Kerry to be the next Biden?

You probably noticed that Massachusetts Senator John Kerry had a pretty public role at the convention. This is not only because he was the democratic presidential nominee last time around, it’s also because he’s positioned to be the dem’s next foreign policy authority in Congress.

If the Obama/Biden ticket wins this November, the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee will be up for grabs. While Senator Chris Dodd is next in line in terms of seniority, he will most likely choose not to give up his chairmanship of the Banking Committee (rules prohibit a members to chair more than one committee at a time). Thus, this key post will likely pass to Kerry, the third most senior Democrat on the committee.

The Senator was the keynote speaker at a three hour panel hosted by the New America Foundation on Wednesday, “Can the next president make the Middle East irrelevant?.” Later that day, he spoke at the convention.

The event featured an impressive list of experts- including top Obama foreign policy advisers, scholars, former diplomats and congressmen– and discussed past US failures in the Middle East and what a winning strategy should look like.

The Senator called for a comprehensive approach, criticizing the Bush administration for dealing with each flash point in the region by piecemeal. “There is a difference between tactics and strategy,” said Kerry. “We need to approach [the problems of the Middle East] comprehensively.”

Kerry recounted a meeting he had had with religious leaders from several different countries in the region- including Iran. “Its interesting to see how we can find common ground in the three abrahamic faiths,” said Kerry. What we need, he argued, is not a “war on terror” but a “global counterinsurgency”; the US must do more to support moderate Islamic leaders and delegitimize radical ones.

Kerry’s Iran strategy relied heavily on the power and expediency of sanctions. If real, direct diplomacy with Iran were to fail, said Kerry, we could bleed the nation into submission through an international embargo on petroleum exports.

Yet it remained unclear just how or when we would know that diplomacy had been exhausted. How long would the US and Iran have to engage until we could declare diplomacy a failure? Ten months, ten weeks, or perhaps ten hours- the time the Bush administration spent in direct talks in Baghdad?

Posted By Emily Blout

    One Response to “Kerry to be the next Biden?”

  1. Babak Talebi says:

    An important factor that can’t be overlooked in the case of an Obama victory in November is the working relationship the President will have with the Senate FRC. Kerry, Biden, and Obama are surprisingly in-line with their outlook on the role of diplomacy and soft-power and the reduced marginal utility of increases in hard-power that the Bush administration and to some extent the McCain campaign seem to be promoting.

    If you are right and Dodd chooses to stay at Banking – then to me it seems the Kerry/Biden relationship will play a big role in shaping US foreign policy.

    How do you think Rep Berman (Chair of House Foreign Affairs Committee) will fit into this?

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7,350 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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