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Posts For: February 14, 2014

Palestinians Confirm: It’s a “No”

Few seemed to be listening earlier this week when the Palestinian Authority released a list of red lines that in practice meant an outright rejection of Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace framework. Prior to this, noises were coming from PA officials suggesting that they are not happy with Kerry’s efforts or enthusiastic about his proposals. But, in contrast to when figures in the Israeli government express skepticism about the negotiations, remarkably few seemed to be willing to hear any of this from the Palestinians. The Washington Post and The Times of Israel both recounted that Abbas had indeed released new red lines. But there was little sense given that these red lines were effectively driving a stake through the heart of any viable framework agreement. The State Department released no official statement, and even the Israelis apparently decided they weren’t dignifying Abbas’s outlandish demands with a public response.

So now the Palestinians are turning up the volume on their rejectionism, perhaps in the hope that someone will acknowledge that they are serious about what they are saying. The PA has officially informed Kerry that they will not accept his framework in its present form. This itself is confusing since Kerry has not yet released a full framework, merely the vaguest of outlines of one, and less than ten days ago the State Department’s spokespeople were denying that such a framework even existed.

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Few seemed to be listening earlier this week when the Palestinian Authority released a list of red lines that in practice meant an outright rejection of Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace framework. Prior to this, noises were coming from PA officials suggesting that they are not happy with Kerry’s efforts or enthusiastic about his proposals. But, in contrast to when figures in the Israeli government express skepticism about the negotiations, remarkably few seemed to be willing to hear any of this from the Palestinians. The Washington Post and The Times of Israel both recounted that Abbas had indeed released new red lines. But there was little sense given that these red lines were effectively driving a stake through the heart of any viable framework agreement. The State Department released no official statement, and even the Israelis apparently decided they weren’t dignifying Abbas’s outlandish demands with a public response.

So now the Palestinians are turning up the volume on their rejectionism, perhaps in the hope that someone will acknowledge that they are serious about what they are saying. The PA has officially informed Kerry that they will not accept his framework in its present form. This itself is confusing since Kerry has not yet released a full framework, merely the vaguest of outlines of one, and less than ten days ago the State Department’s spokespeople were denying that such a framework even existed.

As part of this concerted rejectionist push, one senior PA administrator even stressed, “We said ‘No’ to him in the past, and we will say it again in the future.” What is still more remarkable about all this is that it doesn’t simply concern the content of any agreement, but the very principle of the PA even participating in an agreement. According to the Times of Israel, all of the officials that spoke to them claimed that the PA could not reach an agreement because it does not have legitimacy in the eyes of the Palestinian public for taking such a move. They’re not wrong. Abbas is now ten years into his four-year electoral term as president. In the past Abbas has used the end of the Israeli prime minister’s term to walk away from an agreement, as he did with Ehud Olmert in 2008. Now it seems that the Palestinian Authority may use its own lack of legitimacy to flee peace talks.

The Palestinians may be aware that issuing an outright “no” to having any agreement with Israel ever would not play out well for their international standing. A “no” has to be delivered in such a way that it can at least be framed as merely a rejection of specific proposals. But by making every single proposal a red line it is clear that the Palestinians are in effect saying “no” to the whole thing. And if they are serious about pushing this line that they don’t have the authority to make an agreement with Israel, then they are essentially ruling out the very possibility of agreeing to anything. Presumably the only thing that would change this status would be new Palestinian elections–and there’s no sign of these coming anytime soon.

Whether the U.S. administration or the international community wish to acknowledge it, the Palestinians are saying loudly and clearly “no.” At some point policy will have to be adjusted to recognize this reality. 

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Twenty-five Years after Soviet Afghanistan Withdrawal

A quarter century ago tomorrow, the last Soviet tanks rolled across the “Friendship Bridge” into Termez, a small town in Soviet Uzbekistan. The nightmare which the Soviet experience in Afghanistan had become was finally over.

Twenty-five years later, the Soviet experience still matters.

Washington D.C. in general and the White House in particular are infamous for convincing themselves that their own spin matters. As the United States prepares to withdraw most if not all of its forces from Afghanistan, political leaders and perhaps even some political generals will testify that the withdrawal confirms victory and a mission complete. They can spend hundreds of man hours crafting talking points and convince themselves that such things matter, but Afghans let alone the wider world interpret events through their own experience, not that of Washington spin artists.

Every Afghan tribal leader, village elder, and politician lived through the Soviet withdrawal and interprets current events through their own experience. So, what do they see? With the assistance of my colleague Ahmad Majidyar, I was asked to address this question at a presentation for a U.S. army unit. Here’s the core:

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A quarter century ago tomorrow, the last Soviet tanks rolled across the “Friendship Bridge” into Termez, a small town in Soviet Uzbekistan. The nightmare which the Soviet experience in Afghanistan had become was finally over.

Twenty-five years later, the Soviet experience still matters.

Washington D.C. in general and the White House in particular are infamous for convincing themselves that their own spin matters. As the United States prepares to withdraw most if not all of its forces from Afghanistan, political leaders and perhaps even some political generals will testify that the withdrawal confirms victory and a mission complete. They can spend hundreds of man hours crafting talking points and convince themselves that such things matter, but Afghans let alone the wider world interpret events through their own experience, not that of Washington spin artists.

Every Afghan tribal leader, village elder, and politician lived through the Soviet withdrawal and interprets current events through their own experience. So, what do they see? With the assistance of my colleague Ahmad Majidyar, I was asked to address this question at a presentation for a U.S. army unit. Here’s the core:

On one level, the goals of the Soviet Union and United States are remarkably similar on a macro level: Both seek the survival of the system they helped construct. The Soviets hoped to prevent outright Mujahedin victory, while the United States (and its NATO partners) seek to prevent outright Taliban victory. Both engaged similar efforts to advise, assist, and train. Policymakers in both cases were ambitious: The Soviets initially envisioned a 15,000-man advisory team, but ultimately settled for just a couple hundred. Likewise, it seems the United States might have to settle for far less than what its military strategies say is necessary.

Both the United States and Soviet Union faced similar obstacles: First was military stalemate. And, make no mistake, the United States and NATO are stalemated militarily by the Taliban, although that is largely because we have made a policy decision in the White House that we will not do what it takes to win. Both the United States and the Soviet Union also faced similar problems emanating from Pakistan, which had become a safe haven for the opposition.

Both Najibullah and Hamid Karzai had pursued a reconciliation strategy which led them to negotiate with the Mujahedin and Taliban respectively. In each case, the negotiations backfired as opponents smelled blood. Simultaneously, both the Soviet Union and United States have sought to bolster local and elite militias. This benefited security in the short term, but was corrosive in the long term. Regardless, both Moscow then and Washington now swore by the professionalism of their respective 350,000-man Afghan military. Such military, however, was heavily dependent on foreign assistance.

The Soviet Union and then Russia continued to provide about $3 billion in aid for each of the three years after the withdrawal, but as soon as the money ran dry, his regime and its military collapsed. The same will likely hold true for Karzai and the new Afghanistan Security Forces. A major difference, however, is that Afghanistan’s Najibullah-era air force could operate independently. Such cannot be said about Afghanistan’s air force today, which cannot function without ISAF assistance. That said, Karzai’s regime has international recognition. The Soviets had simply appointed Najibullah, who was therefore never able to claim internal legitimacy let alone win broad external recognition.

2014 will be a pivotal year for Afghanistan. The White House might hope for stability, but given the degree to which Afghans see history repeating, the opposite is much more likely true: As soon as the money runs out, expect the system to unravel. Momentum matters, and the first few defections will lead to a deluge. Many Afghans expect a civil war, or at least a multi-party civil struggle. How unfortunate this is, because it did not need to be this way.

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Is Geneva the Ghost of Negotiations Future?

Though Secretary of State John Kerry probably won’t heed the warnings, the disastrous Syrian peace negotiations are providing the service of at least demonstrating where the West’s current style of negotiating with rogue regimes leads. The talks are falling apart, as the New York Times reports today. But the process by which they are doing so has been nonetheless illuminating.

The Syrian peace track took a turn in September after the Obama administration began making the case for striking targets in Syria aligned with Bashar al-Assad’s murderous regime. Kerry was asked how strikes could be avoided, and, seemingly caught off-guard, said Assad “could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week — turn it over, all of it, without delay and allow the full and total accounting.”

Critics of the Syria deal initially said it would be used by Russia and Assad as a delaying tactic. The Obama administration didn’t much care, because the cause of getting rid of Syria’s chemical weapons was deemed worth the time needed to accomplish it. But whatever the desirability of the goal here, the current form of the Syria peace process followed a familiar outline: it began with a delay considered reasonable, but soon expanded into various other demands to buy time. As the Times reports:

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Though Secretary of State John Kerry probably won’t heed the warnings, the disastrous Syrian peace negotiations are providing the service of at least demonstrating where the West’s current style of negotiating with rogue regimes leads. The talks are falling apart, as the New York Times reports today. But the process by which they are doing so has been nonetheless illuminating.

The Syrian peace track took a turn in September after the Obama administration began making the case for striking targets in Syria aligned with Bashar al-Assad’s murderous regime. Kerry was asked how strikes could be avoided, and, seemingly caught off-guard, said Assad “could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week — turn it over, all of it, without delay and allow the full and total accounting.”

Critics of the Syria deal initially said it would be used by Russia and Assad as a delaying tactic. The Obama administration didn’t much care, because the cause of getting rid of Syria’s chemical weapons was deemed worth the time needed to accomplish it. But whatever the desirability of the goal here, the current form of the Syria peace process followed a familiar outline: it began with a delay considered reasonable, but soon expanded into various other demands to buy time. As the Times reports:

Russian officials accused the Syrian opposition’s Western backers on Friday of focusing solely on “regime change” and said the government would discuss political transition only if its opponents agreed on a joint fight against terrorism.

The declarations — unlikely to produce compromise because the government tends to define all its armed opponents, including those backed by the opposition delegation here, as terrorists — added to the state of suspense at peace talks that so far have produced no progress. The negotiations this week were the second round, and there is now uncertainty over whether there will be a third.

The statements came a day after a meeting of Russian, American and United Nations officials failed to produce a consensus on how to unblock the talks and push the parties toward substantive negotiations.

Theoretically, the drive to get rid of Syria’s chemical weapons does not have to be linked in any way with the Geneva talks. But it’s undeniable that the chemical-weapons deal has altered the landscape of this particular peace process. Assad is in a stronger position by having elevated his Russian backers in the conflict and by his required cooperation–and therefore, effectively, his regime’s protection–with the West.

He is also more able to make demands, because the threat of force against his regime has been taken off the table for now. The West would be conducting these negotiations with or without the chemical-weapons deal, but the chemical-weapons deal has removed the most effective enforcement mechanism. Assad can play for time, and in fact the Times report shows him to be no longer even feigning interest in the process:

Mr. Brahimi, they said, complained that the Syrian delegation had refused to even touch, let alone read, a 24-point plan presented by the opposition on Wednesday on how to structure a political transition for Syria. Instead, they said, the government delegates left the paper on the table and walked away.

The opposition delegates have agreed to a compromise agenda that would simultaneously address their top priority — the formation of a fully empowered transitional governing body “by mutual consent” — and that of the government, which is to end violence and terrorism in Syria.

But the government delegates have so far refused, and the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, on Friday seemed to back them up, declaring that the opposition and its backers appeared solely focused on deposing President Bashar al-Assad.

Just as the chemical-weapons deal and the transition negotiations became inextricably linked by the precedent one set for the other, so the Obama administration may find that the Syrian conflict is not taking place in a vacuum. Kerry has two other peace processes on his plate at the moment: the nuclear deal with Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Ostensibly, they are separate from each other and the Syrian track. But in practice it just isn’t the case. For example the Iranian government is involved, on some level or another, in all three. Syria is its patron and it is helping to prosecute the war by proxy. And its relationship with Palestinian terror groups enables it to cause trouble there as well.

Additionally, they are watching in Geneva just how far delaying tactics can be taken. Already there has been talk of extending the deadlines for both the Iran talks and the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Ideally, Kerry would understand that Syria just may be the ghost of negotiations future. He seems determined, however, to find that out for himself the hard way.

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Should Abdullah Öcalan Be Freed?

On February 15, 1999, a Turkish commando operation captured Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan in Nairobi, Kenya. Öcalan had been on the run since international pressure on Syria had forced Syrian leader Hafez al-Assad to demand Öcalan no longer call Syria his home. Michael M. Gunter, a professor of political science at Tennessee Technological University and a prolific author regarding the Kurdish issue, interviewed Öcalan at his Damascus residence shortly before the PKK leader departed Syria.

Öcalan was Turkey’s arch-nemesis. He had launched and personally directed an insurrection inside Turkey that ultimately claimed upwards of 30,000 lives, the majority Kurdish. Öcalan was not the only Kurdish leader in Turkey and, in the early years of his operations, brokered no dissent; he reportedly targeted rival Kurdish groups. Washington-based Turkey scholar Soner Çağaptay outlined the Turkish case against Öcalan and, by extension, the PKK, here.

That said, while Öcalan led the PKK, he was not always opposed to peace. Turkish President Turgut Özal and the PKK set the stage for some real progress on efforts to resolve the conflict, before a heart attack cut Özal’s life short just over two decades ago.

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On February 15, 1999, a Turkish commando operation captured Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan in Nairobi, Kenya. Öcalan had been on the run since international pressure on Syria had forced Syrian leader Hafez al-Assad to demand Öcalan no longer call Syria his home. Michael M. Gunter, a professor of political science at Tennessee Technological University and a prolific author regarding the Kurdish issue, interviewed Öcalan at his Damascus residence shortly before the PKK leader departed Syria.

Öcalan was Turkey’s arch-nemesis. He had launched and personally directed an insurrection inside Turkey that ultimately claimed upwards of 30,000 lives, the majority Kurdish. Öcalan was not the only Kurdish leader in Turkey and, in the early years of his operations, brokered no dissent; he reportedly targeted rival Kurdish groups. Washington-based Turkey scholar Soner Çağaptay outlined the Turkish case against Öcalan and, by extension, the PKK, here.

That said, while Öcalan led the PKK, he was not always opposed to peace. Turkish President Turgut Özal and the PKK set the stage for some real progress on efforts to resolve the conflict, before a heart attack cut Özal’s life short just over two decades ago.

A decade ago, I considered the PKK to be an unrepentant terrorist group. Turkey was a strong and consistent U.S. ally and considered them to be, and generally speaking, I believe it is important for the United States to stand by its allies. Turkey, however, changed my mind. Western police and security agencies, as well as the United Nations, now use more than 250 definitions of terrorism. Consistency matters, however. In 2006, the Turkish government not only reached out to Hamas, but that bus-bombing, rocket-launching, kidnapping group’s most militant, Damascus-based faction. In subsequent years, Turkish diplomats—like Namik Tan, Turkey’s ambassador to the United States—argued that Hamas was legitimate and should be engaged. It is hard to suggest that Hamas is legitimate but the PKK is not. After all, the PKK has greater popular support among Kurds, not only in Turkey but also in Syria and perhaps Iran as well than Hamas has among Palestinians. And while both groups have engaged in violence, Hamas continues to target civilians while the PKK has long since constrained itself to a more traditional insurgency.

All this is moot, of course, since the Turkish government itself has opened peace talks not only with the PKK but more specifically with Abdullah Öcalan himself, who now resides in prison on İmralı island, in the Sea of Marmara. Whatever one thinks of Öcalan, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan transformed him into the indispensable man and confirmed him as the most important Kurdish politician when he chose him as his partner in the Kurdish peace process rather than any other Kurdish politician. And, with regard to the U.S. terror designation, it is unclear why the PKK should be considered a terrorist group when the State Department has de-listed the Mujahedin al-Khalq, a group which—unlike the PKK—actually targeted and murdered Americans.

There is much about the PKK which should concern the United States, and certainly the personality cult which surrounds Öcalan stands in sharp contrast to some of the PKK’s reformist rhetoric. At the same time, the Öcalan personality cult is little different from the Masud Barzani personality cult that permeates portions of Iraqi Kurdistan, and Barzani is a U.S. ally.

Erdoğan’s peace process has largely held, but the PKK’s ceasefire is not the end all and be all of the process. Ultimately, the Kurds seek more than just token television programming or some recognition of Kurdish culture, especially since Öcalan now pushes not for a Kurdish state but rather for confederation, the shape of which he has fleshed out in his recent writings.

Öcalan is in prison because of alleged terrorism. But if the Turkish government now treats him as a peace partner, then it is unclear how that peace process can continue with Öcalan in prison. The decision is similar to what once confronted South Africa. Nelson Mandela, now remembered as a peaceful hero, had embraced hardcore Communism and his African National Congress had engaged in terrorism. Mandela, however, evolved with time.

It seems that Erdoğan now has a choice: If he is serious about the peace process, then he has little choice but to free Öcalan, no matter how distasteful it might be to many Turks to see the world embrace a figure they consider to be a terrorist as some sort of Mandela reincarnate. At the same time, to keep Öcalan effectively ends, if not reverses, the peace process. The ball is in Turkey’s court, and is a decision point solely of Turkey’s making.

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Of Zionism and Camels

The idea that anyone might use research about camels to attempt to invalidate Zionism may seem rather far-fetched. But at the avowedly anti-Israel Guardian newspaper, anything is worth a try. The author of the piece in question, Andrew Brown, has set upon a recent story featured by the New York Times and National Geographic who themselves have seized upon research from two scholars at Tel Aviv University which has suggested that domesticated camels may not have existed in the Levant in the time of Genesis.

Brown parades this as proof positive that the camels mentioned in genesis must be a fiction. From there Brown’s impeccable line of reasoning just runs and runs. The camels in Genesis are made up, and if they are made up then the Bible is made up, and if the Bible is made up then everything else in the Bible is made up, which means promises to Abraham and his descendants about the inheritance of the land were made up, which means the foundations of Zionism are made up, and so, whatever one might say about the modern State of Israel, its foundations, which Brown dismisses as emotional, are made up and invalid. You follow?    

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The idea that anyone might use research about camels to attempt to invalidate Zionism may seem rather far-fetched. But at the avowedly anti-Israel Guardian newspaper, anything is worth a try. The author of the piece in question, Andrew Brown, has set upon a recent story featured by the New York Times and National Geographic who themselves have seized upon research from two scholars at Tel Aviv University which has suggested that domesticated camels may not have existed in the Levant in the time of Genesis.

Brown parades this as proof positive that the camels mentioned in genesis must be a fiction. From there Brown’s impeccable line of reasoning just runs and runs. The camels in Genesis are made up, and if they are made up then the Bible is made up, and if the Bible is made up then everything else in the Bible is made up, which means promises to Abraham and his descendants about the inheritance of the land were made up, which means the foundations of Zionism are made up, and so, whatever one might say about the modern State of Israel, its foundations, which Brown dismisses as emotional, are made up and invalid. You follow?    

While it may not be wise to engage such people on such matters as to whether the history of domesticated camels does or does not invalidate the Bible, there are a couple of brief points to be made here. For one thing, the research cited in all of this only appears to concern specific copper smelting sites in the Negev’s Aravah Valley. What the study seems to show is the date at which domesticated camels were probably introduced to work at that specific site, which by all accounts is some several centuries after the time at which the Patriarchs and their camels are believed to have been moving through the surrounding region.

Now, perhaps the Methodist Sunday school I attended was deficient, but I don’t seem to recall anything about the Patriarchs participating in the copper smelting industry. Indeed, it seems like somewhat of a stretch altogether to say that because there were no camels working at a specific copper producing site prior to a specific date, therefore no one kept domesticated camels in the entire region before that date either.

Yet, if that extrapolation is too much, what to make of Andrew Brown’s still more far-fetched contention that the probable absence of camels at an ancient copper smelting site in the Aravah Valley somehow invalidates the modern day movement to secure a Jewish national home? Brown writes with relish about how the story in the Times will no doubt upset “Christian fundamentalists,” a hint about what is most likely really at work here. For, with the Guardian serving as Britain’s preeminent left-wing daily, Brown is sure to stress in his piece that there is far “less evidence for the historical truth of the Old Testament” than there is for the Koran.

Europeans in general, and the left there in particular, have become fiercely hostile to Judeo-Christianity and its values. Over recent decades many of them have come to perceive Zionism as an active effort to validate and reaffirm the very same Bible that so many of them have spent so long arguing against and attempting to drive out of their societies. They believe that by establishing a state in the land of Israel, Jews are seeking first and foremost to fulfill a biblical commandment. I recall once attending a tumultuous public lecture by Benny Morris at the London School of Economics. Morris was trying to explain to his audience that Zionism had begun as a secular movement. The audience was having none of it and during the Q&A the arguing went back and forth on this point that they had become so stuck on. They would not be dissuaded from their conviction that Zionism and Israel is a religious and theocratic project, one essentially comparable with jihadism.

The way in which this aggressive dislike of biblical religion can so easily translate into a seemingly untamable hatred of Jews more generally, including Jews today, was evidenced by an outburst by the liberal television personality and would-be intellectual Stephen Fry, when during an interview he exclaimed, “The ten commandments are the hysterical believings of a group of desert tribes. Those desert tribes have stored up more misery for mankind than any other group of people in the history of the planet, and they’re doing it to this day.” Whether or not these desert tribes had camels by this point, disappointingly Fry doesn’t say.

If camels have the slightest chance of helping to invalidate the twin evils of Zionism and the Bible then the Guardian and its readers are only too pleased hear all about it. Brown asserts stridently, “The history recounted in the Bible is a huge part of the mythology of modern Zionism. The idea of a promised land is based on narratives that assert with complete confidence stories that never actually happened.” Of course, the Jewish religion and collective memory has played no small part in the development of Zionist thought, but as one reader wrote in the comments section of a blog monitoring the Guardian, “Modern Zionism has nothing to do with the camels of Abraham but everything to do with European anti-Semitism so perfectly represented by Andrew Brown and the Guardian.”  

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I Still Remember, Senator Cruz

Earlier this week Senator Ted Cruz took to doing what he enjoys most: Lecturing the GOP “establishment” from his moral Mt. Olympus. 

Speaking critically about the vote to raise the debt limit, Cruz–who insisted on a 60-vote threshold to end debate on the measure–said some lawmakers are “willing to mortgage our children’s future” because they “care so much about being praised by the Washington media” and don’t think voters are paying attention. “But sometimes, come November, the people remember,” the junior senator from Texas declared.

Actually, come mid-February, the people still remember. At least I do.

I remember that Senator Cruz championed legislative tactics that resulted in the shutdown of the federal government last October. He apparently wanted another high-stakes showdown–this time over raising the debt ceiling–that would produce essentially the same result.

I remember the move he helped engineer last fall was a disaster for the GOP and harmful to the conservative cause. I remember that nothing was gained substantively. I remember that the American people, by large margins, hated the shutdown–and that the American people, by large margins, blamed Republicans for it. I remember how, thanks in good part to the shutdown, the GOP received the lowest favorable rating measured for either party since Gallup began asking this question in 1992. And I remember that Senator Cruz’s tactic deflected attention from the awful rollout of healthcare.gov for several weeks, until the shutdown ended.

That’s not all I remember.

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Earlier this week Senator Ted Cruz took to doing what he enjoys most: Lecturing the GOP “establishment” from his moral Mt. Olympus. 

Speaking critically about the vote to raise the debt limit, Cruz–who insisted on a 60-vote threshold to end debate on the measure–said some lawmakers are “willing to mortgage our children’s future” because they “care so much about being praised by the Washington media” and don’t think voters are paying attention. “But sometimes, come November, the people remember,” the junior senator from Texas declared.

Actually, come mid-February, the people still remember. At least I do.

I remember that Senator Cruz championed legislative tactics that resulted in the shutdown of the federal government last October. He apparently wanted another high-stakes showdown–this time over raising the debt ceiling–that would produce essentially the same result.

I remember the move he helped engineer last fall was a disaster for the GOP and harmful to the conservative cause. I remember that nothing was gained substantively. I remember that the American people, by large margins, hated the shutdown–and that the American people, by large margins, blamed Republicans for it. I remember how, thanks in good part to the shutdown, the GOP received the lowest favorable rating measured for either party since Gallup began asking this question in 1992. And I remember that Senator Cruz’s tactic deflected attention from the awful rollout of healthcare.gov for several weeks, until the shutdown ended.

That’s not all I remember.

I remember that Senator Cruz, in the months leading up to the shutdown, accused those who disagreed with his approach of being part of the “surrender caucus.” I remember that he and those he was allied with said that if you didn’t agree with their approach you were a de facto supporter of ObamaCare. And I remember that Senator Cruz did what he did because he cared so much about being praised by populist parts of the Republican base.

I remember it was obvious the tactic Mr. Cruz was pushing was destined to fail, that he went ahead with it anyway, and that now he’d like reporters to talk about things other than his role in the government shutdown.

Senator Cruz, in other words, would like us to forget. But I still remember.

So do others.

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