Author's posts

Why Avaaz is Running this Ad re: Obama, Bibi and Middle East Peace

Friends,  I just wanted to give you a heads up that over at we have decided to run this Ad ahead of the Obama-Netanyahu face-off on Monday.

The Ad — titled “Leadership” will run during the Sunday talk shows in the DC market.  We have been inspired to take this step by a stunning poll of Israeli-Jews suggesting that 65% want President Obama actively involved in helping solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  

The Ad draws attention to the controversial statement made by new, right-wing Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman that Obama will do as he’s told. This comment runs counter to the sentiment expressed in our poll of Lieberman’s fellow Israelis, carried out by major Israeli polling institute Hagal Hahadash, which shows that a majority of respondents believe Obama could help bring about a two-state agreement (53% said he could help a lot or somewhat to achieve this, and only 19.2% answered not at all).  

Escalation of Drone Use Risks Fueling Militancy and Increasing Instability in Pakistan

Friends, as you know I have raised the issue of strike drone use by the U.S. in Pakistan on a few occasions. I am currently working on this issue, and a few others, with Avaaz. Please find below a joint entry with my new Avaaz colleague and friend Brett Solomon. Cheers, Raj

With daily news reports suggesting that the democratically elected government of Pakistan is struggling to contain militancy within its borders, Americans and Pakistanis alike are waiting to see how the new U.S. policy, outlined in late March by President Obama, impacts the crisis.

There is a feeling that sustained U.S. and international focus is needed because the militant groups that grew so rapidly under the military government of General Musharraf are threatening the internal security of nuclear-armed Pakistan. This instability is also harming efforts to bring peace and security to bordering Afghanistan.

Will Obama Act to End Darfur Tragedy?

I wanted to take a couple of minutes to share an op-ed that I co-aurthored with my friend Howard Salter.

It ran in the Baltimore Sun today (link here) and suggests that the Obama administration use the pending ICC arrest warrant of Omar al-Bashir to push for international action to end the killing in Darfur.

We note that:

The expected warrant also opens a door for Mr. Obama and his talented foreign policy team. They can leverage the arrest warrant to work with influential partners across the globe to stop the killing and solidify a concrete peace agreement. By doing so, Mr. Obama would address a serious human rights crisis at the dawn of his presidency while also sending a clear signal that the U.S. is ready to once again lead by example.

and remind readers of the failure of the last administration:

Media, Bush and torture

Over the past few days I have noticed another spike in media talking heads suggesting that the Obama administration will find it tough to roll back the Bush admin torture/interrogation policies. The case they are making is that it is these policies that have kept us safe over the last few years.

I wish that someone would respond by reminding these media types that last year the Washington Post ran an op-ed from a US interrogator in Iraq who made clear that when his team went against the grain and did not use torture they got the intel that led to the discovery of Zarqawi. He also notes that Abu Gharib and Gitmo caused foreign fighters to flood to Iraq and calculates the number of US troop casualties caused by this flocking of foreign fighters.