The Israel would find Peace and security and the industrial world will be less dependent on the energy resources of awful countries like Saudi Arabia.  Now that was all an illusion.  It looked enticing to arm chair strategist on the banks of the Potomac and the Hudson and the Thames rivers, but it had very little to do with the harsh realities on the banks of the Tigress and Euphrates rivers.  But just as the Bush administration found that there were no silver bullets that would lead to this glorious victory, so is the case that the Obama administration is finding out there are no fail safe parachutes either.  President Obama has been very realistic.  He demonstrated his readiness to listen to the views of the military and civilian experts on the question of Iraq, but he also made clear that he had an electoral mandate from the American people to move toward the goal of military disengagement.  Both Obama and secretary Clinton have now visited Iraq to underline the importance that the administration attaches to an orderly withdrawal of American forces, particularly American combat forces.  We want to do this in the manner that will not add to the turmoil and violence in Iraq or be destabilizing. Nonetheless the President is not prepared to maintain US forces to compensate for continued Iraqi unwillingness to carry out their security responsibilities or for the failure of Iraqi leaders to engage in the national reconciliation and governance that are necessary in their country.  They are going to have to step up.  If they will step up they will find that we will continue to be a partner for them as needed.

There have been in addition to the problems that we see particularly in cities like Mosul and Kirkuk where there are serious storm signals.  There have been positive developments and that includes much greater security in large parts of the country.  That includes also the greater readiness of both the Turkish government and the Kurdish regional authorities to find areas of cooperation in their mutual security and economic interest and in this connection [???] I understand that the [???] movement has 10 schools in the city of Erbil and recently started a university.  So I see that there are various kinds of productive and constructive interactions going on between Turkey and the regional Kurdish authorities.  This week, moving on to another issue on this very crowded agenda for President Obama, this week I have seen visits to Washington by the President of Pakistan and Afghanistan.  I am not going to have much to say about the complicated problems that are involved in those countries since quite frankly I have very little personal experience in dealing with them.  However, it is clear that the approach to those policies has been characterized by the Obama administration’s readiness and interest in working collectively, working together with allies and other countries prepared to partner in responsible efforts to restore stability and find peace in those countries.  We want to encourage a more robust and effective NATO presence in Afghanistan, but we also recognize that we need to have the positive participation of countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran and we welcome that if they will be positive in the way they approach these problems.

Now in short contrast to the Bush administration even while it is dealing with these urgent problems in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, the Obama administration is not ducking the number one issue in the region, which is the conflict between Israel, the Palestinian people who share the land where Israelis and Arabs must live together and Israel’s Arab neighbors. That is a conflict that has lasted really for a century now, if you think of the balfour declaration and go back to the period when Great Britain had control in the region and nearly a century ago issued a declaration that gave encouragement, however, in consistent to [???] colonization to Palestine following the petition of the [???] state.  Then Israel was established with United Nations support and with a very idealistic vision.  The reality, however, has been continuing conflict.  There are numerous conflicts in the Middle East, which would take place anyway if Israel had never existed, but quite frankly it is much harder to find solutions to those problems given the complications that stem from the Arab Israel conflict.  Arab governments have been all too ready time and time again to excuse their failures by pointing to Israel.  At the same time the absence of a just settlement for Palestinians and the results of Israeli expansions since 1967 and their occupation of lands in which, in the very near future, Jews will be a minority if they are not already a minority.  The complications of this situation have made it harder and harder to envisage a secure and stable situation for Israel and it has made it impossible to conceive of a life of dignity for the Palestinians. Jerusalem should be a city of peace for Muslims, Christians and Jews, but what we see instead is the demolition of homes, the erection of barriers, often barriers between people from the same village and the splintering of neighborhoods.

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