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.

Royal Tourism

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, February 19, 2014
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The heir to the British throne is shown in this photo during a “private visit” to Saudi Arabia. Such a visit is entirely appropriate, but it is a reminder that the British royals appear to have an allergy to visiting Israel. The Queen has never set foot there. Prince Charles did attend the Rabin funeral, but has never gone back and never made an official visit. Such a visit is occasionally hinted at or predicted, but then never gets scheduled. The continuing failure or refusal of any royal to make an official or state visit to Israel is an anomaly that suggests bias, and undermines potential British influence in the region.

Push Polls and Cuba

by Elliott Abrams Friday, February 14, 2014

You can’t always get what you want, the Rolling Stones once told us. But you can, actually, in a push poll: a poll designed to elicit a certain result and then advertised as achieving that result.

This past week the Atlantic Council released a poll it had sponsored about U.S. relations with Cuba. Here’s one key aspect of the poll: When respondents were told “Cuba continues to have a dismal human rights record. The Castro regime represses virtually all forms of political dissent through detentions, arbitrary arrests, beatings, travel restrictions, forced exile, and sentencing dissidents in closed trials,” we find that 33 percent this was a “very important” reason to keep the current U.S. policy and 17 percent said it’s “somewhat important,” for a total of 50 percent. And 43 percent the human rights abuses make it somewhat important or very important to change the policy. Read more »

The Cost of the “Peace Process”

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, February 13, 2014

The goal of Secretary of State Kerry’s energetic diplomacy with the Israelis and Palestinians is the two-state solution, which means the establishment of an independent, sovereign Palestine living at peace with its neighbor Israel.

Or is it? What’s missing in that sentence is the word “democratic.” Do we care? Once upon a time, the United States worked hard to give Yasser Arafat, a terrorist and thief, a state to rule. That policy was changed in the George W. Bush administration, when we began to care not only about the borders of the new Palestine but was within those borders. Bush said he would not support establishment of a Palestinian state if that state would just be another dictatorship, another kleptocracy, another home for terrorism. Read more »

Can We Contain Iran?

by Elliott Abrams Monday, February 10, 2014

If Iran gets nuclear weapons, can it be “contained?” After all, we contained the Soviet Union–which was far stronger than Iran.

That Cold War analogy is misleading, I argue in an article this week in The Weekly Standard. During the Cold War we took a vigorous military and ideological stand against the Soviets, from hot wars in Korea and Vietnam, to proxy forces in Afghanistan, to President Reagan’s comments that the Soviets constituted an “evil empire” and would end up on “the ash heap of history.” We negotiated, but we also fought, in ways that we are not doing when it comes to Iran. Read more »

The Muslim Brothers in Egypt

by Elliott Abrams Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Doing some research for a project,  I came across this interesting assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and its role in politics there:

The record of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt following [Hassan al] Banna’s assassination shows that this essentially popular protest movement directed against misgovernment and oppression by the rulers sought total power for itself as the only efficacious remedy for social and political ills. After the military coup d’etat of 1952,the Brothers were in hopes that the new regime, which included officers who had sympathized with, or even belonged to, the movement, would move to institute the godly rule for which it hankered. The Brothers were sorely disappointed. The new rulers, led by Nasser, were willing neither to accept the Brothers’ ideology nor to allow them even a share of power. Read more »

“Soft Bigotry,” Secretary Kerry, and the PLO

by Elliott Abrams Sunday, February 2, 2014

Secretary of State Kerry continues to press forward in his negotiations with Israelis and Palestinians, seeking some sort of “framework” document that would be an acceptable basis for future negotiations. We’ve been here before: the “Roadmap” of 2003 was supposed to provide such a basis and was accepted–with reservations–by both sides. My guess is that Kerry will succeed, if success is defined as keeping both sides at the table. Read more »

The EU’s Mrs. Ashton and the Invisible Jews

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, January 30, 2014

It’s becoming a habit. The EU’s “foreign minister,” High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton, cannot seem to see Jews or anti-Semitism or to pronounce the word “Jew.”

In 2012 a terrorist murdered three Jewish children at a Jewish day school in Toulouse, France. Mrs. Ashton issued a statement saying that “When we think of what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and Sderot and in different parts of the world, we remember young people and children who lose their lives.” It was beyond her to acknowledge what had just happened: the murder of Jewish children in Europe for the crime of being Jewish. Read more »

Is There an Iran Deal?

by Elliott Abrams Thursday, January 23, 2014

Two remarkable statements must be juxtaposed to understand how much trouble lies ahead in trying to get a nuclear deal with Iran. Thus far, the trouble has been over the temporary arrangements, meant to last six months and likely to be extended for another six. That deal was reached last year and an implementation agreement then took two more months to reach. The next task is to negotiate an arrangement that is comprehensive and permanent. How likely is that, and have we really thus far reached any agreement at all? Read more »