the First Amendment these days, it is done mostly in a defensive mode, by way of explaining (almost in sorrow) to the Muslim world why the U.S. government cannot legally suppress anti-Muslim films rather than a compelling explanation of why such films should not be suppressed. As Clinton stated on Sept. 14, I know it is hard for some people to understand why the United States cannot or does not just prevent these kinds of reprehensible videos from ever seeing the light of day. But simply saying that free speech is enshrined in our Constitution is not enoughthe administration must explain why that is a good thing to which they too should aspire. OBAMA ADMINISTRATION REFUSES TO CITE THE UNITED STATES HISTORY OF DEFENDING MUSLIMS IN OUR WORLD POLICY-Rivkin and Casey '12 [David B. and Lee A., Both Washington-Area Attorneys; Not Just the Middle East: Obama Foreign Policy Record Is Appalling; the Daily Beast; 21 September 2012; http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/09/21/not-just-themiddle-east-obama-foreign-policy-record-is-appalling.html; retrieved 11 October 2012] The administration also has failed to tell the Muslim world that Western critics of religion, far from singling out Islam, regularly unleash a torrent of offensive speech directed at Christianity and Judaism. In addition, no senior administration official has seen fit to elucidate any historical perspective on Americas relationship with the Islamic world, including our unparalleled record of support for Muslim causes. Brief references to U.S. support for the Libyan revolution is not sufficientthis must be at the center of our message to the Muslim world. America and its NATO allies have spent their own blood and treasure to protect Muslims facing slaughter and oppression in places ranging from Afghanistan to Bosnia to Kosovo to Iraq.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 13

GENERAL POLICY: UNITED STATES DOESNT DO ENOUGH TO COMBAT ANTI-AMERICANISM


LACK OF OBAMA REACTION ON ANTI-AMERICAN PROTESTS ENFLAMES THE SITUATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST-Rivkin and Casey '12 [David B. and Lee A., Both Washington-Area Attorneys; Not Just the Middle East: Obama Foreign Policy Record Is Appalling; the Daily Beast; 21 September 2012; http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/09/21/not-just-themiddle-east-obama-foreign-policy-record-is-appalling.html; retrieved 11 October 2012] Equally lacking has been any public manifestation of the administrations anger about the anti-American demonstrations that have taken place over the last week. Simply condemning violence is not enough. The administration must make clear that there can be no justification for any protests against America as a country simply because some private Americans have exercised their First Amendment rights in an offensive manner. And Washingtons failure to do so is viewed as the ultimate manifestation of American guilt, thus enflaming, rather than calming, the situation. UNITED STATES HASN'T FORCED MIDDLE EASTERN LEADERS TO DEAL WITH THEIR OWN PEOPLE'S HATRED OF THE UNITED STATES-Rivkin and Casey '12 [David B. and Lee A., Both Washington-Area Attorneys; Not Just the Middle East: Obama Foreign Policy Record Is Appalling; the Daily Beast; 21 September 2012; http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/09/21/not-just-themiddle-east-obama-foreign-policy-record-is-appalling.html; retrieved 11 October 2012] The administration has also conspicuously failed to criticize publicly President Mohammed Morsi and other Arab leaders, whose responses to the anti-American demonstrations have been slow, equivocal, and relatively ineffective. Indeed, to this day Morsi has condemned violence but endorsed the anti-American protests from which it ensues. The fact that the Egyptian prosecutor-general has found time to indict several American citizens, allegedly associated with the production of an anti-Islamic film, is both a violation of international law and a sign of disrespect for the United States. The ultimate irony for an administration oft-praised for superior rhetoric is that in todays tightly knit global environment, words have palpable consequences. Morsis behavior is particularly deplorable because the U.S. was instrumental in bringing him to power, first by easing out President Hosni Mubarak and later by playing the leading role in restraining the Egyptian military during the postMubarak transition. The fact that Morsi has unimpeachable Islamic credentials, and is therefore in an excellent position to both speak out forcibly and act robustly against anti-Americanism, makes the administrations failure to call him to account all the more glaring.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 14

GENERAL POLICY: RESET HAS FAILED


RESET STRATEGY HAS FAILED-Liptak '12 [Kevin; Giuliani: Obama's Middle East policy 'falling apart;' CNN Political Tracker; 16 September 2012; http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/16/giuliani-obamas-middle-east-policy-falling-apart/; retrieved 11 October 2012] Widespread unrest in the Middle East signals a major failure of President Barack Obama's policies in the region, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani asserted Sunday. The 2008 Republican presidential candidate claimed the so-called "reset" strategy toward the region that was part of Obama's 2008 campaign has proven ineffective and dangerous. "What we see is the president's policies in the Middle East falling apart," Giuliani told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley on "State of the Union." "I mean, the reality is the president got elected to reset our relationship in the Middle East. We might as well not have had the reset."

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 15

ISRAEL: ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT CRITICAL TO US NATIONAL SECURITY


US NATIONAL SECURITY IS VERY MUCH AT THE CENTER OF ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PEACE PROCESS-Riedel '11 [Bruce; Senior Fellow athe Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution; Israeli-Palestinian Peace: What Is the U.S. National Security Interest? How Can It Be Achieved?; Middle East Policy; 20 January 2011; http://www.mepc.org/journal/middle-east-policy-archives/israeli-palestinian-peace-what-us-national-securityinterest?print; retrieved 11 October 2012] We are at a moment of truth in the Middle East, in the Arab-Israeli conflict and in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We face the urgent necessity of moving forward because the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the broader Arab-Israeli conflict, is a national security threat to the United States of America. There are many reasons why America should promote peace in the Middle East. Promoting peace is a good thing in and of itself, but today, more than ever, it is because our national security interests are at stake that we need to promote peace. Why is it a moment of truth? Last month at the U.S.-Israel forum sponsored by the Saban Center at Brookings, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted what we all knew: the Obama administration's very brave efforts of the first two years had not succeeded, had not produced a breakthrough despite the hard work of Secretary Clinton and special representative George D. Mitchell. Despite the brave words of Cairo, we had not achieved a breakthrough.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 16

ISRAEL: US IS TOO HANDS OFF


OBAMA ADMINISTRATION DOESN'T HAVE A CLEAR PLAN FOR THE ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT, RISKING OUR NATIONAL SECURITY-Katulis '11 [Brian; Senior Fellow for the Center for American Progress; Israeli-Palestinian Peace: What Is the U.S. National Security Interest? How Can It Be Achieved?; Middle East Policy; 20 January 2011; http://www.mepc.org/journal/middle-eastpolicy-archives/israeli-palestinian-peace-what-us-national-security-interest?print; retrieved 11 October 2012] I believe that Israeli-Palestinian peace is in the interest of U.S. national security. The main question I have about a U.S. plan is this: If the United States introduces one and President Obama takes a step forward, then what? This idea suffers from the same potential flaw that the administration faced in the settlements fight last year. If you don't have a bend point, if you haven't thought through how the Israelis will respond and how the Palestinians will respond, and if you haven't garnered political support both at home and abroad, you're stuck. Presidential intervention is a very precious asset, and you want to use it sparingly. I'm not opposed to the idea of a U.S. plan at this juncture, particularly if the indirect talks and the four other alternatives don't work. But if you're going to go there, you really need to game out the implications, because you could potentially be lighting a political fire that this administration may be averse to dealing with, given everything else that's on its agenda. It's unfortunate that there's been a dangerous gap between the rhetoric of the president and top leaders and the mapping out of clear strategies to deal with this complicated issue. If you look at the UN General Assembly speech that President Obama delivered last fall, one-quarter of it was dedicated to the Arab-Israeli conflict, about 1,000 words out of 4,000. If you're going to set a bold position, not only in that speech but in Cairo, you'd better have a plan B, C, D, E and F. In my assessment of how this administration is handling it, I'm worried that they don't even have a clear plan A. I think this forum is an important opportunity to map out how you would actually introduce a U.S. plan, because everybody's right here. People know what the contours of a final settlement look like. The challenge, I think, is how to actually navigate this politically inside the United States, inside Israel, inside Palestine and throughout the region. If we continue to just slice this salami, track by track, and not discuss comprehensively how to end the entire Arab-Israeli conflict, we're doing a disservice to what we can potentially accomplish in the next couple of years. UNITED STATES HAS NOT HAD A BOLD ENOUGH VISION IN THE MIDDLE EAST-Wilcox '11 [Philip; President, Foundation for Middle East Peace; Israeli-Palestinian Peace: What Is the U.S. National Security Interest? How Can It Be Achieved?; Middle East Policy; 20 January 2011; http://www.mepc.org/journal/middle-eastpolicy-archives/israeli-palestinian-peace-what-us-national-security-interest?print; retrieved 11 October 2012] For the last two years, the Obama administration has clung to the notion of a "peace process," starting with a settlement freeze as a confidence-building measure to resume negotiations. But settlement building continues, direct negotiations have failed, and we have reverted to "proximity talks." The administration has challenged Israeli negotiators to explain their positions, so that, if necessary, the United States can offer "bridging proposals." This incremental approach shows no signs of working. It is time for a much bolder American approach. Some experts still argue that this is such an intractable conflict and the prospects for success are so poor that the United States should not plunge into an ambitious peace plan, because failure would do even greater damage to American influence and credibility than the status quo. We talk about dysfunctional Israeli and Palestinian systems. I am not prepared to say that the U.S. government is also dysfunctional and that we can't do what is profoundly in our national interest. The same skeptics believe we can continue to manage the conflict and keep the lid on, as we have tried to do for decades. But this is a dynamic, volatile conflict that gets worse by the day. It's like riding a bicycle: If you don't move forward, you fall off. We are all in danger of falling off again. The problem becomes more dangerous because of rising anti-American and anti-Israeli feeling in an unstable Arab and Muslim world, negative changes in Israeli society and political culture, and the deepening split between the West Bank and Gaza. November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 17

US HANDS-OFF APPROACH WITH ISRAEL IS BAD POLICY-Jewish Telegraphic Agency '12 [Romney decries Obama Middle East policy in foreign policy speech; 9 October 2012; http://www.jta.org/news/article/2012/10/09/3108836/romney-decries-obama-middle-east-policy-in-foreign-policyspeech; retrieved 11 October 2012] Romney called the strain on the relationship between the president of the United States and the Prime Minister of Israel "a dangerous situation that has set back the hope of peace in the Middle East and emboldened our mutual adversaries, especially Iran." "The President explicitly stated that his goal was to put 'daylight' between the United States and Israel. And he has succeeded," Romney said. AMERICAN LEADERSHIP IS CRITICAL TO THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT-Riedel '11 [Bruce; Senior Fellow athe Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution; Israeli-Palestinian Peace: What Is the U.S. National Security Interest? How Can It Be Achieved?; Middle East Policy; 20 January 2011; http://www.mepc.org/journal/middle-east-policy-archives/israeli-palestinian-peace-what-us-national-securityinterest?print; retrieved 11 October 2012] Mumbai is not alone. It is a symbol of the radicalization process that is going on today. Thus, the urgent necessity of finding peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and in the broader Arab-Israeli conflict. Future generations will look back on us, I am convinced, and they will ask a simple question. Why did America let this fester for so long? Why did we let 1.5 million Palestinians live in Gaza under siege? Why did we let Israelis live under siege for so many years? Why did we let Americans be at threat for so long? Couldn't we see that this was an urgent necessity in our own self-interest to resolve? Can it be done? I leave it to my colleagues to weigh out how. My simple answer is, yes, with American leadership and with an American map.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 18

ISRAEL: US MUST CONDEMN SETTLER VIOLENCE


US ISN'T DOING ENOUGH TO COMDEMN SETTLER VIOLENCE IN ISRAEL-Sharqieh '12 [Ibrahim; Deputy Director, Brookings Doha Center; Obama Must Stand Up to Netanyahu on Israeli Settler Violence; Christian Science Monitor; 9 October 2012; http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2012/10/09-obama-israelisettlers-sharqieh; retrieved 11 October 2012] While my driver was lucky to escape the attack unscathed, others have been less fortunate. Returning to their Bethlehem home in August, the Ghayatha family was attacked by settlers who hurled a firebomb at their taxi. Ayman Ghayatha, his wife, their three children, and the taxi driver were all severely injured. The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms yesterdays attack on a Palestinian taxi in the West Bank, said State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland. Subsequently, violent attacks by Jewish settlers against Palestinian residents, property and places of worship were cited for the first time in the U.S. State Department Country Report on Terrorism as terrorist incidents. While such a designation marks a significant development in how the U.S. treats the settlement issue, it threatens to remain a label on paper rather than a term that inspires action. Crucially, the designation settler terrorism fails to highlight that the Israeli government bears the major responsibility for this phenomenon through its own policy and the complicity of its response to this violence. Viewing this campaign simply as isolated settler terrorism is likely to limit understanding of the problem and obstruct an effective strategy for addressing it. Settler terrorism has been rising sharply in recent years. The first half of 2012 alone witnessed 154 attacks. According to a report drafted by senior European officials in February this year, the number of attacks rose from 132 in 2009 to 411 in 2011. A UN report released in July 2012 said that settler terrorism targeting Palestinians in the West Bank had risen 150 percent since 2008. These attacks have not been restricted to violence against individuals. Places of worship (mostly mosques) have been torched, trees have been uprooted, and livestock have been slaughtered. Also in August, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that 14 sheep were killed in a settler attack against Palestinian shepherds near the West Bank village of Akraba. US MUST DO MORE TO COMPEL ISRAEL TO DEAL WITH SETTLER VIOLENCE-Sharqieh '12 [Ibrahim; Deputy Director, Brookings Doha Center; Obama Must Stand Up to Netanyahu on Israeli Settler Violence; Christian Science Monitor; 9 October 2012; http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2012/10/09-obama-israelisettlers-sharqieh; retrieved 11 October 2012] The State Departments decision to designate settler violence in the West Bank as terrorism presents an opportunity and a challenge for U.S. interests in the Middle East. It is an opportunity for Washington to correct the historic mistake of accommodating Israeli settlement policies that are inherently hostile to the regional stability the U.S. seeks. However, to effectively address the problem, the US must deal with its root cause: the Israeli governments systematic expansion of settlements in the Palestinian territories. In order for that regional stability to be secured, my driver must feel safe while trying to make his daily wage, and the Ghayatha family must feel assured that they will never again be attacked while driving home. Designating settler violence as terrorism is definitely the first step toward a solution. However, the Obama administration can do more to address the problem. The time has come for Washington to bluntly inform Israel that the U.S. is no longer willing to be associated with its violations of human rights in the Palestinian territories. It must make clear that in the future, Israeli policymakers will have to take full responsibility for their actions regarding settlements, without the guarantee of unconditional American protection.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 19

IRAN: US HAS DONE TOO LITTLE


OBAMA ADMINISTRATION HAS BEEN RHETORICALLY INCONSISTENT REGARDING IRAN-Feith '12 [David; Assistant Editorial Features Editor; What Obama Isn't Saying About Iran; The Wall Street Journal; 16 August 2012; page A11] There's another problem with the claim about a united front. The U.S. and Israeli governments may be the world's most important parties on this issue, but they disagree on a basic question: Is the goal to prevent Iran from "developing a nuclear weapon," as Mr. Obama says, or to prevent Iran from "possessing nuclear-weapons capability," as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu puts it? This difference matters. The Israelis believe that a nuclear-capable Iranone with sufficient fissile material and weapons technology to be able to build a bomb in a few weeksis as threatening to the international order as an Iran with an actual weapon. Either circumstance, Israel fears, would allow the mullahs to carry out future adventurism under the protection of a credible nuclear deterrent. Any response to Hezbollah terrorism or to the murder of diplomats at Washington restaurants would have to consider that Tehran could retaliate with nukes. This helps explain why a 2010 U.S. sanctions law committed Washington to doing "everything possible . . . to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability." But you wouldn't know that from the Obama administration. Instead, we get Defense Secretary Leon Panetta pledging that America "will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, period." That sounds tough and unequivocal, but it says nothing about an Iranian nuclear capability. As such, it suggests to Iran's mullahs that as long as they don't parade a bomb through downtown Tehran, they can expand their nuclear program without crossing any American red lines. That's good if the priority is to avoid confrontation in the next few months; it's bad if you want to stop Iran from ever wielding a nuclear deterrent. Administration officials argue that their nuclear-weapon red line is prudent. For one, they say, the concept of nuclear capability is vague. Moreover, as Mr. Obama said in March, if Iran really pushes to go nuclear "we will know that they are making that attempt." But that confidence in U.S. intelligence on Iranian enrichment sites, weaponization experts and the like may be misplaced. In the Cold War, Stalin's Soviet Union first tested a nuclear device in 1949, four years before U.S. intelligence was expecting it. Mao's China did so in 1964, months earlier than anticipated. U.S. intelligence also underestimated Saddam Hussein's nuclear program before 1991, was surprised by India's nuclear tests in 1998, and overestimated Saddam's arsenal before 2003. Regarding Iran, significant nuclear facilities went undetected for a decade until exposed by a dissident group in 2002. Now every six or 12 months we read that, as the New York Times put it in February 2009, "Iran Has More Enriched Uranium Than Thought." For all the achievements of U.S. intelligence, few include pinpointing the progress of shadowy weapons programs. Which leaves the administration's bottom line: All options remain on the table. Mr. Obama has invested much political capital in this assurance. Yet he's also deeply invested in the idea that "the tide of war is receding"which, as Syria burns and Iraq and Afghanistan backslide, seems increasingly to mean only that U.S. military force is receding. Would this president, so dedicated to multilateralism (except where targeting al Qaeda is concerned), launch a major military campaign against Iran even without Russian and Chinese support at the U.N.? Do Iran's leaders think he would? Or have they noticed that American officials often repeat the "all-options-on-the-table" mantra as mere throat clearing before they list all the reasons why attacking Iran is a terrifying prospect? Those reasons are plain to see. An attack could lead to a major loss of life, to regional war, to Iranians rallying around their regime, to global economic pain. And it could fail. But the question that counts is whether these risks outweigh the risks of a nuclear-capable Iran. That's a hard question for any democratic government and its citizens to grapple with. The Obama administration's rhetorical snow job only makes it harder.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum US HASN'T DONE ENOUGH TO COMBAT A GROWING THREAT FROM IRAN-Robinson '12 [Dan; Romney Criticizes Obama Middle East Policy; Voice of America News; 7 October 2012; http://www.voanews.com/articleprintview/1522214.html; retrieved 11 October 2012]

P a g e | 20

Romney also criticized President Obama on the standoff with Iran over its nuclear program, and on U.S. relations with Israel. He accused Obama of seeking to distance the United States from Israel. The Republican presidential candidate vowed to make clear to Iran that its pursuit of a nuclear weapon "will not be tolerated." President Obama also has vowed that Iran will not be permitted to develop a nuclear weapon. OBAMA ADMINISTRATION NOT TAKING IRANIAN THREAT SERIOUSLY ENOUGH-Zubrin '12 *Robert; Fellow with the Center for Security Policy; Obamas Iran Policy Risks a Global Crash; U.S. deterrence is dead. So what will happen now?; National Review Online; 28 September 2012; http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/328746/obama-s-iran-policy-risks-global-crash-robert-zubrin; retrieved 11 October 2012] So with deterrence dead, the question is, What happens next? The Iranians could strike the U.S. for example, by sailing a bomb-laden ship into New York Harbor and detonating it before the arrival of customs officials but the administration seems to have discounted the possibility that the fundamentalist leaders of the Islamic Republic might actually be as irrational as they appear to be. The Israelis, however, have no such illusions. They are aware that it would take only about three bombs to wreck Israel as an organized state capable of defending itself, after which a general massacre would inevitably follow. That such an outcome is desired by the Iranian government cannot be in question, if we are to believe what its leaders have said over and over to Western audiences for years. Ahmadinejad this week fulfilled expectations when he railed against world Zionism in his deranged address to the U.N. Taking the Iranian leaders at their word, the Israelis know that, if they are to survive, they must act. THE LACK OF ACTION AGAINST IRAN HAS LEFT THE WORLD WITHOUT OPTIONS TO DEAL WITH THE IRANIAN THREATTobin '12 *Jonathan; Senior Editor; Obamas Iran Failure is Complete; Commentary Magazine; 25 September 2012; http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2012/09/25/obamas-iran-failure-is-complete/; retrieved 12 October 2012] Four years of Obamas policies have brought Iran to what may be the brink of a nuclear weapon with little, if any, time left to stop them by the use of force. The Iranians have ruthlessly exploited the presidents self-regard and his blind faith in diplomacy and international institutions. Far from being a mixed record, this is one of unmitigated failure. Should he be re-elected, Obama has talked himself into a position where he is likely to face a stark choice between using force on Iran or backing down on his pledges. Nothing he has done in his four years gives anyone without blind faith in him any confidence that he will do the former rather than the latter.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 21

ALTHOUGH THE POLICY COULD BE EFFECTIVE, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION ISN'T BEING STRONG ENOUGH IN ITS INSISTENCE THAT IRAN STOP DEVELOPING A NUCLEAR WEAPON-Dershowitz '12 [Alan; Professor of Law at Harvard Law School; Dershowitz: President Obama Can Stop Iran; Newsmax; 31 August 2012; http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Obama-Iran-nuclear-weapons/2012/08/31/id/450509; retrieved 12 October 2012] Two recent events suggest that the American strategy of preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons is not yet working. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has reported that Iran has more than doubled its development of centrifuges in an effort to accelerate its capacity to develop nuclear weapons. And the recent meeting of the nonaligned nations in Tehran shows that Iran is today stronger diplomatically than it has been in years. Iran is neither isolated nor alone in a world in which nonaligned nations form a majority at the United Nations. The sanctions, while hurting the Iranian economy and making life more difficult for the average Iranian, are having zero impact on the Iranian nuclear program, which according to objective intelligence reports, is gathering steam and moving even more quickly toward its ultimate goal of a nuclear weapon that will be a game changer. An Iranian nuclear weapon will end any dream of non proliferation. It will protect Irans surrogate terrorists, such as Hezbollah, under a formidable nuclear umbrella. And it will make an eventual nuclear war more likely. That is why President Obama rightfully took the containment option off the table and put the preventive military option squarely on it. Although I support President Obamas policy with regard to the Iranian nuclear threat, I think he must take one further step if the combination of diplomacy and sanctions are ever to work. That step is to communicate to Iran unequivocally and without any room for misunderstanding that the Obama Administration will never allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. President Obama has already made this point, but not in a way that the Iranians understand and believe. Language matters, and President Obama must now use language that commits him, in the eyes of the Iranians, to keep his promise that he will, if necessary, use military force to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 22

IRAN: US POLICY LEAVES ALLIES LIKE ISRAEL ONLY HORRIBLE CHOICES


LACK OF US ACTION ON IRAN LEAVES ISRAEL AS THE ONLY ACTOR AND THEIR ONLY STRATEGIC CHOICE WILL PUT THE WORLD ECONOMY IN A TAILSPIN-Zubrin '12 *Robert; Fellow with the Center for Security Policy; Obamas Iran Policy Risks a Global Crash; U.S. deterrence is dead. So what will happen now?; National Review Online; 28 September 2012; http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/328746/obama-s-iran-policy-risks-global-crash-robert-zubrin; retrieved 11 October 2012] Unfortunately Israels options for taking out Irans nuclear program are much more limited than those possessed by the United States. The U.S. could take out Irans underground bomb factories using bunker-busting weapons; the Israelis cannot, at least not reliably in one strike, which is all the chance they would get. The U.S. could knock out the electricpower plants that drive the centrifuges, and keep them knocked out; the Israelis could do the former but not the latter. This leaves the Israelis with only one really dependable military option, and that is to take out Irans oil-export terminal on Kharg Island. This facility, which handles over 80 percent of Irans oil exports, is a very soft target. Because it consists of rows of huge, thin-walled oil tanks, it would require only a few hits by conventional bombs to turn the whole place into a massive inferno. Without the oil exports that pay for 65 percent of its national budget, the Iranian regime would go bankrupt. Not only its nuclear-bomb program, but the regime itself, would soon cease to exist. Theres just one little problem: Such a strike would probably send world oil prices to at least $150 per barrel, thereby precipitating a worldwide economic crash. Millions of people on every continent, including this one, would lose their jobs. A responsible U.S. government would act to prevent such an outcome. Yet the Obama administration seems to be forcing it.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 23

IRAN: SANCTIONS HAVE FAILED


OBAMA SANCTIONS AGAIN IRAN HAVE DONE NOTHING DUE TO THE LOOPHOLES-Tobin '12 *Jonathan; Senior Editor; Obamas Iran Failure is Complete; Commentary Magazine; 25 September 2012; http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2012/09/25/obamas-iran-failure-is-complete/; retrieved 12 October 2012] The administration continues to brag of their great achievement in passing sanctions against Iran. Russia and China were appeased to get their agreement to mild measures that did nothing to influence Iran. Even worse, the tough sanctions that were finally pushed through over Obamas objections by Congress and European allies that were more eager to take on the Iranians than Washington were not only too late but also not fully enforced. Though the Iranian economy has been hurt by the measures, their oil continues to flow to foreign buyers whose cash continues to find its way to the ayatollahs coffers. As Haaretz reports today, even after all the talk about crippling sanctions, the Untied States finds itself having to try to pass new rules to cope with the fact that the existing laws havent stopped the Iranians from circumventing the restrictions. Though all we hear from the administration and its apologists is about how tough the sanctions are, the fact remains that: The new penalties will not apply to countries that have been granted exceptions, or waivers, to the sanctions because they have significantly cut their purchases of Iranian oil. The United States this year issued 180-day waivers for all of Irans major crude buyers. This month it renewed waivers for Japan and 10 EU countries, while exceptions for China and India are due to be reviewed in coming months. All the while the Iranian centrifuges keep spinning. The International Atomic Energy Agency has reported that the number of these machines has doubled and they are now being stored underground in facilities that may not be vulnerable to attack. And their stockpile of enriched uranium continues to grow. THE MUCH TOUTED US SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAN HAVE SIGNIFICANT LOOPHOLES, RENDERING THEM INEFFECTIVEWall Street Journal '12 [Obama's Iran Loopholes: All 20 of Iran's major trading partners have sanction exemptions; Wall Street Journal; 2 July 2012; http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304211804577502912009234948.html; retrieved 12 October 2012] In Istanbul Tuesday, U.S. and Iranian nuclear negotiators meet for the fourth time in four months, with the classic diplomatic assignment of talking about whether to hold future talks. They'll likely agree to do so, but the real news happened under the radar last week: Though economic sanctions still haven't slowed or stopped Iran's nuclear drive, the Obama Administration has decided to make them even weaker. The Iran sanctions regime is looking like the U.S. tax codefilled with loopholes. It's so weak, in fact, that all 20 of Iran's major trading partners are now exempt from them. We've arrived at a kind of voodoo version of sanctions. They look real, insofar as Congress forced them into a bill President Obama had to sign in December. The Administration has spoken incantations about their powers. But if you're a big oil importer in China, India or 18 other major economies, the sanctions are mostly smoke. This is possible because, thanks to lobbying by the Obama Administration, the sanctions law contained several loopholes you could drive a warhead through. One provided that if a country "significantly reduced" its oil imports from Iran, the State Department could exempt it from sanctions for a renewable period of six months. Naturally, the definition of a significant reduction was left to the Administration's discretion. As of last week, we know that its definition is trifling: India earned a free pass after merely pledging to cut its Iran imports by 11%, and Japan earned one after cutting 22% of its Iranian business in 2011. Then there's China, the Islamic Republic's biggest customer, which is now exempt after cutting Iran imports by 25% between January and May (measured year-over-year).

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 24

ALTHOUGH SANCTIONS ALONG ARE NOT ENOUGH, THE LOOPHOLES ALLOWED BY THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION MAKE THEM FUNCTIONALLY WORTHLESS-Wall Street Journal '12 [Obama's Iran Loopholes: All 20 of Iran's major trading partners have sanction exemptions; Wall Street Journal; 2 July 2012; http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304211804577502912009234948.html; retrieved 12 October 2012] To be sure, Iran is feeling some pressure these days. The EU, which a few years ago accounted for almost one-fifth of Tehran's oil business, has instituted a total embargo. South Korea has said it will zero out imports, too. All told, Iran's exports have plunged 40% this year compared to last, according to the International Energy Agency. As Hillary Clinton noted last week, this will cost Iran about $8 billion per quarter, or 10% of GDP. Throw in hyperinflation and stagnant growth, and Iran is suffering real economic pain. But enough pain to stop the 30-year nuclear drive of a revolutionary regime built around a messianic cult of martyrdom? A regime with foreign currency reserves between $60 billion and $100 billion, and which would net more than $40 billion in oil revenue even with a 40% drop in sales? We've never considered sanctions likely to persuade Iran to drop its nuclear program, but it's dangerous to pursue them half-heartedly while claiming progress and keeping the international temperature down as Iran's centrifuges spin. That's been the Obama Administration's consistent approach, and it'll probably continue at least through Election Day in November. It's a good way to comfort adversaries in Tehran and Beijing while undermining friends in Jerusalem and beyond. THE SANCTIONS HAVE PROVEN A LIMITED TOOL IN DEALING WITH IRAN-Feith '12 [David; Assistant Editorial Features Editor; What Obama Isn't Saying About Iran; The Wall Street Journal; 16 August 2012; page A11] The United States doesn't want Israel taking military action against Iran's nuclear program, and top officials have been traveling to Jerusalem this summer to make their case in person. Any attack would be dangerous and premature, they say, because Iran is suffering under crippling sanctions, the world is united against Tehran as never before, and all options remain on the table. The problem is that every one of these points is false or misleading. Start with sanctions. After years, they've proved troublesome, not crippling. Yes, the Iranian rial has lost half its value in 12 months. Oil exports are down by about half, too. And Tehran admits that inflation is above 20%, with unemployment above 13%. Yet this isn't an economy in freefall. The volume of oil exports is stabilizing, and the government has an estimated $60 billion to $100 billion in foreign currency reserves. The unfortunate reality is that sanctions are generally a limited tooland the Obama administration has made these sanctions even more limited. When Congress wanted to sanction Iran's central bank last year, the administration initially opposed the effort. The Senate endorsed it anyway, on a 100-0 vote, so the administration focused on getting lastminute loopholes written into the law.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 25

OBAMA SANCTIONS HAVE TOO MANY LOOPHOLES-Feith '12 [David; Assistant Editorial Features Editor; What Obama Isn't Saying About Iran; The Wall Street Journal; 16 August 2012; page A11] One of them gave the State Department the authority to exempt from sanctions any country that it determined had "significantly reduced" its imports of Iranian oil. No one paid much attention at the time, but eight months later we know the loophole's effect: All of Iran's major oil-trading partners20 of themreceived exemptions from U.S. sanctions. The Obama administration says all countries with exemptions earned them. But here again the rhetoric is slippery. India was exempted for pledging to cut its Iran imports by only 11%. Japan cut by 22%. Then there's China, which cut 25% overall from January to May but increased its take of Iran oil by 35% in the final two months, just before earning its exemption. President Obama said in March that "the world is as united as we've ever seen it around the need for Iran to take a different path on its nuclear program." Yet China, India, Japan and others that continue to do big business with Tehran aren't focused on squeezing Iran's economy. They're focused on such things as getting around banking restrictions by bartering rice and steel for oil. Whether they're motivated by trade imperatives, nonaligned politics or something else, these countries show that Iran is by no means as "isolated" as Mr. Obama asserts.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 26

IRAN: MUST HAVE A RED LINE POLICY


UNITED STATES SHOULD ADOPT A RED LINE APPROACH TO IRAN-Liptak '12 [Kevin; Giuliani: Obama's Middle East policy 'falling apart;' CNN Political Tracker; 16 September 2012; http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/16/giuliani-obamas-middle-east-policy-falling-apart/; retrieved 11 October 2012] A Mitt Romney presidency would do a better job of asserting American interests in the region, Giuliani said, including setting clear "red lines" that Iran should not cross in its nuclear program. While Israeli leaders have called on the United States to join them in setting the specific threshold that would prompt action against Iran, both Obama and Romney have declined to say exactly what that threshold would be. Both have said it would be unacceptable for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. On Sunday, Giuliani said Romney may yet lay out a specific "red line" ahead of November's election. "I believe that Mitt Romney would set a red line," Giuliani said. Pressed by Crowley on why Romney hasn't set such a boundary already, the former mayor said there was still time for the candidate to spell out his position.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 27

SYRIA: US HAS DONE TOO LITTLE


US HASN'T DONE ENOUGH IN SYRIA-Robinson '12 [Dan; Romney Criticizes Obama Middle East Policy; Voice of America News; 7 October 2012; http://www.voanews.com/articleprintview/1522214.html; retrieved 11 October 2012] Romney accused Obama of failing to lead with respect to Syria. He stopped short of saying he would directly arm rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad's government. But Romney said he would do everything to facilitate such aid and build influence with Syria's future leaders. "I will work with our partners to identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values, and then ensure that they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assads tanks, helicopters and fighter jets," he said. US POLICY TOWARDS SYRIA IS A DISASTER-Taylor '12 [Guy; Obama vs. Romney on Syria policy; Election-year politics make for difficult call amid complex civil war; the Washington Times; 15 August 2012; http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/aug/15/obama-vs-romney-on-syriapolicy/print/; retrieved 12 October 2012] If killing Osama bin Laden, untangling U.S. forces from Iraq and fighting a bare-knuckle drone war against al Qaeda are the Obama administration's foreign policy triumphs, its biggest stumble may be its failure to produce an international solution to what has become an all-out civil war in Syria. Many foreign policy analysts agree that the Obama administration has done little either to effectively plan for or to prevent the violent sectarian bloodbath likely to follow if, as they predict, the power base around Syrian President Bashar Assad begins to crumble. The administration's posture has been one of nonconfrontation, feeding criticism among conservatives who argue that Mr. Obama is leading from behind in Syria. They said he yearns too eagerly to be a "team player," relying on the United Nations for consensus building and trying to avoid a much wider military confrontation that could involve Russia, Iran, Turkey and Israel.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 28

CURRENT POLICY TO STAY OUT OF SYRIA IS BAD; THERE ARE FIVE REASONS TO INTERVENE NOW-Doran and Boot '12 [Michael, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute; and Max, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations; New York Times; 26 September 2012; http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/27/opinion/5-reasons-to-intervene-in-syria-now.html; retrieved 11 October 2012] WHETHER you agree or disagree with President Obama, there is no doubt that he has formulated a coherent approach to the use of American power. The Obama Doctrine involves getting into a conflict zone and getting out fast without ground wars or extended military occupations. This approach proved its effectiveness in Libya last year. But the president is not applying his own doctrine where it would benefit the United States the most in Syria. One can certainly sympathize with his predicament. Syria is a mess, and it is tempting to stay out, especially in an election year. Yet inaction carries its own risks. There are five reasons to bring down President Bashar al-Assad sooner rather than later. First, American intervention would diminish Irans influence in the Arab world. Iran has showered aid on Syria and even sent advisers from its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps to assist Mr. Assad. Iran knows that if his regime fell, it would lose its most important base in the Arab world and a supply line to pro-Iranian Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. Second, a more muscular American policy could keep the conflict from spreading. Syrias civil war has already exacerbated sectarian strife in Lebanon and Iraq and the Turkish government has accused Mr. Assad of supporting Kurdish militants in order to inflame tensions between the Kurds and Turkey. Third, by training and equipping reliable partners within Syrias internal opposition, America could create a bulwark against extremist groups like Al Qaeda, which are present and are seeking safe havens in ungoverned corners of Syria. Fourth, American leadership on Syria could improve relations with key allies like Turkey and Qatar. Both the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and his Qatari counterpart have criticized the United States for offering only nonlethal support to the rebellion. Both favor establishing a no-fly zone and safe zones for civilians in Syrian territory. Finally, American action could end a terrible human-rights disaster within Syria and stop the exodus of refugees, which is creating a burden on neighboring states. Mr. Obama pledged earlier this year to strengthen the governments ability to foresee, prevent and respond to genocide and mass atrocities. Now he has an opportunity to do so. And by putting allies in the lead, Mr. Obama could act without sliding down the slippery slope toward a ground war. OBAMA ADMINISTRATION SITTING IN THEIR HANDS IN SYRIA-Taylor '12 [Guy; Obama vs. Romney on Syria policy; Election-year politics make for difficult call amid complex civil war; the Washington Times; 15 August 2012; http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/aug/15/obama-vs-romney-on-syriapolicy/print/; retrieved 12 October 2012] "Complaining that there happen to be bad actors in the opposition is not an excuse for why we're not helping the good actors," said Dan Senor, a Romney campaign adviser and adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. "We have basically been sitting on our hands for a long time waiting for the opposition to get better organized. The administration has come up with excuse after excuse all while more blood has been shed and Assad is still in power," he said. Mr. Senor said there are always good and bad actors, and the U.S. role should be to "make sure in a post-Assad regime that the good, the responsible actors have the upper hand" something he said will take stiff American leadership. "Is the Obama administration doing that? I don't know," Mr. Senor said. "They may be doing it now. But for a very long time they have been against it and we can only take them by their word. Our criticism is that they've chosen for a long time to be hands off to not play this sort of role in Syria."

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 29

SYRIA: US MUST DO MORE NOW


SYRIAN SITUATION IS TOO RISKY TO BE IGNORED; US MUST DO MORE-Taylor '12 [Guy; Obama vs. Romney on Syria policy; Election-year politics make for difficult call amid complex civil war; the Washington Times; 15 August 2012; http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/aug/15/obama-vs-romney-on-syriapolicy/print/; retrieved 12 October 2012] Syrian instability represents too great a threat to U.S. security interests to be ignored, said Meghan L. O'Sullivan, an international affairs professor at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and adviser to the Romney campaign on Middle East issues. She pointed to a range of concerns from the likely presence of chemical weapons in Syria to the impact that a widening conflict may have on Turkey, Israel and Iran. "What happens in Syria has implications for the whole stability of the region," she said, adding that the U.S. should be working as closely as possible with the opposition. UNITED STATES HAS DONE NOTHING TO HELP THOSE DYING IN SYRIA-Pletka '12 [Danielle; Vice President for Foreign and Defense Policy at the American Enterprise Institute; Brutal Syria conflict is Obama's shame; FoxNews; 19 July 2012; http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/07/19/brutal-syria-conflict-is-obamashame/; retrieved 12 October 2012] Then the Russians who have armed and protected Assad as his people rose against him, blocking every attempt at Security Council action, throwing spanners into the wheels of the "friends of Syria" group. But Putin is only playing to type. What of the West the French who were the engine of outside support for Qadhafi's enemies; the British who also led the way on Libya? And finally, what of the president of the most powerful nation on earth, a leader with a nominal commitment to freedom that extends only as far as his printed speeches, and little further. The Obama administration has fussed and fluttered, blabbed and gabbed, and ultimately done nothing for the people of Syria. The death of more than 17,000 Syrians is a stain on Obama's hands. He will preen that victory for the rebels is what he predicted all along, and it happened without having to spend a dime, risk an aircraft, ship a weapon. Imagine how much faster it would have happened had the feckless president been less feckless. Imagine how the people of Syria would celebrate America as the Libyans do. How much sway will we have over the post-Assad Syria? As much as we have earned: None.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 30

DESPITE A REASONABLE CHANCE FOR SUCCESS, THE OBAMA POLICY OF INACTION IN SYRIA IS WRONG-Keiler '12 [Jonathan; Foreign Policy Writer and Analyst; Obama's Syria Dilemma; American Thinker; 6 June 2012; http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/06/obamas_syria_dilemma.html; retrieved 12 October 2012] As the situation in Syria deteriorates, with the Assad regime acting with ever-increasing ruthlessness, the Obama administration's firm policy of inaction has come in for extended criticism from both the left and the right. That is not to say there are not legitimate reasons for caution. Syria presents a difficult and complex situation. Credible explanations for the administration's inaction cover a range of military and political factors. Taking down the Syrian regime through air strikes might prove more difficult than operations in Kosovo or Libya. There are potential problems with the Kurds, the Turks, and the Russians. There is uncertainty about the Syrian opposition. What to do about Syria's arsenal of poison gas and biological weaponry and its ballistic missiles? What about the doctrine of non-interference initiated with the Peace of Westphalia? And so on. Yet these problems could prove manageable if President Obama were determined to act. But Obama's clear unwillingness to act militarily against the Assad regime almost certainly runs deeper than his famous preference for leading from behind. It is one thing for a dilettante like Obama to launch drone strikes against terrorist hovels, beat up on Moammar Gaddafi's pathetic army, or even agree to the hit on bin Laden. It's quite another to embark on an extended military campaign against a large and battle-tested army. Nonetheless, even a reluctant warrior like Obama might be convinced to launch a limited air/sea campaign against the Assad regime, if there were a limited aim -- removing Assad -- and a reasonable chance of success with few if any losses. As Obama's political fortunes continue to fade, it's not hard to see the president hungering for yet another chance to brag about his fortitude and toughness. Helping Syria might help Obama politically -- a consideration, if believed, that usually trumps in his Oval Office.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 31

SYRIA: US POLICY TOWARD SYRIA IS ANTI-ISRAEL


UNITED STATES POLICY ON SYRIA IS ANTI-ISRAEL-Keiler '12 [Jonathan; Foreign Policy Writer and Analyst; Obama's Syria Dilemma; American Thinker; 6 June 2012; http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/06/obamas_syria_dilemma.html; retrieved 12 October 2012] While it's true that any American action against Syria might bring uncertainty and danger for the Jewish State, just imagine Israel's situation in the wake of a successful American attack. A key threat to its northern border, and even its survival -- one that has plagued the country since its founding -- would be eliminated. Syrian support for Hezb'allah would be diminished if not crippled. Iran's position would be weakened. Israeli officials have been discreet regarding Syria, and for good reason. The Arab revolts have not been a boon for Israel's interests in general, and most particularly with respect to Egypt. There, regime change left the country's "reformers" (which includes the viciously anti-Semitic and anti-Israel Muslim Brotherhood) in possession of Egypt's powerful American-equipped military. Hardly a day passes without someone in Egypt calling to abrogate the peace treaty with Israel. The IDF has had to reposition forces to the south for the first time in a generation, and re-evaluate its strategic posture. A similar outcome in Syria -- regime change that left the Syrian military intact -- might be disastrous for Israel. But if Syria's military capabilities were first devastated in an American-led attack, then whatever successor regime emerged in Syria would be of much less concern to the Israelis. Although Israeli officials have been circumspect, that is the kind of regime change Israelis could support. And such an outcome would clearly be in America's best interests as well -- that is, you'd think so, unless your name is Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, or you're one of their fellow travelers. It would not be the first time that Obama saw his first priority as checking Israel, rather than its enemies. Here's how Obama and State would view such an outcome vis--vis Israel: disaster! Netanyahu, perhaps Obama's chief personal international nemesis, would win again. Then Obama must consider the poor Palestinians. How will the president ever get the Israelis to negotiate a "just and lasting peace" without the added pressure of war on the Golan, or on the Lebanese border, or in Gaza? All three would become less likely if Syria were defanged.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 32

SYRIA: SHOULDNT WAIT FOR UN/INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY


UNITED STATES SHOULDN'T WAIT FOR THE UN TO ACT IN SYRIA-Doran and Boot '12 [Michael, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute; and Max, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations; New York Times; 26 September 2012; http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/27/opinion/5-reasons-to-intervene-in-syria-now.html; retrieved 11 October 2012] Our closest friends in the region including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar and Israel would like to see Mr. Assad toppled as soon as possible. France and Britain could also be counted on to help, as they did in Libya. Yet none of them will move until America does. We cannot wait for the United Nations to act; that is highly unlikely. Nor can we expect the Free Syrian Army to oust Mr. Assad on its own; it is not a cohesive organization. Instead, America must identify those elements on the ground that are the most effective, easily supplied and amenable to help. THE UNITED STATES IS LEADING FROM BEHIND IN SYRIA AND DEFERRING TOO MUCH TO RUSSIA-Smith '12 [Lee; Obama's Syria Policy: Ask Putin; The Weekly Standard Blogs; 30 May 2012; http://www.weeklystandard.com/print/blogs/obamas-syria-policy-ask-putin_646302.html; retrieved 12 October 2012] Some have argued that last weeks massacre in the Syrian city of Houla, where Bashar al-Assad loyalists killed more than a hundred people, a third of whom were children, may in time come to mark the moment when world opinion turned irrevocably against the Syrian strongman, and the democracies finally decided to bring down the regime in Damascus. Perhaps, some say, it will be Assads Srebenica. Maybe. But not if Obama keeps deferring to the Russians. The U.N. Security Council criticized the slaughter, as did the White House and State Department. Many world capitals, from Paris and London to Canberra and Berlin, expelled Syrian diplomats, and the Obama administration followed suit, giving the highest-ranking Syrian diplomat in Washington, charge d'affaires Zuheir Jabbour, three days to leave the country. Syria has not had an ambassador in Washington since the departure of Imad Mustapha several months ago. Mustapha was reportedly under investigation after evidence surfaced that he and his staff at the embassy were spying on Syrian dissidents in the United States. That alone should have compelled the administration to expel Mustapha and the rest of Syrias diplomatic mission. But that would have meant taking a stand; it would require, as Douglas Murray writes in the Wall Street Journal, American leadership. Instead Obama has premised Americas role in the world on an abstraction, an Orwellian euphemism standing for the lack of leadershipleading from behind. Thus, the administrations actions regarding Syria and its statements, its condemnations of the massacre in the strongest possible terms, are incommensurate with the reality of the situation. In response to a bloodbath, the White House has joined a coalition of diplomatic expulsion.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 33

UNITED STATES POLICY ASSUMES THAT WE ARE UNABLE TO IMPACT ANYTHING IN SYRIA, SO WE DEFER TO RUSSIASmith '12 [Lee; Obama's Syria Policy: Ask Putin; The Weekly Standard Blogs; 30 May 2012; http://www.weeklystandard.com/print/blogs/obamas-syria-policy-ask-putin_646302.html; retrieved 12 October 2012] The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, hinted that atrocities like the Houla massacre might trigger military interventionbut why? What, from either a strategic or a humanitarian point of view, has changed with Houla? Sure, its believed that many of the casualties were children, but the uprising started after the regime tortured teenagers in Deraa. And what did the Obama administration do then or in the 14 months since the uprising first began? Yes, more than 100 people were killed in Houla, but by some estimates, the regime has already killed 15,000. So from the administrations point of view whats really changed? Nothing. And indeed, as if to qualify Dempseys statement, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters yesterday, military action against Syria "is always an option"but he cautioned that the administration believes that it would lead to greater chaos, greater carnage. In other words, the people of Houla should consider themselves fortunate that the Assad regime kept the casualties relatively low. If the United States actually did something to try to stop Assad, who knows how many the regime might kill? That is to say, from Obamas perspective, the United States is, at best, impotent. And therefore the administration has plenty of reasons not to do anything about Assad. First there was the idea that the Syrian opposition may have been infiltrated by al Qaeda. Which is to say, the American intelligence community is incapable of distinguishing between al Qaeda and other members of the opposition, so we shouldnt arm anyone. Then there was the notion that the Syrian army, with 600,000 armed men and air defenses, is a powerful fighting force, indeed mighty enough to give American military planners pause. Nonetheless, the opposition refers to this ragtag sectarian militia fighting at a very small fraction of its stated power as the army of the sandals. The way the White House sees it, theres little we can do to help the opposition, or for that matter advance American interests by helping to topple Assad. The Iranians boast that theyre sending reinforcements to sustain the regime in Damascus, and the administration seems to admit as much. So why wont Obama counter Tehrans moves? If the administration believes it can contain and deter Iran that will mean not only presenting a credible threat of military action but the actual support of proxy forces to take on Iranian allies. Tehran gets it, which is why it is throwing its weight behind Assad; why doesnt the White House? Perhaps its because Obama has invested so much in engaging the Iranians that he fears getting them angry now. After all, hes made good on another pointless promise from the 2008 campaign so why risk it now, in the midst of very delicate negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear weapons program, by backing the Free Syrian Army? Instead, the White House is betting on Russia. The premise is that Moscow is close enough to the Assad regime that it could pull off a soft coup that would get rid of the Syrian strongman. What should make it attractive to the Russians, the administration contends, is that such a coup would preserve an Alawite minority regime and ensure Russias interests in the eastern Mediterranean. The problem here is that Vladimir Putin doesnt want to get rid of Assad, and even if he did, its not at all clear he has the ability to do it.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 34

RUSSIA STRATEGY WILL BE A FAILURE IN SYRIA-Smith '12 [Lee; Obama's Syria Policy: Ask Putin; The Weekly Standard Blogs; 30 May 2012; http://www.weeklystandard.com/print/blogs/obamas-syria-policy-ask-putin_646302.html; retrieved 12 October 2012] The administration hopes that it is possible to appeal to the better angels of Moscows nature and that Houla compels them to change their position on Assad. Instead, the Russians are sending more arms to the regime. Its hardly surprising, then, the Russians wont even admit that Assad is behind the massacre. Russian deputy U.N. ambassador Alexander Pankin rejected the idea that the evidence clearly showed Damascus was guilty. The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, has served as the administrations point man in the public campaign meant to shame Russia into doing the right thing, but all the White House has proven is that it knows nothing about the men who rule Moscow. Almost a decade ago, Chechen separatists stormed a theater in the Russian capital, and the Russian security services responded by filling the theater with a chemical compound that killed at least 33 Chechens and close to 200 hostages. If Putin cares so little for his own people, why would he be shamed by using the Syrian opposition to leverage his own prestige? David Ignatius, a sort of Obama White House press surrogate, writes in todays Washington Post that the Syria situation is Russias failure, not Americas. But this is incorrect. It is Obamas failure for leading from behind in the first place and then leaving the matter in the hands of the Russians. The only question is whether the administration is culpable because of its cynicism or naivet. Russia wants to have a continued influence in Syria, one administration official told the New York Times. Our interest is in stabilizing the situation, not eliminating Russian influence. The fact is that Russia has very little, if any, influence in Syria. Even if Putin wanted to dump Assad in exchange for some Alawite security or military chief, the Alawites cant possibly afford a fissure in their community right now. As Tony Badran, research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, explains, an intramural Alawite conflict between Assad loyalists and pretenders to the throne would make the entire Alawite sect yet more vulnerable to the Sunnimajority rebels. Moscow is simply playing the spoiler and thereby enjoying the sort of international prestige that it has not been afforded since the end of the Cold War. The Russians are not going to engineer a coup against Assad, or in any way work to resolve the issue, because it is precisely the conflict that has given them influence in Syriathe conflict, that is, and Obama, who for no good reason has handed Moscow the reins.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 35

EGYPT: US POLICY A DISASTER


US POLICY HAS BEEN A DISASTER IN EGYPT-Dunne '12 [Charles; Scholar at the Middle East Institute; Barack Obama Sends Mixed Messages With Middle East Policy; US News and World Report Debate Club; 27 September 2012; http://www.usnews.com/debate-club/has-obama-properlyhandled-the-arab-spring/barack-obama-sends-mixed-messages-with-middle-east-policy; retrieved 11 October 2012] President Barack Obama has laid out a bold approach to the Arab Spring. In his speech to the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday, he strongly supported "freedom and self-determination" for all. And in a landmark address last year he went even further than George Bush and his "Freedom Agenda," avowing a United States policy that will "promote reform across the region andsupport transitions to democracy." But while these ideas are stirring in rhetorical sweep, the results have been mixed in practice. In Egypt, the administration was caught flat-footed by the popular uprising against Hosni Mubarak, and the president called on him to step down only after it became clear he could no longer hold on. When the military caretaker government picked a fight with the administration over U.S. funding for pro-democracy groups, including three American organizations whose offices were raided and closed, and whose employees were put on trial, the administration declined to suspend military assistance.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 36

CON
GENERAL POLICY: US BROAD MIDDLE EAST POLICY IS A SUCCESS
BY CONVENTIONAL BENCHMARKS, US POLICY IN THE MIDDLE EAST IS A SUCCESS-Beinart '12 *Peter; Editor of Open Zion; How Obamas Middle East Policy Has Worked; The Daily Beast; 16 July 2012; http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/07/16/how-obama-s-middle-east-policy-has-worked.html; retrieved 11 October 2012] Yet by conventional benchmarks, Obamas Middle East policy has been quite successful. Hes killed Osama bin Laden and many other top al Qaeda leaders. With Europes help, hes imposed crushing sanctions on Iran. Hes successfully withdrawn troops from Iraq. According to polls, foreign policy is among his greatest political strengths. US POLICY IS BEING COPIED BY OTHER MAJOR WESTERN POWERS-Beinart '12 [Peter; Editor of Open Zion; How Obamas Middle East Policy Has Worked; The Daily Beast; 16 July 2012; http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/07/16/how-obama-s-middle-east-policy-has-worked.html; retrieved 11 October 2012] Similarly, Europes governments are following Obamas leadand imposing harsh sanctions on Irannot because their publics demand it, but because Europes leaders are afraid that if they dont impose severe sanctions, America or Israel will attack, thus rendering them irrelevant. Similarly, Saudi Arabia is pumping the increased oil that helps America and Europe pressure Iran, not because ordinary Saudis lie awake at night worrying about Iranian power, but because the kingdoms unelected monarchs do. ROMNEY CRITICISM ON LIBYA, SYRIA AND THE MIDDLE EAST ARE MISPLACED; US POLICY IS APPROPRIATE THEREBlaney '12 *Harry C. III; The Executive Director of the Coalition on American Leadership Abroad; Romneys Foreign Policy Key Fallacy; Rethinking National Security; 10 October 2012; http://cipnationalsecurity.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/romneysforeign-policy-key-fallacy/; retrieved 11 October 2012] Romney has accused Obama of not acting forcefully in areas such as Libya, Syria, and the Middle East generally. This was again his thrust in his recent speech at the Virginia Military Institute where, again, as in earlier talks, he talks the talk but does not walk the walk in giving us any specifics. His nostrums would endanger American leadership and vital interests abroad. Again he raises in his speech the death of our American diplomats to gain political points for a tragedy not of Obamas making nor significant for broad American engagement in the region. His remarks, as I said, were indecent and misplaced.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 37

GENERAL POLICY: BROAD US FOREIGN POLICY A SUCCESS


OBAMA HAS BEEN VERY SUCCESSFUL AT FOREIGN POLICY DURING HIS FIRST TERM-Edwards '12 [Jason; Associate Professor of Communication Studies; Bridgewater State University; Romney Is Out of Touch With Foreign Policy Realities; US News and World Report Debate Club; 11 September 2012; http://www.usnews.com/debateclub/can-mitt-romney-best-barack-obama-on-foreign-policy/romney-is-out-of-touch-with-foreign-policy-realities; retrieved 11 October 2012] Finally, the Obama administration's foreign policy successes have largely muted criticism coming from the Romney campaign. Winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, killing Osama bin Laden, and weakening al Qaeda, negotiating a nuclear arms treaty with Russia, and placing greater emphasis on using diplomacy and sanctions against rogue states like Iran and North Korea, have given the Romney campaign little argumentative space to criticize Obama's handling of U.S. foreign policy. Unless some great international disaster befalls America, foreign policy is an issue where President Obama will achieve victory going into the November election. CRITICISMS THAT OBAMA IS WEAK ON FOREIGN POLICY ARE NONSENSE-Schlesinger '12 [Robert; Managing Editor; Romney's Foreign Policy Would Play Into the Terrorists' Hands; US News and World Report; 14 September 2012; http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/robert-schlesinger/2012/09/14/romneys-foreign-policywould-play-into-the-terrorists-hands?s_cid=related-links:TOP; retrieved 11 October 2012] And it's worth noting that the "provocative weakness" theory hasn't held up in the real world either. As Kevin Drum writes today : At one level, of course, this is just dumb campaign bravado. Your guy is weak and vacillating and our enemies laugh at him. My guy is strong and resolute and our enemies fear him. But it's also nonsense. Reagan's resolve didn't stop Lebanese militants from bombing a Marine barracks in Beirut. Bush Sr.'s resolve didn't stop Saddam Hussein from invading Kuwait. Bush Jr.'s resolve didn't stop al-Qaeda from destroying the World Trade Center and killing 3,000 Americans. In that respect, anyway, Romney's foreign policy is much like his domestic policy: Light on details but apparently a retread of the same stuff that didn't work out so well the first couple of times we tried them. US SUPPORTS THE OBAMA FOREIGN POLICY AGENDA-Edwards '12 [Jason; Associate Professor of Communication Studies; Bridgewater State University; Romney Is Out of Touch With Foreign Policy Realities; US News and World Report Debate Club; 11 September 2012; http://www.usnews.com/debateclub/can-mitt-romney-best-barack-obama-on-foreign-policy/romney-is-out-of-touch-with-foreign-policy-realities; retrieved 11 October 2012] First, American sentiment toward foreign policy appears to go hand in hand with the foreign policy agenda the Obama administration has been promoting. According to a recent Chicago Council on Global Affairs survey, most Americans, while still wanting to maintain an active role on the global stage, want the United States to be more selective in their engagement with the world, are weary of further military intervention, and desire cuts in defense spending.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 38

GENERAL POLICY: US POLICY IS AS GOOD AS IT CAN BE IN LIGHT OF CONDITIONS


CURRENT POLICY IS REALISTIC IN LIGHT OF THE SITUATION; OBAMA COULDN'T HAVE DONE MUCH MORE IN THE CURRENT GEOPOLITICAL CONTEXT-Beinart '12 *Peter; Editor of Open Zion; How Obamas Middle East Policy Has Worked; The Daily Beast; 16 July 2012; http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/07/16/how-obama-s-middle-east-policy-has-worked.html; retrieved 11 October 2012] Truly changing Americas image in the Middle East would have required shifts in policyboth toward Israel and in Americas antiterror wartoo dramatic for Obama to seriously contemplate. Instead, he has pursued a Middle East policy relatively similar to his predecessors, just with less hubris and greater subtlety. The benefits are evident today; the costs harder to discern. But the liberals who backed Obama in 2008 because they believed in the importance of changing Americas image among ordinary Muslims werent wrong. In fact, we may yet learn how right they were. OBAMA'S POLICY IN THE MIDDLE EAST HAS BEEN REASONABLE, IF EVEN IT COULD USE SOME IMPROVEMENTO'Hanlon '12 [Michael; Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute; Putting Obama's Middle East policy in perspective; CNN's Global Public Square; 14 September 2012; http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/14/putting-obamas-middle-eastpolicy-in-perspective/; retrieved 11 October 2012] As for the film that contributed to the uproar this week, it was disgusting, shoddy and inconsistent with American values of tolerance and respect for religion. Has anyone who defended it actually seen it? I put this kind of garbage in the category of Ku Klux Klan or neo-Nazi propaganda. More Americans should be speaking out against it, not defending it as somehow virtuous proof of our ongoing national commitment to free speech. Finally, on Syria: Here I believe Mitt Romney is right to want to do more. Whether arming the rebels is the right next step or not, they do need more lethal support from somewhere. Obama's approach to the region has been reasonable and unapologetic, but it does not exonerate him of the need to improve this particular policy. Nor does it permit too much premature celebration of a great victory in Libya. Gadhafi is gone and that is a good thing, but our work there, as in much of the rest of the region, has just begun. So let's get on with it, in a serious way, and leave the invective and hyperbole behind.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 39

GENERAL POLICY: DEMOCRACY IN THE MIDDLE EAST WILL LIKELY BRING MORE HOSTILITY
MIDDLE EAST WILL LIKELY BECOME MORE HOSTILE TO THE UNITED STATES WHEN MORE DEMOCRATIC ELECTIONS ARE HELD-Beinart '12 *Peter; Editor of Open Zion; How Obamas Middle East Policy Has Worked; The Daily Beast; 16 July 2012; http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/07/16/how-obama-s-middle-east-policy-has-worked.html; retrieved 11 October 2012] So were liberals wrong to believe that it mattered how Middle Easterners felt about the United States? Not exactly. The more the Arab Spring succeeds in fostering free elections, the more public hostility to the United States will shape Arab policy toward the United States. The leading indicator is Turkey, where the shift from de facto military rule to an increasingly populist political order has produced growing defiance of the United States. Something similar is likely in Egypt, where American influence is likely to recede as the militarys influence does, because elected governments will be less willing to defy their people.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 40

GENERAL POLICY: OBAMA FOREIGN POLICY ISNT APOLOGETIC


EVEN PROMINENT CONSERVATIVES AGREE THAT THE ACCUSATIONS OF OBAMA APOLOGIES DO NOT HOLD WATERO'Hanlon '12 [Michael; Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute; Putting Obama's Middle East policy in perspective; CNN's Global Public Square; 14 September 2012; http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/14/putting-obamas-middle-eastpolicy-in-perspective/; retrieved 11 October 2012] The partisan furor over President Obama's Middle East policy strikes me as misplaced. While there is plenty to debate in foreign policy, and even more to debate on economic matters themselves central to America's future global role the allegations of supposed Obama apologies do not hold water. OBAMA HAS BEEN ANYTHING BUT APOLOGETIC WITH A BOLD STRATEGIC VISION IN THE MIDDLE EAST-O'Hanlon '12 [Michael; Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute; Putting Obama's Middle East policy in perspective; CNN's Global Public Square; 14 September 2012; http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/14/putting-obamas-middle-eastpolicy-in-perspective/; retrieved 11 October 2012] However, even for those of us who shared in the critiques of Obama the candidate the first time around, the way he has conducted his presidency has been anything but apologetic. He kept Bob Gates as defense secretary. He took twice as long to leave Iraq as he had promised, giving that country a greater chance at stability. He doubled and then tripled down his bets and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, even as some tactical mistakes complicated relations with President Hamid Karzai. He pushed for big new efforts in Pakistan both in hard power terms, with strikes in the Pakistani tribal areas, and in softer power terms, with an enhanced aid package. And in relation to the matter immediately at hand the supposedly apologetic tone of Obama's presidency I do not see the basis for a major complaint. True, he held out too much hope for improved relations with Iran (as well as North Korea). But when the hard-line regime stole the June 2009 election there, Obama pivoted and orchestrated a tightening of international sanctions that has inflicted high cost on Tehran even if it has not yet led to a resolution of the nuclear crisis. (Obama pivoted to a harder line in North Korea after that country's missile and nuclear tests in the spring of 2009.) Obama also wisely avoided overdoing his promise to pursue dtente with dictators in regard to Chavez in Venezuela or Castro in Cuba or al-Assad in Syria (more on the latter in a moment). OBAMA'S GRAND GESTURES TOWARD THE MIDDLE EAST HAVE LACKED THE APOLOGETIC TONE HIS CRITICS ACCUSE HIM OF-O'Hanlon '12 [Michael; Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute; Putting Obama's Middle East policy in perspective; CNN's Global Public Square; 14 September 2012; http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/14/putting-obamas-middle-eastpolicy-in-perspective/; retrieved 11 October 2012] As for the big Cairo speech in June 2009 the cornerstone of Obama's effort as president to recast U.S. relations with the Islamic world it is certainly fair to argue that again, the grand expectations raised by the president have not been realized. And there is real harm in raising false hopes. But in reading and re-reading that speech, I do not detect a tone of apology. It is an effort to build mutual understanding while remaining firmly committed to American ideals, interests and allies. It is fair enough to criticize how Obama has handled Israel or Middle East peace talks, where I believe there have been ample errors. But this does not reflect some un-American or repentant world view.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 41

GENERAL POLICY: US FLEXIBLE MIDEAST POLICY WAS CRITICAL TO DEAL WITH THE ARAB SPRING
US POLICY TOWARDS THE MIDDLE EAST IN THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION ALLOWED IT THE FLEXIBILITY IT NEEDED TO DEAL WITH THE ARAB SPRING-Wittes '12 [Tamara Cofman; Director, Saben Center for Middle East Policy; Three Key Challenges in Confronting the Arab Awakening; Paper; Brookings Institute; 25 September 2012; http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2012/09/25arab-awakening-wittes; retrieved 11 October 2012] There is more to be said for President Obamas Middle East policy than Shadi Hamid allows. While Hamid focuses on the gap between unrealistic expectations and real policy outcomes, the fact remains that in the space of two and a half years, between the presidents Cairo speech and the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces in Iraq, the administration completed a major policy pivot. This shift enabled the United States and the Arab world to engage as the Arab Spring unfolded in ways that would likely have been impossible had the uprisings occurred while the United States was still surging in Iraq. While counterfactuals are impossible to evaluate, were it not for the Obama administrations determined and disciplined approach to reorienting U.S. policy in the Middle East from 2009 to 2011, there would be little room today for a positive American role in Arab democratic transitions. OBAMA ADMINISTRATION'S COUNTRY-BY-COUNTY APPROACH IN THE MIDDLE EAST HAS BEEN VERY EFFECTIVEWittes '12 [Tamara Cofman; Director, Saben Center for Middle East Policy; Three Key Challenges in Confronting the Arab Awakening; Paper; Brookings Institute; 25 September 2012; http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2012/09/25arab-awakening-wittes; retrieved 11 October 2012] Third, Hamid argues that case-by-case decisions on how to manage the Arab uprisings threaten to dissipate the clarity of Obamas message of support for democratic change. But given the profound transformation under way in the region, the great variance in how leaders as well as mass movements are responding to the pressures for change, and the wide spectrum of consequences for U.S. interests as these cases might play out, consistency beyond the statement of broad principles is a white whale that the next administration should not chase. As Bahrain in particular illustrates, Americas mix of interests in a given place and time does not always cohere in a unified direction. The events of February and March 2011 outstripped the gradualist approach to reform that the United States had previously pushed in that country and produced a degree of polarization in Bahrain and its immediate neighborhood that now presents its own obstacle to any effort at political compromise. In the view of U.S. policymakers, Bahrain showed that the failure to change can invite not only domestic instability but also regional meddling. Nonetheless, the growing shadow of Iran demands continued close cooperation between the United States, Bahrain, and its local allieswhich tend to see Bahrains lesson in a polar opposite fashion, as showing the folly and danger of reform. Those states have come a long way over the past year, however. In three distinct cases (Libya, Yemen, and Syria), they have embraced political change as preferable to their long-defended status quo. To put the matter simply, the only possible consistency is a foolish one. One positive note is that the debate between democracy and security is no longer a question of trading off long-term democratic reform for short-term security cooperation. When it comes to reform and stability, the long term has arrived. Regardless of what prejudices or misgivings the next U.S. president may have about Arab democracy, he will be living with it and its consequences for the foreseeable future.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 42

GENERAL POLICY: US COMMITTED TO INVESTMENT IN MIDEAST AND NORTH AFRICA


OBAMA ADMINISTRATION IS COMMITTED TO INVESTMENT IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA; A CRITICAL ACTION FOR PEACE-Wittes '12 [Tamara Cofman; Director, Saben Center for Middle East Policy; Three Key Challenges in Confronting the Arab Awakening; Paper; Brookings Institute; 25 September 2012; http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2012/09/25arab-awakening-wittes; retrieved 11 October 2012] The fiscal 2013 budget released by the White House is its first budget since the Arab Spring, and its proposal for a new, $770 million Middle East and North Africa incentive fund demonstrates that Obama recognizes the need for greater investment in governments whose policies will promote long-term stability and prosperity through democratic reform. The next administration will have its work cut out in persuading Congress to put aside parochial concerns and respond positively to such ideas.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 43

GENERAL POLICY: OBAMA ADMINISTRATION HAS COMMUNICATION LINES OPEN


OBAMA ADMINISTRATION WAS ABLE TO SUCCESFULLY DIALOGUE WITH THE REGION'S LEADERS-Wittes '12 [Tamara Cofman; Director, Saben Center for Middle East Policy; Three Key Challenges in Confronting the Arab Awakening; Paper; Brookings Institute; 25 September 2012; http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2012/09/25arab-awakening-wittes; retrieved 11 October 2012] Second, Hamid emphasizes the need for sustained American dialogue, with Islamists in particular. This is valuable, but insufficient. To be successful, Americas dialogue with the new diversity of Arab voices must be nonexclusive. The Obama administration was able to engage with Islamist parties despite the politicization of the issue in domestic American politics by laying out principled criteria for dialogue that hewed to democratic values. A Republican president might face a much steeper climb in sustaining dialogue with religiously informed political actors. Failure to do so, however, would be detrimental to U.S. interests, since these groups will continue to be an important part of the landscape in the years to come.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 44

GENERAL POLICY: MUST ALLOW TIME TO REBUILD US-MIDDLE EAST RELATIONS


REBUILDING RELATIONS WITH THE MIDDLE EAST WITH TAKE A LOT OF TIME AS THEY WERE SIGNIFICANTLY DAMAGED; THIS IS NOT A JUSTIFICATION FOR ABANDONING POSITIVE TONE WITH THE REGION-Telhami '12 [Shibley; Professor of Peace and Development at the University of Maryland and Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution; Brace yourself for more, but panic is not a policy; Politico; 17 September 2012; http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=0FA3ACBD-F0D7-4111-A867-07D91C371F5D; retrieved 11 October 2012] These perceptions were somewhat about U.S. discourse that focused on a clash of civilizations but mostly about U.S. led-wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and U.S.-supported Israeli wars in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. That decade of war and destruction had more impact on the outlook of Arabs and Muslims toward the United States than anything said then and since. In the short term, it is, of course, naive to think that through public relations, Washington will reverse a tide of suspicion built over decades even as the United States continues to take the moral high ground against racism and provocation. The deepest sources of anger against America are harder to grapple with since they pertain to the presence of U.S. forces in the Middle East and to U.S. policy toward the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. But it is a mistake to conclude that nothing should be done even beyond working with governments where common interests remain, as President Barack Obama has done with Morsi, to limit the damage and put in place preventive measures for the future. SHOULDN'T ALLOW PANIC OVER ARBITRARY EVENTS CHANGE THE COURSE OF OUR POLICY IN THE REGION-Telhami '12 [Shibley; Professor of Peace and Development at the University of Maryland and Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution; Brace yourself for more, but panic is not a policy; Politico; 17 September 2012; http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=0FA3ACBD-F0D7-4111-A867-07D91C371F5D; retrieved 11 October 2012] Washington must separate the sources of Arab and Muslim anger from the sources of violence. There are continuing battles in each Arab country for its future. Extremists often rely on violence over deeply held religious beliefs to settle these internal battles. Arab rulers, still lacking in moral authority and not in full control, have an interest in preventing the disruption of their priorities and strategic choices even as their capacities are limited. The worst thing that Washington can do is panic, abandon common interests and allow arbitrary events the likes of which are almost inevitable to alter our strategic course. The current crisis has been sobering not only to Americans but also to Arab governments and many Arabs who dont want to see Arab revolutions hijacked. This provides an opening for intense diplomacy, not its abandonment.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 45

GENERAL POLICY: BIG MOVES ON HOLD UNTIL AFTER THE ELECTION


US MIDDLE EAST POLICY IS APPROPRIATELY ON HOLD UNTIL AFTER THE ELECTION-Blaney '12 [Harry C. III; The Executive Director of the Coalition on American Leadership Abroad; The Campaign and Foreign Policy: The Balance between Obama and Romney (Part II); Rethinking National Security; 1 October 2012; http://cipnationalsecurity.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/the-campaign-and-foreign-policy-the-balance-between-obamaand-romney-part-ii/; retrieved 11 October 2012] What Romney does not recognize is that his stance undermines the traditional role of honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians and the other Middle East states. His ignorance of Middle East politics and security issues is mind boggling. Obama has not given up on seeking peace but the elections here, intransigence by Israel (over new settlements), the Palestinians (over their Humas wing), and the upheavals in the Arab world that require massive attention has frankly put personal engagement on hold until after November.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 46

GENERAL POLICY: RECENT TURMOIL ISNT JUSTIFICATION FOR CRITICISM OF BROAD US POLICY
THE FOCUS ON RECENT TURMOIL ON THE MIDDLE EAST HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH LEGITIMATE POLICY DEBATE ON THE MIDDLE EAST-Hurlburg '12 [Heather; Executive Director of the National Security Network in Washington D.C.; 3 Ways Mitt Romney's National Security Talk Is About Politics; US News and World Report; 1 October 2012; http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/world-report/2012/10/01/3-ways-mitt-romneys-national-security-talk-is-aboutpolitics; retrieved 11 October 2012] Third, because for more than three decades, the GOP had the advantage on national security, and used that advantage successfully as a stand-in for overall leadership skills. The Iraq war debacle took that advantage away, and President Obama's successes in counterterrorism and drawing the wars to a close has been reflected in a steady advantage for him in the polls. Don't blame the GOP for trying to get its mojo back. Just don't imagine that Benghazi-gate, or the debate inside the Romney campaign about how to exploit it, has anything to do with actual national security policy, where the important debates consist of what we do next in the Middle East and Asia, how we marshal and use the influence we have, and how much money to spendwhether it's on diplomatic security, economic assistance, or trade preferences.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 47

GENERAL POLICY: SABER RATTLING BAD


MOVING AWAY FROM OUR CURRENT MIDDLE EAST POLICY TOWARDS MORE SAVER RATTLING IS A RECIPE FOR VIOLENCE AND DISASTER-Schlesinger '12 [Robert; Managing Editor; Romney's Foreign Policy Would Play Into the Terrorists' Hands; US News and World Report; 14 September 2012; http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/robert-schlesinger/2012/09/14/romneys-foreign-policywould-play-into-the-terrorists-hands?s_cid=related-links:TOP; retrieved 11 October 2012] This, apparently, is the sum total of Mitt Romney's case for being better at foreign policy than Barack Obama: He's better at rattling sabers than the president is. And while in many ways that means the substance of Romney's would-be policy really isn't that different from Obama's, the stylistic differences are dangerous. To put it bluntly, the kind of swaggering, blustering foreign policy Romney and his neocon advisers favor plays right into the hands of the people who do things like attack and kill U.S. diplomats. PUSHING A MORE PROACTIVE MILITARY RESPONSE WOULD PLAY INTO THE HANDS OF ANTI-AMERICAN SENTIMENT IN THE MIDDLE EAST-Schlesinger '12 [Robert; Managing Editor; Romney's Foreign Policy Would Play Into the Terrorists' Hands; US News and World Report; 14 September 2012; http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/robert-schlesinger/2012/09/14/romneys-foreign-policywould-play-into-the-terrorists-hands?s_cid=related-links:TOP; retrieved 11 October 2012] What's left in terms of how Romney would conduct foreign policy differently? Romney would talk loudly while brandishing a big stick. Marc Ambinder notes that he seems to subscribe to the theory of "provocative weakness"that anything less than a robustly muscular U.S. global posture invites very bad things. So under a Romney administration, an adviser to the candidate opined to the Washington Post, there would be no attacks on American embassies or diplomats for fear of American toughness. "There's a pretty compelling story that if you had a President Romney, you'd be in a different situation," Richard Williamson, a top Romney foreign policy adviser, said in an interview. "For the first time since Jimmy Carter, we've had an American ambassador assassinated." Williamson added, "In Egypt and Libya and Yemen, again demonstrations the respect for America has gone down, there's not a sense of American resolve and we can't even protect sovereign American property." That is a compelling story, if only because it's so fantastical. Let's unpack it: Disgruntled Muslims wouldn't take to the streets if Romney were president because they'd be cowed by American resolve? How does that work? They'd be worried that if they demonstrated President Romney would give them all a stern talking to? Or that he'd send in SEAL Team Six to quiet them down? The "provocative weakness" theory falls apart in the face of nonstate actors on the world stage, people for whom American force is less a threat than a recruiting tool. The fact of the matter is that assuming the people who killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and his three colleagues were al Qaeda allies or sympathizers (or al Qaeda itself), they didn't attack the U.S. embassy because they didn't fear a U.S. response; they crave a U.S. response, preferably of the ham handed, military variety to bolster their recruiting and inflame the kind of anti-American sentiment that is so clearly present in the Muslim world today.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 48

ISRAEL: UNITED STATES MAKING SLOW, STEADY PROGRESS


US HAS BEEN MOVING STEADILY TOWARDS THE RIGHT POLICY TO SOLVE THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICTAnderson '11 [Frank; President of the Middle East Policy Council; Israeli-Palestinian Peace: What Is the U.S. National Security Interest? How Can It Be Achieved?; Middle East Policy; 20 January 2011; http://www.mepc.org/journal/middle-east-policyarchives/israeli-palestinian-peace-what-us-national-security-interest?print; retrieved 11 October 2012] Daniel Levy, who's making his mark in the United States, has a very effective and articulate voice: President Obama may take seriously his own admonition that this issue matters to American strategic interests. That would translate into U.S. leadership in shaping a breakthrough, preferably with EU and Quartet support, creating real choices and deploying new incentives and disincentives with the parties, notably Israel. Ultimately, for all the noise and speculation regarding their resumption, Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are likely to prove rather inconsequential. Success or failure in achieving de-occupation in two states will depend primarily on the conversation between Obama and Netanyahu, their political calculations, priorities and persistence. Levy ends with, "And that conversation has barely begun." The administration's statements have steadily moved toward that sort of engagement and away from the sterile and discredited claim that we have to accept what the parties are going to work out for themselves. And it's not just this administration. Let's review some history. It was during the Carter administration that we first heard an official mention of the Palestinian nation. During the Clinton administration, it was the president's wife, not the president, who first spoke of a Palestinian state. The George W. Bush administration's road map, however little he did to follow it, was the first official mention of two states as a solution. The current administration, in a remarkable advance in rhetoric, has declared that it will end the occupation. President Obama said that it will end what began in 1967. The secretary of state recently declared, "We will not be passive." She has demanded that both sides present their specific visions for settlements, detailing positions on borders, security arrangements, Jerusalem and refugees. I think we'll wait a long time for these two sides to present those visions. They'll only be presented when we accept that the only way forward is for the United States to present its outlines and to declare its determination to reach them. It does sound as if we're getting ready to come down on our own side. I'm hoping that's true. And I'm hoping beyond, quite frankly, what I call cautious pessimism that it's in time.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 49

ISRAEL: US POLICY IS APPROPRIATE FOR THE CONDITIONS


OBAMA HAS RECOGNIZED THE GEOPOLITICAL LANDSCAPES IN THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT AND REACTED APPROPRIATELY-Katulis '11 [Brian; Senior Fellow for the Center for American Progress; Israeli-Palestinian Peace: What Is the U.S. National Security Interest? How Can It Be Achieved?; Middle East Policy; 20 January 2011; http://www.mepc.org/journal/middle-eastpolicy-archives/israeli-palestinian-peace-what-us-national-security-interest?print; retrieved 11 October 2012] But first, the consequences of a U.S. failure, either in not presenting a plan, or in a failure of the peace process. This has been covered, but I think there are four main ones. First, we're looking at the end of the viable two-state solution. The clock certainly is ticking in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and in Jerusalem. Every time I go back, I don't recognize the landscape, particularly between Ramallah and Jerusalem. We're getting to the point, as I wrote in a report in July 2009 based on a month-long visit to the area, that the window of opportunity is really closing. In fact, the Obama administration used that language last fall when they started, or restarted, direct talks. But we're quite possibly looking at, as Bruce said, the "moment of truth." A viable two-state solution may no longer be possible. If it's not achieved in the next few years, we've got some real problems.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 50

ISRAEL: ISRAELI PEOPLE BELIEVE THE US-ISRAEL RELATIONSHIP IS AS GOOD AS EVER


ISRAEL BELIEVE THAT THE UNITED STATES RELATIONSHIP WITH THEIR COUNTRY IS STRONG AND AS GOOD AS IT EVER HAS BEEN-Jewish Telegraphic Agency '12 [Romney decries Obama Middle East policy in foreign policy speech; 9 October 2012; http://www.jta.org/news/article/2012/10/09/3108836/romney-decries-obama-middle-east-policy-in-foreign-policyspeech; retrieved 11 October 2012] In a press call on behalf of Obama following the speech, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told reporters that "I know from my own conversations with Israelis, that they basically are very satisfied with President Obamas policies towards Israel." "But the bottom line from my conversations with Israelis is that they believe the relationship between the United States and Israel is as good as ever. I mean as good as it gets, very good, excellent, on the same wave length," Albright said.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 51

ISRAEL: SHOULD CONTINUE WITH PUSH FOR TWO-STATE SOLUTION


US POLICY FOR A TWO-STATE SOLUTION IS THE ONLY CHANCE FOR PEACE IN THE ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT-Mattair '11 [Thomas R.; Executive Director of the Middle East Policy Council; Israeli-Palestinian Peace: What Is the U.S. National Security Interest? How Can It Be Achieved?; Middle East Policy; 20 January 2011; http://www.mepc.org/journal/middleeast-policy-archives/israeli-palestinian-peace-what-us-national-security-interest?print; retrieved 11 October 2012] We at the Middle East Policy Council think that it is a national security interest of the United States to resolve this conflict. In that, we are in agreement with President Obama, General Petraeus, George Mitchell, former officials such as Brent Scowcroft and many others. Since 1977, when President Jimmy Carter tried to orchestrate a comprehensive resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict with a Palestinian homeland at its core, there have been a number of developments: Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories have proliferated; the United States and Israel have recognized the PLO; interim agreements have been achieved; and limited Palestinian self-rule has been established. More far-reaching comprehensive agreements have been narrowly missed, and there have been many setbacks and long interruptions in the peace process. But the nature of the resolution of this conflict has become crystal clear: a twostate solution, comprised of an independent state of Israel and an independent state of Palestine living in peace next to each other. We now have an American president who's trying very hard to bring this about. But he's facing considerable challenges, and he needs to rethink his approach and is doing so. We think this panel can help. TWO STATE SOLUTIONS IS THE ONLY WAY TO PEACE IN THE ARAB-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT-Anderson '11 [Frank; President of the Middle East Policy Council; Israeli-Palestinian Peace: What Is the U.S. National Security Interest? How Can It Be Achieved?; Middle East Policy; 20 January 2011; http://www.mepc.org/journal/middle-east-policyarchives/israeli-palestinian-peace-what-us-national-security-interest?print; retrieved 11 October 2012] It's generally true that everyone knows what a final agreement would look like. At least pluralities of the Palestinian and Israeli peoples have regularly polled in favor of a deal that establishes two states with borders that closely follow the 1967 lines of separation between Israel and its then-hostile neighbors, with Jerusalem as a shared capital and a just settlement for the refugees which practically must mean compensation, to be paid mostly by the United States. This deal was not only acceptable to the majority of Israelis and Palestinians; it would be welcomed by the international community, the Arab states and the vast majority of people in the Muslim world. Nevertheless, both Israel's and Palestine's political systems give veto power to their respective rejectionist minorities. The power of the rejectionists in Israel is growing. Recent polls show it. The demographics show it: the maturing of a generation of children born in the settlements who are now reaching senior positions in the Israeli government is growing. On the Palestinian side, both the performance of the Palestinian authority in the West Bank and the polls will tell you that the rejectionists' power has diminished. But it's not diminished enough to matter. There are all kinds of arguments about why the two sides have dysfunctional systems and powerful rejectionists. Those arguments don't matter; they just do.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 52

ISRAEL: RED LINES BAD FOR FOREIGN POLICY


ATTEMPTS TO CREATE RED LINES WITH ISRAEL LEAVES OUR FOREIGN POLICY UP TO OTHERS, WHICH IS A BAD IDEABlaney '12 [Harry C. III; The Executive Director of the Coalition on American Leadership Abroad; Romneys Foreign Policy Key Fallacy; Rethinking National Security; 10 October 2012; http://cipnationalsecurity.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/romneysforeign-policy-key-fallacy/; retrieved 11 October 2012] First, the Middle East: Romney appears to try to walk back on his 47% disastrous talk to his rich funders on the question of a two state solution being the basis of a peace deal. He leaves out the movement of the Embassy to Tel Aviv, but implies that we should be in lock step with Bibi and his hawkish backers on when America should acta reiteration of the red line demand which out sources American decision making to Israel. The world must never see any daylight between our two nations: What the New York Times characterized as seeming to tie Americas decision about whether to take military action to decisions made in Israel. This indeed would be a first! Not even Britain, our true closest ally, would claim that privilege.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 53

IRAN: US POLICY IS APPROPRIATE


OBAMA POLICY AGAIN IRAN IS THE RIGHT COURSE OF ACTION-Dershowitz '12 [Alan; Professor of Law at Harvard Law School; Dershowitz: President Obama Can Stop Iran; Newsmax; 31 August 2012; http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Obama-Iran-nuclear-weapons/2012/08/31/id/450509; retrieved 12 October 2012] The dispute is about tactics and strategy. President Obama believes that the best way to avoid having to use the military option is to make Iran understand that he will in fact use it as a last alternative to Iran developing the bomb. Those on the other side of this debate believe that making such an unequivocal threat would constitute saber rattling, and that such rattling actually decreases the chance for a peaceful resolution of this difficult issue. President Obama is right and those who are opposed to his rattling some sabers are wrong. So let President Obama look the mullahs in the eye and persuade them that they simply do not have the option of developing nuclear weapons. The only two options they have are to stop or be stopped. Only if they believe this, is there any realistic likelihood that they will stop. OBAMA HAS PUT MILITARY ACTION CLEARLY ON THE TABLE TO STOP IRAN FROM DEVELOPING NUCLEAR WEAPONSGreenwald '12 [Glenn; Attorney; Obama, Iran and preventive war; Salon; 5 March 2012; http://www.salon.com/2012/03/05/obama_iran_and_preventive_war/; retrieved 12 October 2012] President Obama yesterday joined virtually every U.S. political leader in both parties in making the obligatory, annual pilgrimage and oath-taking to AIPAC: a bizarre ritual if you think about it. During his speech, he repeatedly emphasized that he has Israels back, rightfully noting that his actions in office prove this (At every crucial juncture at every fork in the road we have been there for Israel. Every single time). One of his goals was commendable to persuade the Israelis not to attack Iran right now but in order to accomplish that, he definitively vowed, as McClatchy put it, that hed call for military action to prevent Iran from securing a nuclear weapon. In other words, he categorically committed the U.S. to an offensive military attack on Iran in order to prevent that country from acquiring a nuclear weapon; as AP put it: President Barack Obama said Sunday the United States will not hesitate to attack Iran with military force to prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Is that not the classic case of a preventive war (as opposed to a preemptive war), once unanimously scorned by progressives as radical and immoral when the Bush administration and its leading supporters formally adopted it as official national security doctrine in 2002? Back in 2010, Newsweeks Michael Hirsh documented the stark, fundamental similarities between the war theories formally adopted by both administrations in their national security strategies, but here we have the Bush administrations most controversial war theory explicitly embraced: that the U.S. has the right not only to attack another country in order to preempt an imminent attack (pre-emptive war), but even to prevent some future, speculative threat (preventive war). Indeed, this was precisely the formulation George Bush invoked for years when asked about Iran. This theory of preventive war continues to be viewed around the world as patently illegal Brazils Foreign Affairs Minister last week said of the all-options-on-the-table formulation for Iran: some of those options are contrary to international law and before 2009, the notion of preventive war was universally scorned by progressives. Again, one can find justifications, even rational ones, for President Obamas inflexible commitment of a military attack on Iran: particularly, that this vow is necessary to stop the Israelis from attacking now (though it certainly seems that the U.S. would have ample leverage to prevent an Israeli attack if it really wanted to without commiting itself to a future attack on Iran). And Ive noted many times that I believe that the Obama administration whether for political and/or strategic reasons does seem genuinely to want to avoid a war with Iran, at least for now.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE, OBAMA HAS DRAW A CLEAR LINE FOR IRAN-Greenwald '12 [Glenn; Attorney; Obama, Iran and preventive war; Salon; 5 March 2012; http://www.salon.com/2012/03/05/obama_iran_and_preventive_war/; retrieved 12 October 2012]

P a g e | 54

Just as was true in 2002 and early 2003, everyone agrees that a preventive war would be justifiable and may be necessary, and the only permitted debate is whether it should happen now or a bit later (where should the red lines be?). Whatever else is true, by having President Obama issue these clear and inflexible threats against Iran to which the nation is now bound, the once-controversial notion of preventive war just became much more normalized and bipartisan. Witness the virtually complete lack of objections to President Obamas threats from either party to see how true that is. THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION POLICY IS APPROPRIATE; USE DIPLOMATIC MEANS WHILE PREPARING FOR WAR INT HE BACKGROUND-Mead '11 [Walter Russell; Favorite Debate Author; Obama Moves Toward War With Iran; Via Meadia at The American Interest; 20 December 2011; http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2011/12/20/obama-moves-toward-war-with-iran/; retrieved 12 October 2012] The United States and the Obama administration should be doing everything possible to resolve this problem using peaceful means but in situations like this, preparing for war and threatening to use force may be the only tools left to preserve the peace. Our best remaining hope for peace is that the Iranians think the Americans have been bluffing and that as they realize the administration is serious they will rethink the nuclear program. This, one presumes, is why we are hearing such strong rhetoric now. The Obama administration is hoping that advertising its increasing readiness to use force, and putting itself in a position where it will have no choice but to follow through with its threats, will give the Iranians pause. But the cost is clear: the tougher the rhetoric, the more the administration commits itself to follow through. After Panettas interview the administration seems to be painted into a corner. Iran will either stop its nuclear program (offering convincing proof of its actions) or the bombs are going to fall. What happens after that, nobody knows.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 55

ISRAEL HAS CLEARLY RESPONDED THAT THEY BELIEVE THAT THE UNITED STATES POLICY TOWARDS IRAN IS TO FORCEFULLY THREATEN IRAN-Greenwald '12 [Glenn; Attorney; Obama, Iran and preventive war; Salon; 5 March 2012; http://www.salon.com/2012/03/05/obama_iran_and_preventive_war/; retrieved 12 October 2012] Time reports on the reaction the overwhelmingly positive reaction to Obamas speech in Israel: Those disappointed by Obamas speech yesterday, and it turns out there are such people, claim that he didnt make a clear commitment to a military strike, wrote Ben-Dror Yemini in the daily Maariv. Come on, really. He couldnt be clearer. Yemini, a plain-spoken conservative regarded as the voice of the workaday Israeli, heard in Obamas warnings to Irans ayatollahs the bass rumble of Israels right-wing political establishment. He didnt say he would vote for the Likud. But aside from that, one should pay attention, he sounded almost like the Likud leader, Yemini said. . . . The analysts were no less enthusiastic in Yedioth Ahronoth, the largest paid daily. Yesterday Obama gave Israels citizens a good reason to be friends of his, wrote Sima Kadmon, under the headline: Shalom, Friend. His speech was aimed directly at our nerve center, at our strongest existential fears. Obama promised us that the United States would not accept nuclear weapons; it simply would not permit their existence.It was a good speech for us, even an excellent one. We heard in it everything we wanted to hearand heard that we have someone to rely upon. Im not sure thats true as I indicated, part of what Obama was doing was denying Netanyahus demands that the American red line be moved to where the Israeli red line is but it is true that the U.S. categorically vowed to use its own military to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Watch for Democratic operatives, pundits, cable news outlets and think tanks to herald all of this Israelis celebrate that Obama sounded like the Likud leader and gave them everything they wanted to hear as though its a good thing.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum OBAMA ADMINISTRATION'S POLICIES TOWARDS IRAN HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL-Bosserman '12 [Brad; Foreign Policy Analyst at NDN; Obama's Iran Strategy Is Working; NDN Blogs; 6 April 2012; http://ndn.org/blog/2012/04/obamas-iran-strategy-working; retrieved 12 October 2012]

P a g e | 56

The latest development in the U.S.-Iran relationship is an apparent backdoor diplomatic gesture made by the White House and leaked to David Ignatius at the Washington Post. According to senior officials in the Obama administration, "President Obama has signaled Iran that the United States would accept an Iranian civilian nuclear program if Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei can back up his recent public claim that his nation 'will never pursue nuclear weapons'." The messenger appears to have been Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, who is playing an increasingly high-profile role in regional diplomacy. Critics of the Obama administration's Middle East strategy will inevitably decry this move as yet more evidence of the President's supposed weakness, though it's important to understand that his Iran strategy has, thus far, been fairly successful. From the beginning, President Obama has pursued a dual-track strategy that used the offer of diplomatic engagement, and the Iranian rejection of it, as a tool to lay bare the true intentions of the regime in Tehran. It is exactly this position that was necessary to create widespread international support for robust multilateral sanctions, especially among key allies in Europe and Asia who have been traditionally much more reliant on Iranian energy resources than the U.S. Unilateral sanctions have very limited impact on a country whose primary export markets are far from North America, and when the U.S. asks its allies to implement sanctions that require real sacrifices on their part, they want to know that American policymakers have exhausted all other tools. Most experts and analysts agree that the sanctions organized by the Obama administration have contributed (along with fundamental macroeconomic weakness and government mismanagement) to an Iranian economy that, while not spiraling out of control, is certainly ailing. If there is a real chance of regime change in Iran, it's going to have to be domestically driven, and key constituencies in the middle class and business sector won't be motivated to get off the sidelines until it becomes clear that the only path to avoiding sustained economic calamity is to usher in a new regime. Bombing Iranian nuclear facilities and other clearly external attacks on the country, however, would likely consolidate domestic support for the Ayatollah, serve as a much more credible scapegoat for their economic torpor, and delay the attitudinal and organizational shifts needed to inspire sustainable resistance to the leadership in Tehran. In addition, such strikes would likely fail to significantly derail the nuclear program. For these reasons, most experts oppose military action at this point.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 57

UNITED STATES ON THE WISEST COURSE RELATED TO IRAN-Mead '12 [Walter Russell; Favorite Debate Author; Iran Spits Nails As Sanctions Bite; Via Media at the American Interest; 2 January 2012; http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2012/01/02/iran-spits-nails-as-sanctionsbite/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+WalterRussellMead+%28Walter+Russell +Mead%27s+Blog%29; retrieved 12 October 2012] Iran is rolling out one defiant step after another these days. In recent days it has begun ten days of naval games in the Straits of Hormuz while warning that it would close those straits to oil shipments if it is attacked. It has warned Turkey that, if attacked, it will respond by attacking NATO facilities on Turkish soil. It has announced the successful construction of its first nuclear fuel rod. It has tested a medium range missile. The recent upsurge in sectarian violence and polarization in Iraq seems to reflect in part Iranian efforts to deepen relations with militant Shiites next door. Iran also seems to be stepping up its efforts to forge relationships with some Latin American countries whose leaders are not overly fond of the United States. The great A-jad has a four country tour planned this month as Iran looks to build economic and security relationships that might help it evade sanctions. Busy, busy, busy. But this looks like the defiance of a cornered animal rather than the insolence of a rising power. Irans chief regional ally, Syria, continues to disintegrate. Hamas, the radical Palestinian group whose previous links with Iran gave the unpopular Shiite Persians greater standing in the mostly Sunni Arab world, is shifting from a Syria-Iran alliance toward one with Turkey and possibly Egypt. The rial continues to fall as sanctions hit the weak economy. The recent decision to stop fuel subsidies will make the government less popular at a time of great stress. As protests sweep Russia, Putin seems to be shifting toward a more cautious foreign policy, one that offers little comfort to Iran. China, too, is unlikely to offer anything more than a bit of political cover at the UN. The wisest course for the US would appear to be steady as we go: continue ratcheting up sanctions, watch for danger signs in Iranian-Latin dealings, strengthen the coalition, increase the direct pressure on Tehran and press for the overthrow of the Assad regime in Syria. Recent headline arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, not to mention a meeting between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Jordan this week, suggest that the US and its allies have something like this in mind. It would be fatuous and naive to suppose that sanctions will inevitably change Tehrans nuclear calculation or lead it to a more realistic regional policy; but it would be foolish not to recognize that the situation keeps moving in our favor. Push, watch, wait, prepare: those are the four things the US needs to do in 2012. Tehran is off balance and flailing; the Supreme Leader is not as happy with President A-jad as he once was and the fissures in the Iranian ruling elite seem to be widening. The US goal of stopping the Iranian nuclear program without war remains a stretch, but the US position continues to improve while Irans options narrow.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 58

IRAN: MILITARY ACTION BAD


CALLS FOR MILITARY ACTION AGAINST IRAN ARE FAR TOO EARLY IN THE PROCESS-Bosserman '12 [Brad; Foreign Policy Analyst at NDN; Obama's Iran Strategy Is Working; NDN Blogs; 6 April 2012; http://ndn.org/blog/2012/04/obamas-iran-strategy-working; retrieved 12 October 2012] As the GOP primaries give way to a general election campaign, criticism of U.S. policy toward Iran will be streaming even faster from the mouths of conservative pundits and politicians. The calls for military action, however, are not only far less prudent than the President's current strategy, but also face skepticism from the American public. A recent report from Third Way found that "even the men most supportive of military action express some concerns about the burden on the U.S. The focus groups suggest a great deal of worry over the threat Iran poses, but also caution about the U.S. taking direct military action to confront that threat." This public sentiment, along with the success of the current strategy, and actual strategic environment suggest that the Obama administration should continue to resist calls for military action in Iran, work with their Israeli allies to help build a secure regional environment, and stay the course with aggressive sanctions and increasing international isolation. PUSHING MORE AGGRESSIVE THREATS AGAINST IRAN WILL PAINT THE UNITED STATES IN A CORNER WITHOUT OPTIONS-Serwer '12 [Daniel; Professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies; War with Iran in 2012?; PeaceFare; 2 January 2012; http://www.peacefare.net/?p=6592; retrieved 12 October 2012] Trita Parsi argues that negotiations are still possible but require dropping pressure on Iran. The evidence points in the other direction: it is precisely when pressure on Iran builds that Tehran looks to diplomacy for a way out. Or more likely, for a way to buy more time. There would really be no reason at all for Tehran to come to the negotiating table, or to answer the tough questions the International Atomic Energy Agency is posing, if the pressure were not there. But pressure is not an end but a means. As Walter Russell Mead notes, talk of red lines and willingness to use force paints the Administration into a corner. Eventually, we may have to do what we threaten, with highly uncertain results.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 59

IRAN: US IS TAKING COVERT ACTION AGAINST IRAN


RATHER THAN GIVING INTO EMPTY RHETORIC, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION HAS LAUNCHED SOPHISTICATED CYBER ATTACKS AGAINST IRAN-Leverett and Leverett '12 [Flynt, Professor of International Affairs at Penn State; and Hillary Mann; Senior Professorial Lecturer at American University; Obama is Buying Time on War With Iran; Mother Jones; 19 June 2012; http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/06/obama-iran-war-covert-operations; retrieved 12 October 2012] Simply demanding that Iran halt its nuclear activities and ratcheting up pressure when it does not comply will not, however, achieve anything for America's position in the Middle East. Western powers have been trying to talk Iran out of its civil nuclear program for nearly 10 years. At no point has Tehran been willing to surrender its sovereign right to indigenous fuel cycle capabilities, including uranium enrichment. Sanctions and military threats have only reinforced its determination. Despite all the pressure exerted by Washington and Tel Aviv, the number of centrifuges operating in Iran has risen over the past five years from less than 1,000 to more than 9,000. Yet Tehran has repeatedly offered, in return for recognition of its right to enrich, to accept more intrusive monitoring ofand, perhaps, negotiated limits onits nuclear activities. Greater transparency for recognition of rights: this is the only possible basis for a deal between Washington and Tehran. It is precisely the approach that Iran has advanced in the current series of talks. Rejecting it only guarantees diplomatic failureand the further erosion of America's standing, regionally and globally. George W. Bush's administration refused to accept safeguarded enrichment in Iran. Indeed, it refused to talk at all until Tehran stopped its enrichment program altogether. This only encouraged Iran's nuclear development, while polls show that, by defying American diktats, Tehran has actually won support among regional publics for its nuclear stance. Some highly partisan analysts claim that, in contrast to Bush, Obama was indeed ready from early in his presidency to accept the principle and reality of safeguarded enrichment in Iran. And when his administration failed at every turn to act in a manner consistent with a willingness to accept safeguarded enrichment, the same analysts attributed this to congressional and Israeli pressure. In truth, Obama and his team have never seriously considered enrichment acceptable. Instead, the president himself decided, early in his tenure, to launch unprecedented cyberattacks against Iran's main, internationally monitored enrichment facility. His team has resisted a more realistic approach not because a deal incorporating safeguarded enrichment would be bad for American security (it wouldn't), but because accepting it would compel a more thoroughgoing reappraisal of the US posture toward the Islamic Republic and, more broadly, of America's faltering strategy of dominating the Middle East.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 60

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION POLICY TOWARDS IRAN IS TO STALL WITH SANCTIONS AND DIPLOMACY UNTIL COVERT ACTIONS CAN BE SUCCESSFUL-Leverett and Leverett '12 [Flynt, Professor of International Affairs at Penn State; and Hillary Mann; Senior Professorial Lecturer at American University; Obama is Buying Time on War With Iran; Mother Jones; 19 June 2012; http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/06/obama-iran-war-covert-operations; retrieved 12 October 2012] Since talks with Iran over its nuclear development started up again in April, US officials have repeatedly warned that Tehran will not be allowed to "play for time" in the negotiations. In fact, it is the Obama administration that is playing for time. Some suggest that President Obama is trying to use diplomacy to manage the nuclear issue and forestall an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear targets through the US presidential election. In reality, his administration is "buying time" for a more pernicious agenda: time for covert action to sabotage Tehran's nuclear program; time for sanctions to set the stage for regime change in Iran; and time for the United States, its European and Sunni Arab partners, and Turkey to weaken the Islamic Republic by overthrowing the Assad government in Syria. Vice President Biden's national security adviser, Antony J. Blinken, hinted at this in February, explaining that the administration's Iran policy is aimed at "buying time and continuing to move this problem into the future, and if you can do thatstrange things can happen in the interim." Former Pentagon official Michele Flournoynow out of government and advising Obama's reelection campaigntold an Israeli audience this month that, in the administration's view, it is also important to go through the diplomatic motions before attacking Iran so as not to "undermine the legitimacy of the action." New York Times' journalist David Sanger recently reported that, "from his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran's main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America's first sustained use of cyberweapons"even though he knew this "could enable other countries, terrorists, or hackers to justify" cyberattacks against the United States. Israelwhich US intelligence officials say is sponsoring assassinations of Iranian scientists and other terrorist attacks in Iranhas been intimately involved in the program. US CYBERWARFARE HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL AT HURTING THE NUCLEAR PROGRAM-Center for American Progress '12 *Sanctions Are Causing Major Headaches for Irans Nuclear Program: 6 Reasons Why the Obama Administrations Iran Strategy Is the Best Way Forward; Center for American Progress; 29 May 2012; http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/security/news/2012/05/29/11601/sanctions-are-causing-major-headachesfor-irans-nuclear-program/; retrieved 12 October 2012] In addition, public reports indicate that the Stuxnet computer worm that struck Irans nuclear program in 2011 hampered its nuclear efforts by directly destroying 1,000 centrifuges and likely exacerbating existing regime paranoia over penetration of the program by foreign intelligence agencies. Further cyber warfare against Irans nuclear program could cause additional physical damage to Irans nuclear infrastructure in similar ways or could serve to gather more information about its capabilities and intentions. The fall 2011 discovery of the Duqu worm by computer security firm Symantec Corporation appears to indicate that further cyber attacks against Irans nuclear program are likely. Moreover, ISIS states that more traditional forms of sabotage and information gathering via penetration of Iranian smuggling networks by foreign intelligence agencies have also caused setbacks to Tehrans nuclear efforts. Indeed, efforts to prevent Iran from smuggling components for its nuclear program have been ramped up: U.S. law enforcement officials are investigating 30 percent more cases this year than they were three years ago.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 61

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION'S POLICY IS MORE SUBTLE THAN THE CLUMSY PUBLIC DEBATE ALLOWS-Leverett and Leverett '12 [Flynt, Professor of International Affairs at Penn State; and Hillary Mann; Senior Professorial Lecturer at American University; Obama is Buying Time on War With Iran; Mother Jones; 19 June 2012; http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/06/obama-iran-war-covert-operations; retrieved 12 October 2012] Classified State Department cables published by WikiLeaks show that, from the beginning of the Obama presidency, he and his team saw diplomacy primarily as a tool to build international support for tougher sanctions, including severe restrictions on Iranian oil exports. And what is the aim of such sanctions? Earlier this year, administration officials told the Washington Post that their purpose was to turn the Iranian people against their government. If this persuades Tehran to accept US demands to curtail its nuclear activities, fine; if the anger were to result in the Islamic Republic's overthrow, many in the administration would welcome that. Since shortly after unrest broke out in Syria, the Obama team has been calling for President Bashar al-Assad's ouster, expressing outrage over what they routinely describe as the deaths of thousands of innocent people at the hands of Syrian security forces. But, for more than a year, they have been focused on another aspect of the Syrian situation, calculating that Assad's fall or removal would be a sharp blow to Tehran's regional positionand might even spark the Islamic Republic's demise. That's the real impetus behind Washington's decision to provide "non-lethal" support to Syrian rebels attacking government forces, while refusing to back proposals for mediating the country's internal conflicts which might save lives, but do not stipulate Assad's departure upfront. Meeting with Iranian oppositionists last month, State Department officials aptly summarized Obama's Iran policy priorities this way: the "nuclear program, its impact on the security of Israel, and avenues for regime change." With such goals, how could his team do anything but play for time in the nuclear talks? Two former State Department officials who worked on Iran in the early months of Obama's presidency are on record confirming that the administration "never believed that diplomacy could succeed"and was "never serious" about it either.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 62

IRAN: US AGAINST AN IRANIAN NUCLEAR WEAPON


UNITED STATES REMAINS COMMITTED THAT IRAN WILL NOT GET NUCLEAR WEAPONS-Blaney '12 [Harry C. III; The Executive Director of the Coalition on American Leadership Abroad; The Campaign and Foreign Policy: The Balance between Obama and Romney (Part II); Rethinking National Security; 1 October 2012; http://cipnationalsecurity.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/the-campaign-and-foreign-policy-the-balance-between-obamaand-romney-part-ii/; retrieved 11 October 2012] But he has said that America remains committed that Iran will not get nuclear weapons, but will not have Bibi dictate our decisions on going to, what is after all, war with all its consequences. Perhaps the Israeli cabinet and citizens recognize now the danger of the red line demands on the rightly close relations between the U.S. and Israel.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 63

IRAN: SANCTIONS POLICY WORKING


OBAMA APPLYING SUCCESSFUL SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAN-Blaney '12 *Harry C. III; The Executive Director of the Coalition on American Leadership Abroad; Romneys Foreign Policy Key Fallacy; Rethinking National Security; 10 October 2012; http://cipnationalsecurity.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/romneysforeign-policy-key-fallacy/; retrieved 11 October 2012] On Iran he called for tougher sanctions without ever saying what they would be. Obama and the Europeans are now applying harsh sanctions and they are having a devastating impact on Irans economy. Any further action would require agreement with our allies and the UN Security Council. How would Romney get their agreement? He again implies acts of war and does not explain their consequences to the public. SANCTIONS ARE HURTING THE IRANIAN ECONOMY-Center for American Progress '12 *Sanctions Are Causing Major Headaches for Irans Nuclear Program: 6 Reasons Why the Obama Administrations Iran Strategy Is the Best Way Forward; Center for American Progress; 29 May 2012; http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/security/news/2012/05/29/11601/sanctions-are-causing-major-headachesfor-irans-nuclear-program/; retrieved 12 October 2012] International sanctions also appear to be taking a toll on Irans economy. The sanctions are significantly harming the nations critical oil industry and the countrys access to much-needed trade financing and foreign investment. This in turn is putting the Iranian leadership under tremendous strain and could well influence its decision whether to pursue nuclear weaponry. Along with the economic toll, sanctions have also brought intense domestic political pressure for Irans supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. Although his ultimate goal is to get the international sanctions removed as quickly as possible in order to revive Irans crippled economy, he is receiving pressure from the government and clerical powers not to relinquish Irans right to enrich uranium to 20 percent, at which point it becomes highly enriched and can be turned into weapons-grade material more quickly. Khamenei is stuck between a political rock and an economic hard place, so to speak. The supreme leader cannot afford to let international sanctions strangle the Iranian economy much further, lest he expose the survival of the regime to further instability. The decision to make a nuclear deal ultimately rests on Khameneis guidance, and the deal that allows him to save Irans economy is likely not the same deal that would allow him to maintain power. When the third round of diplomatic talks resume on June 18 in Moscow, how Khamenei balances these competing pressures will likely be the determining factor in Irans willingness to come to a temporary settlement with the negotiators.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 64

SANCTIONS PLUS THE POOR ECONOMY ARE CREATING HAVOC IN IRAN-Memarian '12 [Omid; Fomer World Peace Fellow and UC-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism; Irans Currency Crisis: Bad News For Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; the Daily Beast; 4 October 2012; http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/10/04/iran-scurrency-crisis-bad-news-for-mahmoud-ahmadinejad.html; retrieved 12 October 2012] Irans economy is in shock. Over the past week, the countrys currency, the rial, has lost half its value, and nobody knows whether the government can stop the downward spiral anytime soon. On Wednesday, Tehrans traditional bazaar shut down, and authorities from the police and the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) arrested a group of merchants and businessmen who had gathered in the marketplace. An eyewitness told The Daily Beast that near Ferdowsi Square, where most of Tehrans foreign exchange shops operate, anti-riot police had established a widespread presence and that Tehrans commercial area had assumed the appearance of a military zone. Analysts inside and outside Iran are debating whether the governments economic policies are to fault for the currency crisis, or whether its a sign that the U.S.s crippling sanctions are finally starting to be felt on the ground. But almost all agree that the rials depreciation spells very bad news for the countrys embattled president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. SANCTIONS HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL AT IMPACTING IRAN-Center for American Progress '12 *Sanctions Are Causing Major Headaches for Irans Nuclear Program: 6 Reasons Why the Obama Administrations Iran Strategy Is the Best Way Forward; Center for American Progress; 29 May 2012; http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/security/news/2012/05/29/11601/sanctions-are-causing-major-headachesfor-irans-nuclear-program/; retrieved 12 October 2012] Though Iran has survived for more than 30 years under sanctions, the sanctions imposed by the international community over the past three-and-a-half years have pressured the Iranian economy to levels unseen in the history of the Islamic Republic. These and other measures appear to be seriously hindering Irans ability to advance its nuclear research, thus delaying Irans nuclear weapons ambitions. They have forced the leadership in Tehran to return to the negotiating table. Current sanctions on Iran consist of mostly trade, investment, arms, and banking restrictions, as well as more stringent cargo inspections and shipping regulations. But it is important to distinguish between U.S. unilateral efforts since 2010 which have arguably caused enough damage to the Iranian economy for Iran to give diplomacy another trythe EU oil embargo that will go into effect on July 1, and the recent efforts of other nations to scale back their dealings with Iran. In May 2011 a report by a special panel of U.N. experts stated that multilateral sanctions adopted under a June 2010 U.N. Security Council resolution were constraining Irans procurement of items related to prohibited nuclear and ballistic missile activity and thus slowing development of these programs. SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAN ARE SLOWING DOWN THE NUCLEAR PROGRAM EVEN MORE-Center for American Progress '12 *6 Reasons Why the Obama Administrations Iran Strategy Is the Best Way Forward; Center for American Progress; 21 May 2012; http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/security/news/2012/05/21/11631/6-reasons-why-the-obamaadministrations-iran-strategy-is-the-best-way-forward/; retrieved 12 October 2012] Moreover, the Institute for Science and International Security notes Iran is having a hard time acquiring the materials to further advance its nuclear activities due to international sanctions, forcing the program to develop second-rate domestic substitutes that could slow the program even more. In fact, Russian team members in a U.S.-Russian joint technical assessment team analyzing Iran suggest a timeframe of two years to three years to build a simple nuclear bomb. The U.S.-Russian team estimated it would take Iran another five years after testing a bomb to develop a deliverable nuclear weapon. University of Southern California professor and nuclear proliferation expert Jacques Hymans concurs with the longer estimates of Iranian nuclear weapons capabilities given Irans poor technical infrastructure and managerial incompetence. He argues that that the most conservative estimates of just two to three years are unrealistic. November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 65

SANCTIONS ARE SLOWING DOWN THE NUCLEAR PROGRAM-Center for American Progress '12 *Sanctions Are Causing Major Headaches for Irans Nuclear Program: 6 Reasons Why the Obama Administrations Iran Strategy Is the Best Way Forward; Center for American Progress; 29 May 2012; http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/security/news/2012/05/29/11601/sanctions-are-causing-major-headachesfor-irans-nuclear-program/; retrieved 12 October 2012] The Institute for Science and International Security reports that international sanctions have slowed down Irans nuclear program significantlyto the point where the organization believes Iran would have already produced nuclear weapons without sanctions and other measures against its nuclear effort. Most importantly, sanctionsinternational, regional, and unilateralmake it more difficult for Iran to acquire the necessary resources from overseas to further its nuclear program. As ISIS notes, Iran is by no means self-sufficient in making all the goods it needs for its nuclear program or is it able to solve problems encountered in its deployment of nuclear technologies. Indeed, Iran is dependent on imports to sustain its centrifuge enrichment program, relying on foreign suppliers for maraging steela specific type of steel especially suitable for use in centrifugescarbon fiber, vacuum pumps, and vacuum measuring equipment, all of which have been restricted by U.N. sanctions that have been enforced with unanimity and stringency. As a result, it is unclear whether Iran can actually acquire the materials necessary to build the centrifuges it desires at Natanz and Fordow, two nuclear facilities in Iran. In the final analysis, ISIS explains that sanctions are forcing Iran to make less than desirable design choices and these choices further slow its progress and increase the technological risks that complicate any Iranian decision to dash to a bomb. SANCTIONS AND THE POOR ECONOMY ARE FORCING IRAN'S PEOPLE TO TURN AGAINST THEIR GOVERNMENTMemarian '12 [Omid; Fomer World Peace Fellow and UC-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism; Irans Currency Crisis: Bad News For Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; the Daily Beast; 4 October 2012; http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/10/04/iran-scurrency-crisis-bad-news-for-mahmoud-ahmadinejad.html; retrieved 12 October 2012] On Sept. 4, Ahmadinejad had dismissed speculation that the countrys currency was in deep trouble. When asked whether the rial would reach an exchange rate of 30,000 to the dollar, the president called such predictions psychological warfare. Now, just four weeks later, the rate has jumped to 35,000 rials to the dollar, and a Tehrani business owner reports that the exchange market has nearly shut down, with no one willing to sell off dollars for the quickly depreciating rials. Whether the worsening economy is the result of sanctions or the interference of the regimes corrupt elements in the market, people blame the government for mismanaging the economy, a journalist in Tehran told The Daily Beast, under condition of anonymity. We are losing hope. Prices change from morning to evening. The inflation is unbearable and Ahmadinejad still does not acknowledge that we are in deep trouble. A businessman who runs a food products distribution company in Tehran said that he has stopped selling goods this week, telling his employees to go home. Its all loss if I sell anything today, as the money I get might have half the value next week, he said. So far, Iranians frustration over the plummeting exchange rate seems to be directed squarely at Ahmadinejads government. If you listen carefully to the slogans people are chanting, theyre so far mostly economic in nature, not political, and their frustration is directed toward their own government, not the U.S. or international sanctions, says Karim Sadjadpour, a senior associate and Iran analyst at the Carnegie Endowment. Iranians are disunited about what kind of a political system they want, but they're united in wanting greater economic dignity.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 66

PEOPLE ARE LOSING HOPE DUE TO THE ECONOMY AND ARE BLAMING THE IRANIAN GOVERNMENT-Memarian '12 [Omid; Fomer World Peace Fellow and UC-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism; Irans Currency Crisis: Bad News For Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; the Daily Beast; 4 October 2012; http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/10/04/iran-scurrency-crisis-bad-news-for-mahmoud-ahmadinejad.html; retrieved 12 October 2012] Analysts say multiple factors are playing into the rials precipitous plunge in value. In the course of the past seven years, the government had kept the value of the currency artificially low by drawing upon its petro-dollars, says Dariush Zahedi, the director of the University of California, Berkeleys Program on Entrepreneurship and Democracy in the Middle East. The imposition of crippling financial and oil sanctions, however, has substantially cut into the government's revenues. People have no confidence in the ability of the government to manage the deepening financial and international crisis, and are certain that conditions are likely to continue to deteriorate, Zahedi says. They believe that due to sanctions the government has either no access to its foreign currency reserves, or that they are being rapidly depleted. We are losing hope. Prices change from morning to evening. During its tenure, the Ahmadinejad government has increased liquidity by more than 600 percent, adds Zahedi. Therefore, there is now an avalanche of money searching for a safe place to invest and with interest rates well below the rate of inflation and the nation's manufacturing sector emasculated due to the flooding of the country with cheap Chinese goodsand the geometric rise in the price of utilities and industrial inputsthey have turned to safe investments like foreign currencies and gold, causing the price of both to skyrocket.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 67

IRAN: US POLICY WONT LOCK IS UNTO A DANGEROUS WAR


OBAMA ADMINISTRATION'S POLICIES ARE LIKELY TO LOCK US INTO A DEADLY WAR WITH IRAN-Leverett and Leverett '12 [Flynt, Professor of International Affairs at Penn State; and Hillary Mann; Senior Professorial Lecturer at American University; Obama is Buying Time on War With Iran; Mother Jones; 19 June 2012; http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/06/obama-iran-war-covert-operations; retrieved 12 October 2012] The fact is: Obama could have had a nuclear deal in May 2010, when Brazil and Turkey brokered an agreement for Iran to send most of its low-enriched uranium abroad in return for new fuel for a research reactor in Tehran. The accord met all the conditions spelled out in letters from Obama to then-Brazilian President Lula and Turkish Prime Minister Erdoanbut Obama rejected it, because it recognized Iran's right to enrich. (That this was the main reason was affirmed by Dennis Ross, the architect of Obama's Iran policy, earlier this year.) The Obama team has declined to reconsider its position since 2010 and, as a result, it is on its way to another diplomatic failure. As Middle Eastern governments become somewhat more representative of their peoples' concerns and preferences, they are alsoas in Egypt and Iraqbecoming less inclined toward strategic deference to the United States. This challenges Washington to do something at which it is badly out of practice: pursue genuine diplomacy with important regional states, based on real give and take and mutual accommodation of core interests. Above all, reversing America's decline requires rapprochement with the Islamic Republic (just as reviving its position in the early 1970s required rapprochement with the People's Republic of China). Instead, three and a half years after George W. Bush left office, his successor continues to insist that Iran surrender to Washington's diktats or face attack. By doing so, Obama is locking America into a path that is increasingly likely to result in yet another US-initiated war in the Middle East during the first years of the next presidential term. And the damage that war against Iran will inflict on America's strategic position could make the Iraq debacle look trivial by comparison.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 68

IRAN: US CITIZENS AGAINST WAR WITH IRAN


US CITIZENS DO NOT FAVOR A WAR WITH IRAN-Blaney '12 [Harry C. III; The Executive Director of the Coalition on American Leadership Abroad; The Campaign and Foreign Policy: The Balance between Obama and Romney (Part II); Rethinking National Security; 1 October 2012; http://cipnationalsecurity.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/the-campaign-and-foreign-policy-the-balance-between-obamaand-romney-part-ii/; retrieved 11 October 2012] This is an issue which will be covered in more detail in another post, but simply put; this is a major tinder box of many different elements with each countrys situation being unique and needing individual attention. The Arab Spring is right, messy, and inevitable and cant be controlled by the U.S. but rather, by the citizens of each country; with help by the international community to support democratic change and protection of human rights. Romney has closed off any meaningful effort by the U.S. to find peace in the Middle East by his quote in his infamous 47% speech. His stance on the Israel-Palestine confrontation seems more an effort to gain votes and money from a pro-Israel conservative lobby than to seek a peaceful outcome or a just and lasting security for Israel and Palestine. His speech implies an abandonment of the U.S. supported (for a decade) two state solution, which is the only true basis for a lasting peace. He seems to have contracted out American policy in the Middle East to his good friend, the right wing and author of the inappropriate red line, demanded by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The latter interestingly has moderated his stance at the UN General Assembly, perhaps by some observers noting the election poll ratings of Obama and the U.S. opinion polls saying a large proportion of Americans do not favor a war with Iran.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 69

IRAN: US SHOULD HAVE POLICY DISTINCT FROM ISRAEL WITH IRAN


ISRAEL AND THE UNITED STATES HAVE DIFFERENT PRIORITIES WITH IRAN, AND RIGHTFULLY SO-Bosserman '12 [Brad; Foreign Policy Analyst at NDN; Obama's Iran Strategy Is Working; NDN Blogs; 6 April 2012; http://ndn.org/blog/2012/04/obamas-iran-strategy-working; retrieved 12 October 2012] The U.S. and Israel have fundamentally different priorities and red lines with Iran, which is only logical as the relationship between those two countries has different historical dynamics, and regional proximity makes Iran a legitimate medium-term threat to Israel, whereas the same geography makes the threat of Iran to Americans a pretty tough sell. American interests in Iran are primarily based on the regional, geo-strategic, energy, and economic implications of Iranian behavior and policy. In this context, an Iran that possesses a regulated civilian nuclear program but is contained, decaying from within, and ensconced in a stable regional environment, would be an acceptable -- if suboptimal -- situation for the U.S. Israel obviously views that situation very differently.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 70

IRAN: CLAIMS OF IMMINENT THREAT ARE OVERBLOWN


CLAIMS FROM AN IMMINENT THREAT FROM IRAN ARE MEDIA CONJECTURE-Bosserman '12 [Brad; Foreign Policy Analyst at NDN; Obama's Iran Strategy Is Working; NDN Blogs; 6 April 2012; http://ndn.org/blog/2012/04/obamas-iran-strategy-working; retrieved 12 October 2012] It's also important to understand that the intelligence community has consistently determined that no decision has been made in Iran to pursue a nuclear weapons program. It's easy to lose sight of this fact amidst sensationalized media reporting. While IAEA reports certainly indicate that Iran is expanding its enrichment capability and is determined to be less than fully-open to inspectors, these decisions must be understood within the context of objective intelligence assessments and the broader, historical, strategic relationship between Iran and the West. The U.S. and Israel both have a long history of gamesmanship with Iran, but a central cause of the perceived daylight between the two countries on their Iran policies stems not from personal antipathy between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Obama, but a real difference in the type of threat that Iran posses to the two nations. THE BEST THE UNITED STATES CAN HOPE FOR IS THAT IRAN BECOME A VIRTUAL NUCLEAR POWER AND SHOULD STOP WRINGING THEIR HANDS-Serwer '12 [Daniel; Professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies; War with Iran in 2012?; PeaceFare; 2 January 2012; http://www.peacefare.net/?p=6592; retrieved 12 October 2012] What, realistically, can diplomacy achieve at this point? I fear the best we can hope for at this point is for Iran to stop its nuclear program at the virtual stage: it would gain little from testing a nuclear weapon and nothing from arming its missiles with them. So long as it has all the technology requiredhigh explosive as well as nuclearit can gain the prestige benefits nuclear capacity provides without the downside of being targeted for launch on warning by the Israelis. The theocratic regime can also hope that a virtual nuclear weapon will forestall any American plans for invasion or for covert action to bring about regime change. American anxiety that the North Korean succession proceed in an orderly fashion, and that Pakistan not come flying apart, would be enough to convince anyone that nuclear capacity gets you respect that would not otherwise be available. Qaddafis fate confirms that view. This is a Faustian bargain: we agree that people who oppress the vast majority of Iranians can remain in power in Tehran, they agree they wont go that last mile to weaponize their nuclear capacity. There are many countries around the world that are in this virtual nuclear power positionI suspect Brazil, Argentina, South Korea, Japan and many others maintain a level of nuclear knowledge required to reestablish a serious nuclear weapons program quickly if circumstances were to require it. The difference is that they are not sworn enemies of the United States. It is hard for me to picture things coming out much better than this, but it is important to remember that the Iranian population is not part of the bargain. They may well return to the streets, demanding the freedoms that Tunisians, Libyans, Egyptians, Yemenis and Syrians hope for. If they do, we need to be ready to live with uncertainty as they struggle for freedom. There is no guarantee that a successful Green Revolution will foreswear nuclear weapons, but a democratic Iran might well be less threatening from the American perspective.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 71

IRAN IS MORE THAN A YEAR AWAY FROM HAVING EVEN A CRUDE NUCLEAR WEAPON, JUSTIFYING CURRENT POLICYCenter for American Progress '12 *6 Reasons Why the Obama Administrations Iran Strategy Is the Best Way Forward; Center for American Progress; 21 May 2012; http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/security/news/2012/05/21/11631/6-reasons-why-the-obamaadministrations-iran-strategy-is-the-best-way-forward/; retrieved 12 October 2012] The P5+1, a group of negotiators from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, and Germany, will meet with Iranian negotiators this week in Baghdad in the hope of peacefully resolving the Iranian nuclear crisis. Though the first round of talks last month in Istanbul was generally viewed as a positive step toward a de-escalation of tensions, the Baghdad talks face significant pressure to continue a pragmatic shift away from unnecessary direct military conflict with Iran. There is strong bipartisan consensus in the United States and within the international community that an Iranian nuclear weapon would destabilize one of the worlds most important oil-producing regions, harm Israels security, and severely undermine the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But even though halting Irans nuclear weapon ambitions is an urgent priority, there is time for a disciplined approach and a serious and determined effort to resolve the situation diplomatically. Thats because most estimates place Iran a year away at minimum from producing a crude nuclear weapon. The key factor in these calculations is Irans capacity to produce the highly enriched uranium necessary for a bomb. The most common estimates by U.S. and Israeli government officials, as well as outside groups such as the nonpartisan Institute for Science and International Security, are that Iran could develop a crude but workable nuclear explosive device within a year. Importantly, though, in recent congressional testimony Director of National Intelligence James Clapper indicated that this timeframe was technically feasible but not likely given the complexities involved in developing nuclear weapons. INTERNATIONAL SCRUTINY HAS SLOWED DOWN IRAN'S NUCLEAR PROGRAM-Center for American Progress '12 *Sanctions Are Causing Major Headaches for Irans Nuclear Program: 6 Reasons Why the Obama Administrations Iran Strategy Is the Best Way Forward; Center for American Progress; 29 May 2012; http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/security/news/2012/05/29/11601/sanctions-are-causing-major-headachesfor-irans-nuclear-program/; retrieved 12 October 2012] Increased international scrutiny of and pressure on Irans nuclear program may also be slowing its progress. The apparent success of foreign intelligence agencies in penetrating Irans nuclear program will likely increase the inherent suspicion of Iranian security services and could lead to actions intended to decrease the nuclear programs vulnerability to foreign intelligence agencies. This would further slow the programs progress. More concretely, increased international scrutiny of Irans nuclear program forced several of its more troubling aspects underground and diverted Iranian resources to attempts to avoid the prying eyes of the international community. Despite its failure to come clean to the International Atomic Energy Agency on its past and possibly present nuclear weapons efforts, Irans 2003 decision to shut down its unified weapons program after its clandestine nuclear facilities were discovered the previous year effectively fragmented its weapons efforts.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 72

A REALISTIC LOOK AT THE TIMEFRAME FOR IRAN'S NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM GIVES PLENTY OF TIME FOR CURRENT POLICY TO WORK AND ADAPT-Center for American Progress '12 *6 Reasons Why the Obama Administrations Iran Strategy Is the Best Way Forward; Center for American Progress; 21 May 2012; http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/security/news/2012/05/21/11631/6-reasons-why-the-obamaadministrations-iran-strategy-is-the-best-way-forward/; retrieved 12 October 2012] Iran would also need a warhead with a delivery system such as a missile, and it needs at least one to two years to develop a warhead and delivery system suitable for operational use, according to estimates from the U.S. intelligence community, Israeli military intelligence, and outside groups such as the Institute for Science and International Security. So even if Iran acquired a functioning nuclear weapon today, the soonest it could successfully deliver a weapon to a target is early 2014. Irans missile capabilities generally lag behind its nuclear developments. Its most advanced missilethe solid-fuel Sejjil2is not yet operational and in any case is not believed to be a suitable nuclear delivery system unless used with a substantially smaller nuclear warhead than Iran is believed capable of producing. Experts from the U.S.-Russian joint technical assessment team and the International Institute for Strategic Studies believe an Iranian intercontinental ballistic missile is not likely to be produced before the 2020s. In addition, these team members conclude that existing Iranian missiles are generally not suitable for the delivery of first-generation nuclear weapons and would prove unwieldy if developed further. Additional efforts to either develop a new, suitable missile or a small-enough warhead for existing Iranian missiles will be required before Iran can field a viable nuclear delivery capability. Given these estimates, the United States and the international community have time to continue negotiations with Iran and let sanctions pressure the Tehran regime to come clean about its program. The international community does not have an infinite window to stop Iran from acquiring a deliverable nuclear weapon, but there is time to support a serious and determined effort by the P5+1 to resolve the situation diplomatically. More importantly, we still have time to think through our options on Iran and get our policy right. IRAN WILL HAVE DIFFICULTY MAKING PROGRESS TOWARDS A WEAPON-Center for American Progress '12 *Sanctions Are Causing Major Headaches for Irans Nuclear Program: 6 Reasons Why the Obama Administrations Iran Strategy Is the Best Way Forward; Center for American Progress; 29 May 2012; http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/security/news/2012/05/29/11601/sanctions-are-causing-major-headachesfor-irans-nuclear-program/; retrieved 12 October 2012] Even if Iran is continuing to work on various aspects of nuclear proliferation, Irans lack of a unified program makes progress toward a weapon more difficult. The compartmentalized nature of the program inhibits information-sharing and excessive secrecy, both of which are necessary to prevent discovery of patently illegal weapons. In addition, the halt of Irans nuclear weapons program has apparently demoralized top Iranian nuclear scientists, who, according to U.S. intelligence intercepts, continued to complain about the decision years after it was made.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 73

SYRIA: US POLICY TOWARDS SYRIA APPROPRIATE IN LIGHT OF THE CONDITIONS


THE SYRIAN SITUATION HAS NO CLEAR COURSE OF ACTION-Gourevitch '12 [Philip; Writer and Journalist; THE SYRIA DILEMMA; The New Yorker; 4 June 2012; http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2012/06/04/120604taco_talk_gourevitch; retrieved 12 October 2012] The horrors in Syria are symptoms of a tangle of political crises that present no clear course of action for the United States, or its allies, or any other constellation of the international community. The Arab League and the U.N. jointly appointed former Secretary-General Kofi Annan to negotiate with Assad. The Syrian President, playing for time, agreed to a plan to establish a ceasefire; demilitarize the cities and towns; oversee the release of arbitrarily detained people; insure freedom of movement for aid groups and the press, and freedom of assembly and association for peaceful demonstrators; and foster conditions for political dialogue. The Annan plan went into effect at the end of March, but none of its conditions have been met. The violence has escalated, as opposition fighters targeted military installations, and Assads forces redoubled their campaign of punishment. Meanwhile, foreign jihadis have begun setting off bombs in Syriathe largest, two weeks ago, killed fifty-five people and wounded hundredsstoking fears that such groups would seek to hijack the predominantly Sunni anti-regime forces, as the country slides into civil war. Last week in Lebanon, the assassination of an anti-Assad cleric triggered sectarian fighting in Beirut. UNITED STATES PLANNING A CAREFUL, BUT SIGNIFICANT EFFORT FOR REGIME CHANGE IN SYRIA-Dreyfuss '12 [Robert; Obama's Regime-Change Policy in Syria; The Nation; 13 August 2012; http://www.thenation.com/blog/169367/obamas-regime-change-policy-syria#; retrieved 12 October 2012] The Pentagon, the State Department and the CIA are making war plans for Syria. And theyre pretty much announcing them. Over the weekend, on a visit to Turkey, a NATO member, to meet with Syrian opposition leaders and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explicitly declared that Washingtons policy toward Syria is now in what she called the operational phase. We have been closely coordinating over the course of this conflict, but now we need to get into the real details of such operational planning, she said, adding: Our intelligence services, our military have very important responsibilities and roles to play, so we are going to be setting up a working group to do exactly that. Make no mistake: this is regime change by force. Its not exactly like Iraq, and its not exactly like Libya (yet)but its regime change by force anyway. In her statement with Davutoglu, Clinton said that the United States is doing the following: First, supporting the opposition and their efforts to end the violence and begin the transition to a free and democratic Syria without Assad. The United States continues to provide the opposition with communications equipment and other forms of non-lethal assistance and direct financial assistance. We are coordinating our efforts with others who are also providing various forms of support. Of course, the United States is not supporting the opposition to end the violence but to intensify it. Second, it isnt known exactly what aid is being provided to the opposition, but its certain that when Clinton talks about communications equipment and other forms of non-lethal assistance, she means sophisticated spy gear and probably intelligence about Syrian security forces. And third, when she says that the United States is coordinating with those providing providing various forms of support, that means with countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar that are supplying increasingly sophisticated arms via Turkey.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 74

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION IS DOING ABOUT ALL IT CAN IN SYRIA-Hounshell '12 [Blake; Managing Editor of Foreign Policy; Why Obama Has To Lead From Behind In Syria, Even If He Doesnt Want To; The New Republic; 10 February 2012; http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/100616/why-obama-has-lead-behind-in-syriaeven-if-he-doesnt-want#; retrieved 12 October 2012] What can we in the United States do, other than watch in horror? The dispiriting truth is that, for the moment, we cant do much at allnot only for a lack of political options, but for a lack of collective political will. And so the Syrian crisis is destined to get worseperhaps far worsebefore it gets any better. The options that the Obama administration has currently put on the tablemore rhetoric, more sanctions, more diplomatic support for the Arab League and the Syrian National Council (SNC), the umbrella group set up to represent the revolutionseem hopelessly inadequate to the task. Assad is not going to suddenly realize the error of his ways and delegate authority to his vice president, as the Arab League has demanded. And with this weeks formal withdrawal of Gulf state ambassadors, the odds of Arab diplomacy solving the conflictnever greathave gone down dramatically. The Arab League is meeting again this weekend, and the chatter in diplomatic circles is that it will make one last sally at the U.N. Security Council. (Everything is very and I mean very possible but first there will be one more go to U.N., a retired Gulf diplomat told me.) But, even then, it seems likely that Russia and China will again deploy their vetoes. Meanwhile, that joint veto has fueled fury and desperation on the groundspurring the hapless SNC to lose credibility to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the loose network of military defectors and local militias defending enclaves like Bab Amr. Diplomacy won't work, one Syrian told me. Everybody wants to fight the regime and the regime thinks it now has its chance. Male refugees I met in Jordan are waiting for weapons to be secured before they sneak back into Syria to join the FSA and many have already done so. I am talking about the overwhelming majority of male refugees. It is mindboggling. (Another Syrian emailed: If the FSA is armed properly, we'll probably see more civilians join as well as an incredible increase in the amount of proper military defections.) It seems that Syria, then, is on a path to more violence. What can the United States realistically do right now to stall its progress? Diplomatically, a Friends of Syria contact group of Western powers and neighboring countries is already being set up that can be used to rally support for the opposition. Western intelligence agencies, together with those from Turkey and Arab countries, could also be directed to gather as much information as they can on the intentions and disposition of Assads forcesmapping every warehouse, farmhouse, hen house, outhouse and doghouse supporting the regimeand encouraging further defections. And the United States, together with other countries, can provide much needed support to set up a more unified command structure for the ragtag FSA, and to smooth its fraught relations with the SNC.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 75

US TWO-TRACK APPROACH IS THE RIGHT APPROACH IN SYRIA-Taylor '12 [Guy; Obama vs. Romney on Syria policy; Election-year politics make for difficult call amid complex civil war; the Washington Times; 15 August 2012; http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/aug/15/obama-vs-romney-on-syriapolicy/print/; retrieved 12 October 2012] Others say the region's volatility, along with the specter of Russian influence in Syria, is one of the reasons for the Obama administration's non-aggressive approach. "The worst-case scenario would be to enter publicly into a proxy war with Russia, with the U.S. pumping a lot of weaponry into the rebellion while the Russians continue to arm the Assad regime," Mr. Gowan said. "This was the nightmare scenario at the start of the year that I think the U.S. wanted to avoid." As a result, Mr. Gowan credits the administration's attempt to implement a two-track strategy. "On the one hand it has maintained the diplomatic track at the U.N. even while being very frustrated by Russia's opposition to any serious action against Syria," he said. "On the other hand, the administration has been working, it appears clandestinely, with countries that are arming the rebels." He said the administration's slow embrace of Syrian opposition forces last year was likely driven by concerns that an ouster of Mr. Assad might jeopardize the security of Israel, which shares part of Syria's southwestern border. But that calculation has changed. "Early on, I think the Israeli calculation was that Assad had been a fairly stable partner," Mr. Gowan said. "Now we're in a situation where the top priority has to be probably containing the conflict so that it doesn't spill over into a wider regional conflict that puts Israel in danger." SYRIAN POLICY IS A TOUGH ISSUE FOR THE UNITED STATES; A ROMNEY PRESIDENCY WOULD LIKELY ADOPT THE SAME STRATEGIES-Taylor '12 [Guy; Obama vs. Romney on Syria policy; Election-year politics make for difficult call amid complex civil war; the Washington Times; 15 August 2012; http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/aug/15/obama-vs-romney-on-syriapolicy/print/; retrieved 12 October 2012] All sides agree Syria is a tough situation to grapple with. It is positioned in the center of Middle East hotspots, in between Israel and Iran; it is a long-time client state of Russia; and its complex mix of ethnicity and religion makes it difficult to predict. The catch is that a Mitt Romney administration probably wouldn't do many things differently on Syria, said Michael Rubin, a resident scholar focusing on the Middle East at the American Enterprise Institute. "What the Obama administration is doing what Romney ultimately would do is hoping that the Syrian situation would take care of itself," he said. What the administration has done is commit nearly $82 million in humanitarian aid to help some 146,000 refugees spawned by the violence. But when it comes to big-picture strategy, much of the administration's energy has been spent lobbying the United Nations to get behind a sanctions initiative designed to pressure Mr. Assad to resign.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 76

UNITED STATES TAKING A CAUTIOUS POSITION ON ARMING REBELS SO US ARMS DO NOT END UP IN THE HANDS OF TERRORIST GROUPS-Taylor '12 [Guy; Obama vs. Romney on Syria policy; Election-year politics make for difficult call amid complex civil war; the Washington Times; 15 August 2012; http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/aug/15/obama-vs-romney-on-syriapolicy/print/; retrieved 12 October 2012] At the same time, the administration fears that providing direct aid to rebels could mean military equipment ends up in the hands of truly unsavory groups. Mrs. Clinton made reference to such concerns Monday during a visit to Turkey, where unease is mounting over the activities in Syria of the Kurdish Workers' Party also known as the PKK which the United States, Turkey, the European Union and NATO list as a terrorist organization. "We worry about terrorists, PKK, al Qaeda and others taking advantage of the legitimate fight of the Syrian people for their freedom to use Syria and to promote their own agendas, and even to perhaps find footholds to launch attacks against others," Mrs. Clinton said.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 77

SYRIA: MILITARY ACTION BAD


UNITED STATES HAS NOTHING TO GAIN IN SYRIA AND A LOT TO LOSE-Taylor '12 [Guy; Obama vs. Romney on Syria policy; Election-year politics make for difficult call amid complex civil war; the Washington Times; 15 August 2012; http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/aug/15/obama-vs-romney-on-syriapolicy/print/; retrieved 12 October 2012] Joshua Landis, a leading scholar on Syria who heads the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, offered another explanation for the slow action: reluctance to engage in nation-building in the Middle East. "Syria promises to be one big car bomb, with lots of militias and impossible-to-do nation-building," he said. "So I think there are skeptics in the Obama White House, people who watched George W. Bush flounder around in the Middle East, who have decided that they don't want to do that. So they've hid behind the United Nations. "We've tried twice to nation-build in Middle East countries Afghanistan and Iraq and we don't know how to do it," said Mr. Landis. "We found ourselves struggling in quicksand both times because there wasn't firm national ground under our feet." He added that "for all of Mitt Romney's bellicosity on the issue, and his saying that Obama has made a mistake and so forth, my hunch is that Romney would not be a lot different." "America has nothing to gain from getting involved in Syria, and it has a lot to lose if things go wrong. And things are going to go wrong in Syria." EVEN IF THE CURRENT SITUATION IN SYRIA IS BAD, THERE IS NO CLEAR ANSWER OF WHAT A POST ASSAD GOVERNMENT LOOKS LIKE-Gourevitch '12 [Philip; Writer and Journalist; THE SYRIA DILEMMA; The New Yorker; 4 June 2012; http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2012/06/04/120604taco_talk_gourevitch; retrieved 12 October 2012] A few days earlier, at the G8 summit at Camp David, Obama had reiterated his call for Assad to relinquish power, but the Russians continue to regard the Syrian President as he represents himself, as a force of stability. Mikhail Margelov, speaking for Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, said, One cannot avoid a question: if Assad goes, who will replace him? The hawks have no answer, nor, for that matter, does anybody else, including the main opposition group, the Syrian National Council, a coalition of seven infighting factionsranging from Christians to Kurds to the Muslim Brotherhood composed almost entirely of exiles, whose only consistent demand is for international military intervention. The Free Syrian Army, an equally unlikely group, shares that goal, but has lately turned against the S.N.C., which now purports to be forming its own military wing.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 78

SYRIA: US MUST ACT IN CONCERT WITH THE WORLD AND NOT GO ROGUE
CAN'T ADDRESS SYRIA IN ISOLATION OF THE REGIONAL OR GLOBAL POLITICAL SCENE-Gourevitch '12 [Philip; Writer and Journalist; THE SYRIA DILEMMA; The New Yorker; 4 June 2012; http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2012/06/04/120604taco_talk_gourevitch; retrieved 12 October 2012] Syria cannot be addressed in isolation. What concerns the United States most in the region is trying to avert war between Israel and Iran. (Last week, during negotiations in Baghdad to curtail Tehrans nuclear program, Washingtons hopes ran prematurely high.) There is a risk of a regional Sunni-Shiite conflagration, as Saudi Arabia, which backed Bahrains crackdown on Shiite protesters, has advocated arming Syrias opposition. There are Turkish misgivings about Kurdish rebels establishing bases in Syria; and Israeli anxieties about Assads accelerating military assistance to Hezbollah forces. There is also the question of Syrias enormous chemical-weapons stockpiles: might Assad use them? Can they be secured if he falls? And there is the problem of Russias support for Syriaits lone remaining client state in the Middle Eastand Chinas support for Russia, particularly after both countries were angered by NATOs use of its U.N. mandate to provide humanitarian protection in Libya to achieve regime change there. (Russia has called on the International Criminal Court to investigate allegations of NATO war crimes in the campaign against Qaddafi.)

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 79

SYRIA: US SECRETLY ARMING REBELS


UNITED STATES IS SECRETLY ARMING THE REBELS IN SYRIA-Taylor '12 [Guy; Obama vs. Romney on Syria policy; Election-year politics make for difficult call amid complex civil war; the Washington Times; 15 August 2012; http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/aug/15/obama-vs-romney-on-syriapolicy/print/; retrieved 12 October 2012] While the Obama administration has argued publicly for months against arming the opposition, reports suggest that the White House and CIA are collaborating closely with Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are secretly channeling weapons to rebels in Syria. Apart from vaguely worded assertions, though, the administration has remained mum on such activities. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton instead said only that the U.S. is "coordinating our efforts with others who are also providing various forms of support."

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 80

SYRIA: SYRIA IS NOT LIBYA


SYRIA HAS NONE OF THE CONDITIONS THAT HELPED CREATE SUCCESS IN LIBYA-Gourevitch '12 [Philip; Writer and Journalist; THE SYRIA DILEMMA; The New Yorker; 4 June 2012; http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2012/06/04/120604taco_talk_gourevitch; retrieved 12 October 2012] To Syria hawks, like Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham, the solution to the crisis is simple: an American- and NATO-led air war against Assad. But, at the NATO summit in Chicago last week, there was no support for the idea. Proponents of intervention like to point out that Obamas Permanent Representative to NATO, Ivo Daalder, was the co-author of a piece in Foreign Affairs which said that the victory in Libya should serve as a model for future interventions to prevent atrocity and support positive political change. But none of the conditions that worked to NATOs advantage in Libyaits geographical and political self-containment, Qaddafis abandonment, the efficacy of the opposition forces, the ease of executing the mission from the airpertain in Syria. Instead, the situation has all the makings of just the sort of quagmire that NATO is impatient to get out of: the main item on the agenda in Chicago was to declare the plan to withdraw all combat troops from Afghanistan in 2014 irreversible. LIBYA IS NOT A GOOD MODEL FOR INTERVENTION IN SYRIA AS THE CONDITIONS ARE DIFFERENT-Smith '12 *Jordan; Foreign Policy Writer for Salon; Why Obama wont intervene in Syria: Despite some superficial similarities, it's not another Libya; Salon; 22 February 2012; http://www.salon.com/2012/02/22/why_obama_wont_intervene_in_syria/; retrieved 12 October 2012] There are two significant reasons the administration has not pushed for military intervention, however. First, the international consensus that existed on Libya is not present in Syria. Russia and China vetoed a Western- and Arabsponsored U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the Syrian government. Imagining that they would agree to a military intervention is simply fanciful. What hasnt been much discussed is why China and Russia vetoed the resolution. And here we circle back to Libya. The resolution authorizing military action in Libya was limited to protecting civilians in Benghazi and other areas. NATO and its allies quickly went beyond the scope of this mandate, using airpower to assist the rebels in defeating Col. Gadhafi and his forces. Such actions may have been morally justified, but they didnt go unnoticed by the Chinese and Russians, who are extremely sensitive to infringements on state sovereignty (lest they be targeted one day). Tellingly, foes of the proposed Syria resolution explained their decision in terms of national sovereignty. Russias foreign minister said that the Security Council by definition does not engage in domestic affairs of member states. Russias U.N. envoy faulted the resolution for aiming at regime change, even though the wording of the text notably did not call for it and the Arab states explicitly rejected Western military intervention. The second reason Libya isnt acting as a template for Syria is one of logistics. As Middle East expert Marc Lynch has explained, Military intervention in Syria has little prospect of success, a high risk of disastrous failure, and a nearcertainty of escalation which should make the experience of Iraq weigh extremely heavily on anyone contemplating such an intervention. The Syrian opposition, impressive and courageous as they have been, is divided, weak and controls no territory. Air power of the sort the West can provide would not be effective in preventing civilian deaths, and the fighting is taking place in densely populated cities. For these reasons and more, a Libya-style no-fly zone simply wont fly. Eventually, the Syrian governments efforts to suppress the rebellion may be so bloody that the Obama administration feels compelled to intervene. But so far, the conditions that were present in Libya are not present in Syria. It may be a double standard, and one that liberal hawks are not comfortable with, but it is one with good reason.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 81

SYRIA: NO SUPPORT FOR ADDITIONAL US ACTION


THERE IS LITTLE SUPPORT POLITICALLY FOR MORE IN SYRIA-Hounshell '12 *Blake; Managing Editor of Foreign Policy; Why Obama Has To Lead From Behind In Syria, Even If He Doesnt Want To; The New Republic; 10 February 2012; http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/100616/why-obama-has-lead-behind-in-syriaeven-if-he-doesnt-want#; retrieved 12 October 2012] But nobody should expect a miracle in Syria. Obamas challenge is to accelerate Assads fall with one hand tied behind his back. There is little appetite in Washington, let alone Middle America, for yet another messy Middle East intervention, and so the administration is consigned to acting on the margins. That could change, of course, as the situation worsens. (The Pentagon is already preparing military plans.) But for now Obama has no choice but to lead from behind. The Syrian regime is crumbling, but slowly. There are worse policy outcomes, perhaps, given the political constraints on the Obama administration. But the human costs are high. The uprising continues to grow more sectarian; the regime more brutal. A frustrated Syrian friend emails: Do they realize how difficult it is for the Syrian psyche that we are now calling upon the West to intervene? We do so because it is the only solution at present. Everything else is a waste of time.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 82

AFGHANISTAN: US HAS MADE SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS


PROGRESS IN AFGHANISTAN HAS BEEN EXTRAORDINARY COMPARED TO A DECADE AGO-O'Hanlon '12 [Michael; Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute; Ex-Afghanistan envoy: The progress is extraordinary; 3 October 2012; CNN; 3 October 2012; http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2012/10/03/ex-afghanistan-envoy-the-progress-isextraordinary/?iref=allsearch; retrieved 11 October 2012] A few weeks ago, Ryan Crocker visited Washington after completing his year-long tour as U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan, as well as a storied 38-year career in the Foreign Service during which he also served as ambassador to Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, Lebanon, and Pakistan. While Washington was caught up in everything from the Benghazi attacks to the presidential race to Congresss brief visit to town before adjourning again to campaign, Crockers visit and the subject of Afghanistan in particular got relatively little notice. That is regrettable. Crockers speech at the Carnegie Endowment on September 17, covered by CSPAN, and his public conversation with us at Brookings on September 18 were hugely informative and important. For those despondent about this war effort, they were moderately encouraging as well. There was, as usual, no naive optimism in Crockers remarks, no promise of an easy and quick win. Known affectionately if somewhat sardonically as Mr. Sunshine, a nickname first given him by President Bush, Crocker is famous for hard-hitting and extremely realistic assessments of the challenges facing America abroad. Those lucky enough to visit Iraq during the surge often remember a beaming Dave Petraeus standing beside a grim-faced Crocker, two very different personalities leading Americas greatest military turnaround since Inchon. So any hopeful words from Crocker merit particular attention. And there were many, in fact. Crocker began by noting the enormous progress that Afghanistan has made since 2002, when Crocker did his first tour there as head of mission shortly after the overthrow of the Taliban. As he put it: You know, as we kind of gauge where we are in Afghanistan, weve got to do what we dont do terribly well, which is take some perspective on it. I wont take you back to Amanullah Khan and the 1920s, but I will take you back to my own experience, which was arriving in Afghanistan about 10 days after President Karzai got there from Bonn, the day after New Years 2002, and what it looked like then. And Ive seen a lot of bad places, like Lebanon during the civil war and this was worse. It was total, absolute, utter devastation. Driving in from Bagram, nothing but mud fields and destroyed houses. You dare not stray from what was left of the pavement of the road because of the minefields on both sides unclearedNo electricity, no water, no security forces, a completely dead economy, no nothing. So if the end of 01/beginning of 02 is your starting point, Afghanistan is looking beyond pretty good. If you were out there in May, you know, Kabul is a major South Asian metropolis: huge traffic snarls, commercial activity, sidewalks thronged, stores open, you know, 8 plus million kids in school, life expectancy vastly increased, close to 350,000 security forces in training or deployed. You know, the progress is extraordinary. US EFFORTS TO MAKE AFGHANI MILITARY SELF-RELIANT MAKING REAL PROGRESS-O'Hanlon '12 [Michael; Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute; Ex-Afghanistan envoy: The progress is extraordinary; 3 October 2012; CNN; 3 October 2012; http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2012/10/03/ex-afghanistan-envoy-the-progress-isextraordinary/?iref=allsearch; retrieved 11 October 2012] Then there is the matter of those Afghan security forces. Hampered by illiteracy and corruption and ethnic tension, they are now also infamous in the United States for the insider attacks that have killed more than 50 NATO troops this year alone. Crocker hardly trivialized these problems. But he also provided vivid illustrations of how much those forces have grown and improved. The fact is in basically a period of just a little over three years, because we only really got serious, as you know, about sustained, large-scale training 08/09, well, what that has produced in a fairly short time is quite extraordinary. We have Afghan units leading in almost 50 percent of operations, and many of these are unpartnered. When we had the Koran incident out at Bagram, we went through a period of a couple of weeks in which we simply we, the International Security Assistance Force could not be in the field. We would just be gasoline on the fire. So Afghan forces had to deal November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 83

with the protests on their own. They were not trained for it. They were not equipped for it, for riot control. They behaved very credibly and I think the surge bought the time for that training program to produce those kinds of results.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 84

AFGHANISTAN: ROMNEY SUPPORTS CURRENT POLICY


BOTH OBAMA AND ROMNEY AGREE ON FUNDAMENTAL POLICY RELATED TO AFGHANISTAN-O'Hanlon '12 [Michael; Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute; Column: Playing the same defense; USA Today; 18 September 2012; http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2012/09/19/obama-romney-defense-foreign-policy/1579405/; retrieved 11 October 2012] Use of military force. The candidates seem far more united than divided, though there are subtle and important differences in their thinking on Iran and Syria. Each man likes to criticize the other for their Afghanistan views but, in fact, they agree on the central strategy: U.S. forces should gradually downsize from now until 2014. Neither proposes another Iraq-style mission in Syria or another pre-emption in Iran. Both want to stand up firmly to China but, wisely, neither suggests that war could be in the offing. And neither talks adventurously about attacking North Korea to eliminate its nuclear weapons.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 85

POLITICAL SOURCES BIASED: ROMNEY ATTACKS ARE POLITICAL HOT AIR


ROMNEY ATTACKS DURING THE POLITICAL SEASON ON MIDDLE EASTERN POLICY ARE MORE PLATITUDE AND FREE OF SUBSTANCE-Robinson '12 [Dan; Romney Criticizes Obama Middle East Policy; Voice of America News; 7 October 2012; http://www.voanews.com/articleprintview/1522214.html; retrieved 11 October 2012] Madeleine Albright, who served as U.S. Secretary of State under Democratic President Bill Clinton, called some of Romney's points, particularly on trade issues, "dead wrong." On the Middle East, she said Romney's speech raised questions about "what he would do differently and whether he understands what is going on in the Arab world and how to deal with it." "It is probably a speech that to those who are not totally into foreign policy sounds pretty good. But I think it is really full of platitudes and free of substance - you know, peace through strength, clarity, resolve. Those [ideas] really are not foreign policy," she said. ROMNEY CRITICISM OF FOREIGN POLICY ARE INCOMPLETE AND NOT TRUTHFUL-Blaney '12 *Harry C. III; The Executive Director of the Coalition on American Leadership Abroad; Romneys Foreign Policy Key Fallacy; Rethinking National Security; 10 October 2012; http://cipnationalsecurity.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/romneysforeign-policy-key-fallacy/; retrieved 11 October 2012] Romneys foreign policy speech to VMI on October 8th was a piece with his speeches on domestic policies: they just dont add up much, have little substance, and were filled with misconceptions, empty rhetoric, and indeed lies. Too bad for Americans who want to understand how America can play a constructive role in the world. It seems that this speech is part of a tilt toward moderation that seems to be the new tactic to gain votes in the middle in addition to his existing right wing fanatics. ROMNEY CRITICISMS OF OBAMA FOREIGN POLICY ARE SUBTLE JABS TRYING TO PUSH OBAMA AS OTHER, AND NOT LEGITIMATE FOREIGN POLICY DEBATE POINTS-Hurlburg '12 [Heather; Executive Director of the National Security Network in Washington D.C.; 3 Ways Mitt Romney's National Security Talk Is About Politics; US News and World Report; 1 October 2012; http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/world-report/2012/10/01/3-ways-mitt-romneys-national-security-talk-is-aboutpolitics; retrieved 11 October 2012] Second, as a subtle way to push the theme of Barack Obama as "other." It's no accident that, with the occasional excursion to China trade policy or Russia's enduring foe-ness, Romney's national security attacks have focused on Obama's relations with the Muslim world and accusations that he doesn't understand or support America or its exceptional nature. When he calls the president "naive," or suggests that he doesn't understand the value of our traditional allies, a dog-whistle is subtly blown. Of course, it isn't always subtlewitness the individual identifying himself as a Romney adviser who asserted this summer that we needed a president who fully appreciated "our AngloSaxon heritage."

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East

Big Sky Debate Public Forum

P a g e | 86

POLITICAL SOURCES FALSE: ROMNEY/RYAN AND OBAMA/BIDEN ARENT THAT DIFFERENT ON FOREIGN POLICY
ROMNEY/OBAMA DIFFERENCES ON NATIONAL SECURITY AND FOREIGN POLICY AREN'T AS DIFFERENT AS THEIR RHETORIC SUGGESTS-O'Hanlon '12 [Michael; Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute; Column: Playing the same defense; USA Today; 18 September 2012; http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2012/09/19/obama-romney-defense-foreign-policy/1579405/; retrieved 11 October 2012] The new turmoil in the Middle East, including the recent killing of our U.S. ambassador in Libya, has raised the profile, and the rhetoric, on foreign policy and national security in the presidential race. But an examination of two central issues in the race, proper levels of U.S. military spending and the use of military force, suggests a more nuanced and intelligent debate between the two men. And the differences between them are far narrower than the rhetoric suggests: Defense spending. President Obama wants to cut the size of the U.S. ground forces to nearly where they were just before 9/11. That is one way he will seek to save almost $500 billion over the next decade on defense costs. War costs would also decline as troops gradually leave Afghanistan. Obama strongly opposes further cuts, including the additional $500 billion over a decade that would result from so-called sequestration. Mitt Romney, in turn, opposes that first $500 billion in 10-year cuts that the president favors (and opposes sequestration, too). He wants to increase the Navy shipbuilding budget to 15 ships a year from Obama's nine and keep ground forces near where they are, about 100,000 more troops than the president forecasts. COMPARING MIDDLE EAST POLICY OF ROMNEY AND OBAMA, THEY ARE ROUGHLY SIMILAR, HOWEVER, THE EDGE GOES TO OBAMA FOR A MORE REALISTIC LONG TERM FINANCING OF THE MILITARY-O'Hanlon '12 [Michael; Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute; Column: Playing the same defense; USA Today; 18 September 2012; http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2012/09/19/obama-romney-defense-foreign-policy/1579405/; retrieved 11 October 2012] On Syria, Romney appears to favor a more robust arming of the rebels by other countries, but it is not clear that this position is meaningfully different from Obama's. On Iran, Romney is more predisposed to give Israel a green light to attack Iranian nuclear facilities whereas Obama, while not ruling out the use of force, believes in allowing strong international sanctions a bit more time to work. Who holds the stronger positions? Placing defense spending in a broader context, the edge goes to Obama. His projected deficits will be less than Romney's. As such, his defense budget plan will help us deal with the debt problem. In the process, it will accept more short-term military risk but to a degree that appears reasonable. Saddam Hussein is gone, so we can cut ground forces to near-1990s levels; the Navy can find more efficient ways to deploy and base ships abroad, so we needn't build ships at a faster rate; military compensation remains robust, so we can probably make deeper reforms than planned. But Romney is hardly some Neanderthal trying to solve every global problem with a military tool; he is espousing a defense plan Obama proposed in 2009 and 2010. Moreover, his policy of arming Syrian rebels makes good sense at this point, even if Obama's hesitancy to use of force against Iran would seem the wiser course there.

November 2012: US Policy in the Middle East