Last night, Barack Obama mentioned retired marine General Jim Jones as someone who, along with Joe Biden and Dick Lugar, he would tap to help him figure out his foreign policy. He said, "those are the people, Democrat and Republican, who have shaped my ideas and who will be surrounding me in the White House."
Obama really does seem to have a procilivity to choose advisers who are problematic towards our ally Israel
The New York Sun ran a column earlier in the year noting that Senator Lugar (along with Senator Hagel) has a noticeably problematic attitude towards the American-Israel relationship:
One indicator came on July 24, 2001, when the Senate voted 96 to 2 to renew the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act. The act helps deny Iran and Libya money that they would spend on supporting terror or acquiring weapons of mass destruction. The two senators who opposed the measure? Messrs. Lugar and Hagel.
Feature, as well, the lineup on April 6, 2001 when 87 members of the Senate sent President Bush a letter saying Yasser Arafat should not be invited to meet with high-level officials in Washington. The letter also faulted the Palestinians for using violence against Israel Messrs. Lugar and Hagel did not sign the letter. When, on May 22, 1998, the Senate, by a vote of 90 to 4, passed the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act, imposing sanctions on foreigners who help Iran's missile program, Mr. Lugar fetched up among the four senators who voted against the measure.
These columns, in a July 10, 2003, editorial headlined "Ayatollah Lugar," have already reported on how Mr. Lugar watered down the Iran Democracy Act that was introduced by Senators Brownback, Schumer, Kyl, Inouye, and others. On April 18, 2002, when the Senate, by 88 to 10, voted to ban the import to America of Iraqi oil until Iraq stopped compensating the families of Palestinian Arab suicide bombers, Messrs. Lugar and Hagel were among the handful who voted to bring in the oil.
Our editorial four years ago concluded, "The bottom line is that Messrs. Hagel and Lugar (Hagar, is how their names can be contracted) want a weaker stance than most other senators against the terrorists in Iran and Syria and the West Bank and Gaza and against those who help the terrorists. They are more concerned than most other senators about upsetting our erstwhile allies in Europe — the French and Germans — who do business with the terrorists."
What about Jim Jones? Well, he will feel right at home in an Obama White House. When he became an adviser to Condi Rice's team on Israel/Palestinian affairs, feathers were ruffled in Israel:
However, Israeli sources say that Jones is not a favorable choice because of his blatantly cool attitude to Israel.
They point to the fact that in his current position, he has sought to expand trade with Gulf States and has expressed opposition to American laws barring U.S. firms from joining the Arab boycott of Israel.
During this last role, which includes Israel in the group of 91 countries in the geographical area, Jones' cool attitude toward Israel was noteworthy compared to some of his predecessors, such as Alexander Haig and Wesley Clark.
Jones is of the same school of thought when it comes to Israel as another Marine general, Anthony Zinni, who served as envoy of the Bush Administration in 2002.
As Richard Baehr wrote four years ago, Zinni has harsh feelings towards Israel . Samuel Rosner notes that John McCain and Jones know each other and that at one point early last year, McCain mentioned Jones as possibly someone who could play a role in his Administration. I am sure Obama supporters will gleefully point this out to deflect attention from yet one more Obama adviser who might raise questions regarding his views towards the American -Israel relationship.
However, McCain mentioned Jones in passing last year during a newspaper interview. In contrast, Barack Obama mentioned both Lugar and Jones last night during the last Presidential debate, revealing the seriousness of his intentions to choose those two people to help guide his foreign policy. Jones will join other advisers close to Barack Obama who have problematic attitudes towards Israel.
He will feel right at home in the White House. Jesse Jackson, Sr. would probably agree.