Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Showing posts for "Obama foreign policy"

What Did President Obama Trade for Alan Gross?

by Elliott Abrams

There is wonderful news this morning: that Alan Gross is finally free, out of a Cuban prison and back on American soil. For his family, this is the answer to prayers and the right outcome to a long struggle.

Gross was unjustly imprisoned by the Castro regime. The Obama administration finally gave in and traded three Cuban spies for Gross. Whether that was a smart move can be debated. Some would argue that as Gross’s health deteriorated, the Castro regime would release him rather than see him die in their prisons. But that’s playing with Gross’s life, and it’s pretty clear that his health has already deteriorated badly. Read more »

Israel’s Election Timing

by Elliott Abrams

Israel will have an election next year on March 17. (St. Patrick’s Day is not widely celebrated there.)

Given the usual weeks needed to assemble a coalition, a new government will be formed only in April 2015, perhaps the end of April. It is then just a matter of weeks until the summer– and what follows the summer is the American election season. Of course, there is a tradition of late and even last minute American efforts at peacemaking: Clinton at Camp David, Bush at Annapolis. But both failed, and the clock ran out. Read more »

Business as Usual with UNRWA

by Elliott Abrams

Business as usual is nicely defined as “Persistence in the ordinary course of events despite difficulties, morality, and other hindrances.”

This month the Department of State published its “Framework for Cooperation Between the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and the Government of the United States of America for 2015.”  Near the top it states that: Read more »

Reacting to Terror: Words Matter

by Elliott Abrams

The horrifying terror attack on Jerusalem synagogue, where four rabbis were murdered during morning prayers, has elicited widespread condemnation. And yet….

The words that are used to condemn terror matter. Let us compare those of the President of the Palestinian Authority, the President of the United States, and the United States Secretary of State. Read more »

Obama and Human Rights Violations: See No Evil?

by Elliott Abrams

Last week The Cable reported that

The U.S. State Department plans to cut its entire $500,000 in annual funding next year to an organization dedicated to sneaking into abandoned Syrian military bases, prisons, and government facilities to collect documents and other evidence linking Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and its proxies to war crimes and other mass atrocities…. Read more »

U.S. Policy, Viewed From the Middle East

by Elliott Abrams

It’s natural that in the United States we see the Middle East from our own perspective, but very useful to step away from that perspective for a moment to try and see the region as our closest allies there do. By closest allies I refer to Israel and to Arab states such as the UAE, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Read more »

The President and the New Housing in Jerusalem

by Elliott Abrams

In December 2012, the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee announced a major new housing project. In an area of east Jerusalem called Givat Hamatos, 2600 units would be built. Of some significance, half would be set aside for Jewish residents and half for Arab Jerusalemites.  Last week, just before the New Year’s holiday, the deputy mayor of Jerusalem signed an order described as “symbolic,” continuing official approvals of the work. Read more »

The Obama Speech About ISIS: Giving Himself An “A”

by Elliott Abrams

There is too much one could say about the President’s speech last night to fit in a blog post, but there are a couple of items worth noting.

I was struck by the President’s unacknowledged turnaround on the Syrian rebels. Just weeks ago, the notion that they might be worth helping was a “fantasy.” Here is an excerpt from the Thomas Friedman interview of August 10th, just a month ago. Read more »

What is the Mission of the State Department?

by Elliott Abrams

What is the mission of the State Department, or more precisely what are its core missions?

Diplomacy? Avoiding war? Solidifying alliances? Explaining American policy?

Here’s a new one:

America’s faith communities, including American Muslims, are sources of strength for all of us. They’re an essential part of our national fabric, and we are committed to deepening our partnerships with them. We’re making these efforts to unite religious communities a core mission here at the State Department. Read more »

“Who Won the Gaza War,” and “What Now for Israel?”

by Elliott Abrams

In the past week I have written a long article and even longer essay on the Middle East situation today.

“‘The Fog of Cease-fire: Who Won the Gaza War” is the cover story in this week’s edition of The Weekly Standard and can be found here. In brief, it seems to me Israel was the winner by most measures, but as we saw with the Lebanon war of 2006 (where most Israelis thought they had “lost” but now believe that conflict has deterred Hezbollah from making further trouble on the border) judgments may change over time. Meanwhile, there is no sense of triumph in Israel, which is already creating political difficulties for Prime Minister Netanyahu. Read more »